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Friday 01 June 2018

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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On top of yesterday’s top story on the emissions from farming animals, today’s top story comes at the other impacts of farmed animals covering food security, environmental destruction and economics. Further down you’ll find good news for Mountain Gorillas, despite conflict in the DRC; an article on how a Universal Basic Income might be implemented; more questions around the robustness of certification labels such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance; and two articles on the eviction of people from their land in developing countries.

Top Story

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth | The Guardian
Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, according to the scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet. The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.

See also: Would you go vegan to save the planet? Researchers say it might be our best option | ABC News

Cattle at an illegal settlement in the Jamanxim National Forest, state of Para, northern Brazil, November 29, 2009. With 1,3 million hectares, the Jamanxim National Forest is today a microsm that replicates what happens in the Amazon, where thousands of hectares of land are prey of illegal woodcutters, stock breeders and gold miners. Photograph: Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images

Cattle at an illegal settlement in the Jamanxim National Forest, state of Para, northern Brazil, November 29, 2009. With 1,3 million hectares, the Jamanxim National Forest is today a microsm that replicates what happens in the Amazon, where thousands of hectares of land are prey of illegal woodcutters, stock breeders and gold miners. Photograph: Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images

Environment and Biodiversity

Mountain gorilla population rises above 1,000 | The Guardian
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – It is one of the most recognisable animals in the world and one of the most endangered, but a new census reveals the surviving mountain gorilla population has now risen above 1,000. This represents a rise of 25% since 2010 in its heartland of the Virunga Massif in central Africa. It also marks success for intensive conservation work in a region riven by armed conflict, and where six park guards were murdered in April.

The rise in mountain gorilla numbers is a success for intensive conservation work in a troubled region. Photograph: Brent Stirton/WWF

The rise in mountain gorilla numbers is a success for intensive conservation work in a troubled region. Photograph: Brent Stirton/WWF

‘Chronic inaction’: call for planning overhaul as population growth threatens biodiversity | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – A new study published online in the British Ecological Society journal this week found that development models based on a “land sharing” approach, where native species are provided with habitat in the form of the inter-connected backyards and tree-lined streets of a low-density suburb, performed poorly compared to a model of medium-density housing alongside continuous tracts of environmental reserve, known as a “land sparing” model.

Gene drive technology considered in the fight to save native animals from feral cats | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – Feral cats kill thousands of native animals every minute — now a controversial plan to use gene drive technology as a weapon against them is being considered by the Federal Government. Conservation groups want cats that only produce male offspring to be released into the wild as a way to save native mammals, such as bilbies and bettongs, that are under attack. The CSIRO is investigating the technology, which the Federal Government said could be a “powerful tool” subject to careful study. But scientists acknowledge there are risks, particularly if genetically modified cats made it to other countries and wiped out native cats there.

Brad the bachelor bat hangs out at Patumahoe home near Pukekohe | NZ Herald
NEW ZEALAND – Auckland Council rangers have been “gobsmacked” to find a rare native bat that decided to hang out at home in a Patumahoe. A long-tailed bat – measuring just the size of a thumb and weighing around 10g – was found this week settled in the corner of a veranda in a property in the rural settlement, near Pukekohe.

Romania breaks up alleged €25m illegal logging ring | The Guardian
Romania’s security forces have mounted a series of raids to break up an alleged €25m illegal logging ring, in what is believed to be the largest operation of its kind yet seen in Europe. Officers from Romania’s Directorate for Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) swooped on 23 addresses – including factories owned by the Austrian timber group Schweighofer Holzindustrie, according to local press reports.

Economy and Business

Don’t believe in a universal basic income? This is why it would work, and how we can pay for it | World Economic Forum
Five years ago, when I first heard about it, the idea had been all but forgotten. Most people I talked to had never heard of it either. Now, suddenly, it’s everywhere. Finland conducted a major trial, Canada has just launched an even bigger experiment and a test in Kenya is the mother of them all. What I’m referring to is, of course, basic income. This is an unconditional cash transfer that is enough to your cover basic needs. It is guaranteed to everyone, whether young or old, rich or poor, overworked or out of work.

