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We’re All in This Together – June 10, 2013

Communities with strong ethics of the commons most resilient to disasters

Following the hugely destructive earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, communities along Japan’s northeastern coast faced a major challenge of social organization: People who had lost everything needed to decide, often together, how to rebuild. They had to work through complex issues of property rights, urban planning and emotional connection to the land. Some communities quickly came to a consensus about what to do, but others – particularly those in urban areas – remain divided more than two years later.

pinyaphoto by MikiAnn, on Flickr

Why the gap? Hokkaido University sociologist Taisuke Miyauchi believes the answer has to do… more

by: Winnie Bird

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Japan’s Reconstruction Two Years On — Plain Old Disaster Capitalism? – March 11, 2013

In Miyagi Prefecture rebuilding efforts give corporations the upper hand

Whatever happened to Japan’s sustainable reconstruction?

farm in Sendai Photos by Winnie BirdAs a recovery strategy, Sendai’s local government has decided to ramp up existing policies of farm
expansion, corporatization, and integration with the processing and service industries.

I asked myself that question as I stood on a beach in Sendai in northeastern Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture two weeks ago.

I had arrived in Miyagi via Fukushima, the prefecture just to the south. In Fukushima I talked to people living through the most intensely-scrutinized environmental disaster in Japan’s history: the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that followed the tsunami and earthquake… more

by: Winnie Bird

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Yokohama Anti-Nuke Meet Draws Thousands of Activists, Experts – January 17, 2012

But 10 Months After the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster it’s Unclear if Japanese Citizens will be Able to Force their Government to Phase Out Nuclear Power

In the 10 months since an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Fukushima Daiici nuclear power plant, people in Japan have engaged in some of the most dramatic activism in the country’s recent history. Mothers have stormed public meetings. Angry citizens have taken to the streets in numbers not seen in 50 years. Concession by painfully-won concession, they have forced the government to start taking radiation health concerns more seriously and rethink current energy policy.

Photo by John AshburneRegardless of political implications, the sheer energy at the "Global Conference for a Nuclear Free World" in
Yokohama was amazing.

One thing most people in Japan hadn’t had a chance… more

by: Winnie Bird

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World Governments Reach Biodiversity Agreement – October 29, 2010

Nagoya conference adopts sweeping new conservation plan and deal to fight biopiracy

Just past 1:30 this morning, a Nagoya meeting hall packed with representatives of 179 countries heaved a collective sigh of relief and burst into a standing ovation. After two weeks of tense negotiations, some deft diplomacy by Japan, and a final meeting that balanced for 8 hours on a razor's edge between failure and success, delegates to the UN biodiversity conference adopted an agreement on access and benefit sharing for genetic resources - and gave the world desperately-needed proof that governments can indeed work together to solve environmental problems. Within minutes, the delegates also adopted a strategic plan for conservation and a deal to secure financing for that plan by 2012.… more

by: Winnie Bird

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Following the Money at COP 10 – October 26, 2010

Countries are divided over conservation funding, but will more money really solve the biodiversity crisis?

One morning a few days ago, I was sitting despondently at my desk in the COP 10 conference center, wondering whether another week of argument between delegates over targets, financial mechanisms, and benefit-sharing would really help bees and butterflies back home. Just then, Nick Nuttall, dapper spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), whirled into the room with a pile of press releases. I flagged him down.

"Nick," I said. "Tell it to me straight. Does what's happening at this UN biodiversity conference matter?"

Nick, of course, launched straight into an eloquent soliloquy on why COP 10 does matter, explaining how international targets motivate countries to act and multilateral… more

by: Winnie Bird

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