Increasing Resilience, Improving Quality of Life


How an NGO, BARKA, increases resilience, improves quality of life, and empowers people in Burkina Faso. NGOs do make a difference.

Burkina Faso, West Africa, February 7, 2018 – Maximpact Training Network would like to present one of its trainees in Grant Proposal Writing, and show how BARKA Foundation is improving people’s and communities’ lives.

BARKA is affiliated with the United Nations and has Special Consultative Status with the UN’s Economic and Social Affairs Division (ECOSOC). It is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization established in 2006 in the United States. In 2009, they registered as a local country-based organization in Burkina Faso.

BARKA’s international development work is focused solely in Burkina Faso, West Africa. BARKA Foundation currently works with 9 village communities in the Eastern Region of Burkina Faso. Our approach is community-led and long-term. We continue to walk along side villagers long after a project is completed, which often leads to other much needed services in related areas. For example, in 2016, BARKA began developing a sustainable agriculture project with two villages where it had previously drilled a well. The water from those wells will be used to irrigate the new gardens during the long dry season and combat both malnutrition and the devastating effects of climate change.

The NGO has recently completed its largest project to date to improve access to water in 4 villages, introduce and improve sanitations in 4 rural primary schools and raise awareness of basic hygiene principals at the community level in 5 villages.

Burkina Faso

Barka’s areas of focus are:

  • Water: providing access to clean water, improving sanitation and hygiene education for schools and communities
  • Women: empowering women and girls with various projects and  programs
  • Agroecology: helping local farmers combat climate change through agroecology and sustainable agriculture
  • Reciprocity: BARKA serves as a bridge between individuals, schools and communities of Burkina Faso and the United States to facilitate greater understanding, cultural exchange and the co-creation of a culture of peace.

Barka Impact

For more information on BARKA Foundation visit to make a tax-deductible donation

Donate in-kind services: technology, accounting services, web services, design, marketing.

Featured image: ‘A girl carries water home on a bike’ image from BARKA foundation website – Monitoring and Evaluation. 


Japanese Whalers Range Southern Ocean Unopposed

Sea Shepherd crew, left, confronts Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean during the group's Operation Leviathan 2006-2007. (Photo courtesy Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) Posted for media use

Sea Shepherd crew, left, confronts Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean during the group’s Operation Leviathan 2006-2007. (Photo courtesy Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

BURBANK, California, January 18, 2018 ( News) – The Japanese whaling fleet is killing minke whales  in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica right now without opposition for the first time in 12 years.

Citing Japan’s military grade technology and new anti-terrorism laws that make interference with Japan’s whaling fleet in Antarctica a criminal offense, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society  is not pursuing the Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean as it has done every year since 2006.

Japan’s whaling fleet sails at the end of every year to the Southern Ocean to kill whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, which has been in place since 1994. That year Japan announced it would increase its catch of whales there, in the name of science, they claim. Over the years thousands of whales have been killed in the sanctuary, despite a worldwide ban on commercial whaling imposed in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Conservationists view Japan’s whaling as illegal because it is conducted under a provision of the IWC rules that allows for research whaling, but Japan takes the meat from the whales they catch and sells it for profit.

Captain Paul Watson, who founded Sea Shepherd in Vancouver, Canada in 1977, has used confrontational tactics to interfere with Japan’s whaling fleet to protect the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

He has purchased ships, painted them black, and sailed them to the Southern Ocean in search of the Japanese whalers. When he found them, Watson’s crews placed Sea Shepherd ships in the paths of the whaling vessels, hurled flares and bottles of rotten butter aboard them, sent representatives to board them carrying a stop whaling message to the captain, even collided with the whalers to knock them off their game.

Watson is proud of the fact that no one has ever been injured or killed in these confrontations, and some 6,000 minke whales, and hundreds of endangered humpback and fin whales have been saved from the Japanese harpoons. But now, faced with stiffened Japanese resistance, Watson is directing his efforts toward saving other marine species instead of whales in the Southern Ocean.

“Japan is now employing military surveillance to watch Sea Shepherd ship movements in real time by satellite and if they know where our ships are at any given moment, they can easily avoid us,” Watson said in August 2017.

During Operation Nemesis in 2016-2017, the Sea Shepherd ships did get close, he said, and their helicopter managed to get evidence of Japan’s illegal whaling operations but the Sea Shepherd could not physically close the gap.

“We cannot compete with their military grade technology,” said Watson.

“This year,” Watson explained, “Japan escalated their resistance with the passing of new anti-terrorism laws, some of which are specifically designed to condemn Sea Shepherd tactics. For the first time ever, they have stated they may send their military to defend their illegal whaling activities.”

“The Japanese whalers not only have all the resources and subsidies their government can provide, they also have the powerful political backing of a major economic super-power,” Watson said.

But the Sea Shepherd’s financial resources are limited and Watson says his ocean protection organization faces hostile governments in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

Watson said, “The decision we have had to face is: do we spend our limited resources on another campaign to the Southern Ocean that will have little chance of a successful intervention OR do we regroup with different strategies and tactics?”

He has decided to regroup and come up with a different plan to shut down “the illegal whaling operations of the Japanese whaling fleet,” but Watson vows he will not abandon the whales or the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Sea Shepherd exposed Japan’s activities to the world with the Animal Planet TV show “Whale Wars” and the organization’s own documentation.

Watson says Sea Shepherd helped to push Australia into taking Japan to the International Court of Justice, IJC, where their operations were ruled to be unlawful. Japan was ordered by the ICJ to cease whaling.

Japan did so for a year and then returned with a new program, that Watson says is also illegal. The new program reduced their self-allocated kill quota from 1,035 whales a year, including a yearly quota of 50 endangered Humpbacks and 50 endangered Fin whales, to 333 whales each year.

This means that since 2015, at least 1,400 whales have been spared the lethal harpoons. Now, 702 whales every year will continue to live.

Now, Watson says, it’s time for the Australian government to live up to their promises. Sea Shepherd has been down in the Southern Ocean doing what the Australian government has the responsibility to do but have refused to do, and that is upholding international and Australian conservation law.

Instead of supporting Sea Shepherd the Australian government has been supporting the Japanese whalers by harassing Sea Shepherd and obstructing Sea Shepherd’s ability to raise funds by denying the group’s status as a charitable organization.

Regardless of opposition, Sea Shepherd has grown enormously over the 40 years since it was founded. The organization now has offices in: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, France, Galapagos, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.

“Perhaps more significantly than anything else, there are now voices in the Japanese government opposing the continuation of whaling. Our efforts have been like acupuncture needles stuck into Japanese society, probing and provoking responses. We have exposed the incredible waste of money, the corruption and the shame this dirty business has brought to all the Japanese people,” Watson said.

Watson has had his own legal problems over the years. Pursued by Japan and Costa Rica, he fled to live in exile in France. Click here to see a complete account of these issues and Watson’s recovery from them.

He says Sea Shepherd’s efforts to go after and shut down whalers will continue, not only against Japanese whaling, but also against Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic whaling.

“This is what we have been doing for 40 years,” Watson said, recalling his early intervention against Russian whalers off the California coast in 1975, even before he formed the Sea Shepherd two years later.

He was then one of the founding members of the NGO Greenpeace, which originated in Vancouver, Canada in 1971.

Because Watson pushed a strategy of direct action in conflict with the Greenpeace interpretation of nonviolence, he was ousted from the Greenpeace Board of Directors in 1977. He then left the organization to found the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Watson said, “We will never quit until the abomination of whaling is abolished forever by anyone, anywhere, for any reason.”

Greenpeace, which also went after the Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean until 2008, has instead mounted a campaign focused on changing the Japanese perception of its whaling program at home, although Greenpeace campaigners risked 10 years in jail for exposing corruption in the program.

It was not until after a Greenpeace campaigner’s conviction that the Fisheries Agency of Japan admitted that at least five officials had been involved in illegally taking whale meat as bribes and for profit.

