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'Better late than never,' Myanmar bans timber exports to save remaining forests

Mongabay Rainforest News - 1 hour 37 min ago
Myanmar contains some of Asia's largest forests, but has been losing them at a rapid pace during the last two decades as logging companies emptied woodlands to meet the demands of the lumber industry. In an effort to save its disappearing forests, Myanmar implemented a landmark ban on timber exports, effective March 31, 2014.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Brazil's new Forest Code a mixed bag for native ecosystems

Mongabay Rainforest News - 1 hour 47 min ago
The revised Forest Code passed into law by Brazil in 2012 could authorize conversion of 400,000 square miles of native grassland for industrial agriculture, while granting amnesty for deforesters in the Amazon rainforest, argues a policy piece published this week in the journal Science.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Democratic Republic of Congo accepted into World Bank Carbon Fund “pipeline” to advance REDD work

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 32 min ago
WWF, 15 April 2014 | The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Emission Reductions Program Idea Note (ER-PIN) was provisionally approved last week in Brussels, Belgium by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s (FCPF) Carbon Fund, administered by the World Bank. DRC’s program would be one of the first jurisdictional-scale REDD+ programs in Africa, including approximately ten million hectares of forest and two and a half million hectares of mixed agricultural lands and savannah. Joining the Carbon Fund’s “pipeline” will now make available up to US$650,000 to support the World Bank’s “due diligence” process and development of a full program proposal worth up to US$60 million to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in western DRC. As a next step, DRC was asked to revise its proposed approach to measuring emission reductions before moving forward with full program development.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Nepal on its way to access results-based payments for REDD

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 34 min ago
WWF, 18 April 2014 | Nepal made new headway in the REDD+ readiness process with the approval of its Emission Reductions Project Idea Note (ER-PIN) at the Carbon Fund’s Ninth Meeting (CF9) organized by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility under the World Bank in April 2014 in Brussels, Belgium. This opens new horizons in REDD+ readiness for Nepal with the potential to bring additional resources of up to USD 70 million for the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) through the Government of Nepal. This is based on the resolution made at CF9 to negotiate a Letter of Intent with Nepal for an estimated volume of up to 14 million tonnes of emission reductions (CO2 equivalent) over a five-year period from 2015 to 2020.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

'Indonesia's deforestation is a disaster for the planet' - audio slideshow

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 35 min ago
By Eric Hilaire, The Guardian, 24 April 2014 | Award-winning Hong Kong photographer and photojournalist Paul Hilton's latest series of images looks at the impact of deforestation on Indonesia's wildlife. Basing himself in one of the most biodiverse hotspots in the world - the Leuser ecosystem in Aceh, home to rhino, orangutan, tigers and elephants - Hilton found that the clearing of forests for palm oil plantations means more roads are being cut into habitat, with endangered species being killed or sold for the wildlife trade in roadside markets.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

[UK] Can you put a price on the beauty of the natural world?

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 36 min ago
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 22 April 2014 | On the outskirts of Sheffield there is a wood which, some 800 years ago, was used by the monks of Kirkstead Abbey to produce charcoal for smelting iron. For local people, Smithy Wood is freighted with stories. Among the trees you can imagine your way into another world. The application to plant a motorway service station in the middle of it, wiping out half the wood and fragmenting the rest, might have been unthinkable a few months ago. No longer. When the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, first began talking about biodiversity offsetting – replacing habitats you trash with new ones created elsewhere – his officials made it clear that it would not apply to ancient woodland. But in January Paterson said he was prepared to drop this restriction as long as more trees were planted than destroyed.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Deforestation of Central America rises as Mexico's war on drugs moves south

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 38 min ago
By Frédéric Saliba, The Guardian, 15 April 2014 | According to Kendra McSweeney: "Drug trafficking is causing an ecological disaster in Central America." McSweeney, a geographer at Ohio State University, is the co-author of a recent report on the little-known phenomenon of "narco-deforestation" that is destroying huge tracts of rainforest that are already under threat from other quarters. Viewed from the air, the tropical forests of Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua are scarred with landing strips and roads built illegally by the narco-traffickers for transporting drugs to the US, the leading world market. "These protected ecological zones have become the hub for South American cocaine," according to McSweeney, who stresses that the annual deforestation rate in Honduras more than quadrupled between 2007 and 2011, a boom-period for drug trafficking.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

