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Jun 30

Cracking the Nut Conference: GreenMicrofinance Joins "Financing Climate Smart Agriculture" Panel

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Elizabeth Israel

The Cracking the Nut Conference in DC last week was excellent!   The aim was to accelerate the impact of the world’s leading rural and agricultural development and finance leaders by uniting them in a collaborative pursuit of learning, leverage and large scale change. The conference is named "Cracking the Nut," as rural and agricultural finance have long been tough nuts to crack. 

Downloadable Brochure

GreenMicrofinance was invited to join others during the Financing Climate Smart Agriculture Panel 

Facilitator: Mark Wenner (Inter-American Development Bank)
Panelists: Ademola Braimoh (World Bank), Elizabeth Israel (Green Microfinance), 
Chandula Abeywickrama (Hatton National Bank, Sri Lanka)

Panel Introduction (Mark Wenner)
Opening Remarks  (Ademola Braimoh) 
Panel Discussion (Mark, Chandula, Ademola, Elizabeth) 

Ademola Braimah, Senior Natural Resource Management Specialist at the World Bank, shared in his presentation that 
Climate Smart Agriculture Offers Triple Win

  • Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) addresses the challenges of food security, and climate mitigation and adaptation together, rather than in isolation.
 The CSA transition requires
  • Transformations in the management of soil, water and genetic resources to ensure higher productivity.

  • Maximizing synergies and minimizing trade-offs between productivity and emissions per unit of agricultural product.
Jun 30

Climate-Smart Agriculture: The future of global food security

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Elizabeth Israel

The Future of Global Food Security

Climate change has pronounced effects in agriculture, such as shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns, and prevalence of pests and diseases. Developing countries that get by with minimal productivity and limited technology are in danger of enduring lower and erratic production, aggravating both the farmers’ livelihood and the population’s food supply.

Conservation agriculture is the core of climate-smart agriculture for both mitigation and adaptation. (Photo credit: Creative Commons)

Jun 23

Branching Out for A Green Economy

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Elizabeth Israel

In celebration of the launch of UNEP's Green Economy Report: This short animated film highlights the role forests can play in national development, a green economy and climate change. The film also reviews the impact of forest on business as usual and on transformative solutions. Narrated by David Attenborough.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsxIDmYfQPU&feature=player_detailpage 600x363]

Mar 07

Ecological Sustainability, Peace and Social Justice are Inextricably Connected

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Elizabeth Israel

              Haiti 2010
  2010 Haiti...today moving towards Ecological Sustainability! 

Roy Morrison is Southern New Hampshire UniversityDirector of the Office of Sustainability.   He recently completed work including,  Seven Postulates for An Ecological Civilization  - published by Center for Ecozoic Studies Monthly Musings / February 28, 2011 - not on-line)

Roy talks on how Ecological Sustainability, Peace, and Social Justice are inextricably connected.    Some of his key points support GreenMicrofinance's mission. 
*   An ecological democracy pursues sustainability in all aspects of life. 

*   We must build the road as we travel towards an ecological civilization and those who would realize and maintain it, must pursue sustainability as their ongoing goal and guide. 

*   An ecological civilization is characterized by the ongoing pursuit of sustainability in the economic, ecological, and social realms.  Success in all three realms is completely interdependent. We cannot succeed in one without succeeding in the others.  

*    Economic growth must mean ecological improvement.

 *   We have the technological, economic, political and philosophical means for an ecological turn. Our challenge is to decide to employ them for ecological ends. 

*   A fundamental marker of progress toward an ecological civilization will be measured by a progressive annual decrease in global carbon emissions, and an annual increase in global economic output that leads to ecological improvement.

*   A global sustainable order requires technical assistance and transfer of resources and capital from rich to poor to make possible a sustainable global convergence. 

*    Without justice and fairness and sustainability for all, there ultimately will be sustainability and prosperity for no one. 

