Day: September 15, 2014

USDA FY14 Rural Community Development Initiative

Applications Due: November 12, 2014
Eligible Entities: private, non-profit (including faith-based and community organizations and philanthropic organizations), or public (including tribal) organizations that provide financial and technical assistance to multiple recipients

The USDA is making available funds to develop the capacity and ability of qualified private, non-profit community-based housing and community development organizations, low-income rural communities, and federally recognized Native American tribes to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development in rural areas. Applications that consider technical assistance for the development of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements can receive additional consideration.

Report: EPA Should Use Sustainability Tools, Embrace Collaboration

Read the full story in Environmental Leader. I posted a link to the report, along with a summary, last week. This article provides a good overview. If you’re interested in the original NAP report on sustainability and the EPA, there’s a link here.

The EPA should incorporate sustainability tools in its decision making and collaborate with private-sector companies and non-government organizations, according to a report by the National Research Council.

The report was created at the EPA’s request, and builds on a 2011 report by the National Research Council, Sustainability and the EPA, which recommended that the EPA develop a “sustainability toolbox” of analytic tools that would help the agency implement a more holistic assessment of environmental, economic and social factors in its decision making.

The report provides several case studies to illustrate how the EPA can incorporate sustainability tools into decisions. One case study illustrates how to build consideration of the “three sustainability pillars” — social, environmental and economic concerns — into the criteria used to select a remedy for a site remediation project.

Educators Say Higher Ed in Sustainability a Must; Business Execs Mostly Agree

Read the full story from Environmental Leader.

Higher education in sustainability and environmental management is more important now than ever before, some education professionals believe. While environmental work was a fringe issue decades ago, this is no longer the case. “The issue of the environment has merged with the issue of economic development. In the seventies, managers could avoid paying attention to these issues; today they can’t,” says Steve Cohen, executive director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and consultant to the EPA.

Retailers Make ‘Minimal Progress’ on Carbon Targets

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Retailers such as Carrefour, Costco, Ikea, Tesco and Walmart should aim for more comprehensive carbon disclosures and collaborate to define meaningful GHG emissions reduction strategies for the industry, according to Verdantix.

The analysis of GHG emissions by Verdantix, Carbon Strategy Benchmark: Retail Sector, covers grocery retailers Aeon, Carrefour, Costco, John Lewis, Metro Group, Tesco, Walmart and Whole Foods; home improvement stores Ikea and Home Depot; drugstore chain CVS Caremark; and apparel firms H&M, LVMH and TJX Companies.

Coffee roaster abuzz with waste prevention strategy

In his P2 Impact article for GreenBiz, Justin Lehrer from StopWaste Business Partnership shares how America’s Best Coffee Roasting Company has been brewing a strategy to reduce waste and improve operational efficiency, realizing savings along the way.

Read previous articles from the P2 Impact column here.

Organic Coffee Threatened by Global Warming-Stoked Fungus

Read the full story from Bloomberg.

Teodomiro Melendres Ojeda, an organic coffee grower in Cajamarca, Peru, stands at a crossroads. Neither path is attractive.

Leaf-rust fungus, known as roya in Spanish, has devastated about a third of his crop. Melendres, 48, can use chemicals to kill it, though he risks forfeiting his organic certification and the 10 percent price premium it brings. Or he can preserve the certification and watch his plants die.

“We coffee producers are living between a rock and a hard place,” Melendres said.

Global warming has been a friend to the fungus, enabling it to thrive in elevations that used to be inhospitable. The worst worldwide outbreak in 30 years has meant diminished yields, lower income and laid-off workers from Peru to Mexico. Organic growers face additional loss as they look for ways to save their livelihoods while at the same time avoiding chemical solutions.



The rise of south-south trade: a challenge for sustainable agriculture

Read the full story from The Guardian.

Patterns of trade and the distribution of market power in the global economy are shifting – rapidly. In the past, most trade in agricultural commodities occurred between the countries of the global south (sites of production) and the countries of the global north (sites of consumption).

But, in recent years, the volume of south-south trade has increased significantly. Today, some of the environmentally most problematic crops such as soya and oil palm are predominantly traded amongst southern countries. With a total import volume of 63m tonnes in 2013, China is now by far the largest buyer of internationally traded soya, and India’s share of the global palm oil trade is estimated to have reached 20% (China 16%, EU 14%).

The booming demand for soya and palm oil in emerging markets has further fuelled agricultural expansion, deforestation, and biodiversity loss in producer countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia – creating a new sustainability crisis in the global south.

Development banks pledge to step up climate action

Read the full story from Reuters.

The world’s six multilateral development banks promised on Thursday to do more to help emerging nations fight climate change as part of efforts to reinvigorate flagging work on a U.N. deal to limit temperature rises.

UN climate summit set for major carbon pricing announcement

Read the full story from RTCC.

The huge number of countries and businesses interested in pricing carbon will become clear at the UN’s forthcoming climate summit, according to a senior World Bank official.

Rachel Kyte, the bank’s special envoy for climate change, said the meeting will see a number of states, regions and businesses announcing plans to factor in the costs of burning fossil fuels.

New Tool Offers Global Access to More Than 10,000 U.S. Water Resources

Read the full story from Sustainable Brands.

The U.S. Water Partnership has announced the launch of a new platform that offers the global community simple online access to a growing library of U.S.-generated water data and knowledge.

H2infO was created to increase global access to important U.S.-generated water information resources, filling a gap in knowledge management identified by the international water community. By the end of 2014, more than 10,000 water resources from leading U.S.-based institutions will be centrally accessible through this expanding tool.

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