IMF, World Bank push carbon pricing

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 40 min ago
The Australian, 15 April 2014 | The leaders of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have called upon finance ministers to "tackle the issue of carbon pricing," Fairfax reports. According to the news outlet, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said carbon pricing was among fiscal tools government's could use that would benefit the environment while stimulating global economies. "Even though it's controversial we've got to tackle the issue of carbon pricing," Mr Kim said on Saturday, according to Fairfax. Ms Lagarde said carbon taxes and the removal of fossil fuel subsidies were "intelligent" ways to reallocate resources to address climate change, Fairfax reports.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fall 10 pct since 2005: EPA

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 41 min ago
Reuters, 15 April 2014 | U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell nearly 10 percent from 2005 to 2012, more than halfway toward the United States' 2020 target pledged at United Nations climate talks, according to the latest national emissions inventory. The report showed that emissions dropped 3.4 percent from 2012 to 2011, mostly due to a decrease in energy consumption and fuel switching from coal to natural gas. The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday published the United States' 19th annual emissions tally to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The United States uses 2005 pollution levels as its benchmark to measure emissions cuts, and has a target to lower emissions by 17 percent from that starting point by 2020.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

EU to host industry talks ahead of setting 2030 climate goals

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 42 min ago
Reuters, 16 April 2014 | The European Commission will hold three meetings this summer on how to ensure the bloc's industries can compete in global markets while meeting goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it said on Wednesday. The meetings aim to gather views on rules determining if companies can continue to receive free carbon permits under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) beyond 2020, when current measures expire. They will also include how EU governments can fund the development of new technologies to help drive deep cuts in the heat-trapping emissions blamed for warming the planet.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

When it comes to carbon, pay now or pay more later

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 43 min ago
By Gernot Wagner, EDF, 17 April 2014 | Economics is largely just organized common sense, and it doesn’t get much more common sense than benefit-cost analysis. Want to decide whether to buy that apple, make that investment or pass that clean air rule? Tally up the benefits. Tally up the costs. If benefits outweigh costs, do it. Although in many ways climate change is a problem in its own league, the same principles apply. Secretary of State John Kerry recently said, “The costs of inaction are catastrophic,” and they most likely would be. While climate change ought to be a risk management problem — an existential risk management problem on a planetary scale — that realization alone may not always be good enough. Despite the inherent risks and uncertainties, sometimes we need a specific number that we can plug into a benefit-cost analysis.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

‘Rural’ forests nurture healthy socio-environmental activity — scientists

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 45 min ago
By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 15 April 2014 | Policymakers and conservationists often overlook the importance of rural forests and the local knowledge that has sustained them for centuries, according to a report published in the journal “Ecology and Society” that reflects on the way sustainable development policies have affected rural forests. Rural — or domestic — forests exist all over the world, from temperate countries to arid and tropical humid regions. They are managed by local people as part of their agricultural and livelihood activities, according to the journal, which featured eight studies on rural forests in France, Morocco, Southeast Asia and Africa funded under the Public Policies and Traditional Management of Trees and Forests project (known by its French acronym, POPULAR).
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

To set priorities for research, ask the right questions

REDD Monitor - 3 hours 46 min ago
By Peter Kanowski, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 April 2014 | How should research institutions such as CIFOR, with a global mandate and responsibilities, identify potential research priorities? How can they draw effectively on the knowledge, expertise and insights of the global community of researchers and practitioners? Several recent initiatives responding to questions like these in other topic areas have informed a new project to identify research priorities for forestry and landscapes.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Wyndham Worldwide Once Again Named to DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity List

CSRwire - 5 hours 35 min ago

Wyndham Worldwide (NYSE: WYN), one of the world's largest hospitality companies, was named to the 14th annual DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. Ranked 39, this is the second consecutive year the Company has been in the Top 50.

The DiversityInc Top 50 list includes companies from a wide range of industries whose leadership, procurement practices, communications and associate engagement best reflect the reality of the rapidly changing face of today's dynamic workforce.

