Hi I’m Abi and I’m on a journey through Central America visiting inspiring projects which are working to protect natural environments such as forests and waterways, while actively engaging the local community to take responsibility for the habitat that surrounds them. My main focus has been gaining knowledge and experience in agroforestry, which is the practice of growing crops in conjunction with certain tree species which create a beneficial environment for growing food. This is a sustainable alternative to monocropping, using chemical inputs, as well as slash and burn farming; all of which deplete soil fertility and destroy forest and animal species, while contributing to climate change. I am also interested in expanding my knowledge of other types of community work related to sustainability and protecting forest, such as building fuel-efficient wood burning stoves.
Welcome to EcoBlogic, EcoLogic’s blog! For more stories from the field, check out our Stories & Newsletters section to view archived content from our EcoLogic eNews and print newsletters. Blog comments are moderated.
Nearly two years ago, the world witnessed an inspiring and rare success—the coming together of nations to commit to fighting what many recognize as the single greatest threat to life on this planet: climate change. The Paris Accords represent much of what EcoLogic stands for: collaboration, hope, solidarity, resilience and, most of all, a vision of a better future for all. For EcoLogic, every single day is World Environment Day.
With the decision late last week to pull the United States out of this agreement, many of us felt angry, let down, even despondent. But EcoLogic firmly believes that in every challenge exists possibility. After all, that is exactly what we have learned from the people we work with in Central America and Mexico, day in, and day out. People who live difficult lives in sometimes unimaginably tough conditions, in a region considered one of the most vulnerable on Earth to climate-related shocks—pest outbreaks that destroy forests and food, food insecurity aggravated by prolonged drought and natural disasters—still find ways to band together and be creative and proactive in the face of daunting challenges.
At EcoLogic, our team and our partners have consistently pulled together, committed to doing all we can to collaborate and find ways to restore and protect land, water, and communities. We believe firmly that no one individual, no single administration in one country, can or should have the power to reverse collective momentum for good.
Please join us in taking a stand, not by shouting into the void but by helping EcoLogic and our partners empower communities most affected by climate change to take action and heal our planet. Together, we can do this.
Here are a few ways you can help:
- Share on Facebook: When It comes to the climate, we’re all in this together, and groups like @EcoLogicDevFund are helping illuminate the right path forward: http://www.ecologic.org/news-media/blog/take-a-stand-with-ecologic-for-the-climate/
- Share on Twitter: Take a Stand on #ClimateAction with @EcoLogicDevFund http://www.ecologic.org/news-media/blog/take-a-stand-with-ecologic-for-the-climate/ #ParisAgreement
- Donate to EcoLogic! Our work supports so much that is related to climate change, with rural communities who have a great deal on the line—sustainable agriculture, forest management, water conservation, and participatory planning strategies.
- Sign this petition and this letter.
- If you’re Boston-based, please consider joining us at a bipartisan march in Boston on Tuesday, June 13.
- Express support for legislation that makes the most sense to you. One example is the following: a bill at the Massachusetts State House that is expected to be introduced in support of the Commonwealth signing onto the Paris Agreement at the state level.
- Educate yourself and your friends and family.
For 23 years, EcoLogic has worked to empower rural and indigenous communities in Central America and Mexico to protect and restore the tropical ecosystems in which they live. Over the years, we have helped to foster the talents of many local leaders and connect these world-changers with countless partners and networks so that their voices are amplified and their impact can be realized on a larger scale.
The future of marginalized communities and our environment is now more uncertain than ever. After the political change that took place last week, we at EcoLogic, like so many others, are asking ourselves, “What do we do now?” After much dialogue, we realized that at least part of the answer might be simpler than we thought: We must continue to do what we’ve always done—support and amplify the voices of the under-the-radar leaders who work without rest to create a just, sustainable, peaceful world for us all. Only now, we must redouble our efforts and work even more collectively. Those who remain hopeful and optimistic about a sustainable future must act with more creativity, energy, and connection than ever.
So, we are taking action by launching Chance to Lead, a campaign critical to ensuring that the voices of those leaders are heard and given the chance they deserve to be the leaders we need. We owe the communities and the leaders that have historically been most left out that chance. The chance to make progress in creating a world that is not only more environmentally protected—but one that is more socially just.
