Just World. the Blog.

November 06, 2014

One year after Typhoon Haiyan

By Meabh Smith, reporting from the Philippines. All photos by Peter O'Doherty.

It’s 12 months since Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever storm to make landfall, struck the Philippines. Thousands died and the damage was catastrophic. 

People in Ireland donated over €3 million towards our emergency appeal to support survivors.  

Trócaire has been supporting brave Filipino people to rebuild their lives, as part of the global Caritas network, funding new homes, debris clearance, water, sanitation and psychosocial care. 

Thank you so much to all who supported our appeal. Here are some of the people you have helped...

 

Apolonio Orbito Philippines

 

Apolonio Orbia (above) from San Antonio on Cebu Island was found sitting on the side of a hill after his home and all he had was blown away. Sr. Anne Healy, an Irish nun from the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary missionary order, received funding from Trócaire to build new homes for Apolonio and his community. 

 

Sister Anne Healy Philippines
 
 
Sr. Anne (above) drove for hours to reach affected villages after the typhoon hit. “The fear on their faces. They didn’t know what was going to happen. Afterwards the children were scared when they saw the rain. It was very hard... People have helped each other to rebuild.”
 
Lucrisia Pepito Philippines
 
“I cried when the typhoon hit. The fog was so bad. I couldn’t see my neighbours and it was so windy. I’m very happy now,” says Lucrisia Pepito (pictured above).
 
rebuilding schools on bantayan island
 
Trócaire is supporting school reconstruction on Bantayan island. Schools were used as a place of refuge after the typhoon. 
 
Feliso Deo Philippines
 
Local parent Feliso Deo (above) explained: “We saw the roof of our house fly off. We ran from room to room... We went to the school. It was flooded. The water was up to my knee, so we put holes in the walls to drain it. At night we put roof insulation of the floor to sleep on. The young children lay down, the older children and adults slept sitting up. People had no food. I shared what I had. We are happy that the schools are being rebuilt and that our houses are repaired.”
 
Argie and Julie Anne outside Trocaire funded house in Tacloban
 
“The storm surge came in three big tidal waves. We heard a loud noise, then the water. There was metal and trees flying around” say Julie Anne and Argie Barigon (pictured outside their Trócaire-funded house above).
 
“There were lots of people going to the airport to leave this place. On our way there we saw dead bodies all over the road. The smell was so bad in the airport. My children got rashes and got sick from drinking dirty water. After two days a navy ship brought us to Cebu.

 

“This house is better than the one we had before the typhoon. Now, we are alert all the time and keep safe. We have a cell phone and track the news and radio to hear if there is a storm coming.”

 

mildred taboso tacloban
 

Single mother, Mildred Taboso, holds a picture of her two children who were killed in the typhoon. She said: “The work of Trócaire and CRS [Trócaire partner] has really helped, to have this house and not have to build it myself. When the typhoon came we stayed here because we didn’t know that there would be a flood. The water was over 15 feet. We left after the second wave came. My two children were taken by the water within an hour. I miss them sleeping in my arms.” 

 
November 05, 2014

Ireland’s carbon emissions equal to that of 400 million of the world’s poor

"Climate change threatens to undo all the gains that have been made against poverty", according to Trócaire's new in-depth report ‘Feeling the Heat: How climate change is driving extreme weather in the developing world'.

The report published today (Wednesday, 5 November) analyses of the impact of climate change on the developing world and calls for the Irish government to introduce binding targets to reduce Ireland’s carbon footprint.feeling the heat trocaire climate change report

It was officially launched today by Alan Kelly, Minister for the Environment and Local Government.

Speaking at the launch, Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said:

“People in Ireland emit an average of 8.8 metric tonnes of carbon each year compared to just 0.1 metric tonne for Ethiopians. Each Irish person is responsible for as much carbon emissions as 88 Ethiopians, meaning that it would take 404 million Ethiopians – over four times the population of the country – to match Ireland’s carbon footprint.

“Ireland is significantly off-track for meeting our 2020 emission reduction targets. Given that we are the eighth highest carbon emitter per capita in Europe, and the 35th highest globally, we need to step-up to the plate. We need a binding roadmap to guide Ireland towards a fossil-free economy and we need investment in sustainable lifestyles that give people the options they need to reduce their carbon footprint.”