"Receiving this recognition is a tremendous honor and reflection of our commitment to workplace diversity and inclusion, while also serving as a global competitive advantage that strengthens the Company's operating performance and the value created for shareholders," said Stephen P. Holmes, chairman and chief executive officer, Wyndham Worldwide. "In order to be successful, we respect, understand and integrate various cultures, motivate and lead multiple generations, provide ethical leadership, and demonstrate integrity and respect in everything we do."

Wyndham Worldwide remains committed on growing its businesses globally, while focusing on its performance and people in each of the communities where it operates. Believing diversity enriches the Company as a global hospitality provider Wyndham Worldwide is committed to providing opportunity, education, resources, leadership and a voice to every individual, so that the Company can collectively deliver rewarding, memorable and successful experiences to its guests, customers, partners and associates.

The Company's Diversity & Inclusion Strategy includes:

  • Programs designed to increase and leverage diversity in the hospitality industry through ownership and the customer's experience.
  • A Diversity and Inclusion Curriculum with course offerings for the entire workforce; including leadership training programs such as the Wyndham Worldwide Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Workshop, mentoring opportunities and educational support.
  • A host of Associate Business Groups designed for employees to engage in the business expansion process, networking, personal and professional development and affiliation with colleagues across the Company that share common interests and experiences.
  • A global supplier diversity program to increase the Company's network of minority vendors and other diverse-owned suppliers.

DiversityInc also announced a number of Specialty Lists, with Wyndham Worldwide being named to the Top 10 Companies for Diversity Councils, Global Diversity and People with Disabilities. Additionally, the Company's supplier diversity program was ranked second on the Top 10 Companies for Supplier Diversity specialty list. With a focus on both U.S. domestic and global growth, the Company's program surpassed its 2013 goals in strengthening the diversity of its global supply chain, and increased its 2013 spend with sustainable suppliers to 15.7 percent.

Wyndham Worldwide has been and continues to be strategic in attracting, retaining and developing best-in-class talent.

"We know that it takes great people to make great things happen; therefore we strive to cultivate a global workforce where individuals from a wide array of experiences, perspectives and backgrounds are valued," said Patricia Lee, senior vice president, human resources and chief diversity officer, Wyndham Worldwide. "As a global hospitality leader with locations in nearly 100 countries across six continents, thinking globally but acting locally is part of how we operate in markets around the world."

Because of its commitment, in addition to the recognition by DiversityInc, Wyndham Worldwide has been named a Top 50 Company for Latinas by LATINA Style, recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as one of the "Best Places to Work for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality" and by the National Association for Female Executives as one of the Top 50 Companies for Executive Women. Additionally, the Company maintains strong partnerships with organizations such as the National Diversity Council, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, National Society of Hispanic MBAs and National Association of Black, Hispanic, Asian and Women MBAs.

"In its second year in a row on the list, Wyndham Worldwide moves up seven spots. Chairman and CEO Stephen P. Holmes is a public proponent of using diversity and inclusion as a critical way of furthering the company's business globally and in the United States," said Luke Visconti, chief executive officer, DiversityInc. "The company has increased its U.S. workforce and management diversity and continues to be a leader in supplier diversity."

Most recently, the Company was recognized by the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) and its Corporate Inclusion Index for the second consecutive year, and HACR presented Erika Gonzalez, diversity and inclusion manager, Wyndham Worldwide, with a Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers Award. Ms. Gonzalez was the third Wyndham Worldwide associate to receive this recognition.

Wyndham Worldwide has worked to integrate its associates, business and communities in all that it does, with a strategic focus on the environment and sustainability, diversity and inclusion, community support and responsiveness, and human rights and ethics. In the years since its introduction on the NYSE in 2006, the Company has continued to demonstrate its leadership in being a responsible corporate citizen.

The rankings are determined by an objective methodology that calculates factors such as Talent Pipeline, Equitable Talent Development (including commitments to mentorship and philanthropy), CEO/Leadership Commitment, and Supplier Diversity. The empirical data for the rankings is provided by a 300-question survey filled out by personnel at the participating companies. Survey participation is free to any company with at least 1,000 U.S. workers.

