Environmental and Food Justice :

real food 2WESPAC Foundation supports Environmental and Food Justice with a separate listserv used for promoting upcoming events and discussion. WESPAC opposes fracking and two of our members have produced a documentary that highlights Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives on fracking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdwCKzqVRdQ. We have cultivated an extensive cooperative network of food justice activists around the county who seek to expand access to fresh, local food. We also partner with the Wassaic Community Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): http://wassaiccommunityfarm.com. To get involved or for more information, please contact the office at 914.449.6514 or by email at [email protected]

For those of you who missed the presentation today, it was recorded in its entirety (one hour) and has been posted on our Facebook page and website. We had over 80 people attend the presentation.  There is clearly much interest in this subject.  For all of you who asked questions, I am forwarding to the presenters and you should be hearing from them soon.  You can watch the presentation here

The three presenters were:

Patti Wood is the founder and Executive Director of Grassroots Environmental Education, Inc., an award-winning science-based non-profit organization. A Visiting Scholar at Adelphi University, Ms. Wood lectures on the environment and related health issues in the College of Nursing and Public Health. She is the recipient of the 2016 national EPA Children’s Environmental Health Excellence Award, and is the author of “Helping to Heal,” a book for parents of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

 

Doug Wood is the Associate Director & Chief Strategy Officer for Grassroots Environmental Education, Inc., and the Founder and Director of Americans for Responsible Technology.  An accomplished filmmaker, Mr. Wood’s documentary films on environmental issues and children’s health have been widely acclaimed and used by organizations around the world to promote protective public health policies.

 

Dr. Devra Davis is the founder and president of Environmental Health Trust. She is the author of more than 200 studies and publications published in the Lancet, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Scientific American and the New York Times. Dr. Davis was the founding director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the U.S. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, and former Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Good morning, all,

I am working with local, county and state authorities to create a pollinator pathway on the large grassy patch in front of the WESPAC office.  I will keep you posted as soon as the NYS Thruway Authority gives its final okay.  A big thank you to Anne Jaffe Holmes with the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County who has given me excellent guidance and has connected me to key people.  I am also grateful to Patricia Weems who has made excellent connections on our behalf.
 
If you are interested in donating your expertise or human labor to creating this pathway once the approval comes in, please let me know!  We are very excited about this project as there are so many benefits.   Municipalities all over the world are figuring out ways to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels with lawn mowing.  There are many, many secondary benefits to creating meadows and pollinator pathways including preserving micro diversity of local flora and fauna, protecting native plants and species, enhancing the health of our overall local ecosystem, increased nourishment for our local pollinators (without which we have vastly reduced food supply) and on and on:  https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/dublin-in-bloom-city-thrives-under-new-wilding-policy-1.4235320

This is such an amazing offering from our precious local farmers.  Thank you, thank you, thank you: 

This is a community effort of farmers, growers, and non profits organizing to support our community in this time of need, in the Westchester, NY area. Our Mission is to assemble “grow-bags” from our nurtured seedlings and burlap sacks. These grow- bags will be near fruiting stage and will provide you and your family with a bountiful harvest throughout the season, with care. Please see the flyer for full information and fill out the Google Form to request and reserve your vegetable grow-bags and arrange delivery. We will deliver around the Westchester area, starting on 4/29. Please feel free to contact us with any questions! See the flyer for information.

https://forms.gle/oQkHFQC8vg2FxwrK6

Best,

Natalia

Ruby Olisemeka is a Food Justice leader in Mount Vernon and will be coordinating a new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery in her home town of Mount Vernon. The food is being produced by Rock Steady Farm in Millerton, NY, and will help provide nourishing, high quality produce to dozens in Mount Vernon. Rock Steady Farm and Flowers is a women and queer owned cooperative farm, rooted in social justice, growing sustainable vegetables, flowers and herbs in a holistic manner for our Hudson Valley bioregion. The WESPAC Food Justice fund has contributed $4,000 to this CSA effort, and we are hoping to raise another $6,000 to help nourish at least fifty people in need for the twenty week growing season. Every person has a right to high quality, fresh and local food.
If you would like to make a contribution for this effort, you may do so here: https://donorbox.org/rock-steady-farm-csa-delivery-in-mount-vernon
Thank you very much in advance for considering,
Nada

Corinne Segal has done a fabulous job with this interview on our food system, and how appropriate that it comes out on International Human Rights Day and on the day that we discuss Eric Holt-Gimenez’s book tonight at WESPAC at 7pm on Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It?
Take a look here: https://www.slowfoodmetronorth.org/…/nada-khader-on-the-pol… Thank you, Corinne!

