Top Stories

December 05, 2016

Human Rights

Women tap into new roles as mobile internet scheme targets rural India.

A programme to improve digital literacy has provided 1.2 million women in rural India with access to technology previously made inaccessible to them by a conservative culture. The Bootoli women are getting their first taste of the internet. Sheetal is part of the “internet saathi” (or partner) initiative, a campaign launched by Google India and Tata Trusts in May to address what is perhaps the biggest gender disparity in India: the fact that only 2% of internet users in rural India are women.  Google provides the gadgets and training, while Tata Trusts uses its links with local NGOs to identify the online saathis and monitor progress. “Through this training, we are creating a base for large numbers of rural women to use their new knowledge to earn an income. We are going to add curated content to help them earn a livelihood from their skills,” said Prabhat Pani, project director at Tata Trusts. (Guardian)


”Wall of silence”: Construction industry failing to tackle abuse of migrant workers in the Gulf

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has quizzed 100 construction companies operating in Qatar and the UAE on the measures they are taking to stop exploitation of migrant workers.  Only 22 responded, indicating a high of inaction. Even beyond the survey, only 39% have publically available human rights commitments. Of the 100 companies contacted, only a handful reported important steps in areas such as recruitment, worker voice and subcontracting, providing examples that others can follow.  The risks inherent in accepted business models and complex supply chains, however,  cannot be resolved by companies acting in isolation: collective industry-wide efforts. The current lack of industry transparency limits the ability of companies to tackle shared challenges and move forward together on the basis of agreed-upon standards and good practice. (Business & Human Rights Resource Centre)


Oracle announced as the world’s most carbon efficient company

Computer software company Oracle is the world’s most carbon-efficient company, according to the ET Carbon Rankings Universe, producing just 34 tonnes of carbon across Scopes 1, 2 and 3 for every $1 million of revenue. It is followed by two more US companies, biotechnology company Biogen at 40 tonnes, and software company Adobe Systems at 41 tonnes. The ET Carbon Rankings Universe, released today, measures the carbon efficiency of the world’s 2,000 largest listed companies, which account for $45 trillion in market capitalisation – 85% of world stock market value. They are the only public rankings to go beyond Scope 1 and 2 emissions to assess emissions from companies’ value chains (Scope 3) – from transporting raw materials to the use of their products. Sam Gill, Co-founder and CEO of ET Index Research, said: “Scope 3 emissions are vital in understanding the full extent of a company’s exposure to carbon risk because they usually account for by far the largest part of its carbon footprint. For example, Honda’s carbon intensity is 43 times higher when you consider consumer use of its vehicles and other Scope 3 emissions. It is virtually impossible to imagine a scenario in which carbon-intensive companies, across the entire value chain, are not penalised after the Paris Agreement.” (ET Index)


VW enters on-demand ride services with new MOIA brand

Volkswagen will launch electric shuttle services in European cities from next year in an attempt to become a leader in on-demand transport services. With a budget in the hundreds of millions of euros, the brand will launch pilot schemes in two German cities next year with plans to expand across Europe and, in time, to the US, China and the rest of the world. If successful, the business expects to generate revenues of €2bn by the end of the decade and create a new segment of transportation — on-demand shuttles that cost the same as public transport. Carmakers are embracing transport services as a way of generating new revenues in the face of dwindling car ownership and rising urbanisation. “As customers’ needs change, so does the automobile business model,” said Thomas Sedran, head of group strategy at VW Group. MOIA will enter a city in collaboration with the local authorities, and is already in talks with around 20 in Europe. In some cities, it might replace underused public transport services that currently lose money, Mr Sedran said. (Financial Times)*


Standing Rock: US denies key permit for Dakota Access pipeline, in win for tribe.

The Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline to drill under the Missouri river, the army announced on Sunday, handing a major victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe after a months-long campaign against the pipeline. The army said it was based on “a need to explore alternate routes” for the crossing. “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama administration for this historic decision,” tribal chairman Dave Archambault said in a statement. For months, they have protested over their fears that the pipeline would contaminate their water source and destroy sacred sites, and over the weekend hundreds of military veterans arrived at the camps in a show of support for the movement. But others voiced caution, noting the incoming Republican president and hints that the energy company will appeal the decision. (Businessgreen)

Image source: India Cellphone and Tech Images November 2011 by Victorgrigas CC-BY-SA-3.0