For the entire Top 50 list, go to http://www.diversityinc.com/top50

About DiversityInc

DiversityInc's mission is to bring education and clarity to the business benefits of diversity. The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list began in 2001, at the same time many corporations were beginning to understand the business value of diversity-management initiatives. The 2014 Top 50 Companies for Diversity results are featured on DiversityInc.com and in DiversityInc magazine. For more information, log on to www.diversityinc.com, https://www.facebook.com/DiversityInc, https://twitter.com/DiversityInc, or http://www.linkedin.com/company/26561.

About Wyndham Worldwide Corporation

One of the world's largest hospitality companies, Wyndham Worldwide (NYSE: WYN) provides a wide range of hospitality products and services through its global portfolio of world-renowned brands. The world's largest hotel company based on the number of properties, Wyndham Hotel Group is home to many of the world's best-known hotel brands, with approximately 7,500 franchised hotels and 646,900 hotel rooms worldwide. Wyndham Exchange & Rentals is the worldwide leader in vacation exchange and the world's largest professionally managed vacation rentals business, providing more than 5 million leisure-bound families annually with access to over 107,000 vacation properties in over 100 countries through its prominent exchange and vacation rental brands. The industry and timeshare ownership market leader, Wyndham Vacation Ownership develops, markets, and sells vacation ownership interests and provides consumer financing to owners through its network of over 190 vacation ownership resorts serving approximately 907,000 owners throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. Based in Parsippany, NJ, Wyndham Worldwide employs approximately 32,800 associates globally. For more information, please visit www.wyndhamworldwide.com.

For more information, please visit www.wyndhamworldwide.com.

Online Poll Finds 55% of Companies Feel Increased Customer Trust Is Number One Benefit of an Open Sustainability Communications Strategy

CSRwire - 5 hours 35 min ago

The hour long in-depth debate, hosted by Ethical Corporation, focused on ways companies can build an authentic dialogue with customers and consumers. The online webinar, featuring expert insight from Nestlé, Interface and Carillion, took place on Tuesday 1st April 2014 and was attended by over 350CSR practitioners.

During the webinar attendees were asked a series of questions to help set the scene. One of the key polls asked attendees what is the number one benefit of an open, sustainability communications strategy. 55% of the attendees stated that increased customer/consumer trust was the number one benefit, 19% voted brand loyalty, 12% voted competitive advantage and 7% of the webinar attendees believed increased employee engagement is the number one benefit. Interestingly only 2% of our attendees felt that increased revenue was the number one benefit.

The insight was somewhat surprising to our webinar panel. Janet Voute, Global Head of Public Affairs at Nestle stated, “I am surprised by the poll results and the low ranking of increased employee engagement because all of our investigations reveal our work on creating shared value leads to very clear increased employee loyalty and an increased ability to recruit. I would argue this should be much higher.”

Touching upon the poll results, David Picton, Chief Sustainability Officer at Carillion added, “two results that jumped out to me that were interesting and important to pick up on is Janet’s point about engagement. It is really clear part of being an employee of choice and giving real sense of satisfaction, being proud of what that company does feeling you belong to it and its future, a lot of that employee engagement is about people sensing and feeling it is the right thing that is being done, links to trust and loyalty as well.”

David went on to say, “The one that surprised me, maybe the way it was phrased is increased revenue – I think a good balanced strategy has to deliver profit because one of the main areas of sustainability is to eliminate waste. Sustainability for us is very clearly a profitability link to the bottom line because we can reduce costs and reduce waste through this and do the right thing at the same time.”

Ramon Arratia, European Director of Sustainability at Interface concluded comments around this poll by stating, “we have been able to lock in some markets because we have some superior products from an environmental point of view that others couldn’t develop. Increased revenue, our eco-hero products (with lowest environmental impact) is delivering a 10% more margin than normal products.”

The poll and discussion clearly highlights that building an open and transparent communication strategy with customers offers many benefits from increased employee engagement and consumer trust to competitive advantage and increased revenues.

The webinar discussion and polling is accessible here.