‘Feeling the Heat’ analyses the impact of climate change in five developing countries: the Philippines, Ethiopia, Malawi, Honduras and Kenya. The report is released on the week that marks the first anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, which resulted in over 6,000 deaths in the Philippines last November.

Amongst the report’s findings for the Philippines are:

  • At least 75 million people in the Philippines are at direct risk from the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, storms and damage to agriculture.
  • Temperatures in the Philippines have risen by 0.64 degree Celsius since 1951.
  • There has been a significant increase in weather extremes, with regular drought during dry spells and floods during wet seasons.
  • Without urgent remedial action temperatures in the Philippines will rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, with even the ‘best case scenario’ predicting a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature by the end of 2100.
  • A 4 degree Celsius rise in temperature will significantly increase both the intensity and frequency of storms in the Philippines, putting millions of people at risk.
  • Impacts on agriculture will cost the Philippines 2.2 per cent of GDP annually by 2100.
  • The report concludes that climate change in the Philippines is set to result in “more malnutrition, higher poverty levels and possibly heightened social unrest and conflict in certain areas in the country due to loss of land.”

 

Amongst the report’s other findings are:

  • 90% of the population of Malawi are at risk of hunger due to drought. Rainfall in Malawi could fall by as much as 25 per cent by the end of the century.
  • Floods and storms have increased in frequency in Honduras, with 65 extreme weather events recorded in the last 20 years at a cost of $4.7bn.
  • Yields from food crops in Honduras will drop by up to 10 per cent by 2020 due to increased drought.
  • Rainfall in Kenya has reduced significantly over the last 30 years and temperatures are set to rise by up to 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100.
  • Net economic costs of climate change could be equivalent to a loss of almost 3 per cent of GDP each year by 2030 in Kenya.
  • Agricultural output in Ethiopia could fall by as much as 10 per cent as a result of climate change.
  • The growing season in Ethiopia has already reduced by 15 per cent as a result of drought.

 

Commenting on the report’s findings, Éamonn Meehan said: “This report brings home the reality of the impacts of climate change on people’s lives. Climate change is not just a scientific concept or a threat for the future, it is very real and it is affecting people today.

“The most recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report has warned that climate change will increase poverty and hunger over the coming decades. What our research shows is that this is already happening to a frightening degree. The poorest and most vulnerable people in the world are on the front lines and are seeing their ability to grow food and earn an income diminish by the day.

“Climate change threatens to undo all the gains that have been made against poverty over recent decades. It is the single biggest threat to humanity but yet the political system has refused to move quickly enough to address it.”

Read the full report: ‘Feeling the Heat: How climate change is driving extreme weather in the developing world'

 

October 09, 2014

Are you ready to act on climate change?

Are you 16-18 years old? Do you want to learn more about the causes of climate change and experience its effects first hand? 
 
Then sign up for our ‘Climate Change Challenge Weekend’ taking place at the University of Maynooth on 14-16 November 2014. This weekend is for young people who are concerned about the effect that our changing climate is having on people and communities around the world, and want to find out how to get involved in tackling climate injustice in the developing countries.
 
We have four main aims for the weekend:
  1. To increase your knowledge of climate change;
  2. To help you understand why climate change is an urgent social justice issue, what we call ‘climate justice’;
  3. To assist you in making connections with experienced activists and hear stories from around the world;
  4. To give you the knowledge and skills to become a climate justice activist.
 
Throughout the weekend you will examine the causes, effects and possible ways to mitigate climate change through a variety of activities, for example: activist workshops; Trócaire staff presentations; special guest speaker; a disaster simulation exercise; drama; documentary viewing. 
 
If you are aged between 16 and 18 years old (on the 14 November), then contact mboyce@trocaire.ie for further information and an application form. The cost for the weekend is £20/€25. If this amount is not feasible for you, please do not hesitate to contact Trócaire in confidence.
 
The closing date for applications is 17 October 2014.
 
