human rights

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Corporate Respect, Set the Tone at the Top!

I am a straggler. Arriving after the start of an event usually raises a few judgmental eyebrows from the back row; however, tardiness is also an opportunity to display character. This is especially true when royalty is involved. Stumbling in late to an event with Her Majesty, Queen Silvia of Sweden, in Rio to open the Social Development track of the Global Corporate Sustainability Forum, takes special flair. The series of events inaugurated by Queen Silvia seeks to re-think corporate sustainability, positioning it on a new foundation of social dimensions and human rights.

David Zetland is Brash, Outspoken and Unapologetic… and He’s Usually Right.

When I meet up with David Zetland, he’s chatting up two Forum attendees over complimentary drinks and light hors d’ouvres from the Brazilian Pavilion at Parc Chanot’s Palais Phoceen. Usually the center of attention by virtue of a lightning quick wit and polymathic knowledge, Zetland is skewering a newly-formed NGO designed to help investment banks and other financiers assess risks associated with climate change… “Which makes perfect sense,” proclaims a sardonic Zetland, “because NGO’s are so adept at evaluating investment risks and investment banks have no idea.” (more…)

The Grand Dame of Water: Maude Barlow is Controversial and Charming

By all accounts, Maude Barlow is one of the preeminent international firebrands championing the rights to water for both humanity and nature.  She sat down with me on March 16 at the Alternative World Water Forum in Marseilles to enjoy some Mariachi and to talk some frank talk about water rights and why the market-based, private-sector argument is wrong-headed. (Audio of the interview available for listening at the bottom of this post.)

Barlow has been called the ‘Ralph Nader of Canada’ and the ‘Al Gore of Water,’ but neither of these titles really seem to do her growing international stature and her undeniable charisma  much justice.  Barlow is a figure in her own right and a dynamo that might leave these American counterparts in the dust at just about any forum of Congressional hearing.  The title of this article proposes an alternative moniker – the Grand Dame of Water. Barlow, one of the driving forces behind the recent UN declaration on the human right to water, turned down the opportunity to debate World Water Council President, Loic Fauchon.  She says that it’s an “old debate and they know where I stand.”  By going to the World Water Forum, she believes she would have legitimized what she denounces as little more than a “trade show” backed by the World Bank.  While Barlow felt the WWF-6 to was hollow and empty, the cross-town Alternative Forum had an undeniably vibrant energy. Barlow, a Canadian, opposes the Keystone-XL Pipeline, which if built, could run from her home country through the Ogallala Aquifer in the United States.  She is even more opposed to the alternate route, which would “punch a hole through Rockies” and bring bitumen from the tar sands to Canada’s western coast for export to Asia.  “There is no pipeline that you can build that isn’t going to leak at some point…the beginning part of the XL Pipeline has already leaked in Michigan,” she said. Barlow believes that pipelines are like arteries to tar sands development, which both feed the development process and require more extraction for infrastructure finance.  She believes that the best solution is to “cut the arteries…and starve the beast.”
She is completely opposed to the idea of market mechanisms playing a role in the development and management of water resources.  “It’s a dangerous development and I think the move to put a price tag on nature is insane,” she says.

Not in Kenya to charge for a basic human right – Vestergaard Frandsen’s CEO on its Life Straw

Laura Burger reports from the International Environment House in Geneva where two short documentaries were screened, “When the Water Ends” and Carbon for Water, which focus on the subject of health, lack of clean water and climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa, Friday 28 October. Includes an interview with the CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen a venture that states to create life-saving products for the most vulnerable. Carbon for Water & The Life Straw – Interview with Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, CEO Vestergaard Frandsen by Studentreporter

“We are the 99%”. This is called out at the major financial hubs around the world – from the Wall Street in New York to the Paradeplatz in Zurich, occupied by people who are concerned about and unsatisfied with our economic system, ruled by institutions that control most of the wealth of the world. But what are the alternatives?