Sustainable Brands® Unites Global Partners for Expanded Project on Sustainable Consumption and Consumer Behavior Change

CSRwire - 5 hours 35 min ago

 Sustainable Brands® announced today that the Framework for Action: Consumer Behavior Change will launch at Sustainable Brands 2014 Rio in Brazil. Led by Eight Sustainability Platform, in partnership with Futerra Sustainability Communications, the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS), the Instituto Akatu and Sustainable Brands, it is the first publication to explore the cutting-edge issues of sustainable consumer behavior change exclusively for the Brazilian market.

The project is sponsored by Banco Itaú and supported by Dow, Nestlé, Unilever, Invepar and PepsiCo. The final output is a framework – a guide for professionals from marketing, communication, R&D and sustainability departments at organizations (especially B2C companies) looking to promote environmentally and socially positive behavior through behavior change. It explores value propositions, innovation, product and service design, access to markets and new consumer profiles, sustainable branding and consumer relations. It presents a methodology and framework for doing so for the Brazilian market based on learning from existing literature and data, discussions with representatives of companies in Brazil, and from a combined effort with the partners.

According to Pablo Barros, the creator of the project and the founder of Eight Sustainability Platform, “There are many responses to the problems that our society faces, but influencing the behavior of consumers is one of the most effective ways for facing up to challenges of this scale. We have decided to begin our work by developing mechanisms for use by B2C companies, because of the strength of their brands, their scale and their penetration, and because of the positive returns that these companies and their brands can achieve by engaging with their consumers.”

Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of Futerra, said, “Creating sustainable lifestyles is the greatest business opportunity of the 21st century. Brazil must be at the heart of this new market. We can both share learning from global brands and also discover the sustainable behaviors unique to Brazil.”

The project launches today during an afternoon session at Sustainable Brands Rio. Introduced last year in Brazil, the conference will convene over 500 brand innovators on April 24-25th. "Since 2006, Sustainable Brands has been focused on helping the global brand community find value in leading the way to a sustainable future,” states KoAnn Skrzyniarz, founder of Sustainable Brands. “Brands play a critical role in aligning business and society. Understanding how to encourage and support more sustainable consumer demand is fundamental to our future, both for business and society. We are grateful to be part of this project and hope it will contribute important insight that can be shared with our global community of change makers who are committed to enabling the sustainable economy of the future."

More information about the Framework for Action: Consumer Behavior Change and document download, from April 24th, can be found at http://eightsustainability.com/pt-br/special-projects.

Information about Sustainable Brands 2014 Rio, April 24-25 at the SulAmérica Convention Center in Rio de Janeiro, can be found on the conference website.

About Eight Sustainability Platform
Eight Sustainability Platform is a global platform that works on sustainable solutions, drawing on a wide range of partnerships with leading organizations in the international sustainability space. Eight aims to serve as a catalyst for change and to influence the transformation of current forms of production and consumption. It provides consulting services, executes special projects and specializes in adding speed and scale to initiatives that aim to change the paradigms of both companies and consumers. Eight’s work is based on the partnership model, cooperating with its partners to find solutions for global sustainability issues and its clients, while also developing partnerships with its own customer base.

About Futerra Sustainability Communications
Futerra is an award-winning sustainability communications agency with offices in New York, London and Stockholm. Our mission is to make sustainability so desirable it becomes normal. From green marketing to corporate responsibility, brand strategy to creative execution, Futerra transforms global businesses into leading sustainable businesses, offering real and impactful solutions.

About Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS)
CEBDS is a business national association and non-profit that leads efforts on sustainable development implementation in Brazil, effectively articulating Brazilian government and business actions. Created in 1997, CEBDS integrates the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) national council’s net.

Recognized as the most reputable business institution in the world, WBCSD brings together 200 business groups that act all around the globe. In Brazil, CEBDS has today 76 associated companies that represent (in total) more than 40% country’s GDP and more than 600 thousand jobs.

CEBDS’ mission is guided by fostering business leadership as a change catalyst towards a business model that enables economic activity success, fosters social inclusion and preserves environment assets.