This year, Greenpeace is returning to Antarctica to document what is happening in the newly protected Ross Sea – large-scale factory fishing of Antarctic krill, the basis of the region’s food web, plastic pollution and climate change.

On December 1, 2017, the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area came into force. Created by the Antarctic Ocean Commission, it covers 1.5 million square kilometres, currently the world’s largest protected area. Now, Greenpeace wants a higher level of protection.

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, now is sailing South. For the next three months, the crew will work alongside a team of campaigners, photographers, film-makers, scientists and journalists to build a case for the world’s largest protected area: an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary

This year, Sea Shepherd is taking other direct actions to save threatened marine life, including the critically endangered vaquita porpoise in the Gulf of California.

Threats to the 30 remaining vaquita are caused by human greed, says Watson, despite the species’ protected status in Mexico and a designated vaquita refuge created in the upper Gulf.

Fisherman, poachers often working with drug traffickers, are setting illegal gillnets hoping to catch a fish similar in size to the vaquitas, the totoaba. This critically endangered bass is prized for its swim bladder which is sold on the black market in China and Hong Kong for tens of thousands of dollars, earning it the nickname “aquatic cocaine.”

As the vaquita swim in the refuge, they become entangled in the totoaba nets, and, unable to reach the surface, they drown.

As a direct-action organization, Sea Shepherd is working in partnership with the Mexican government on Operation Milagro IV to protect the vaquita refuge. Two Sea Shepherd ships have been stationed in the Gulf of California since fall 2017, working to remove gillnets, patrol for poachers, document and collect data to share with the scientific community, and report all suspicious activity to the Mexican Navy, who will make arrests as needed.

This protective effort has run into armed opposition. On January 2, despite gunshots being fired at its surveillance drone again, Sea Shepherd, together with the Mexican Navy, drove poachers off the protected vaquita refuge and saved the life of an endangered totoaba fish from their illegal nets.

This was the second shoot-out, and the first in daylight, directed at Sea Shepherd in the Upper Gulf of California, Mexico, in less than a week. In the first incident, on Christmas Eve 2017, poachers shot down the conservationists’ night vision drone.

“The endangered vaquita would now be extinct if not for our intervention,” says Watson, who takes credit for many other victories for ocean creatures.

“We shut down the entire Southern Ocean pirate toothfish fleet. We have intercepted and stopped poachers off West Africa, in the marine reserves of the Galapagos, Sicily and Panama,” said Watson. “We have removed hundreds of tons of ghost nets and plastics from the sea, and most importantly we have shown the world what a few passionate and courageous people can do.”

“Our objective is to continue to serve and protect all life in the Ocean from illegal and greedy exploitation by destructive humans,” Watson said. “Sea Shepherd is guided by this one reality: If the Ocean dies, we die!”

Featured image: Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson in Antarctica, 2009 (Photo courtesy Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) Posted for media use.


A Sixth Scenario for Europe: The NGO Vision

Caption: Standing in solidarity with Young Friends of the Earth Norway, to save Norway’s fjords, 2016. (Photo © Luka Tomac / Friends of the Earth Europe) Published in FOE Europe 2016 Annual Review.

Standing in solidarity with Young Friends of the Earth Norway, to save Norway’s fjords, 2016. (Photo © Luka Tomac / Friends of the Earth Europe) Published in FOE Europe 2016 Annual Review.

BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 27, 2017 ( News) – Non-governmental organizations across the European Union have just issued their alternative vision for the future of the EU, as the bloc moves forward without Britain, as a group of 27, rather than 28, member states.

Grounded in the principles of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and initiated by Friends of the Earth Europe and SDG Watch Europe, the NGO vision is distinct from the five Future of Europe scenarios proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in March.

These five scenarios are currently under consultation with member states, with the first conclusions due at the end of the year.

Intended to influence the ongoing debate on the future direction of Europe, this sixth scenario, an alternative vision of “a more democratic, just and sustainable Europe” is endorsed by 256 organizations, including labour rights, culture, development, environment, health, women’s rights, youth, and anti-discrimination groups.

Speaking for SDG Watch Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe, Leida Rijnhout said, “The five scenarios for the future of Europe put forward by President Juncker are all deeply disappointing and have little connection to the challenges that the European Union faces. Instead we need a bold vision – an alternative sixth scenario – that puts social and environmental wellbeing at the core.

“The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be absolutely key for a future that serves people and the planet, not vested interests,” Rijnhout said.

The NGO vision states, “In a scenario where sustainability sits firmly at the heart of the European project,the EU27 will prioritise the interests of citizens, in the EU and beyond. Europe will have a strong focus on Europe’s core social values

– democracy and participation, social justice, solidarity and sustainability, respect for the rule of law and human rights, both within Europe and around the globe.”

The NGO vision statement turns the spotlight on economic, social and environmental wellbeing as the three forms of wellness that EU citizens are seeking.

The NGOs are seeking, “Economic wellbeing in the form of prosperity for all, starting with redistribution of wealth.”

They want, “Social wellbeing in the provision of quality, inclusive and affordable public services, the promotion of cultural diversity and a caring society.”

And the vision statement emphasizes, “Environmental wellbeing residing in a healthy natural environment that sustains all life on Earth and protects our soils, waters and air, provides nutritious, healthy food and where climate change is minimized.”

The NGOs released their vision statement through the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the largest network of environmental citizens’ organizations in Europe. The EEB stands for a more sustainable future.

“As a result of this focus,” said the EEB in a statement, the EU27 will ensure a better health and quality of life for its citizens. This will increase public trust in European institutions. It will move away from the current focus where commercial and corporate interests are all too often prioritized over the public interest. Decisions are made in the public interest and transparent, accountable and inclusive institutions will be the norm.”

Releasing his White Paper on the five scenarios in March, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recalled the founding of the EU 60 years ago, “with the force of the law rather than with armed forces.”

“As we mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, it is time for a united Europe of 27 to shape a vision for its future. It’s time for leadership, unity and common resolve.

President Juncker said, “The Commission’s White Paper presents a series of different paths this united EU at 27 could choose to follow. It is the start of the process, not the end, and I hope that now an honest and wide-ranging debate will take place. The form will then follow the function. We have Europe’s future in our own hands.”

The Commission’s five scenarios each offer a glimpse into the potential state of the Union by 2025 depending on the choices Europe will make. “They are neither mutually exclusive, nor exhaustive,” the Commission said.

They are:

Scenario 1: Carrying On – The EU27 focuses on delivering its positive reform agenda in the spirit of the Commission’s New Start for Europe from 2014 and of the Bratislava Declaration agreed by all 27 Member States in 2016.

Scenario 2: Nothing but the Single Market – The EU27 is gradually re-centred on the single market as the 27 Member States are not able to find common ground on an increasing number of policy areas. By 2025 this could mean crossing borders for business or tourism becomes difficult. Finding a job abroad is harder and the transfer of pension rights to another country not guaranteed.

Scenario 3: Those Who Want More Do More – The EU27 proceeds as today but allows willing Member States to do more together in specific areas such as defence, internal security or social matters. One or several “coalitions of the willing” emerge.

Scenario 4: Doing Less More Efficiently – The EU27 focuses on delivering more and faster in selected policy areas, while doing less where it is perceived not to have an added value. Attention and limited resources are focused on selected policy areas.

Scenario 5: Doing Much More Together – Member States decide to share more power, resources and decision-making across the board. Decisions are agreed faster at European level and rapidly enforced. By 2025 this could mean connected cars drive seamlessly across Europe as clear EU-wide rules exist.

But Petr Hlobil, director of the non-governmental CEE Bankwatch Network, reacted to the five scenarios by saying, “There is a crisis of imagination in Brussels.”

“Reforming the EU Budget holds part of the key to unlocking a progressive and inspiring new vision for Europe. Innovating in how we involve citizens and civil society in EU spending to build flourishing, sustainable futures, and designing EU finance to create more equal societies through this great transition to sustainable well-being, hold the highest potential to reconnect people with the European project,” Hlobil said.

