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Global Environmental Leaders: Francisco Kennedy Souza Defends the Amazon Rainforest
In 2001, the Ford Foundation granted $280 million—the largest single donation in the Foundation’s history—to a new initiative called the Ford International Fellowships Program (IFP). IFP set out to prove that an international scholarship program could help build leadership for social justice and thus contribute to broader social change. What followed was the creation of a fellowship that provided access to higher education for talented leaders from marginalized communities, giving them an opportunity to further develop their skills and capacities and serve as better agents for social change.
Over the past decade, the program enabled a total of 4,314 emerging social justice leaders from Asia, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America to pursue advanced degrees at more than 600 universities in almost 50 countries. Many Ford International Fellows have become leaders in the fields of environmental leadership, protection, and research. Over the next several weeks, Ecowatch will be profiling some of these incredible graduates, sharing their stories and global environmental impact.
Francisco Kennedy Souza is a native of Acre, a state in Brazil’s Northern Region covered by the exquisite Amazon Rainforest, which plays a significant role in global climate change, carbon cycle and biodiversity. The Amazon represents over half of the planet's remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world, including more than one-third of all species known to man. The region is also home to tens of thousands of indigenous people, rubber tappers and other poor inhabitants who depend on forest conservation to preserve their livelihoods.
Yet during the past 40 years, close to 20 percent of the Amazon Rainforest has been cut down by those who profit from the theft of timber and land. Scientists fear that an additional 20 percent of the remaining forest will be lost over the next two decades, which would result in severe damage to regional ecosystems including water cycling, rainfall regimes, soil degradation and local climate—not to mention the effects of resource degradation on increasing poverty, land conflicts and the privatization of common or community resources.
Kennedy grew up in Acre watching acres upon acres of trees being wantonly burned in order to clear space for pasture land and urban development. Residents lost their homes and in some cases even their lives. Determined to intervene, he has spent nearly 20 years studying local ecology, community planning and economic analysis. He has conducted workshops with local residents, provided training to members of grassroots organizations and worked with local and international organizations and community groups to help stop the spread of destruction.
Because of his dedication, Kennedy was awarded an IFP fellowship in 2002 to pursue his master’s degree in Tropical Conservation and Development at the University of Florida. After completing his fellowship, he returned to Brazil in 2005 where he continued to work on rainforest conservation issues.
Assisting cooperatives, unions and grassroots organizations, Kennedy gradually became an advocate of indigenous forest products as a source for improving the livelihoods of local residents. Brazil nuts, rubber trees, açai fruit, medicinal plants, honey, handcrafts and other products are now being sold to customers in Europe, the U.S. and Brazil. These initiatives are being led by a new generation of community leaders, reflecting improved social capital in the past two decades in Amazonia.
Kennedy was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2007 to complete a PhD in Environmental and Policy Studies at Indiana University. Three years later, he received the prestigious Kleinhans Fellowship from the Rainforest Alliance. With their support, he is working to enhance the skills of community members through workshops on sustainable management and marketing of forest resources. His research and fieldwork are expected to contribute directly to the well-being of approximately 9,000 families in Acre and to the conservation of nearly 3 million acres of forests in Western Amazonia.
As part of an international network of IFP and Fulbright alumni concerned with worldwide social justice, Kennedy hopes to maintain a close collaboration with grassroots, Brazilian and international organizations while continuing his work with community leaders to provide knowledge and alternatives to sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation.
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In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›