Chance to Lead is a campaign coordinated by EcoLogic, dedicated to partnering with community leaders and assisting them to amplify their voice and expand the scope of their impact. Via Chance to Lead, we hope to highlight and connect leaders so that they can explore new ways to collaborate and broadcast their successes to the world. We make our voices heard, and remain dedicated to creating lasting change on the causes and issues of those community and environmental leaders whose work are most threatened by damaging, non-inclusive rhetoric and policy. Because their work not only benefits them and their communities, it benefits us all.
We must support these leaders to achieve the change we wish to see. It is their turn, now more than ever. It is up to us to give the hopes, the ideas, the beliefs, the knowledge, and opinions that have historically not been heard—a chance to lead.
What You Can Do
EcoLogic has launched ChancetoLead.org as a platform for individuals and organizations working to create a future based on environmental and social justice to connect and share their work. We don’t know yet exactly how it will evolve but we are compelled to act now, without perfect plans. We envision that those who join us and participate will help us co-create the space and spread the message of this movement by sharing inspiring stories of local leaders that need that Chance to Lead.
For now, if you are a leader in the movement for creating this future, if you participate in an organization that supports these leaders, or if you are an individual or institution that wants to follow the conversation and learn about these leaders, please go to ChancetoLead.org to sign up. We’ll keep you posted on next steps…
With solidarity and optimism,
Director of Development and Communications
EcoLogic Development Fund
What do you get when almost 150 conservation-obsessed people from 33 countries around the globe—including three EcoLogic representatives from three countries—converge on rural Spain? Aside from splendid food, landscapes, and cultural heritage of Món Sant Benet and Barcelona, you get the power of connections and ideas to improve the practice of conservation. Especially when the vast majority of attendees are conservation coaches with a penchant for motivational talks, top notch facilitation, and expertise in the practical matters of helping teams and organizations gain ground in conservation efforts, sometimes against all odds.
EcoLogic’s 2015 fall benefit, Turning the Tables: Nurturing Resilience, will be a one-of-a-kind dinner party on October 1, 2015.
The event will feature 10 conversations at 10 tables on topics that touch on aspects of EcoLogic’s work at the intersection of conservation, culture, and development in Central America and Mexico.
Jordan Rich, of Boston’s WBZ Radio, interviewed one of the 10 expert facilitators that will join EcoLogic for dinner: Frances Moore Lappé, Executive Director of the Small Planet Institute. Frances is the author or co-author of 19 books including Diet for a Small Planet, which sold three million copies. Frances was named by Gourmet Magazine as one of 25 people (including Thomas Jefferson, Upton Sinclair, and Julia Child), whose work has changed the way America eats. Frances is the co-founder of three organizations, including the Oakland-based think tank Food First and the Small Planet Institute, which she leads with her daughter Anna Lappé.
Listen to the interview here:
Interested in sitting down for dinner with Frances?
A conversation with the City of Boston’s Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space
Austin Blackmon is the City of Boston’s Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space, and oversees the Inspectional Services Department, the Environment Department, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Office of Energy Policy and Programs. Blackmon served as the Interim Head of Project Finance for TerraVerde Renewable Partners, a clean energy consulting firm that advises schools, municipalities and companies on solar power, energy storage and alternative fuel projects. Previously, Blackmon worked for C12 Energy, which produces low-carbon energy through technical application of carbon dioxide sequestration. He has also consulted with U.S. Renewables Group, where he evaluated potential investments in waste recovery solutions by developing and presenting investment theses. Blackmon has also previously worked in Energy Investment Banking for Wells Fargo Securities, and advised organizational strategy with consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. Blackmon is a graduate of Harvard College and received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, where he led the Harvard Council of Student Sustainability Leaders.
Austin will facilitate a table conversation at EcoLogic’s 2015 fall benefit, “Turning the Tables: Nurturing Resilience” on October 1. At his table, he will be leading a discussion under the theme of “Greenovate Boston: Engaging all Bostonians in Meeting Climate and Sustainability Goals.” Get a sneak preview of what he will be talking about at dinner in this interview!
Tell us a bit about your professional background and your experience in regard to “Greenovating” Boston?