In advance of the June 28 release by the European Commission of a reflection paper on the future of Europe’s finances, a growing movement of civil society across Europe has launched its own call for a reformed EU budget that unlocks a positive, people-centered and sustainable future for a new Europe.

The People’s Budget campaign calls for a rethink of the EU budget to guide a sixth scenario for Europe, and demands that citizens and civil society be allowed into the Future of Europe debate, which is currently happening behind closed doors.

According to the NGOs’ vision statement, by 2025, the sixth scenario would mean:

Delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the principles and Sustainable Development Goals: leaving no one behind, living within Europe’s fair share of our planetary boundaries, and putting respect for human rights at the core of EU and national policy-making.

The full implementation of the Paris Agreement by decarbonising our economy, enhancing energy efficiency and accelerating the just and sustainable transition to clean and affordable renewable energy, based on the principles of climate justice, in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The idea of Better Regulation implies that all EU policies, laws and regulations are focused on ensuring policy coherence for sustainable development and on enforcement of high standards for jobs, health, safety and the environment, delivering tangible benefits to all citizens and the regeneration of environmental capital.

Policy coherence as a key objective will result in an end to negative externalities of domestic policies for the Global South and the phasing out of perverse public subsidies, especially for unsustainable food production and fossil fuels.

Jan Willem Goudriaan, general secretary of the European Public Service Union, said, “Public services and decent work are key ingredients for a fairer, more cohesive and sustainable Europe. Everyone benefits from investment in, for example, high quality public healthcare, social services, education, and environmental services.”


Featured Image: The light at the end of a road in the Forêt de Soignes, Brussels, Belgium (Photo by Vincent Brassinne) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Top 10 U.S. Carbon Market Trends of 2017


Sea level rise caused by climate warming has inundated Louisiana’s Isle de Jean Charles, displacing the Biloxi-Chitimacha Tribe, the first official U.S. climate refugees. (Photo by Karen Apricot) Creative commons license via Flickr.

By Sunny Lewis

PORTLAND, Oregon, January 24, 2017 ( News) – The Climate Trust, a nonprofit that specializes in mobilizing conservation finance for climate benefit, announced its fourth annual prediction list of 10 carbon market trends to watch in the coming year.

Trends range from U.S. citizens becoming climate refugees in one of the hottest years on record, to more native tribes joining carbon markets, to China taking the global climate leadership role, to environmental justice concerns playing an increased role in climate policy decisions.

These trends were identified by The Climate Trust based on interactions with their group of working partners: governments, investors, project developers, large businesses, and the philanthropic community.

Our team has identified areas of potential advancement, despite the anticipated inaction around climate at the federal level,” said Sean Penrith, executive director for The Climate Trust.

This year, more than ever, we felt there was a need for positivity, and have primarily chosen to share industry insights that are positive in nature, yet still strongly based in reality,” said Penrith. “We expect that the New Year will bring together unlikely, yet strong, domestic partnerships with corresponding resolve to address climate change, and we look forward to seeing what we can accomplish by banding together.

The Top 10 U.S. Carbon Market Trends

1. As our nation heads into uncertain times with respect to climate change policy and action, states, cities, and regional collaborative groups are going to lead the fight against climate change.

In New York City, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that if the Trump Administration withdraws from the Paris Accord, mayors from 128 cities will pick up the cause.

In the Midwest, wind turbines continue to rise out of the cornfields.

In Oregon, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken recently issued an opinion and order  denying the U.S. government and fossil fuel industry’s motions to dismiss a climate change lawsuit filed by 21 young people.

In Oregon, the Department of Environmental Quality is wrapping up the draft considerations for a cap-and-trade program for the state. In the vacuum created by a Scott Pruitt-led EPA, and a Rex Tillerson-led State Department, rulings like the one issued by Judge Aiken, and statements like the one from California Governor Jerry Brown challenging Trump on climate change, indicate where the action on climate change is going to be for the next four years.

2. Progressive states and foundations will pick up support for domestic climate finance in the absence of federal action. We expect that climate denial from federal leaders will alarm foundations and progressive states. Many foundations previously had an international climate focus, and The Climate Trust anticipates that these institutions will refocus on their U.S. agenda.

The political will for carbon pricing will grow in progressive states, demanding more immediate state action.

Increasingly, public entities are aware that their dollars are most effectively used when they leverage private capital. In 2017, states and foundations will look for opportunities to mitigate risks to private climate finance providers investing in the United States through new financial mechanisms like first loss capital contributions, loan guarantees, credit enhancements, and other new structures.


The 21 young plaintiffs in Our Childrens’ Trust’s landmark lawsuit against the federal government celebrate the judge’s order backing their right to sue. November 2016 (Photo courtesy Our Childrens’ Trust) Post for media use.

3. Global climate litigation campaigns will gain momentum during 2017, legitimizing our children’s right to a healthy planet.

This is no ordinary lawsuit,” U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken wrote in her ruling on November 10, 2016 on a landmark case filed in Oregon by 21 young people and Our Children’s Trust. The plaintiffs allege that over the last 50 years, the government, including President Barack Obama, violated their constitutional rights and imperiled their future by failing to adequately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Also acting as a plaintiff is world-renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, serving as guardian for future generations and his granddaughter, who is a youth plaintiff in the case.

Whether the case is heard in federal court or settled, it provides a solid legal foundation for future climate litigation, and gives hope to the growing ranks of youth climate activists and their supporters.

We believe that more judges will acknowledge that the climate change crisis is within their purview, and that the constitutional rights of youth plaintiffs will be upheld against other governmental branches.

The world is watching this historic precedent set in Oregon. We predict the optimism gained from this victory will encourage judges and activists to look to the courts to validate the science behind climate change and allow judicial systems to require governments to take tangible action.

4. Private industry picks up U.S. government slack, making progress towards Paris commitments. During his campaign, President-elect Trump referred to climate change as a Chinese hoax and asserted that he will cancel the Paris Agreement. While he has walked back these statements, most recently saying that “nobody really knows” if climate change is real, his choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that Trump is going to try and make his campaign promises.

In the days after the November 2016 election, business leaders called on Trump to honor America’s agreement to the Paris Accord. Savvy business leaders and people like Bill Gates who recently drew attention to his $1 billion clean-technology fund, not only understand that climate change is real, but understand that taking no action will have a negative impact on their bottom line.

Progress will be made toward our U.S. Paris commitments due to the efforts of private industry. The Climate Trust anticipates that the Trump Administration will be left on the sidelines while the rest of the world rallies to meet the commitments made in Paris to keep greenhouse gas emissions at levels that will prevent global climate change increasing more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

5. Environmental justice community concerns are increasingly built into climate policy discussions throughout the United States. The environmental justice community in California has brought into sharp focus the need to balance the impact on disadvantaged communities with climate policy and programs.

Meeting the ambitious greenhouse gas goals now required by law in California in the cheapest manner possible is a central equity issue.

There will be continued attention given to these environmental justice concerns both in California and across the country as state climate policy evolves.

6. U.S. citizens become climate refugees in one of the hottest years on record. The top 10 hottest years in human history have all occurred since 1998, and 2016 is among them. It is anticipated that this continued trend will give rise to an increasing number of climate refugees within U.S. borders.

The Biloxi-Chitimacha Tribe in Louisiana is considered the first official community of climate refugees in this country. Whether it’s a 1,000-year flooding event in Louisiana, or wildfires on the west coast, global warming is altering the country in ways that will displace thousands of Americans.

This changing geography will necessitate the development of new solutions that not only sequester carbon, but also focus on adaptation. Some of these solutions are already under development, such as the Blue Carbon Initiative, which seeks to restore coastal wetlands to sequester carbon in plants and soils and protect against dangerous storm surges.

7. More native tribes will join carbon markets. The California Compliance Offset Protocol, U.S. Forest Projects, now has more than 34 million offset credits issued, including over 7.7 million tons from properties owned by Native American Tribes; nine projects located in six different states. The second largest individual issuance to date in the California carbon market is from the White Mountain Apache tribe project in Arizona.