We plan to create an atmosphere built around mutual respect and understanding between you as participants, Trócaire staff and volunteers, and other agencies who join us at different times during the Climate Change Challenge. We will use a ‘Buddy System’ for the weekend, which means you will be in groups of three peers with a team leader to guide you through the different activities. Attendance is obligatory for all activities. We will support you to make choices and direct your own learning experience. All participants must remain on Maynooth University campus at all times.
 
Your planet needs you! Will you act? 
 
climate change challenge flyer
 
 
 

September 24, 2014

Climate change is no longer a stand-alone issue, it is the entire context in which the world exists

by Eithne McNulty, Trócaire's Director in Northern Ireland

Humans, along with every other species, depend totally on the proper functioning of the planet for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. A small change to nature’s system can have the effect of knocking the entire basis of life on earth out of synch. 

Tragically, we are seeing one such change. It is called climate change and it cannot be described as small.

Fact: the earth’s average temperature is higher today than it was before mass industrialisation. Fact: each of the last three decades have been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

The scientific evidence is unequivocal: not only is our climate changing, it is changing as a direct result of carbon emissions from human activity. If emissions continue as they are, experts warn that by 2100 average global temperatures will be between 3.7-4.8°C higher than today.

Such a rise would have a profound impact on sea levels, rainfall patterns and the frequency of extreme weather events. These, in turn, would similarly have a profound impact on our ability to live. Crop yields across much of Africa are predicted to fall, including by up to 50 per cent by 2020 in some countries, as a direct consequence of climate change. Even optimistic predictions forecast that there could be an additional 86 million malnourished children in the world by 2050.

We do not have to look to the future to see the devastation of climate change, of course. Today, one in twelve people across the world is at risk of hunger. Through my work with Trócaire I have seen how drought, storms and floods are plunging people already on the edge into further poverty.

The reality is simple: climate change is no longer a stand-alone issue, it is the entire context in which the world exists.

Women walk to the market close to Chuka in the Tharaka district of central Kenya

Women walk to the market in an area seriously affected by climate change impacts in the Tharaka district of central Kenya. (Photo: Eoghan Rice)

 

When world leaders met in New York yesterday (Sept 23rd) at the UN Climate Summit, the urgency for genuine action has never been greater. The decisions we take this week and over the coming years will have huge implications on a wide range of issues, from food production to mass migration, for decades to come.

Despite dire predictions from experts who warn that we are running out of time to avoid a future of mass displacement and growing hunger, political leaders have until now chosen to ignore long-term issues in favour of short-term gains.

Collectively, the world has chosen to ignore a catastrophe that is heading straight towards us.

We have recently seen the impact of conflict in many countries around the world – Syria, Iraq and others. These conflicts have been driven by factors that are not linked to the changing environment. However, the UN has warned that the depletion of renewable natural resources, combined with environmental degradation and climate change, poses fundamental threats to human security. Disputes and grievances over natural resources can be a major contributing factor to violent conflict when they overlap with high levels of inequality, poverty, injustice and poor governance.

One of the greatest injustices in today’s world is that those who have done least to contribute to the planet’s changing climate are the very people who are suffering most from its effects.

The average person in Northern Ireland is responsible for emitting 8.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – 83 times the amount of the average Ethiopian. All industrialised countries need to cut carbon emissions as a matter of urgency.

We need changes to our economy and government policies. Each of us has a role to play, be it in our homes, our schools or our businesses.

Justine Greening, the UK Secretary of State for International Development, and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, attended the UN Summit on Climate Change. They should be willing to seize the opportunity to become climate champions and push political decision-makers and the international community to agree fair and binding global targets to reduce emissions and support developing countries dealing with climate change. Closer to home, paramount to effecting change will be whether or not the Assembly has the courage to introduce a Northern Ireland Climate Change Act   with a legally binding regional target to reduce carbon emissions from 1990 levels by at least 40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

This New York meeting will set the tone for the work that needs to be achieved in the coming months in advance of the new global climate deal which is expected to be agreed at talks in Paris next year. In the run up to this Summit people have taken to the streets in New York, in Belfast, in Dublin and around the world in the biggest ever mobilisation on climate change, and they are calling for responsible leadership: it is now up to our leaders to step up to the plate.