Expose of labour abuse brews trouble for ‘slave-free’ Indian tea | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Some Indian tea plantations stamped slavery-free are abusing and underpaying their workers, according to new data that experts said could erode consumer trust in ethically-sourced products. A study from Britain’s Sheffield University, revealed exclusively by the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Thursday, showed certification schemes by groups such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance are failing to stop labour exploitation.

Newcastle’s T4 coal port expansion scrapped as demand fails to rise
AUSTRALIA – The $5 billion-plus Terminal 4 coal export expansion planned for Newcastle has been scrapped after demand for the fossil fuel failed to increase as expected. Port Waratah Coal Services said on Thursday that it would allow a lease for the terminal – known as T4 – to lapse, signalling that the project would not go ahead.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Z Energy cuts single-use plastic bags from all service stations in New Zealand | Stuff.co.nz
NEW ZEALAND – Z Energy service stations will stop giving single-use plastic bags to its customers on Friday – taking 2.5 million bags out of circulation each year. For the past six months the petrol giant has been phasing out plastic bags in response to a groundswell of support from Kiwis for ending New Zealand’s dependency on plastic bags. Z will not be replacing single-use bags with an alternative claiming replacements are potentially equally or more damaging to the environment – customers will be required to bring their own reusable bags.

Plastic fragment found stuck in dead harp seal’s stomach | BBC News
A small piece of plastic may have played a part in the death of a young harp seal found washed up on Skye, say scientists who examined the animal. The harp seal is an Arctic animal and a rare visitor to Scotland. The 6cm square fragment of plastic was found during a necropsy carried out at the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme’s Inverness lab.

Politics and Society

For Indigenous Peoples, Losing Land Can Mean Losing Lives | World Resources Institute
CAMBODIA – Ten years ago, the Cambodian government granted 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres) of land to a Thai company to plant sugarcane. But this land was not empty. Six hundred families were already living on it, growing rice and vegetables and foraging food and other goods from the nearby community forest. Over the next few years, the company cut down more than half the forest. While conducting evictions, staff and security forces looted rice fields and demolished or burned more than 300 homes.

Women are often disproportionately affected by land displacement and resettlement. Photo by SEMARNAT/Flickr

Women are often disproportionately affected by land displacement and resettlement. Photo by SEMARNAT/Flickr

Hope for evicted forest people as Kenya vows to honour landmark ruling | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Kenya’s Ogiek people are optimistic of returning to their ancestral forests as the government has pledged to honour a landmark ruling ordering reparations for forced evictions, in a judgment that could impact others with similar land claims. Evictions have ceased and the Ogiek are rehabilitating parts of the Rift Valley’s Mau Forest one year after Africa’s highest human rights court told Kenya to compensate the forest-dwellers for violating their land rights, an Ogiek campaigner said.

Indonesia targets illegal fishing vessel owners under new bill | Mongabay
Indonesia’s fisheries ministry has submitted to parliament a bill of amendments aimed at strengthening the 2009 Fisheries Act through more stringent provisions. These include recognizing, for the first time, the criminal culpability of the owners of vessels engaged in illegal fishing activities. Under the bill, these owners would face longer prison sentences and heavier fines than their crews.

Built Environment

People want energy-efficient homes, and they’re willing to pay more | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – Properties with seven-star energy efficiency ratings are selling for a premium of almost 10 per cent compared with a typical three-star property, according to a new study involving the University of Melbourne’s Thrive Research Hub. Using sales data from the ACT – Australia’s only jurisdiction with mandatory energy efficiency disclosure legislation – over five years from 2011 to 2016, researchers found that homes with higher NatHERS star ratings were selling for more.

Food Systems

FAO – News Article: FAO chief calls for halting the use of antimicrobial medicines to promote growth in farm animals | FAO
Antimicrobials are important to safeguard the health of humans and animals, but these medicines need to be used responsibly, including in the agricultural sectors, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today at a high-level UN coordination meeting on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). “FAO advocates that antibiotics and other antimicrobials should be only used to cure diseases and alleviate unnecessary suffering. Only under strict circumstances they should be used to prevent an imminent threat of infection,” he said. Noting that antimicrobials are still being used as growth promoters, especially in livestock and acquaculture, the FAO Director-General said such practices “should be phased out immediately.”