Tribes that have taken part in carbon transactions have indicated that credit sales provide a new way to make money while improving wildlife habitat, expanding the tribe’s natural resource program, and acquiring and protecting land in its ancestral territory.

Last year, the protocol rules for the California market were expanded beyond the lower 48 U.S. states to include Alaska, opening the door for even more tribes to engage.

8. China takes the lead in carbon markets, encouraging linkages. The year of the rooster in the Chinese calendar is also the year China will take a leading role in using markets to fight global climate change.

After several years of piloting regional emissions trading programs, China will launch a national system that will cover over four billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, making it twice as large as the next biggest market in Europe.

As a developing nation and large emitter, China’s bold commitment to carbon markets will send a signal that will be felt in America and beyond,” says Erika Anderson, a climate change attorney doing business in China.  

9. U.S.-based institutional investors will increase commitments to investments that hedge out carbon risk. Following the example of Norway’s sovereign fund, and other large European institutional investors, U.S.-based pensions and family offices will continue to de-risk their portfolios from the negative impacts of climate change, and take advantage of opportunities in the sustainable real assets space.

Lindsey Brace Martinez, founder of StarPoint Advisors, LLC and advisor to institutional investors and asset managers, says, “Given the prevailing sentiment for a low return environment, U.S. institutional investors are looking for investment managers who have a competitive edge and can deliver value over the long-term. Investment managers who systematically review and update their risk management approaches and apply their expertise through focused strategies will have a competitive edge.”

10. California Air Resources Board prevails in CalChamber lawsuit and commits to cap and trade. A long-standing lawsuit filed by the California Chamber of Commerce, Morning Star Packing Co.,and the National Association of Manufacturers has hung over the cap and trade market. The lawsuit argues that the auctioning of the cap and trade allowances constitutes an illegal tax since it does not have the approval of two-thirds of the Legislature.

Oral arguments are scheduled in Sacramento for January 24, 2017.

There are three possible outcomes for the lawsuit. It may be deemed a tax, and cause California to have a cap and trade system without the auction element unless the Legislature approves with a two-thirds vote.

It could be deemed a regulatory fee, and thus uphold the validity of the allowance auctions. Or, the third possibility is that the court finds that the auction is neither a tax nor a fee but something else not subject to the strictures of tax voting requirements under the state constitution.

The Climate Trust believes that this third option will be the outcome of the suit and be a complete victory for the cap and trade program.

In 2016, a number of our predictions came to fruition, including an increased number of institutions committing to divest from fossil fuel companies as part of the transition to a clean energy future,” said Kristen Kleiman, director of investments for The Climate Trust.

The divest movement has provided a valuable market signal to support the needed flows of conservation finance,” Kleiman said. “Riding this wave of interest from large institutions, late last year, The Trust executed a milestone contract with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, securing a $5.5M Program-Related Investment to seed our first-of-its-kind carbon investment fund.

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Undercover Detectives Battle Eco-Crime


An EIA photographer documents forest destruction in Southeast Asia, 2015 (Photo courtesy EIA from the “EIA Impact Report 2015”)

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, December 6, 2016 ( News) – Despite its impressive name, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is not a government agency but a small nonprofit that has become one of the world’s most effective conservation groups.

Based in London, EIA conducts diligent, carefully planned undercover investigations that produce the credible intelligence and persuasive photos and videos necessary to catch criminals and bring them to justice.

EIA was formed in 1984 by environmentalists Dave Currey, Jennifer Lonsdale and Allan Thornton, three environmental activists in the United Kingdom. They immediately touched off an international outcry by documenting the annual slaughter of hundreds of pilot whales in Denmark’s Faroe Islands.

Since then, EIA employees have been carrying out research and analysis of trade incidents, trafficking hotspots, routes and methods, and patterns of demand for illegal animal parts and other evidence of illegal activity using databases and other information sources to investigate and expose crimes against wildlife and the environment.

EIA carried out its first pioneering undercover investigations into the ivory trade in 1987. Investigators travelled through parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia uncovering the true nature of a business that had reduced the population of African elephants from 1.3 million to only 600,000 in 10 years.

The international ivory trade moratorium, which took effect in 1989, would not have been in place without the EIA. Currey and Thornton received the Albert Schweitzer Medal for their work by the Animal Welfare Institute in the United States.

EIA investigators have uncovered more about some aspects of this trade, such as military involvement in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and ivory used as currency to buy arms in conflict areas.


Tanzania sentenced four Chinese nationals to 20 years imprisonment for rhino horn smuggling and two other Chinese nationals to 30 years imprisonment for the possession of 706 elephant tusks, plus five years for attempted bribery. (Photo courtesy EIA from “Time for Action” report, November 2016)

Fast forward to this past October for evidence of EIA’s effectiveness.

EIA’s report “Collateral Damage,” launched during the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CoP17) in Johannesburg, South Africa, provided much-needed information on the illegal totoaba fish maw trade in China.

People in Asian cultures use the swim bladder in a soup called fish maw,” says Erin Dean at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It’s also reputed to have some medicinal value; it’s thought to boost fertility.”

What investigators found is that Mexican fishermen use giant gill nets to catch totoaba that incidentally snare and kill critically endangered vaquita porpoises. There are now less than 100 of these porpoises left on Earth. Both species are found in only one place – Mexico’s Gulf of California.

Vaquita die. Totoaba die. Totoaba bodies get tossed away; their bladders go to China. Vaquita bodies just get tossed overboard.

This activity is a violation of both Mexican and international law, since the totoaba and the vaquita are listed by international treaty as endangered.

The decision adopted at COP17 requires governments to curb the illegal catch and illegal trade in the totoaba fish. Countries must report their enforcement results next year.

China has now committed to collaborating and contributing to the conservation of totoaba, together with Mexico and the United States.

EIA’s media expertise is useful in helping the group shape world opinion. Films featuring the work of the Environmental Investigation Agency picked up top awards in 2012 at the 35th International Wildlife Film Festival in the United States.

EIA is no stranger to event, held annually in Missoula, Montana, after taking the award for Best News Programme in 2010 with “Eco Crime Investigators: Skin and Bones.

In 2012, three films featuring EIA operatives working undercover won awards at the festival: “Blood Ivory” and “Making a Killing,” both made by Red Earth Studio for National Geographic, and the BBC Natural History Unit’s “Madagascar, Lemurs & Spies.”

“Making a Killing,” about the exposure of Iceland’s hunting of endangered fin whales for export to Japan, was awarded Best of Category: News.

These films have been very useful in helping to spread the word to a wider audience of EIA’s unique and important work on the front lines of the fight against environmental crime,” said Executive Director Mary Rice.

EIA counts as its other major successes:

  • Playing a pivotal role in securing the worldwide ban on the trade in ivory in 1989;
  • Reducing the international trade in wild caught birds;
  • Uncovering the largest rhino horn poaching operation in the world;
  • Reducing the demand for whale and dolphin meat in Japan;
  • Raising more than £80,000 for Kaziranga National Park in India and providing equipment for the Kenyan Wildlife Service;
  • Turning global attention to the illegal trade in big cat skins and exposing the trans-Himalayan trafficking routes for big cat body parts;
  • Contributing to the closure of 53 illegal mines that were destroying prime tiger habitat in India;
  • Exposing elephant poaching in Tanzania and Zambia in 2010, thus defeating their bids to sell stockpiled ivory;
  • Playing key roles in achieving the amendment of the Lacey Act in the United States, the European Union’s 2010 timber regulation and the historic Voluntary Partnership Agreement between the EU and Indonesia in 2011 to help safeguard Indonesia’s forests.

In 2007, EIA was presented with two awards at the 20th anniversary meeting of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The awards recognize the work done to expose and close down an illicit international trade in refrigerants known as CFCs and other chemicals that damage the ozone layer.