We need to respond to climate change before it’s too late. If we do not then what kind of legacy will we be leaving future generations?

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September 22, 2014

The day the world woke up to demand climate justice

Trócaire’s Lorna Gold reports from New York, where 310,000 people took to the streets ahead of Tuesday’s UN Climate Summit.

The 21st September was no ordinary day. I would even go so far as saying that it was one of the most extraordinary days in modern times. It was the day that the whole world woke up to global warming and the people said with one voice: we care, we want change, we want climate justice.

For sure there have been big marches before – but nothing on this scale. From Australia to Sri Lanka, from Jakarta to Nairobi, from Dublin to New York – people joined together in nearly 3000 coordinated events to say to world leaders that we demand action. On Tuesday, as the leaders gather at the UN they will have the eyes of the world on them as never before.

Never before has the full power of social media been harnessed to collectively organise diverse groups across the globe and to send one message to world leaders as one voice. It was a coming together of online and offline activism like never before.

I had the privilege of being at the New York march, which was carried off in true New Yorker style. Everyone was there: local neighbourhood groups, young families with babies, dancing polar bears, healthcare workers, rabbis, bishops, elderly people in wheelchairs, people dressed as mermaids, and thousands upon thousands of young people. The organisers estimated that 50,000 students joined the march – stretching for ten full blocks of the city. In total, around 310,000 people marched through New York.

The atmosphere was carnival like. Music, drums, dancing – reclaiming the streets of Manhattan for the people, at least for one day. The atmosphere was electric. There was a feeling of emotional release: finally, our voice is being heard. At one spine tingling point the entire 310,000 raised their hands in silence to think of those affected by climate change. You could have heard a pin drop. Then, from the back of the march, some four kilometres away, a Mexican wave roared all the way down to the front. 

The slogans on the thousands of hand painted banners said it all for me: “There is no planet B” “Keep the coal in the hole” “planets do not grown on trees” “Explain to future generations – ‘it was good for the economy’”. Meantime people chanted “this is what democracy looks like” “what do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now.”

Far from being an environmental lobby issue, this was about ordinary people and their lives. People came to the march for many reasons. For many it is about the future their children will inherit. The number of grandparents and young families bearing the heat and humidity to be there was striking. For some it was about their own homes which are at risk of flooding. For others it was about a moral purpose – saving the world.

People want radical change. No matter why they came, they can see the injustice of climate change around them. They came because they want the government to listen to the people and not to be beholden to the oil industry or other corporate forces. A common theme through the march was divestment from fossils fuels and other destructive industries such as fracking.

One of the best slogans at the march showed the World Wildlife Fund panda shouting “Save the Humans.” This summed up the change for me. People have finally realised that climate change is not just about polar bears. It is far more important than that. It is about our planet, our future as a species. It is about people and justice.

I left the march today with my heart full of hope. Change is most definitely in the air. The tipping point is near. The people have spoken up. World leaders now need to listen and make the change that is needed. They need to commit to divesting from fossil fuels, and commit to binding emissions targets. They need to put money on the table to help the poorest countries adapt.

One thing is absolutely certain – this mass movement is not going to stay quiet. It has taken some time, but like generations before them that ended apartheid and slavery, the people have finally found their voice. It will only get louder.

September 15, 2014

Join the largest climate mobilisation in history on September 21

September 21 is set to be the largest public mobilisation in history against climate change. Trócaire’s Emmet Sheerin writes about the reason for this, and calls on people here in Ireland to take part in the worldwide event.


On September 21, in towns, villages and cities across the world, people will be gathering to show that they care about climate change – that they demand a fair and adequate response to this global problem.


The international day of action is being held just 48 hours before world leaders, including our own Taoiseach Enda Kenny, meet in New York for a summit on climate change. The summit is being hosted by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and will be one of the most high-profile, global moments focused on climate change in years. It is hoped that the summit can generate the much needed political will and momentum towards agreeing a universal binding agreement on climate change in 2015.