Dec 13

Direct Seeding Nitrogen-Fixing Trees...made easy and reliable for farmers

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Elizabeth Israel
Sep 03

Power to the People...technology and development

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Tagged in: Technology , Solar , Poverty , Investments , Energy

Elizabeth Israel

Power to the People

Energy in the Developing World

Sept. 2 2010 THE ECONOMIST 

Technology and development: A growing number of initiatives are promoting bottom-up ways to deliver energy to the world’s poor .

Around 1.5 billion people, or more than a fifth of the world’s population, have no access to electricity, and a billion more have only an unreliable and intermittent supply. Of the people without electricity, 85% live in rural areas or on the fringes of cities. Extending energy grids into these areas is expensive: the United Nations estimates that an average of $35 billion-40 billion a year needs to be invested until 2030 so everyone on the planet can cook, heat and light their premises, and have energy for productive uses such as schooling. On current trends, however, the number of “energy poor” people will barely budge, and 16% of the world’s population will still have no electricity by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency....The developing world has an opportunity to leapfrog the centralised model, just as it leapfrogged fixed-line telecoms and went straight to mobile phones.

Dec 16

Why Aren't Improved Cook Stoves Selling Like Hotcakes?

Posted by: Betsy Teutsch

Tagged in: Technology , Energy  , Carbon Offsets

Betsy Teutsch

Our friends at GVEP, the Global Village Energy Partnership, have published an extensive series of papers, edited by Allesandra Moscadelli, that explore why adoption of Improved Cookstoves, with so many benefits - lower fuel use = lower cost, less smoke inhalation, lower emissions, lessened deforestation - have been slow to catch on.

To read the whole paper, you'll need to sign on to their site, or click here.

Dec 07

GreenMicro-enterprise: Alleviating Poverty without Trashing our Planet

Posted by: Betsy Teutsch

Tagged in: Untagged 

Betsy Teutsch

Jared Diamond in the New York Times neatly summarized the challenges we are up against, in working to alleviate poverty without increasing planetary trashing....

However, the real problem isn’t people themselves, but the resources that people consume and the waste that they produce. Per-person average consumption rates and waste production rates, now 32 times higher in rich countries than in poor ones, are rising steeply around the world, as developing countries emulate industrialized nations’ lifestyles.

Dec 04

Carbon-Neutral Biofuels - Addressing Climate Change and Microfinance

Posted by: Elizabeth Israel

Elizabeth Israel

USAID MicroLinks Note from the Field

Honduras: Blending Finance, Technology, and Training to Encourage Responsible Growth

La Mosquitia, one of the last remaining tropical forest areas left in Central America, is the most impoverished region in Honduras. Local communities, including the indigenous Miskito (or Mosquitia) people, have struggled to keep alive their distinctive cultural heritage while dealing with the threats of environmental and economic uncertainty.

Through a carbon-neutral biofuel initiative,  the MOPAWI (from Mosquitia Pawisa) seek to generate equitable social development through sustainable microenterprise  utilizing palm oil  that is used for a variety of purposes.   This approach will provide financial, social, and environmental returns in order to:

  • Increase local employment while decreasing out-migration;
  • Lower the cost of production and with lower agricultural labor;
  • Reduce waste and increase product yield; and,
  • Decrease emissions and deforestation.

“The beauty of this enterprise,” says David Hircock, Senior Advisor for Estée Lauder, “is the multidimensional, entrepreneurial approach. Many elements of this approach can bring much-needed cash into the economy and also negate the need for cash. For example, the indigenous community may not need to purchase diesel. Additionally, the enterprise incorporates important elements affecting local security issues, such as food, water, land and economics. Perhaps most importantly, this enterprise could show that the Mosquitia people are integral to the sustainable development of the area and local economy of Puerto Lempira, whereas at the moment they are so often marginalized. Now they can have a much-needed voice.”