Having received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award in 2006, the EIA was presented EPA’s Best-of-the-Best Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award, selected from more than 500 projects between 1990 and 2007. EIA received the award for “Leadership and Heroism in Preventing Illegal Trade.”

Since 2007, the EIA has been advocating for an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that would phase down refrigerants known as HFCs. These chemicals replaced CFCs but were later found to also be damaging to the ozone layer.

On October 15, 2016, 197 countries adopted such an amendment in Kigali, Rwanda. Countries committed to cutting the production and consumption of HFCs by more than 80 percent over the next 30 years.

The Kigali Amendment will cap and phase down HFC consumption starting in 2019, with developed countries taking action first.

Most developing countries, including China, by far the largest HFC consumer and producer, have committed to freeze HFC consumption in 2024. A second later schedule was agreed for a small number of countries including India, Kuwait, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

EIA UK Climate Campaign Leader Clare Perry said, “Compromises had to be made but 85 percent of developing countries have committed to the early schedule starting 2024, which is a very significant achievement.

According to our initial calculations this deal will avoid more than 70 billion tonnes of CO2e [carbon dioxide equivalent] emissions by 2050 – which will be close to avoiding a half a degree of warming,” she said.

EIA US Executive Director Alexander von Bismarck said, “The Kigali Amendment, with the Paris Agreement, gives 2016 the biggest one-two punch in the history of battling global warming. Still, with billions of tonnes of emissions left untouched, the ultimate power of the Kigali Amendment now depends on accelerating the removal of these industrial climate-killers in upcoming meetings.

EIA now seeks to apply its experience to other categories of controlled chemicals, which are harmful to the environment, such as hazardous waste and pesticides.

This project will conduct scoping research into the illicit trade in controlled chemicals and, using this information, prepare for a series of investigations to raise awareness and understanding of the issues at the governmental and institutional levels.

The group aims to achieve improved enforcement of international conventions regulating trade in harmful chemicals and to foster cross-border cooperation between nations.

Meanwhile, it’s the holiday season, and EIA suggests giving your loved one a compact camera to use for documenting illegal activity

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State-of-the-Art Social Investing: Bringing the Homeless Home to a Green Community


The piecemeal approach to ending homelessness using temporary housing and shelters has long proven inadequate in the face of America’s formidable battle against this social issue, especially for American veterans. Nonprofit American Family Housing (AFH) has launched a new project that will provide permanent support — a powerful solution to help break the cycle of chronic homelessness. Potter’s Lane — the nation’s first multi-family permanent supportive housing project built with recycled shipping container — is bringing the way communities solve homelessness into the 21st Century. Built from converted cargo containers, Potter’s Lane features green architecture, aesthetic appeal and a design that encourages a sense of community pride all while addressing an important social issue.

Located at 15171 Jackson Street in Midway City, Calif., the complex is in the heart of Orange County, adjacent to American Family Housing’s offices. The eco-friendly housing at Potter’s Lane is prefabricated off-site. This approach has reduced development inefficiencies, while increasing sustainability and energy efficiency. It provides increased access to permanent supportive housing without the long development cycles associated with conventional site-built construction and financing.

GrowthPoint Structures: Modern Modular Homes

Potter’s Lane will offer both indoor and outdoor spaces, with beautiful gardens and native plants to provide a sustainable environment that is soothing and enjoyable. Through tranquil common areas, residents have a space to be together or alone while building a sense of community.

“The container units exceed the state’s criteria for energy efficiency,” says Lisa Sharpe, senior vice president of GrowthPoint Structures, a Los Angeles-based company that has built schools in California and custom homes from what could be called “gently used” cargo containers that carried dry goods to the area’s ports. Benefits include:

  • Cool roof technology reduces heat absorption by over 90 percent, reducing air conditioning electricity bills by 20 percent.
  • Ductless system eliminates potential air quality hazards that cause over 14 million cases of asthma in the USA.
  • The GrowthPoint lighting systems save 33 percent in energy costs compared to standard lighting
  • 85 percent of all components are reclaimed/recycled materials reducing landfill impact by 22-tons per unit.
  • LEED Platinum achievable.
  • Exceeds LEED Platinum requirements for reclaimed content by 55 percent.
  • Achieves 100 percent of LEED Innovation and Design Process criteria.

The entire complex is about 11,902 square feet and boasts attractive indoor and outdoor community spaces. Built on land owned by the organization, the 16-unit project will provide permanent housing and support services to 15 chronically homeless-10 set aside for veterans and 5 with veteran preference- plus one onsite manager. This affordable housing complex is part of a comprehensive program that works with the tenants on psychological, social, medical, employment and financial issues to climb out of the spiral of chronic homelessness by achieving long term housing stability and self-sufficiency.

Homes That Are Safe, Durable and Built to Last

Each unit at Potter’s Lane is being built using three 8-by-20-foot containers, with several sides removed for interior space to accommodate a bedroom/dining area, kitchen and bathroom. Floor-to-ceiling windows on two walls let in plenty of light. With each unit providing approximately 480 square feet of living space, a single person can live comfortably in a private unit.

  • Withstands 112-tons of compressive force and 17-tons of lateral force
  • 106 times stronger than building codes require
  • Resists weathering over 100 years
  • Interior wood walls systems resist damage and hold up to 250 lbs. at any point
  • Continuous door hinges eliminate failing standard hinges removing the need for repair
    and replacement
  • Inherent safeguards to resist vandalism and increase security

The Big Ideas Behind Little Spaces

The idea to explore the use of shipping containers was first proposed by AFH’s former housing development consultant, Gerald Turner, and AFH agreed to lead the innovation for the field.  It’s not a completely novel idea, and the movement toward micro-homes extends beyond housing the homeless. With books, photo albums and music stored on phones instead of on shelves and TVs reduced to flat screens, today’s homes do not require the same amount of living space to provide many of the expected comforts and amenities.

Shifting focus on permanent, modular, sustainable housing offers three important benefits to the community:

  • It saves money. Costs for emergency medical treatment, incarceration, detox programs and emergency shelters can be reduced if the homeless population is given regular treatment in a permanent home.
  • It frees resources for other uses. Emergency rooms can return to their original intended purposes, for example, when chronic homelessness is reduced and people live in a safer environment.  In addition, funds previously used for frequent users of emergency systems can now be used for homeless adults and families that need preventative or short term solutions.
  • It changes lives. Prospects improved dramatically for success in curing a person’s chronic homelessness due to mental illness, the ravages of wartime experiences or other factors.

Only the Beginning

This model can be replicated and other organizations across the country are in planning stages. It’s an innovative approach to development, because the structures are manufactured off-site while site work is simultaneously being completed. Then, the units are delivered to the site and are assembled to create housing— shortening the time it would normally take to build a structure. The units are designed to be very strong, sustainable and energy efficient.

This project has already drawn wide support from corporate and other large-scale donors who will be recognized for their contributions with their names on structures in the community. AFH welcomes additional donors, and in gratitude for their assistance, AFH is offering further naming opportunities within the Potter’s Lane development.

For more information or with interest in getting involved, visit or call +1 (714) 897-3221. 

Donna Gallup
ABOUT DONNA GALLUP: Donna Gallup, M.S.W., L.S.W., is president & CEO of American Family Housing and a lifelong human services advocate who has tenaciously worked to benefit disadvantaged individuals and communities. With decades of experience in housing and community development, fundraising and social services, Donna possesses a unique and comprehensive understanding of the issues affecting the homeless population in California and across the USA. A New Jersey native, Donna holds a Master’s Degree in social work from New York University and has worked extensively with special needs populations, including the homeless, adults with mental illness, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, vulnerable families, and persons living with the challenges of addiction. Within the last decade alone, she has helped secure over $21 million for property acquisition and rehabilitation, operations, and services to develop supportive housing for the homeless and mentally ill. Prior to joining AFH, Donna served as CEO of the LAMP Community located on Skid Row in Los Angeles and in December 2013, the ACLU SoCal honored her at its Bill of Rights Dinner with the Human Rights Advocate award.