In reality, however, without significant public pressure, it is highly unlikely that world leaders will take the necessary measures to adequately tackle climate change. The international day of action is therefore an opportunity to put pressure on world leaders to step up to the mark. It is a chance for Irish people to send a strong message to the Taoiseach demanding action on climate change, not simply words.


As part of the run up to the event, Trócaire went along to Electric Picnic, armed with a few trad musicians and a giant heart. We asked people to write on the giant heart the thing they love and want to protect against climate change. Take a look at the video below to see what people care about.  


Make your voice heard and join us for the People’s Climate Picnic, Sunday September 21

Dublin: The Bandstand, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, 12-2pm

Belfast: The lawn outside the Whitla Hall at Queen's University Belfast, 1pm-3pm



Now is the time for us all to act on climate change for the love of everything we hold dear!

August 01, 2014

All change? New faces at home and abroad on climate change

In her new role as UN Special Envoy for Climate Change, Mary Robinson’s task is nothing short of convincing very reluctant world leaders to stop dithering and to respond with the urgency warranted by the threat of climate change, writes Niamh Garvey, Policy Officer
 
The role is fitting for the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, as there is no greater threat to human rights across the board than climate change. 
 
It threatens the right to food, the right to water, the right to shelter and the right to life.
 
This new role will be an immense challenge, but also an incredibly timely one. By the end of next year global leaders are due to agree an historic global deal to prevent runaway climate change, and as Special Envoy, Mary Robinson’s role will be to convince them to make the decisions and take the actions on climate change that they've so long evaded.
 
This will require Presidents and Prime Ministers to transcend their narrow national self-interests in order to take the really tough but vital decisions to protect people and the natural world on which we all depend.  
 
While there are some encouraging signs, including recently announced co-ordinated action on climate change by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China, progress among all world leaders to negotiate an international treaty on climate change is moving at a glacial pace towards a deadline for agreement in Paris at the end of next year. 
 
As founder of the Mary Robinson Climate Justice Foundation, Mary Robinson’s approach will be much more than about getting any agreement. 
 
A ‘climate justice’ approach, which Trócaire has been calling for since 2007, means that we not only tackle the problem of climate change, but do so in such a way that ensures the most vulnerable people who are hit hardest whilst having done the least to cause the problem put at the centre of the response.  Mary Robinson is a powerful voice for such communities and we wish her every success with this role. 
 
mary robinson trocaire doha 2010
Mary Robinson pictured with Trócaire partners at the climate change negotiations in Durban in 2010
 
A first milestone will happen in September later this year when her boss, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon holds a Climate Summit in New York. He has invited global leaders, including our own Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to come and make announcements on what they are doing to advance progress on the response to climate change. He has set the bar high and it will be an important milestone for generating momentum towards a global deal.  
 
With an Irish woman in the high profile role of putting the case for climate action, will the Taoiseach announce enough of substance to make Ireland one of Mary Robinson’s ‘star’ or ‘problem’ countries?
 
This question will be to a large degree answered by the new face of climate policies at home. The recent Cabinet reshuffle has seen ‘Big Phil’ (Phil Hogan) head to Europe, and Alan Kelly take up the position of Minister for Environment and Local Government. 
 
Action in this Department, including delivering the long-standing commitment to bring in legislation on climate change, will set the tone for what the Taoiseach will be able to announce. The “Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill’ as it is known, is vital to putting Ireland on track for a low carbon future.  
 
Despite being in the programme for government since 2011 it has been an uphill struggle to get this piece of legislation past the post. An apparent u-turn by Minister Hogan back in November 2011 nearly took the Bill off the table altogether, but with lots of support from our campaigners, over 7,600 of who have taken action to call for the Bill, concerned citizens have managed to keep the issue alive.  
 
Minister Kelly has inherited a draft Heads of Bill that is yet to be formally published by the Government and still needs to go through the Oireachtas.  
 
To make his mark in this area, he should put the Climate Bill on the ‘A list’ for the new Dail term, and implement the recommendations of the cross-party Oireachtas Committee on the Environment report to address the current draft’s weaknesses.
 