We had a good group that came together including Martha Elder who has presented at WESPAC before (thanks to Tracy’s introduction).  She is the founder of Second Chance Foods and was recently featured on Channel 12 News: 
 
Here is Martha’s website: https://secondchancefoods.org/  She is doing very important food rescue work in our region and is getting fresh, healthy foods to those who need them most.  She will reach out to WESPAC in the coming weeks at times when she needs additional support.
 
Antoinette has sent in a suggestion about reviewing Westchester County’s mapping of food deserts.  Sonna will do some research to see if we can identify where these food deserts are located and how we can help address this.
 
Dan Wohl has invited the WESPAC Food Justice Committee to convene at his new workplace:  the Greenhouse and Education Center at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY.  He is working on developing food security networks between NYC and the Hudson Valley.  Nada reached out to Chloe to see if she would like to bring her youth along for this outing.
 
Doug DeCandia gave us a substantial update about his current work: he is growing herbs and flowers with inmates at Sing Sing and Taconic prisons and is working with the mental health units.  He shared some wonderful photos with Nada of his work that are available upon request.  He and Jalal are exploring the idea of teaching a horticulture and nutrition course at Sing Sing.  He discussed the challenges of working with prison authorities in terms of getting fresh produce from a local CSA into the prison.  They are trying to see if the CSA produce could be added to the commissary list and could arrive in cardboard boxes to alleviate the security concerns of the prison authorities.  It is all a work in progress.  He will be in touch with us in the coming weeks and months at moments when he may need additional support for this important work.  Additionally, this weekend he is offering a workshop on the necessity of building equity in our food system at this soil and nutrition conference in Massachusetts:  https://soilandnutrition.org/
 
We also discussed if, at the county government level, we could get buy in from the county to have any county operated facility commit to purchasing food for their cafeteria from local, small scale Hudson Valley ecological farmers and growers.  This change alone would be transformative for our local economy and would have a serious impact on reducing our carbon footprint and would help with climate change issues along with habitat and farm preservation and the promotion of biodiversity, the health of our precious pollinators and so much more.
 
We also discussed the utility of having a listing of all farms in Westchester County listing what items are grown and where they are made available.  This list may already be available – we need to research.  We would want to include here private property that is being leased to farmers to grow produce, flowers, herbs, raise animals, chickens, bee keeping etc.
 
Our December WESPAC Book Club gathering will take place on Tuesday, December 10th at 7pm with a discussion of “Can We Feed the World without Destroying It” by  Eric Holt Giménez.
 
Respectfully submitted,
 
Nada
 

On September 20 people everywhere will walk out of their homes and workplaces to join young strikers in the streets. We know governments won’t deliver climate action and justice on their own, so we’re going on #ClimateStrike to show them what people power is capable of. #StrikeWithUs ClimateStrikeNYC.net 
 
WESPAC is organizing a solidarity contingent to participate in the historic youth organized NYC Climate Strike on Friday, September 20th with Greta Thunberg who has just arrived in NYC from Sweden in an emission free racing yacht as she plans to speak at the UN on the urgency of climate change and the need to take action.
 
WESPAC Board Member Delia Marx will be our point person for the WESPAC solidarity contingent. On Friday, September 20th, she and others will catch the 10:41am train from White Plains arriving at Grand Central at 11:28am to then take the subway down to Foley Square which is the starting point for the Climate Strike. Please email Delia if you would like to be part of our contingent at [email protected]. If you are coming down on a separate train line and would like to ride down to Foley Square together, please let Delia know so that we can have a designated meeting point at Grand Central.
 
In the US, youth and adults, institutional and grassroots organizations, climate-focused and social justice groups, are coming together as a unified front to demand the change we need to save our future. The youth have been leading the way and demanding bolder action, and now it’s time for everyone else to back them up. 

To accomplish this, a youth climate strike coalition has come together to collaborate on the campaign. The youth strike coalition, coordinated by Future Coalition, includes national youth-led groups such as Zero Hour, Earth Uprising, Fridays For Future USA, Sunrise, US Youth Climate Strike, and Extinction Rebellion Youth. 

