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Sleeping financial giants – Opportunities in financial leadership for climate stability
by Future Earth, Stockholm Resilience Centre
26 Sep. 2018
In recent decades, scientists have begun to use the term “tipping points” to describe large-scale and abrupt shifts to big earth systems—the Arctic changing from having year-round sea ice to having none in the summer, or vast areas of the Amazon rainforest becoming savanna, following a buildup of pressure on the system.
These big earth systems that could suddenly shift from one state to another in a warming world are also called “sleeping giants”. At present, they quietly promote a stable climate by removing carbon dioxide, generating rain and supporting the livelihoods of millions of people, but if they were to shift, they would have “large scale impacts on the global climate by becoming large-scale emitters of carbon dioxide, as opposed to storing carbon in soil and vegetation,” according to the report.
Although this is still an active area of research, “there is a broad consensus that the further and faster the Earth System is pushed into a warmer state, the greater the risk of surprises.” There is also the risk of creating a domino effect, where crossing one tipping point pushes the world closer to another.
The Sleeping Financial Giants report is the result of a scientific project which aims to increase awareness among the public and investors alike, about the impact of the investment sector on key tipping points in the Earth System affecting our global climate.
Forest ecosystems, such as the Amazon rainforest and boreal forests, are particularly good targets for the investment sector, because the probability of these systems shifting from large-scale absorption of carbon to large scale carbon release is not only dependent on climate—it also depends critically on how we manage these systems. And this management is determined, in large part, by the actions of a relatively small number of companies, many of which are public.
According to the new report, “The implications for the global climate if these regions ‘tip’ raise new and urgent concerns that are of critical importance for the financial sector and humanity at large.”
The report provides a short state-of-the-art review of the scientific knowledge around tipping points in the Earth System, and explains the complex interactions between large global investors and such tipping points to help make informed decisions about the future of our planet.
According to the report''s Executive Summary:
“Finance cannot be made single-handedly responsible for a transition to climate sustainability, but it can and must play a critically important role. By taking responsibility and using power and leadership for the good of the planet and their portfolio, financial actors could contribute meaningfully to an emerging and necessary pathway towards biosphere stewardship and climate stability. Yet time is short – financial actors, and humanity at large, need to wake up and recognize the new and urgent challenges posed by nonlinear dynamics in the Earth System.”
* Access the Sleeping Financial Giants report (30pp):


Realizing the Right to Food
by FIAN International, agencies
Oct. 2018
A civil society led report draws attention to the main challenges for the right to food and demonstrates that ‘business as usual’ simply does not work.
Following a broad consultation amongst social movements, indigenous peoples, small-scale food producers and NGOs, a new report is shedding light on the main obstacles – often unaddressed – that we face to meet one of our most basic right.
Evolving around the use and implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security (the RTF Guidelines), its findings demonstrate that the primacy of private sector interests is in fact perpetuating world hunger.
There still remains a significant gap between policy and normative development and the realization of the right to food, as evidenced by the increasing rates of global hunger and malnutrition.
The report is a contribution from the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) to the Global Thematic Event on the RTF Guidelines to be held during the 45th session of the UN Committee on Food Security (CFS) in October 2018. As such, it aims to promote “learning from experience” and accountability in the CFS, the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform on food security and nutrition, and to reinforcing the important role of monitoring within this policy space.
Today, hundreds of millions of individuals – some 821 million according to the latest updates – remain food insecure. Mainstream reports cite the increasing number of conflicts and climate-shocks as the main driver of rising levels of hunger and malnutrition, together with growing rates of unemployment and the deterioration of social protection nets.
However, this analysis fails to fully address key root causes linked to gender, race, class, and access to resources – present in the daily lives of the majority of the population.
These lead millions to lack consistent physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs. They face obstacles to securing an adequate income to purchase the food needed to feed their families in a dignified manner, and to acquiring rights and access to the resources – water, land, seeds, biodiversity – necessary to produce food.
By the same token, the increasing influence of corporations in food production and consumption habits, pricing, and marketing, is often disregarded. Currently, many laws and policies support industrial, mono-culture modes of agricultural and food production that feed corporate supply chains and harm the environment. Meanwhile rates of malnutrition continue to soar, with massive impacts on the health and wellbeing of populations across the globe.
Those who seek to defend their own right to food, and that of their communities and peoples, face retaliation, criminalization, persecution and – all too often – death. These and many other violations occur daily, in all corners of the planet, most often in the absence of any possibility of recourse, access to justice, or enforcing state accountability.
The right to food remains an indispensable tool for ensuring a world free from hunger and malnutrition, with sustainable food systems that respect human dignity. Its realization is foundational for achieving food security, poverty eradication, sustainable livelihoods, social stability, peace and security, economic growth, and rural and social development.
What’s more, ambitious targets set forth in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 simply won’t be achieved without it.
It is key that while space for human rights is shrinking, we pay attention to a sobering warning: unless we change course, right to food violations will continue to increase.
* Spurred by a determined alliance of governments, civil society organizations (CSOs) and UN offices, the RTF Guidelines were negotiated through a participatory process in the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and adopted unanimously by all member states of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2004. Since their adoption, the RTF Guidelines have been used to create tool kits and policy guidance to assist states with national implementation. They have also been used, particularly by the Right to Food Unit at the FAO, to assist governments in adopting national strategies and legislation aimed at right to food realization.
* Access the Civil Society report on the implementation of The Right to Food Guidelines via the link below:

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