It we want to do Mary Robinson proud, this Bill together with Ireland’s ‘fair share’ of climate finance to support developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change would provide the Taoiseach with the substance he needs to announce Ireland’s action at the Ban Ki Moon Summit in September in New York. 
 
It would be a strong signal that Ireland is prepared to play our part in getting world leaders collectively on track to delivering a global deal on climate change in 2015.
 
March 14, 2014

Volunteer report: Trócaire’s vital water projects in Ethiopia

by Rebecca Smyth, Trócaire Volunteer
 
In February 2014, Rebecca Smyth travelled to Ethiopia to visit Trócaire projects in the remote southern region of Boranaland. Here she shares her experiences.
 
Travelling to Ethiopia with Trócaire brought it home to me that small changes make a big difference and can transform lives for the better, as well as just how similar we human beings are around the world! This was so evident when I visited a water project funded by Trócaire. 
 
We travelled for four hours (of which two hours were off road) through the beautiful, red earthed and dusty landscape of Boranaland in the Southern most part of Ethiopia to visit the remote, rural community of Webb. 
 
Travelling to Webb I was very aware of how hostile the landscape and climate is in this region. With the area gripped by drought as recently as 2011 it reinforced just how vital Trócaire’s work really is here.
 
When we arrived in Webb the first thing we saw was the Ella, or ‘singing well’ which is traditional in this region. 
 
singing well ethiopia
Visiting the singing well in Webb, February 2014
 
The Ellas are deep, deep holes in the ground. Before the well was restored, it required a human chain of about thirty people on a rickety rope ladder to draw up water who sing in order to keep in rhythm (hence ‘singing wells’).  
 
This system was both inefficient and dangerous: it is time-consuming, it is laborious, and I heard tragic accounts from some of the women in Webb on members of the community who lost their lives falling from the ladder.  
 
With the help of Trócaire’s partner organisation, SOS Sahel, the local people made the well safer and more accessible. We could see with our own eyes how life has been transformed for the community.  
 
Now, rather than a precarious human chain of thirty or so people, there is a gentle slope down to an open space with troughs for the animals (cattle, goats, donkeys and camels) and separate reservoirs for the people.  
 
Only six men are needed to bring water up from the well to fill the troughs and reservoirs.  There is now less animal-human cross-contamination since the water sources are separated which has cut massively the rates of water-related diseases.
 
What also struck me is that water is time. By having a safe water supply, the people (mostly women and children) have been given their time back. 
 
trocaire water programme ethiopia
Teresa Hill (left), Barso Djirmo, the Abba Herega or 'Father of the well' (centre), and Rebecca Smyth (right)
 
They do not need to spend as much time fetching and carrying water and so can attend literacy classes or school, or take part in cooperatives. 
 
Not only does this reduce gender inequality, it also diversifies income.  
 
Rather than households being solely dependent on livestock – as is traditional with the Borana people, who face intense pressures due to climate change causing more frequent drought – they now have other forms of income, such as the incense and gum cooperatives.  
 
This in turn has facilitated the reinstatement of the traditional ‘social welfare’ system: the extra money earned goes into a collective fund used to support families in difficulty, to send children to school, to university. Their lives have been truly transformed! 
 
As we drove away from Webb in the midday heat, I was struck by the conversations I had with the women in the village. Just how similar our hopes and dreams are for good health, security and a better future for the next generation. Every human being deserves these things.
 
I suppose that’s what working for a just world is all about.
 

Get involved

 

Read more about Trócaire's water projects in Ethiopia

January 31, 2014

Green living

There are lots of easy changes we can all make in our daily lives to make them more sustainable and play a part in combating climate change.

Meet Lydia McCarthy, Education Officer, Trócaire.
“Why does the fruit and veg that we buy in the shops need to be wrapped in plastic? When I do my weekly food shop, I always reach for the fruit and vegetables that are loose and not wrapped in plastic. And, when I get home and cook the veg, all of the peelings go into my compost bin at the bottom of my garden. Is it worth it? Well I have only put a bin out for the rubbish lorry to collect once in the last five months. Better for the environment and better for the pocket! And I’ll also have compost to spread on my vegetable beds in the back garden.