Featured image: Homeless, Creative Commons license via Pixabay

PEER Pressure Protects U.S. Govt. Employees

BLMHorsesOregonBy Sunny Lewis

WASHINGTON, DC, June 20, 2016 ( News) – Violent assaults against U.S. forest and rangeland employees and facilities rose sharply last year, according to figures just released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a nonprofit organization serving the interests of government employees in natural resources agencies.

Reported incidents increased by 87 percent on rangelands overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and rose by 60 percent on national forests.

PEER allows public servants to work as “anonymous activists” so that agencies must confront the message, rather than the messenger, says PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch.


Jeff Ruch, Executive Director, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) presenting at the Breaking Through Power event May 23, 2016, held by Ralph Nader’s Center for Study of Responsive Law, Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy Breaking Through Power) Posted for media use.

Security is a rising concern for scientists and other specialists working in the remote Western outposts,” Ruch said. “Higher law enforcement costs are cannibalizing already thin refuge budgets; meaning that some refuges are effectively closed to better protect others.

PEER has maintained a database of incidents against federal resource employees since the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City. Now all U.S. government agencies maintain some data, though it is not consistent or complete.

PEER’s incident figures, collected from agencies under the Freedom of Information Act, cover the year after the 2014 armed stand-off with renegade rancher Cliven Bundy in Nevada but before the seizure of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon by armed militia led by two of Bundy’s sons – Ammon and Ryan. 

Cliven Bundy’s refusal to pay grazing fees for running his cattle on federally owned land in southeastern Nevada was the flashpoint.

Bundy and his supporters contest federal ownership of national refuges, rangelands and forests.

Cliven Bundy’s son, Ryan Bundy, explained, “This is an issue of state sovereignty,” he said he told local politicians in Nevada. “These large tracts of land that Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, monuments, parks and, you know, National Parks, et cetera, et cetera, there is no constitutionality to them at all.


Cliven Bundy, left, and his son Ammon Bundy speaking at a forum hosted by the American Academy for Constitutional Education at the Burke Basic School in Mesa, Arizona. July 2014 (Photo by Gage Skidmore) Creative Commons license via Flickr

In January and February, armed anti-federalists led by Ryan and his brother Ammon Bundy took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon for 41 days.

During the occupation, one man was killed by police. Since February 11 when the militants surrendered, 25 people have been charged with crimes.

 PEER figures show the biggest annual jump in threats and assaults happened to employees of the Bureau of Land Management, where reported incidents in 2015 nearly doubled from 15 to 28.

After a couple of years of declining incidents, reported threats and assaults spiked to 155 for the U.S. Forest Service in 2015.

The National Park Service posted a slight rise in incidents, as did the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and the U.S. Park Police, which patrols urban parks in Washington, DC, saw a nearly 60 percent drop in 2015 from 120 in 2014 – an all-time record number of violent incidents.

Meanwhile, the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, the agency that manages national wildlife refuges, reported a slight drop in violent incidents.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) no longer systematically tracks assaults on federal employees. A reporting requirement for such incidents enacted after the Oklahoma City bombing was repealed in 2002 after DOJ complained that collecting this data was cumbersome.

At the same time, federal security agencies had dismantled efforts to counter domestic extremism, shifting the focus to Islamic extremism.

 But the armed occupiers are not going away anytime soon, says Ruch. “These right-wing militias constitute a real public safety threat, especially on federal lands in the Sagebrush West. By studying the patterns of these events perhaps managers can begin to defuse or prevent confrontations over federal lands.

Last year PEER ratcheted its work to protect whistleblowers up a notch.

PEER filed the first lawsuit to enforce new whistleblower protections for employees of federal contractors, subcontractors and grantees. PEER has also developed a new whistleblower legal center to help employees facing these conflicts to understand their rights and options.

PEER staffers say fishing vessel observers are also at great risk. Official figures posted June 2 by the Association for Professional Observers and PEER show that attacks against independent monitors of U.S. fishing fleets more than doubled between 2013 and 2015 from 35 to 84 reported cases.

 Professional fisheries observers accompany commercial fishing vessels to monitor compliance with catch limits, by-catch rules and regulations protecting dolphins, whales, seabirds, and sea turtles. Some 700 observers monitor fleets in 47 different fisheries in U.S. waters, logging some 77,000 days at sea each year. Many are female and face challenges from all-male fishing crews on long voyages.

 Last year, despite a record number of such assaults, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration took no enforcement action in any case, and more than half remain in “open” status.

Three observers have been murdered in recent years, deaths that occurred in international waters where there are even fewer protections than usual for observers.

Rather than enforcing observer protections, NOAA has joined with the fishing industry in a push to replace observers with cameras despite the absence of any reliability or accountability controls.

PEER has been around for more than 20 years, and in that time has accomplished many things the nonprofit group considers noteworthy.

  • Shut the pathway for lead poisoning for 1.4 million children under age seven living in five million older residential units with lead paint. A PEER lawsuit forced long-overdue rules requiring that all repairs and renovations on these older houses and apartments be conducted in a lead-safe manner.
  • Strengthened protections for federal whistleblowers through litigation, such as restoring U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers and negotiating the biggest federal whistleblower settlement.
  • Created safeguards for government scientists and the integrity of their research. This work includes not only new legal protections for scientists but PEER’s efforts validating their technical work and exposing official acts of scientific fraud and censorship.
  • Won government reforms, such as preventing losses of billions by insulating federal land appraisals from political influence and exposing how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “cooks its books on cost-benefit analyses to falsely justify multi-billion dollar projects.” 

 This second case caused the removal of two generals and a colonel and blocked Congressional authorization of any new navigation projects for six years.

  • Uprooted all genetically modified crops from wildlife refuges, and halted off-road vehicles from destroying national forests, parks, and fragile desert lands.
  • Defended wildlife by winning steps to prevent ship-strikes on the Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and harassment of manatees by “swim-with” tourists.  PEER is a leader is fighting against the militarization of wildlife management.
  • Forced adoption of safeguards for human exposure testing of pesticides and other toxins. This follows PEER’s expose of EPA endorsing testing insecticides on toddlers in an infamous experiment it was forced to cancel.
  • Won a court ruling banning powerful bio-accumulative neonicotinoid insecticides linked with bee colony collapse from national wildlife refuges. This capped a successful decade-long drive to remove all genetically crops and associated pesticides from the entire National Wildlife Refuge System.

PEER’s goal is to, “throw a “lifeline” to every environmental employee. PEER wants to “reach out to cubicles, field stations and laboratories across the country.” Every employee who faces political pressures to ignore laws or put development above conservation should know how to call PEER.Violent assaults against U.S. forest and rangeland employees and facilities rose sharply last year, according to figures just released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a nonprofit  organization serving the interests of government employees in natural resources agencies.


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Sue Cameron, center, addressed staff from the U.S. Forest Service, North Carolina Forest Service, and state forest agencies on a tour of the East Fork Headwaters tract in North Carolina. The tract includes headwaters for the French Broad River, rare Southern Appalachian mountain bogs, and Southern Appalachian brook trout. The land is part on an ongoing conservation effort by the North Carolina Forest Service. May 2016. (Photo by G. Peeples / USFWS) Public domain.

Main image: U.S. Bureau of Land Management staffers head out to their duties in Oregon’s Steens Mountain Wilderness, September 2013. (Photo courtesy BLM Oregon) Public domain

Philanthropy: The Value of Creating a Family Foundation

Family foundations are not solely the domain of the Bill and Melinda Gates or Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. Many small family foundations are flexing their muscles in the nonprofit and philanthropic worlds, zeroing in on issues they care about and where they feel they can make an impact.

According to, family foundations are on the rise.      The annual report on philanthropy from the Giving U.S.A. Foundation reports: “Not only did total giving by foundations grow 8.2% in 2014, gifts from all three types—community, independent and operating—also went up. The annual changes in this category are influenced most by grants from independent foundations; their 2014 gifts were 7.8% higher than in 2013 and accounted for 74% of the category’s total.”