The climate crisis is the largest threat of our time, and we’re counting on our collective power to demand immediate and decisive action. This is our opportunity to move beyond the traditional climate bubble and expand the table of who is involved in this movement. It is time to lift up the voices and stories of young people on the frontlines of this crisis and ensure we are creating an intergenerational and intersectional climate justice movement. To join the New York Climate Strike, please click here.

Farming While Black: Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty 

An Evening with Amani Olugbala and Soul Fire Farm
Wednesday, November 28th at 7pm at WESPAC
77 Tarrytown Road, Suite 2W
White Plains, NY 10607

 

“Stewarding our own land, growing our own food, educating our own youth, participating in our own healthcare and justice systems, this is the source of real power and dignity,” writes Leah Penniman, co-founder of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY.  Her brand new book, “Farming While Black” is the centerpiece for a special gathering at WESPAC.
 
Come hear Amani Olugbala, Assistant Director of Programs at Soul Fire Farm, tell how our most cherished sustainable farming practices – from organic agriculture to the farm cooperative and the CSA – have roots in African wisdom.  She is a gifted storyteller and food justice advocate with over 15 years of experience in youth education and community outreach and a vital part of Soul Fire Farm.

Soul Fire Farm is part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-indigenous farming practices, and end food apartheid. 
 
Books will be available for sale.  This event is free and open to the public.  Plenty of free parking on site.  Contributions to support this work will be gratefully accepted.

“Environmental groups have united in opposing a massive new terminal that would receive fracked gas from the US in a protected area on Ireland’s west coast. They fear the plan runs counter to Ireland’s newly agreed climate commitments and is contrary to the country’s decision to ban fracking.

The public consultation on the proposal closed yesterday.

Brexit fears played a key role in the reactivation of plans to develop a massive liquid natural gas (LNG) deepwater terminal in the Shannon estuary. Irish government ministers were alarmed that in a post-Brexit situation, LNG being piped into Ireland from the UK via interconnectors could be subject to tariffs.

The proposed terminal, which would be capable of docking the world’s largest LNG carriers, is to include four massive LNG storage tanks, each with a capacity of 200,000 cubic metres. Some 23 environmental groups from Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the US have united to oppose the terminal, with the principal objection being that its principal source of LNG would be from fracked gas fields in the US.

Last year, Ireland became one of only three countries in Europe to introduce a total ban on onshore fracking.

According to Friends of the Earth: “we banned fracking in Ireland, it would be absurd to import fracked gas instead. It would lock us into fossil fuel dependence and blow our chances of containing climate change”.

Friends of the Earth added that the Irish planning regulator, An Bord Pleanála “should not extend the planning permission for Shannon LNG. The Government and the EU should not support or subsidise it”. Permission was originally sought for the project in 2008, but the original backer, theUS investor, Hess, pulled out after wrangles with the regulators over compulsory contributions towards the cost of linking to the Ireland-UK interconnector.

Some 99 percent of the total Irish gas supply is currently imported via the UK through the two undersea interconnectors.

Another anti-fracking group opposing the terminal, ‘Not Here, Not Anywhere’ pointed out the “quite hypocritical position that Ireland, having introduced a domestic fracking ban, thinks it’s fine to import fracked gas from the US”, spokesperson Ciara Barry told DeSmog UK.

The promotion of natural gas of any kind as a ‘transition fuel’ is deeply flawed, and ignores for instance the highly damaging methane emissions associated with extraction”, Barry added. “This also locking us in to infrastructure with a 40-50-year life span, which makes any transition to a low carbon economy in the time scale needed completely impossible”.

The spectre of Brexit has breathed new life into a once-mothballed terminal proposal. Among the strongest advocates for it has been Irish MEP, Seán Kelly. Largely due to his lobbying, the project has now been designated as a European Project of Common Interest. This means, crucially, that the project, with an estimated cost of €500 million, may become eligible for investment from both the European Investment Bank and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.

This project is not just an option, it is becoming an imperative We’re actually by far and away the most vulnerable of all the 28 member states in the EU now”, Kelly told the Irish Examiner. “The countries that are vulnerable in terms of energy requirements across the EU are well advanced on plans to sort that out by building their own energy terminals but we’re not doing that”. 