I love my coffee! I am on the road a lot with my job and make frequent stops in petrol stations for a cuppa. I have my reusable cup and always put my coffee in this. I also know which petrol stations on the motorways sell fair trade coffee and will only buy from these. I have a reusable bottle for the road too so that I am not buying bottled water. Again it’s better for the environment and better for the pocket!”

Visit our Up to Us page for tips on the changes you can make in your day-to-day life to live more sustainably and play a part in combating climate change.

Lydia McCarthy
 

Captions (l to r): Reusable water bottle. Lydia McCarthy, Education Officer, Trócaire.


Student Tom Smith tells us about a committed new movement for a totally sustainable lifestyle in Galway.
“About seven months ago I finally made the move from a fairly conventional life as a city-based student, to helping some friends set up a sustainable, permaculture-based small-holding in rural Galway called An Teach Saor (The Free House).
For now I live with two friends, though this number will probably rise soon, including Mark Boyle, better known as the ‘Moneyless Man’, who lived without money for a couple of years to highlight the disconnect our financial system creates between us and the things we buy.

So far we've planted close to 1000 trees, established the start of a forest garden and a herb bed, reclaimed two polytunnels from their former overgrown state, set up natural beehives and planted a nut orchard. We've also done other things like setting up mushroom logs for producing oyster and shiitake mushrooms, constructed a rainwater catchment system, and made a wormery out of an old bathtub.”

Moneyless Man
Captions (l to r): Galway student, Tom Smith. Reclaimed polytunnel, and its former overgrown state.

“One of the more symbolically important things we've done is to replace our flush toilets with compost toilets, which stops the madness of purifying and chlorinating water just to flush it away, and instead allows us to close the nutrient loop on our own site. Sawdust from a local sawmill prevents there being any smells! Sustainable cultures have been doing this for millennia, and there's no reason why we can't follow suit.

Most of all though, we're creating a life which is our own, utterly fulfilling, fun and surrounded by friends and loved ones. We're now launching a crowdfunding campaign to convert an old pig shed into an eco-learning centre, free community space, home-brew pub and accommodation centre called 'The Happy Pig'.”

While Tom’s commitment to sustainable living is above and beyond what the vast majority of us might contemplate, there are still lots and lots of easy changes we can all make in your daily lives to make them that bit more sustainable.

Visit our Up to Us page for tips on the changes you can make in your day-to-day life.

December 16, 2013

Educating for sustainable development

by Claire O’Carroll, Development Education Officer
 
Trócaire’s Development Education team is taking part in an EU-funded project Millennium Development Goals '15 to promote justice, development and sustainability issues in post-primary schools. 
 
Project partners participate in yearly study exchange visits in which a member of each NGO travels to a partner country with a group of educators in order to share good practice and develop new skills and resources. This year Trócaire is privileged to be partnered with Belgian NGO, Studio Globo.
 
Last month, I joined a team of teachers and lecturers (of subjects including Art, Irish and Civic, Social and Political Education) in Brussels to learn about Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This is a process which aims to equip students and teachers to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future.  It focuses on linking local attitudes to global solutions. 
 
The ESD delegation visited two schools in the Flanders region which are working closely with Studio Globo. We saw the dedication of both students and staff in their many campaigns on social justice issues. 
 
{C}{C}trocaire development education workshop
Students from Herk de Staad school demonstrating the MDG game they devised for primary school students
 
It was amazing to see how the quest for justice permeated throughout the schools’ ethos, not just as part of the citizenship education slot in the timetable. In these schools, active civic participation was integrated in a whole-school approach, led by democratic and transparent student councils. 
 
Both schools are running sustainability projects, looking at what they can do at a local level to conserve the environment. One school is focussing on the negative effects of meat production, the other on campaigning on climate change issues both abroad and in Flanders.
 
The trip provided a space for Belgian and Irish teachers to share good practice and visit sustainable projects. The Irish delegation returned with renewed energy to work on projects promoting a sustainable lifestyle within their schools.
 
Trócaire is also part of the Green-Schools initiative, an international environmental education programme, environmental management system and award scheme that promotes and acknowledges long-term, whole school action for the environment.
 
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