Social aspects of sustainable development – document 1What is social sustainabilitySocial sustainability is one aspect of ...
Social aspects of sustainable development – document 2Story of the bluesFran Abrams in Tunisia and James Astill in BeninTu...
Drive through as the security guard opens the barred metal gate and there is no sign of activity. Justsmooth, white walls ...
Most of the factorys 900 workers are members of a trade union, the Federation of Textile Workers,which is part of the Tuni...
he made just £15 profit from one-and-a-half tonnes of cotton - enough to buy one leg of a pair of LeeCooper LC10s.The only...
So, who will buy our jeans? Sherratt and the other members of the Chesterfield TsumebAssociation?Maybe, maybe not."Id like...
Social aspects of sustainable development – document 3Beating our consumption habitBBC Gaia Vince Smart Planet 12.7.12A pr...
However, as global citizens sharing this planet, we cannot afford for billions morepeople to eat and live as the average A...
more Lamborghinis and Rolls-Royces than anybody else in the world. Shanghai’s percapita energy use is already higher than ...
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  1. 1. Social aspects of sustainable development – document 1What is social sustainabilitySocial sustainability is one aspect of sustainability or sustainable development. Socialsustainability encompasses human rights, labor rights, and corporate governance. Incommon with environmental sustainability, social sustainability is the idea that futuregenerations should have the same or greater access to social resources as thecurrent generation ("inter-generational equity"), while there should also be equalaccess to social resources within the current generation ("intra-generational equity").Social resources include ideas as broad as other cultures and basic human rights.Also we can speak of Sustainable Human Development that can be seen asdevelopment that promotes the capabilities of present people without compromisingcapabilities of future generations.Source:
  2. 2. Social aspects of sustainable development – document 2Story of the bluesFran Abrams in Tunisia and James Astill in BeninTuesday May 29, 2001GuardianJust off the Buttermarket in Ipswich, in a glass-and-steel mall with double doors and escalators, youwill find it: Cromwells Madhouse. A wide-open jumble of a shop on a corner site, piled high with jeans,sweatshirts, casual trousers and yet more jeans.And somewhere in the middle, on a dais, there they are, under a huge sign saying: "Famous Brandsfor £19.95." Just a pair of jeans, nestling among dozens of identical others. Blue stonewashed denimfive-pocket jeans, straight leg, zip fly. Lee Cooper LC10s, to give them their proper name. Waist 32in,leg 34, a very popular size.Nothing special at all.Bog-standard, everyday, kicking-a-ball-about-with-the-kidsjeans.Thirtyfortysomething jeans.To put it bluntly, middle-aged jeans."Wash inside out separately", it says on the inside label. 100% cotton. But it doesnt say where theycome from, which is perhaps just as well, for what would you put, if you really knew? "Made in Tunisia,Italy, Germany, France, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Turkey, Japan, Korea, Namibia, Benin, Australia,Hungary"?For Cromwells Madhouse is the last stop on a journey which, if it were put end to end, would go rightaround the earth and half way round again. At a very rough, very conservative estimate, a journey ofabout 40,000 miles on which components and raw materials criss-cross the globe in a sort of jerky,deranged dance.These jeans, our jeans, arrived here a few days ago in a van that came up the A12 from Lee Cooperswarehouse at Staples Corner, just at the bottom of the M1 in north London. There they had theCromwells label attached to them before being packaged up and posted off in plenty of time for theweekend rush. Before that, they came through the Channel tunnel on a lorry from a similar warehousein Amiens, France and before that, by boat and train from Tunis in Tunisia. From Ras Jebel, to bemore precise, a good hours drive north of the city through flat Mediterranean farmland where thefields are fat with artichokes and the pencil cypresses sway in a surprisingly chilly spring breeze.You can see the red Perspex Lee Cooper sign as you approach the outskirts of Ras Jebel. And itsfitting that you should, for Ras Jebel is Lee Cooperville. So much so that it would be no surprise to seea saloon door swinging lazily in the midday sun, and a horse swishing its tail as it munches lazily on anosebag.But this is north Africa, not the wild west. A quiet, dusty, slightly faceless town of 3,000 souls with nofewer than three factories making Lee Cooper clothes; a presence that has drawn in other garmentproducers and spawned textiles and sewing courses at the local college.It has given the place a whole new dimension, according to ChedlyChtourou, managing director of LeeCooper Tunisia. When the first factory opened 25 years ago, he says, women here used to dress fromhead to foot in black cloth. Now they have their own incomes. Some of them even wear jeans.Our jeans come from that first factory, where everything is made for export and there is a customspost on the gate. The others manufacture under license for the local market and make a variety ofother Lee Cooper clothing.