Nov 19

The Wonders of Biochar

Posted by: Betsy Teutsch

Betsy Teutsch

Biochar: Ancient Wisdom Gives Clue to A Brighter Future


by Francesca Rheannon 
Could a centuries-old technology help solve climate change, soil depletion, water scarcity, fossil fuel dependence and poverty? Biochar advocates say, "yes!" 

With prospects dimming for a binding climate change agreementat the upcoming talks in Copenhagen, we all need some good news on climate change. So when I was listening to the radio the other day, half-snoozing in bed, my ears perked up when I heard about an ancient technology being revived as a possible big gun to tackle climate change. When the reporter said that the technology could also take a big bite out of world hunger and possibly provide carbon negative, clean, renewable fuels for transportation and heating/cooling, I leaped up in astonishment. Was I dreaming or is the Murphy's Law of global warming finally coming to an end? 

It's too early to break out the bubbly, but a burgeoning movement of scientists, entrepreneurs and policy makers are touting the benefits of biochar, the product of burning plant wastes and other biomass at low temperatures without oxygen. They say it may be able to significantly lower the amount of carbon dioxide we keep adding to the atmosphere every year. That's not a solution to fossil-fuel induced climate change, but it could buy us critical time to get the whole toolkit of solutions -- clean technology, increased efficiency, and other energy-saving practices -- on board and widespread. 

When I heard that a symposium on biochar was taking place at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst this past weekend, I jumped at the chance to find out more. The large conference hall was packed with attendees and presenters from around the world, from soil scientists like Johannes Lehmann, who co-wrote the "biochar bible" to entrepreneurs like Jim Fournier ofBiochar Engineering, who is building light industrial biochar furnaces in Colorado (more on this, below). 

Biochar could make the world's deserts bloom -- without using enormous quantities of water for irrigation. That's because biochar is the "coral reef of soil": it provides a lattice that can store large amounts of nutrients, water and beneficial organisms to help plants grow. On poor and marginal land, it can supercharge fertility. Some test plots have boosted crop yields by almost 900%, as you can see in this video clip

And it's not just for deserts. Cape Codders Peter Hirst and Bob Wells demonstrated their "Mobile Adam Retort" at the conference's field day, held at the New England Small Farm Institute. They've been taking in chippings and other waste from landscapers (who are only too happy to give it away for free) and turning it into a high quality soil amendment mixed with compost to sell to farms and gardeners. You can make biochar out of animal wastes, too. That could cut down on the smells and pollution from factory farms. 

The beauty of the technology is its scalability. From tiny units to help you make your houseplants grow all the way up to municipal and factory-sized units that can furnish energy for heating and electricity, biochar production provides opportunities for entrepreneurship in poor rural communities and developed nations alike. 
Already, some of Jim Fournier's units have been sold to municipal landfills excited about turning their waste into a product they can sell to the public while cutting down on the space they need to store waste and providing heat to their buildings. He's also developing a mobile unit that can be trucked to forests out West being devastated by the pine bark beetle. All those dead trees will put carbon into the atmosphere as they decay. But processing the dead wood into biochar and turning some back into the soil will regenerate the forests and get them soaking up carbon once again. 

Carbon negative fertilizer is just one product. Other companies, like Dynamotive Energy are working on creating clean, renewable liquid fuels from biochar. From fertilizer to fuels, biochar can provide opportunities for sustainability investors -- but investors in other biofuels, like corn ethanol, may find stiff competition in the market as the biochar market evolves. 

Policy makers are taking note. Senator Harry Reid introduced the "Water Efficiency via Carbon Harvesting and Restoration (WECHAR) Act of 2009" in September, along with cosponsors Max Baucus and John Tester of Montana, Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Tom Udall of New Mexico. The bill would give loan guarantees for biochar technology, support biochar landscape restoration projects on public land, and fund research on biochar technology and economics. And COP-15 has approved several side events about biochar, including one to be hosted by the International Biochar Institute, which hosted last weekend's conference. 

So, while the news on the run-up to the Copenhagen climate talks could be brighter, I'm seeing a glimmer of light on the horizon.


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