According to the NGO Food and Water Europe, The Shannon estuary, the proposed site of the LNG terminal, has been declared by the EU an Estuaries Special Protection Area (SPA); however, Ireland has a very poor record of enforcing protection for its EU-designated SPAs and has frequently faced EU legal enforcement actions on SPAs, most notably sensitive peatlands.

Campaigners against the LNG project point to the decision in November 2017, by BNP Paribas, a leading European and global financial services provider to “no longer do business with companies whose principal business activity is the exploration, production, distribution, marketing or trading of oil and gas from shale and/or oil from tar sands”.

BNP Paribas explicitly singled out “LNG terminals that predominantly liquefy and export gas from shale” as being among the projects it would no longer provide finance for. This is a hugely significant shift, as major banks and financial institutions like BNP Paribas switch to: “financing and investment activities in line with the International Energy Agency (IEA) scenario, which aims to keep global warming below 2°C by the end of the century”.

Ireland’s energy and ‘climate action’ minister, Denis Naughten is understood to see the Shannon LNG project as an important tool in maintaining security of supply for energy, the Irish Examiner reported. Domestic political anxiety about Ireland being at the very end of a gas pipeline network stretching thousands of miles across Europe has been heightened by the political and economic uncertainties posed by the shambolic Brexit process.

Ireland’s largest coal-fired power station, the 915 megawatt Moneypoint facility is located just across the Shannon estuary from the site of the proposed new terminal. The Irish government is under pressure to exit from both coal and peat burning, and while renewables are now providing around a fifth of electricity production (with over 2,800 megawatt wind energy capacity), it still leaves major gaps in supply, with both gas and biofuels being touted in government circles as so-called ‘bridge’ fuels.

The energy and environmental landscape has shifted significantly since the original Shannon LNG project was granted planning permission in 2008. Three years ago, the Irish parliament passed the Climate Action law to give effect to government policy of reducing Irish carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

A subsequent Energy White Paper adopted by government upped the target for the energy sector of cutting emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050. Campaigners point out that these ambitious but essential targets for decarbonising Ireland’s energy system would be impossible to realise if costly new LNG infrastructure is locked into place for the next several decades.

A ruling on the public consultation that closed yesterday is expected in the coming weeks.”

-- 
Andy Gheorghiu 
- Policy Advisor -
Food & Water Europe
Stechbahn 9
34497 Korbach
Germany
Tel.:  +49 5631 50 69 507
Mobil: +49 160 20 30 974
Skype: andy.gheorghiu2
www.foodandwatereurope.org
 

  1. Water shortages could affect 5bn people by 2050, UN report warns

Conflict and civilisational threats likely unless action is taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands and reservoirs

The comprehensive annual study warns of conflict and civilisational threats unless actions are taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands and reservoirs.

The World Water Development Report – released in drought-hit Brasília – says positive change is possible, particularly in the key agricultural sector, but only if there is a move towards nature-based solutions that rely more on soil and trees than steel and concrete.

“For too long, the world has turned first to human-built, or ‘grey’, infrastructure to improve water management. In doing so, it has often brushed aside traditional and indigenous knowledge that embraces greener approaches,” says Gilbert Houngbo, the chair of UN Water, in the preface of the 100-page assessment. “In the face of accelerated consumption, increasing environmental degradation and the multi-faceted impacts of climate change, we clearly need new ways of manage competing demands on our freshwater resources.”

Humans use about 4,600 cubic km of water every year, of which 70% goes to agriculture, 20% to industry and 10% to households, says the report, which was launched at the start of the triennial World Water Forum. Global demand has increased sixfold over the past 100 years and continues to grow at the rate of 1% each year.

This is already creating strains that will grow by 2050, when the world population is forecast to reach between 9.4 billion and 10.2 billion (up from 7.7 billion today), with two in every three people living in cities.

Demand for water is projected to rise fastest in developing countries. Meanwhile, climate change will put an added stress on supplies because it will make wet regions wetter and dry regions drier.

Drought and soil degradation are already the biggest risk of natural disaster, say the authors, and this trend is likely to worsen. “Droughts are arguably the greatest single threat from climate change,” it notes. The challenge has been most apparent this year in Cape Town, where residents face severe restrictions as the result of a once-in-384-year drought. In Brasília, the host of the forum, close to 2m people have their taps turned off once in every five days due to a unusually protracted dry period.

