Monday, April 27, 2009

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is a word we hear often now. We hear it in the news, political speeches promising better policies and in the everyday conversation about the fate of our environment and livelihoods. Despite our exposure to the term, most of us have a hard time defining it.

Sustainable development is about the actions we take today and how they affect our world in the future. Seems simple, but it’s not easy to understand how this translates into our day-to-day lives. It takes energy, knowledge and practice to live while thinking about the impact of our actions on the environment. Difficult but essential, and worth everything if humanity wants to reduce pollution, promote conservation and to use natural resources responsibly on a daily basis. Only then will there be hope for a bright future.

Complications in making sustainable development a reality arise because environmental, social and economic phenomena are not mutually exclusive. Changes in environmental policies may affect economic progress. For example, rural farmers might suffer economically if they can’t clear forestland for crops to make a living. On the other hand, if we don’t protect forests, the environment may become too inhospitable for farmers to grow crops at all. An important objective is to find a balance between economic, environmental and social approaches to development.

A multi-sector approach is needed for solutions to complicated problems like these. The main actors in society bring different skills to the table. The public sector creates policies and laws that limit harmful practices while the private sector creates markets for resources important to local communities and funds non-profits dedicated to the social good. Ultimately, progress is up to individuals and communities because they know the needs of the land and their people. The community is what brings together multi-sector partnerships that take up challenges such as climate change and resource management. Sustainable development is a global effort in every sense of the word.

These are some big ideas that are not east to digest in one sitting. To illustrate the importance of sustainable development in our lives today I’ll get more specific with an example.

Indonesia is a country rich in resources that need protection and conservation. The Archaepelago covers 1.3% of the earth’s land with 17% of the earth’s plant and animal species. Indonesia is also where 451 million tonnes of CO2 emissions are emitted per year from energy, agriculture and waste. Wild fire and peat bogs also contribute to the emissions.

In 1997, as a result in weather changes from “el Nino”, the forests were uncharacteristically dry. Fires intentionally started to clear the land for farming got out of control and caused a huge spike in atmospheric CO2. This was subsequently called the South East Asian Haze.

Since the South East Asian Haze, multiple partnerships have developed to prevent further environmental degradation and crises. Of note is the work of the Nature Conservancy in collaboration with nine international and Indonesian organizations. The Conservation training and Resource Center was the result of this collaboration. The main goals of the center are to develop a conservation curriculum and to train natural resource managers. In essence, it’s sustainable development from a grassroots approach.

The USAID Mission in Indonesia for development resource management is part of various partnerships. They work with the Indonesian government, NGOs and international organizations to increase orangutan conservation, prevent logging and improve water and environment programs.

For more information on conservation and sustainable development in Indonesia there are two films I’d suggest watching. The first I haven’t seen yet. It’s called The Burning Season It’s about the fires in Indonesian forests and an entrepreneur that sets out to see how he can help. It’s showing at the Tribeca Film Festival until Tuesday 4/28. My coworker sent the other one to me. It’s about orangutan conservation in Indonesia. It’s 48 minutes long. Click “streaming”.

P.S. - I recommend looking at The Greenbelt Movement website, an organization based in Kenya.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


You may be interested in getting involved with the campaigns that See Change Global supports, but where do you begin? The best way to get started is to educate yourself.

Plenty of partnerships focus on poverty alleviation and corporate social responsibility. The world is becoming more interconnected and people are creating more and more innovative ways to tackle the greatest social and economic challenges.

Read about these types of ideas and organizations by starting with this list:

Online communities

Social Edge
Great resource for social entrepreneurs (or those interested in social entrepenuership). The site has blogs about pioneers in micro-finance and business solutions to poverty as well as forums that discuss topics related to sustaining these ventures. Hear from others experienced in the field.

An online platform to connect people who support important causes. Organized by issue. Also has news updates and information on organizations.

TED: Ideas Worth Spreading
Free videos of leaders and individuals with inspiring ideas and talks about topics important to humanity.


Charity: Water
non-profit bringing clean and safe drinking water to developing nations.

Connects lenders to local entrepreneurs.

Supports social entrepreneurs and their work.

Builds enterprises that alleviate poverty and deliver affordable goods and services to the poor.

These are great places to start and will lead you to other resources. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Internews - Empowering Local Media Worldwide

If you are interested in finding out more about the importance of local media in development check out Internews (

Internews is an international non-governmental organization that aims to strengthen local media so that people can access information and have their voices heard. Internews runs programs that build the capacity of communities to sustain their own information systems.

The organization trains local residents in media coverage and reporting, supports the production of independent media in emerging democracies, provides equipment and advocates for fair media laws. They use journalism to influence health and environmental policies, to encourage women's leadership and mainstream women's issues into media, and to improve access to information, governance and transparency.

Internews has started a humanitarian news service in Gaza that supports three news stations. In response to the recent attacks, these stations have informed victims about relief services and reconstruction activities in time for them to get appropriate care.

The news channels host discussions about how international projects and their partners aid the reconstruction process. They also provide information and education about health services, security, water and sanitation issues.

For many people in Gaza, the information provided by the news services have helped them live through the crisis, providing them with pertinent information that otherwise might not have been accessible quickly enough, if at all. clearly information does save lives.

link to the news brief

Participatory Media and Good Governance

Thai Protests Reveal Deep Divisions -

Since the military coup in 2006, Thailand has gone through three Prime Ministers. Protesters have gotten progressively more charged since the coup, and the most violent one yet ended on Tuesday Morning.

Civil unrest in Thailand is divided among the People's Alliance for Democracy (royalists and military supporters) and the Red Shirts (farmers, small business men and supporters of PM Thaksin). Although there is opposition between these two groups, in the end, most Thais simply want a functioning democracy and a restoration of fair elections. The Thai media has been accused of being biased towards the government, and the government has a tight grip on the media, often limiting exposure of the Red Shirts.

This conflict is an example of the importance of free and transparent media in democracy. The Thais protest to be heard and to highlight the ways in which their government thwarts democracy. They protest because they feel cut off from the decisions that affect them.

Participatory media (the involvement of citizens) is an essential part of the equation for good governance and thus a functioning, progressive society. Free media holds governments accountable for their actions and unveils corruption. As a government gains tighter control on the media, however, citizens find fewer channels for their voices to be heard and to challenge discriminatory policies. This is why free and transparent media is so important, to prevent the loss of these channels and to strengthen democracy.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Thanks for checking out the See Change Global blog. This is the place to go for updates on our projects and for information about innovative ideas for social change.

We're about making connections and taking action; we link people actively improving the lives of communities and individuals around the world with those who will support their efforts. By using interactive media to tell stories, disseminate ideas and inspire action we strive to create a forum for people passionate about making a difference. This will be a portal in which seeds of action are planted and spread.

What can I get out of this blog?

For one, by reading this blog you are tapping into an interactive community. Given the plethora of organizations devoted to community development and the common good, this blog aims to highlight specific social issues and campaigns so that the information can be taken in. It's a way to familiarize yourself with the work of social entrepreneurs, listen to stories, stay up to date on news relating to social policies, engage with others passionate about promoting action and to inspire yourself to get involved.

Thanks for your interest in our work! Please visit us again to join our community for change.