About Instituto Akatu
Created on March 15, 2001 (World Consumer Day) within the Ethos Institute for Business and Social Responsibility, Akatu is a non-governmental organization that works to raise awareness and mobilize society for conscious consumption. The Institute's activities are focused on changing consumer behavior on two fronts – education and communication – with the development of campaigns, content, surveys, games and methodologies. Akatu defends the act of conscious consumption as a fundamental transformation of the world, as any consumer can contribute to the sustainability of life on earth: through the consumption of natural resources, products and services and the enhancement of social responsibility companies.

About Sustainable Brands
Sustainable Brands® is the premier global community of brand innovators who are shaping the future of commerce worldwide. Since 2006, our mission has been to inspire, engage and equip today’s business and brand leaders to prosper for the near and long term by leading the way to a better future. Digitally published news articles and issues-focused conversation topics, internationally known conferences and regional events, a robust e-learning library and peer-to-peer membership groups all facilitate community learning and engagement throughout the year. Sustainable Brands is hosted by Sustainable Brands Worldwide, a division of Sustainable Life Media headquartered in San Francisco, CA.

PE INTERNATIONAL Delivers Sustainability to The People's Republic of China

CSRwire - 5 hours 35 min ago

(Marketwired) - PE INTERNATIONAL, a global sustainability software and services firm, has been selected by the Research Institute of Safety & Environment Technology of The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China's largest oil and gas producer and one of the world's largest oilfield service and construction engineering companies, to promote its sustainability research initiatives. The Research Institute will use PE INTERNATIONAL's SoFi Software to conduct a carbon footprint study for the oil and gas sector in addition to enhancing their research in carbon footprint accounting and reporting for CNPC.

"In line with CNPC's sustainability initiative, we have a responsibility to ensure that we are conducting business in the most responsible ways," said Yuan Bo, senior engineer of the Research Institute. "Arising from this, we are committed to research for reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that we are emitting. We selected PE INTERNATIONAL's SoFi Software for its impressive energy and carbon data collection, aggregation and reporting capabilities and we look forward to further introduce and roll out an efficient carbon management platform to all entities within CNPC."

"We are excited by the opportunity to work with the CNPC Research Institute of Safety & Environment Technology and proud to bring our technology into The People's Republic of China at one of the important research institutes for the oil and gas sector," said Robert Gabriel, executive director, corporate sustainability & strategy at PE INTERNATIONAL. "We look forward to helping them understand their consumption, reduce their emissions and expand their CSR initiatives."

About SoFi software
SoFi is PE INTERNATIONAL's powerful Enterprise Sustainability Performance software platform that allows companies to obtain financial-grade sustainability information and improve sustainability for operations, supply chains and products. Its unique performance analytics, intelligent diagnostics and planning tools coupled with the world's best sustainability content databases deliver the insight for users to realize the potential of sustainable business.

PE INTERNATIONAL is the leading global provider of integrated solutions for enterprise sustainability performance with proven software, sustainability databases and unparalleled consulting expertise. With more than 20 years of experience and 20 offices around the globe, PE INTERNATIONAL works with 1,500 clients including companies such as Bayer, Hewlett-Packard, Interface, Kraft Foods, Siemens, Unilever and Volkswagen. For more information: www.pe-international.com.

NCGA Applauds Vermont as First State in U.S. to Achieve Mandatory Labeling of GMOs, Wary of Bill in its Shadow

CSRwire - 5 hours 35 min ago

Today, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) congratulates Vermont as the first state in the U.S. to pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill. In the wake of this victory, NCGA urges Congress to not support the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 that threatens to deny consumers’ right to know what’s in their food.

Vermont’s Act Relating to the Labeling of Food Produced with Genetic Engineering, which is on its way to being signed into law, requires the mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms starting in July 2016. This sets the Green Mountain State up as the first in the country to pass such a measure with no strings attached. Connecticut and Maine have both passed mandatory GMO labeling laws, but they do not go into effect unless other states also pass such laws.

“This is a proud day for Vermont,” said Kari Bradley, General Manager of NCGA-affiliate Hunger Mountain Cooperative in Montpelier, Vermont. “Accomplishment of this legislation is a testament to the value Vermonters place on good food and our fundamental right to know what we are eating. Our cooperative is deeply appreciative of the efforts of everyone who supported this legislation.”