By 2050, the report predicts, between 4.8 billion and 5.7 billion people will live in areas that are water-scarce for at least one month each year, up from 3.6 billion today, while the number of people at risk of floods will increase to 1.6 billion, from 1.2 billion.

In drought belts encompassing Mexico, western South America, southern Europe, China, Australia and South Africa, rainfall is likely to decline. The shortage cannot be offset by groundwater supplies, a third of which are already in distress. Nor is the construction of more dams and reservoirs likely to be a solution, because such options are limited by silting, runoff and the fact that most cost-effective and viable sites in developed countries have been identified.

Water quality is also deteriorating. Since the 1990s, pollution has worsened in almost every river in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and it is expected to deteriorate further in the coming two decades, mainly due to agriculture runoffs of fertiliser and other agrochemicals that load freshwater supplies with nutrients that lead to the growth of pathogens and choking algae blooms. Industry and cities are also a significant problem. About 80% of industrial and municipal wastewater is discharged without treatment.

Crucially, the report emphasises a shift away from watershed management towards a wider geographic approach that takes in land use in distant areas, particularly forests. Although farmers have long seen trees as a drain on water supplies, the authors recognise more recent studies that show vegetation helps to recycle and distribute water. This was apparent in the São Paulo drought of 2014-15, which the city’s water authorities and scientists have linked to Amazon deforestation.

The key for change will be agriculture, the biggest source of water consumption and pollution. The report calls for “conservation agriculture”, which would make greater use of rainwater rather than irrigation and regularise crop rotation to maintain soil cover. This would also be crucial to reverse erosion and degradation, which currently affects a third of the planet’s land, a different UN study found last year.

Perhaps the most positive message of the report is that the potential savings of such practices exceed the projected increase in global demand for water, which would ease the dangers of conflict and provide better livelihoods for family farmers and poverty reduction.

Nature-based solutions can be personal – such as dry toilets – or broad landscape-level shifts in agricultural practices. The report contains several positive case studies that show how environments and supplies can improve as a result of policy changes. In Rajasthan, more than 1,000 drought-stricken villages were supported by small-scale water harvesting structures, while a shift back towards traditional soil preservation practices in the Zarqa basin in Jordan are credited with a recovery of water quality in local springs.

The authors stress the goal is not to replace all grey infrastructure, because there are situations where there is no other choice, for example in building reservoirs to supply cities with water. But they urge greater take-up of green solutions, which are often more cost-effective as well as sustainable. They also encourage more use of “green bonds” (a form of financing that aims to reward long-term sustainable investments) and more payments for ecosystem services (cash for communities that conserve forests, rivers and wetlands that have a wider benefit to the the environment and society).

Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of Unesco, which commissioned the report, noted two-thirds of the world’s forests and wetlands have been lost since the turn of the 20th century – a trend that needs to be addressed.

“We all know that water scarcity can lead to civil unrest, mass migration and even to conflict within and between countries,” she said. “Ensuring the sustainable use of the planet’s resources is vital for ensuring long-term peace and prosperity.”

The World Water Forum is the biggest single gathering of policymakers, businesses and NGOs involved in water management. It is being held in the southern hemisphere for the first time, and is expected to draw 40,000 participants.

Among them are indigenous and other grassroots activists who believe the event is too close to government, agriculture and business. They are staging an alternative forum in Brasília that puts greater emphasis on community management of water as a free public resource.”

40 Percent of Countries with Largest Shale Energy Resources Face Water Stress 
Dozens of countries are deciding whether or not to develop their shale gas and tight oil resources, as shale gas could boost recoverable natural gas resources by 47 percent, cut greenhouse gas emissions compared to coal, create new revenue and jobs, and raise national energy supplies. However, extracting natural gas and tight oil from shale poses water risk. We analyzed water stress levels in the 20 countries with the largest shale gas and tight oil resources, and found that 40 percent face high water stress or arid conditions.

Protecting Water Security, Promoting Energy Security 
This infographic, based on the related report’s data, depicts the following key findings:

  • 38 percent of the world’s shale resources face high to extremely high water stress or arid conditions.

  • 386 million people live on land above shale plays—increased competition for water and public concern over hydraulic fracturing is more likely in densely populated areas.

  • In China, 61 percent of shale resources face high water stress or arid conditions.

  • In Argentina, 72 percent of shale resources face low to medium water stress.

  • In the United Kingdom, 34 percent of shale plays face high water stress or arid conditions.