Top Stories

July 04, 2014

Supply Chain

Climate change to ‘substantially’ impact on coffee production this decade

Coffee cultivation could be significantly affected by the effects of climate change as soon as 2020, according to a new report. The warning comes amid estimates that coffee bean production must rise by almost 15% in the next five years to keep up with demand. The Coffee Barometer 2014 has been published to coincide with the Sustainable Coffee Conference on July 3 in Amsterdam. It was compiled by five NGOs – Hivos, IUCN NL, Oxfam-Novib, Solidaridad and WWF – and argues that coffee cultivation is under threat because it takes place in regions that are most vulnerable to climate change, such as Brazil, Vietnam, Honduras and Uganda. The report adds that coffee is regarded as a lead indicator for sustainable commodity crops as it often sets the pace and others follow. As a result, the warning provides a stark outlook for the future of agriculture and demonstrates the need for a more sustainable system to be put in place. (Blue and Green Tomorrow)


LEGO claims it is being used as ‘tool’ in Greenpeace dispute with Shell

LEGO has hit back after Greenpeace launched a campaign accusing the toy giant of putting sales before children’s futures by partnering with Shell by making toys with oil giant’s branding on. “Climate change is an enormous threat facing all children around the world, but Shell is trying to hijack the magic of LEGO to hide its role,” said Ian Duff, Arctic campaigner at Greenpeace. Hitting back, LEGO’s CEO, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp issued a statement saying that “the Greenpeace campaign focuses on how Shell operates in a specific part of the world. We firmly believe that this matter must be handled between Shell and Greenpeace… We are saddened when the LEGO brand is used as a tool in any dispute between organisations.” He went on to reinforce the message that his company “operates in a responsible manner”. In a blog, Duff responded that “We’re sad too. We’re sad to see such a popular, well-loved brand like LEGO being used by Shell, with the willingness of LEGO’s bosses, to help clean up its disreputable image.” (2Degrees; Greenpeace)


Walmart to introduce ‘Women-Owned’ labels

A new “women-owned” label on goods is to appear in Walmart stores across the US – the first time a major retailer has used labels to spotlight products by women-owned companies. The logo was created by the nonprofit Women’s Enterprise National Council and WEConnect International and Walmart, which aims to bring consumer recognition of products provided by women-owned businesses on store shelves. The retail company will begin using the small, circular symbol — representative of women holding hands — on everything from lingerie to salsa beginning in September. “People are looking for reasons to feel good about the company they’re buying from,” Pamela Prince-Eason, CEO of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, said. Research by Walmart found that 90 percent of female shoppers will purchase goods marketed by women-owned businesses. (Sustainable Brands)


Google reverses decision to delete British newspaper links

Google has reversed its decision to remove several links to stories in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, underscoring the difficulty the search engine is having implementing Europe’s recent “right to be forgotten” ruling that gave its citizens the right to request the scrubbing of links to articles that pop up under a name search. More than 70,000 people have asked Google to delete links to articles about them following the ruling. The BBC‘s economics editor, Robert Peston, said Google had “cast him into oblivion” after a 2007 blogpost he wrote about the former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O’Neal was excluded from some search results. Peter Barron, Google’s director of communications for Europe, said Peston had wrongly assumed that O’Neal had made the removal request, when in fact it had come from a member of the public who had left a comment on the post. He also pointed out that Peston’s post was still widely available through almost all search terms – just not the name of the commenter. However, he agreed that Google could be clearer in the way it informed publishers about search-term deletions. (Reuters; The Guardian)

International Development

Salvadorean farmers protest against US aid grant

Farmers in El Salvador are protesting against a multimillion-dollar grant from a US aid agency that would force the country to open its seed market to international companies. Last month, farmers protested outside the US embassy amid concerns about conditions attached to a grant from the US Millennium Corporation Challenge (MCC). El Salvador has been awarded a $277 million grant to improve its “competitiveness and productivity in international markets” on condition that the country opens its markets to competition. This would undermine the seed scheme introduced as a poverty reduction initiative by El Salvador’s previous government, which gives the poorest 375,000 subsistence farmers packets of maize and bean seeds every year. Ricardo Navarro, director of Cesta – an environmental group that is part of Friends of the Earth International – believes that if the MCC gets its way, the country will be flooded with genetically modified seeds. The US insists it simply wants El Salvador to honour its commitment, and denies any link to GM seeds. (The Guardian)


Image source: Oxfam-Sopacdi2 by Tim Dirven / CC BY-ND 2.0