This bill, which was proposed in 2013, has received overwhelming public support. A number of skeptical lawmakers were met with visible and audible support from their community members, ultimately persuading them to vote yes and pass the initiative. According to several studies, more than 90 percent of Americans want food containing GMOs to be labeled.

Yet, Congress is considering another bill that could deny states like Vermont the right to enact their own GMO labeling laws. U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo introduced The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 on April 9th, a bill that would codify the existing, inadequate system of voluntary labeling and compel the FDA to define GMOs as natural. The measure, which has the backing of food, biotechnology and agriculture companies, looks to nullify efforts in no less than 20 states to label GMOs.

“We urge Congress not to support this misguided bill, and instead encourage the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA. “Vermont’s GMO labeling law is an important step in the movement toward federally mandated GMO labeling, and we hope the Vermont campaign sparks momentum towards food transparency nationwide.”

“Congressman Pompeo is signing away the rights of all Americans to know what they are buying and feeding their families,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety, a partner of NCGA. “This ‘Deny Americans the Right-to-Know,’ or DARK act, is an attack on states’ ability to assure their citizens are informed.”

NCGA has been working for years on a national level to ensure labels provide consumers with information about what is in their food and where it comes from. NCGA partners with Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, and Just Label It—a national coalition of more than 650 organizations which calls for the mandatory, federally enforced labeling of GMOs—on this issue.

About NCGA
National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCGA helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 136 member and associate co-ops operate 180 storefronts in 37 states with combined annual sales over $1.5 billion. NCGA is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence in recognition of the application of cooperative values and principles to drive cooperative and business success. In 2012, NCGA became a Certified B Corporation, a rigorous certification that recognizes business standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. For a map of NCGA member and associate co-ops, visit www.ncga.coop. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.strongertogether.coop.

Free Online Resource Provides Electioneering Rules for Private Foundations and Public Charities

CSRwire - 5 hours 35 min ago

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced today the release of a new interactive training tool to help the staff of private foundations navigate the tax laws surrounding elections. 

The Electioneering Rules course is the third in a series of free online trainings on a variety of legal issues that apply to private foundations. All of the courses take less than an hour to complete and feature “Maya,” a foundation program officer who leads participants through each training session.

The new online course walks users through an overview of the IRS’ electioneering rules for private foundations and public charities. The course showcases a variety of real-life examples and scenarios.

“We developed the Maya courses because there is nothing else out there quite like them,” said Mary Anne Rodgers, general counsel for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “There are a lot of things that people can do that do not violate electioneering prohibitions. We want people in the field to feel comfortable issue spotting, asking the right questions and taking the appropriate legal steps,” continued Rodgers.

The Electioneering Rules course contains six easy-to-follow modules that cover topics such as:

  • Overview of the Electioneering Prohibition
  • Voter Education
  • Issue Advocacy
  • Interacting with Candidates
  • Voter Participation
  • Other Issues Related to the Electioneering Rules

Participants can navigate the user-friendly online course by going through each module sequentially or by jumping to different topics. The course also offers easily downloadable documents to supplement the online experience.

The goal of the Electioneering Rules course – and all of the other legal courses available in the series – is to supplement existing in-person workshops or training that legal counsel at foundations provide to staff. Other topics in the suite of courses include Advocacy and Lobbying Rules for Private Foundations and Expenditure Responsibility Rules for Private Foundations, with additional courses forthcoming.

For more information about the electioneering course and to view all of the trainings, visit http://www.learnfoundationlaw.org.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation helps people build measurably better lives. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development and population, performing arts, philanthropy, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people — especially those with the fewest resources — have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is a private family foundation created in 1964 by David Packard (1912–1996), cofounder of the Hewlett-Packard Company, and Lucile Salter Packard (1914–1987). The Foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations in the following program areas: Conservation and Science; Population and Reproductive Health; and Children, Families, and Communities. Foundation grantmaking includes support for a wide variety of activities including direct services, research and policy development, and public information and education.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in bold ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of science, environmental conservation and patient care. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit us at www.Moore.org.

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