As middle-class offspring, particularly Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, begin to inherit their family’s wealth, many are creating family foundations to serve philanthropic causes that resonate with the family or that continue a relative’s legacy.

Marshall MacCready, who along with his siblings established the MacCready Family Foundation shortly after their father died, says it makes perfect sense to establish a foundation when assets pass to the next generation.

It was easy for us because we are a like-minded family. When we inherited the money, we sat down with advisors and spoke about our motivations. We could have taken a lump sum, and divided it between us, but when we saw the benefits of establishing a foundation it made perfect sense,” says Marshall.


Molly Knox, a MacCready family member and president of the MacCready Family Foundation, shares the sentiment echoed by other Baby Boomers who inherit money:

“My initial reaction was ‘nobody deserves this much money,’” said Knox. She and her husband, along with the other MacCready siblings, had already established careers and comfortable homes for their families.

The family agreed to create the foundation, but instead of seeding many nonprofits with smaller grants, the MacCready philanthropy strategy focuses on giving unrestricted multi-year operating grants to a handful of small, youth-focused nonprofits. The goal of giving larger grant amounts is to help often overlooked smaller organizations make a larger impact on the community they serve. The MacCready’s giving strategy is what sets them apart from other family foundations that tend to give restricted grants earmarked for a specific program and to several organizations.

The MacCready Foundation currently supports three nonprofits in the Los Angeles area: 

My Friend’s Place, which provides homeless youth with resources and a safe space; Youth Speak Collective, which gives young people a leadership role in their communities; and RootDown L.A., an initiative that focuses on growing fresh produce with youth in underserved communities. They also support the Community Science Workshop Network (CSWN) that focuses on giving Bay Area underprivileged youth the opportunity to discover science.

One of the most important things the MacCreadys have done is to help us sustain ourselves over time,” says Megan Hanson, executive director, RootDown L.A. “They gave us an initial capacity building grant and have since provided consistent contributions that help cover core operating costs and have at times been leveraged as mandatory matching funds to win federal grants. There are few foundations that do these multi-year investments and the donation is integral to our sustainability.

Helping causes the family cares about is just one of the many benefits of creating a family foundation. It also pulls the family together, fuels discussions on how the family can do more and inspires younger family members to engage with the organizations it supports. In fact, the youngest MacCready Foundation member, Knox’s college-aged daughter, is not only actively involved with the foundation but is also pursuing her own philanthropic interests. She says more than anything she has inherited a culture of giving.

My parents didn’t tell me about the foundation until I was 18 and by then it was already a lifestyle,” she says. “There’s no doubt that having this foundation is a responsibility, but with it comes the knowledge that I can help make a real difference, the benefit of positive shared experiences with my family, and meeting all the selfless people that do such good work in the world.

This younger family member spends her free time volunteering at My Friend’s Place in Hollywood and has witnessed first hand the benefits of the family’s annual grant.

Last year the MacCready Family Foundation did something no foundation had done previously with My Friend’s Place. It agreed to provide matching funds for a challenge campaign that proved extremely successful. The campaign not only raised enough money to reach the financial goals for a year, it galvanized the community to participate and helped the larger community take notice. Its success also means the creative workshops instrumental to its clients’ success have been doubled.

Scott Nelson, certified financial planner for Sagemark Consulting in California, says that it’s possible to create a private foundation with an initial gift of $5,000, far less than most people think.

There’s no doubt a family foundation keeps the family connected, especially when adult children live far from home. It’s a great way to pass their values on to future generations;” he says.

This has certainly been the MacCreadys’ experience who say operating a family foundation has exceeded expectations.

It’s been great for our family dynamic,” says Tyler MacCready. “Part of the initial process was evaluating family values. The idea of philanthropy showed up as a value and it has been so good to discuss important issues of philanthropy as a family rather than just split up an inheritance. There is no doubt our foundation brings the family together in a mission inspired by common values.”

Green Groups Guide Investors to Protected Areas

GLAND, Switzerland, December 1, 2015 (Maximpact News) – Two of the world’s largest and most influential nonprofit groups have made a new 10-year commitment, combining their strengths to enhance the role of protected and conserved areas in achieving sustainable development.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have pledged to expand the number of protected areas reaching IUCN Green List quality standards to at least 1,000 protected areas in 50 countries.

The partnership will look at how challenges to protected areas such as poaching, illegal logging and other destructive activities can be addressed through new financing and investment.

The two organizations have promised to seek the application of US$2 billion of new investment funding for the enhanced performance and sustainability of these Green List protected areas.

And the groups say they will generate at least 20 new ambitious protected area commitments for biodiversity and United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals from communities, governments and other organizations.

The two groups, both based in Gland, believe that by combining their strengths they will multiply their chances of making a major contribution towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The IUCN-WWF partnership was announced on the first anniversary of the IUCN World Parks Congress, which took place in November 2014 in Sydney, Australia and culminated in the Promise of Sydney.

The Promise of Sydney commits signers to invest in protected areas, which help to halt biodiversity loss; mitigate and adapt to climate change; reduce the risk and impact of disasters; improve food and water security, and promote human health and dignity.

The Promise of Sydney encompasses four elements:

A Vision that reflects a set of high-level aspirations and recommendations for the change needed in the coming decade to accomplish conservation and development goals for parks, people and planet.

Twelve Innovative Approaches to transformative change to: achieve conservation goals, respond to climate change, improve health and well-being, support human life, reconcile development challenges, enhance the diversity and quality of governance, respect indigenous and traditional knowledge, inspire a new generation, protect World Heritage sites, conserve the marine environment, develop greater capacity for effective action and create a new social compact.

The third element of the Promise of Sydney is a Panorama of Inspiring Protected Area Solutions to overcome obstacles to the stability of people and protected areas. Supported by IUCN, its Commissions and members, they can serve as reference points and resources for conservation practitioners around the world.

The fourth element is Promises. These are pledges by countries, groups of countries, funders, organizations and other partners to chart the path forward for the world by stepping up or supporting accelerated implementation.

For instance, the U.S. National Park Service committed to setting up a program to engage 100,000 youth in protected areas across the United States.

South Africa committed to more than triple its ocean protection over the next 10 years, from less than 0.5 percent to five percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone within Marine Protected Areas. South Africa will do this to ensure environmental sustainability because MPAs deliver ecosystem services that underpin South African livelihoods, food security and ecotourism.

Russia committed to grow its protected area network by establishing at least 27 federal protected areas and expanding 12 others, increasing the total area of federal protected areas by 22 percent, or 13 million hectares.

Critical habitats for important threatened species, including the Amur tiger in the Bikin River watershed in Russia’s Far East, the polar bear in the Novosibirsk Archipelago, the Siberian crane in Yakutia, and the Beluga whale in the White Sea near the Solovetsky Archipelago, among others, will be granted protection.

Japan’s Ministry of the Environment committed to working with the IUCN Asia Regional Office to enhance collaboration among Asian countries on protected areas management through the Asia Protected Area Partnership, which was officially established during the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014.

China committed to increase its protected areas territory to at least 20 percent by 2020, and to match Chinese categories of protected areas to global standards.

The Promise of Sydney is the foundation for pathways the WWF and IUCN can take over the next 10 years to ensure that protected areas can be perceived as one of the best investments in the planet’s future.

The 10-year partnership aims to make the case for direct investment in protected areas and protected area systems that demonstrate enhanced conservation outcomes.

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: A wildebeest grazes beside a vast flock of flamingos at Tanzania’s Lake Magadi in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. (Photo courtesy IUCN World Parks Congress)
Slideshow Images: A.  The Three Sisters – Australia’s Blue Mountains National Park is located in the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, in eastern Australia. (Photo courtesy Nosha via Flickr) B. Half Dome seen from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park, California, USA (Photo courtesy IUCN World Parks Congress) C. Guere Community conservation area, Choiseul, Solomon Islands (Photo courtesy IUCN World Parks Congress)

Nonprofit Lawyers: It’s not an Oxymoron, It’s ELAW

ELAWlawyersBy Sunny Lewis

EUGENE, Oregon, October 19, 2015 (Maximpact News) – The nonprofit Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) is the go-to organization for 300+ lawyers in more than 70 countries who act as environmental defenders.