Prior to moving to Boston, I advised on a number of large-scale energy efficiency, solar projects, and sustainable focused investment opportunities. Most recently as the Interim Head of Project Finance at TerraVerde, the largest part of my job was to make sure the projects made financial sense for our clients, including municipalities and school districts. This experience brought me to Boston, eager to apply my knowledge to a City that was already leading on climate and sustainability actions.
By Tessa Peoples, Communications Intern
Laudato Si, the Pope’s landmark encyclical, has ignited an international conversation about climate change. But no conversation about climate action can ignore the fact that the world’s poor—including the rural and indigenous communities that EcoLogic works with every day—are already being hit the hardest by the impacts of climate disruption.
“We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.”
So wrote Pope Francis in Laudato Si, his landmark encyclical on climate change and the environment, released June 18. An encyclical is a letter generally used to address a significant issue and is addressed to all bishops—or in this case, as Francis put it: all of mankind. Through the letter, the Pope wishes to “enter into a dialogue with all people about our common home.” He emphasizes the undeserved effect of climate change on the world’s poorest populations and wealthy countries’ obligation to push forward and find solutions to the issue that he asserts was caused by excessive industrialization.
The encyclical was published just a few months before the Pope’s September trip to the United States, when he will address a joint session of Congress and, separately, the United Nations General Assembly. President Obama responded to the encyclical, saying, “We must also protect the world’s poor, who have done the least to contribute to this looming crisis and stand to lose the most if we fail to avert it.”
5:30am, Sarstún, Guatemala: The sun has not quite risen, but you can smell tortillas. Women move in and out of their small houses, starting to cook for the day. Most men left home in the early hours to trek down muddy paths towards the fields. The day starts early here because there is a lot to be done. Here, a young man named Samuel Coc Yat measures old trees and plants new ones, checks in with families who have just started using fuel-efficient stoves, and talks to teenagers about the role they can play in conserving their environment. He is a field technician with EcoLogic, and like almost everyone else in the area, he’s Maya K’ekchi’.
Why do you support EcoLogic?
My husband and I first got to know Central America as adoptive parents of our daughter, born in Guatemala, and we quickly fell in love with the people, cultures and landscapes of the region. We wanted to make a difference and began searching for ways to help spur sustainable economic development across the region.
With my professional background in sustainable investing, I was particularly interested in supporting models providing both economic opportunities for people and communities and protection for the natural resources of this very special part of the world. When we were introduced to EcoLogic, we knew we’d found an on-the-ground organization making real and lasting impact — and doing it in a way that empowers communities for the long-term.
Climate change is a huge threat to the people & places where EcoLogic works.
Climate change is already causing a cascade of negative effects on the environment, human society, and nature. Central America and southern Mexico are experiencing these impacts in particularly acute ways because of their proximity to the equator.
Many of the approaches that are part of EcoLogic’s toolkit of solutions are helping local people in Central America and Mexico to adapt to the effects of climate change (and in some cases, like with our CarbonPlus program, mitigate its impacts as well). Reforestation, building fuel-efficient stoves, environmental education, and payment for ecosystem services projects, for example, all help rural communities build resilience in the face of climate disruption.
Check out the infographic below to learn more!
by Madeleine Freundlich
On June 5, millions of people around the globe will plant seeds, recycle bottles, and start brand new clean energy projects—all in honor of United Nations World Environment Day. In a Filipino city called Talisay, families will start the day by walking through the streets collecting trash. A small elementary school in Fiji will hold a competition for best recycled art projects. And in Olanchito, Honduras, families at EcoLogic’s Communities Organizing for Watersheds project site will come together to clean waste from streams—just like they do every day.
World Environment Day has been observed annually since 1972, with the goal of inspiring people across the globe to protect our scarce natural resources. The day’s theme this year is “Consuming with Care.” The United Nations Environment Program is urging people to think about water consumption in particular, as humans can access and safely drink only .05% of the water on our planet. Due to thoughtless overconsumption, that percentage is quickly shrinking.
By Ryan Mitchell and Devyn Powell
Today, May 22, is the International Day for Biological Diversity—an occasion celebrated every year to remind us how important it is to protect the many rich and varied forms of life that share our planet. This year, the United Nations’ theme for this day is “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development.”