Based in an historic house in downtown Eugene, the ELAW Secretariat helps its partners around the world gain skills and build strong organizations of their own that will work to protect the environment for years to come.

ELAW Executive Director Bern Johnson says, “Our work is better known in Jakarta or Mexico City or New Delhi than it is in Eugene.”

Since 10 lawyers started ELAW in 1989, the organization has offered the legal tools to help associates strengthen existing environmental laws, bring enforcement actions, critique proposed statutes, and replicate model laws.

These advocates rely on ELAW staff scientists to critique plans for proposed developments, develop systems to monitor environmental conditions, provide expert testimony, and recommend cleaner alternatives.

ELAW has hosted more than 100 lawyers for fellowships. They come to Eugene to gain language skills, tap legal and scientific resources, work closely with ELAW staff, and learn from U.S. efforts to protect communities and the environment.

Funded by donations from foundations and private citizens, ELAW has a budget for helping lawyers challenging injustice, who often face serious legal or other consequences for their advocacy.



Clearing India’s Ganges River of Industrial Polluters

For 30 years, ELAW partners in India, led by the pioneering Goldman Prize winner M.C. Mehta, have fought to clean up the Ganges River. Contamination in the Ganges far exceeds World Health Organization standards.

A case that began in 2013 when ELAW partners Rahul Choudhary and Ritwick Dutta filed a suit in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against a single polluter in the town of Simbhaoli has mushroomed into a case against some 1,000 industrial polluters along the Ganges River in five states.

Last fall, the Supreme Court gave the NGT exclusive jurisdiction to clean up the Ganges, and the NGT responded by sending teams of inspectors to investigate each polluting industry.

ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik is reviewing inspection reports and helping partners identify which polluters are violating the law and harming the Ganges.

This approach is yielding results. More than 60 industries that had been operating without wastewater pollution controls have been closed, including dozens of tanneries in the notorious Jajmau industrial district of Kanpur.

Read a report from ELAW on Cleaning up the Ganges.



Ukraine’s Rivers Dammed to Trickles

Remote rivers in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains are among the world’s most beautiful, but ELAW advocates allege that “corrupt investors” are “installing small hydropower projects that are reducing rivers to a trickle, stranding fish.”

More than 300 small hydropower projects are proposed for the region.

ELAW Staff Scientist Heidi Weiskel traveled to Verkhovyna in the Ivano-Frakivsk region in August to help Ukrainian partners protect the rivers.

Joining her were staff scientist Petro Testov and staff attorneys Marta Pankevych and Nataliia Kuts from ELAW’s partner organization, Environment-People-Law.

“What we saw was devastating,” Weiskel exclaimed. “Dams and pipes were siphoning most of the water out of rivers, leaving small fish ladders so poorly constructed that fish had no chance of survival. Sediment-filled water dumped by powerhouses compromised water quality for hundreds of meters downstream.”

The Carpathians are being destroyed, she says. “In the wake of the new roads servicing the dams and powerhouses, we saw illegal logging, fragmented landscapes, and the disruption of natural migration for many species.”

At a September 7 roundtable in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, Environment-People-Law Executive Director Olena Kravchenko called for a moratorium on small hydropower “until the government, investors, and developers can meet strict criteria to protect the viability of this watershed.”

Globally, water pollution is getting worse as the population grows.

The United Nations says 80 percent of all sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated into waterways. There is the legacy pollution of abandoned mines and drill sites, and polluting industries, such as leather and chemicals, seek to set up shop in emerging economies.

Read the UN report “Sick Waters? – The Central Role of Wastewater Management in Sustainable Development”


Safeguarding Guatemala’s Clean Water

The Motagua River flows from Guatemala’s Western Highlands, gathering the waters of 29 other rivers as it runs to the Gulf of Honduras. But today it does not flow as cleanly as it has for centuries.

“Tons of domestic and industrial waste, untreated effluent, and sewage from urban and rural communities go right into the river,” says ELAW Staff Scientist Meche Lu who toured the Motagua this summer. “The neglect and level of contamination is appalling.”

In Guatemala, an ELAW staff scientist is working with the Guatemalan organization Environmental and Water Law Alliance to raise awareness about Motagua River pollution and engage citizens and government authorities in conservation

“Cleaning up the Motagua is not just about protecting nature, it’s about giving local people dignity,” says Lu.


De-Oiling Peruvian Rivers

Since 2002 ELAW has helped advocates in Peru protect indigenous communities and rivers of the Peruvian Amazon – the Corrientes, the Tigre, the Pastaza, and the Marañón rivers – from toxic oil industry pollution.

In the early 1970s, multinational oil companies, such as Oxy and PlusPetrol, began drilling for oil in these watersheds. Many pipelines have ruptured and the companies have released contaminated by-products into the water.

The contamination has harmed Quechuea, Achuar, and Cocama Cocamilla indigenous communities, who rely on these rivers for clean water and fish.

The contamination in the four river basins has become so severe that Peruvian authorities declared an environmental emergency in September 2013.

Lu has been helping the indigenous federations in collaboration with PUINAMUDT, an umbrella organization formally named Observatorio Petrolero de la Amazonia Norte.

She has interpreted dozens of water quality reports containing evidence of how the Corrientes, Tigre, Pastaza, and Marañón rivers have been harmed by oil and gas activities and presented this evidence at workshops with community leaders and government representatives.

In April, after lengthy debate, the Peruvian Congress set aside US$50 million to clean up contamination in these watersheds and plan to prevent and respond to future spills.

Now Lu is helping ELAW’s Peruvian partners design and implement a health and toxicology assessment of the affected communities.

ACC cement

Fuming Over Coal in Egypt’s Cement Industry

Egyptians are concerned that without citizen input their government is moving to allow multinational cement corporations to switch from clean burning gas to polluting coal-fired kilns.

The cement companies are facing lack of access to a reliable natural gas supply. The switch saves corporate dollars but threatens public health.

“Natural gas-fired cement plants do not emit any particulate matter or sulfur dioxide,” says ELAW Staff Scientist Chernaik. “By switching to coal, the plants will emit twice as much CO2 [carbon dioxide], and add particulates and SO2 [sulphur dioxide] on top.”

ELAW partners at the Habi Center for Environmental Rights say the plans by Lafarge and Suez Cement “violate the environmental rights of citizens, especially their right to health, healthy clean environment, right to information and participation.”

Habi and eight local organizations are demanding that the companies make public the environmental impacts of switching to coal.

Lafarge is experimenting with municipal waste as a fuel. There’s no access problem. Cairo produces 15,000 tons of municipal waste each day, while the El Sokhna Lafarge plant uses just 15-20 tons a day.

To ensure quality and regularity of supply, Lafarge involved the Zabbaleen, the local informal network who have sorted and resold Cairo’s recyclable waste for the past 80 years. A team of Zabbaleen people was hired and trained to collect, treat and recycle waste for Lafarge Egypt.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy agreed this month to assess the environmental impact of seven out of 19 cement companies that have conducted studies to use coal as an alternative source of energy.

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: ELAW Logo
Header image: ELAW lawyers, partner advocates, scientists and staff at the 2015 ELAW Annual International Meeting, Yachats, Oregon, March 2015.  (Photo courtesy ELAW)
Image 01: Waterway in the Jajmau industrial district of Kanpur, India. (Photo by Mark Chernaik courtesy ELAW)
Image 02: One of the small hydropower dams being built in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains (Photo courtesy ELAW)
Image 03: Children Washing Hands at School Handwashing Station in Pahuit, Guatemala photo by Cecilia Snyder photo courtesy Flicker – Water For People/Nancy Haws
Image 05:  Egyptian cement bags courtesy PEi