EcoLogic and our local partners work to protect biodiversity in Central America and Mexico—the region known as Mesoamerica, and one of the most biologically diverse parts of the world—every day. But on this day of recognition, we are proud join the international community in this celebration of the amazing variety of life on Earth.
What is agroforestry?
Agroforestry is an agricultural technique that combines trees with crops (or livestock) to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. There are several types of agroforestry, but the main approach that EcoLogic uses in our projects is called alley-cropping, which means planting food crops between rows of trees.
NEID Pathways to Change Series Presents:
EcoLogic Development Fund & the Charles River Watershed Association
Wednesday, May 6
9:30 AM – 12:00 PM
EcoLogic Development Fund
25 Mt Auburn St, Suite 203, Cambridge, MA
What happens on the ground at our CarbonPlus for Community-Led Rainforest Management project site in Mexico?
Central America’s local people and invaluable natural resources must be included in any sustainable plan for the future of this critical, beautiful region.
By Devyn Powell, EcoLogic’s Communications Officer
We were excited to see the national spotlight turned to Central America with Vice President Joe Biden’s New York Times op-ed on January 29, “A Plan for Central America.” Central America—and Guatemala and Honduras, two countries the Vice President named in his piece, in particular—is a region we at EcoLogic have worked in over the past 21 years, since we launched our first project in Guatemala in 1993. That year, we worked in an area called Punta de Manabique to help the community meet urgent needs for their healthcare and education while promoting natural resource conservation.
EcoLogic is proud to announce that the Yale University chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF) honored our local partner in northern Honduras, the Association of Water Councils of Pico Bonito National Park’s Southern Sector (AJAASSPIB in Spanish), as the winner of the 2015 ISTF Innovation Prize. For “outstanding initiatives in biodiversity conservation at the landscape level,” the prize recognizes the collaborative effort between AJAASSPIB, EcoLogic, and the Municipality of Olanchito to scale up AJAASSPIB’s successful model of rural community-led conservation to a larger watershed that feeds an urban area. Doña Zumilda Duarte Sandoval, a founding leader of AJAASSPIB who has been instrumental in MACO’s progress, traveled to Yale University for the ISTF Conference to receive the Innovation Award on January 30th.
By Dave Kramer, EcoLogic’s Senior Manager for Impact, Learning, and Innovation
With this week’s Winter Storm Juno packing a wallop and reports of crippling drought across Central America, climate change is once again top of mind here at EcoLogic and across much of the world. I was fortunate enough to travel to Lima, Peru, last December, during COP20—but I was actually there to attend a fantastic side event, the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), organized by the Center for International Forestry (CIFOR) and two UN agencies (FAO and UNEP).
Dave Kramer, our Senior Manager for Impact, Learning, and Innovation, attended the Global Landscapes Forum in Lima, Peru, at the end of 2014. The Forum provided EcoLogic with a big dose of inspiration for our own landscape-level conservation work. Read more about how EcoLogic is working on scaling up our impact from the community level to the landscape by clicking here! In this piece, Dr. Fagan shares his own reflections about the GLF and the importance of landscape-level conservation and land use planning.
The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) finished in Lima, Peru today. I am excited about their continued development of the integrated landscapes approach. Supported by a wide variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations, the GLF seeks to break down the silos that exist among land-use specialists (fun Q: Why don’t foresters talk to agricultural economists or water managers very often? A: They go to different meetings and publish in different journals.).
9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
LASPAU, 25 Mt Auburn St, Suite 300, Cambridge, MA
By approximately 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in water-scarce regions
Humans are drawing down groundwater reserves at an alarming pace, leaving communities thirsty and landscapes parched. Contamination of lakes and rivers is epidemic worldwide, with high-volume water uses such as fracking leaving many water consumers uneasy about where their next glass of clean water will come from. One in eight people worldwide do not have access to improved sources of drinking water. Despite UN passage of the human right to water and sanitation, over 1 billion people do not have adequate sanitation. Approximately 3.5 million people die each year due to inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene—and nearly all of these preventable deaths occur in the developing world.
The water crisis is not merely an environmental issue. Rather, it is a multidimensional problem that has far-reaching implications for human rights, global health and economic development.
So what are the solutions to these problems—and what is the role of funders in supporting them?