  3. 3. Drive through as the security guard opens the barred metal gate and there is no sign of activity. Justsmooth, white walls and an air of calm. Through double glass doors, past the receptionist and into acorridor lined with cool, white-painted offices with tiled floors, where computers hum contentedly,where the ringing of telephones seems muted and where men in open-necked shirts smile politely asthey pass back and forth with sheaves of paper.Burst through this protective layer, though, through more double doors - heavy wood this time - andthere is an eyebrow-scorching blast of activity, heat, noise. For here in one huge, grey, shed-like roomis the nerve centre of the Lee Cooper empire; the engine room; the furnace.Here, 500 women work furiously, eyes down, every muscle clenched. Each has her own small part toplay; zips, pockets, side-seams, hems. And each functions like an automaton, pulling a garment froma trolley by her side, throwing it on to her sewing machine, roaring down the seam at full throttle,ripping it off, throwing it back. Over and over. Bonuses depend on it. There are no safety guards onthe machines and the women concentrate hard, keeping their fingers from the pounding needles. Ifthey slip up, they can visit the factory nurse.Trained machinists here take home 220 dinars a month - about £110, or 58p an hour. Comfortablyabove the legal minimum of 47p per hour before tax, but well below the Tunisian garment industryaverage of 92p per hour, according to a study published a few years ago. If they meet their targetsthey can make another 30 dinars, or £15, per month.Eight lines, each of more than 60 people, each producing 2,000 garments a day. More than threetasks per worker, per minute, on average. From 7.15am until noon, 1pm until 5.45pm, an hour forlunch, a maximum of two 15-minute toilet breaks. Between the lines is a sea of trolleys draped in hard,dark denim which stains the workers hands blue. Nowhere for a leg-stretch, but then again everyoneis too busy to get up or walk around. Fortunately, there has never been a serious fire.ChedlyChtourou, a pleasant, mild-mannered man who seems to be universally known as Chedly,takes our jeans and peers at the batch number on the inside label: W002920. March 16 2001, linenumber two.EjallahDousab did the "English stitch", the most difficult part, racing down the back seam, under thecrotch and up to the zip, holding the legs out in her stretched hands like the reins of a galloping horse.She is 21 and has been here four years. Does she like it? She laughs shyly under Chedlys gaze andsays yes, of course. But maybe one day, inshAllah, she will marry and leave.There are men working here, but mostly theyre found in the cutting and washing areas, or staringstudiously at computers in side offices. But there are so many young women that theres a shop by thefront entrance selling sheets and towels for their trousseaux. Times are changing, though, and somestay on until their first child arrives, or even longer.Among these is FasedjSihem, who sewed the pockets on our jeans. A chatty, forthright 30 year old,she is married to a policemen and has a 15-month-old son, Iheb. She has done lots of different jobs inher 14 years here, but pockets are a new departure for her and she isnt fast enough to earn a bonus."If I could Id like to have my own business, a small business making dresses for women. But I needmore money to start it. And were going to build a house, so I have to work to earn money for that too,"she says.Although the factory-gate cost of these jeans is just £5 and the cost of transport to France only 10p,Fasedj isnt a bit surprised that their standard price at Cromwells Madhouse is £29.95. Her brotherlives in France and there they cost £30-£50."You cant compare our salaries with the salaries in France and you cant compare the prices. It isntthe same," she explains with mild exasperation, as if speaking to a small child.
  4. 4. Most of the factorys 900 workers are members of a trade union, the Federation of Textile Workers,which is part of the Tunisian General Workers Union. Its representative is Grundi Armor, who says itsnot a bad place, really. Although some of the workers in the finishing area, where there are two shifts,are angry that they sometimes have to work until 11pm when 10pm is the legal limit, and some say thetoilets are too far away for them to get there and back in a 15-minute break."I act as an intermediary," he says. "We always find a solution thats satisfactory to everyone." Chedlylaughs and raises an eyebrow, mock-weary.But this factory, this little community of workers, is not the beginning for our pair of jeans. In one senseits the end. The destination.The place at which dozens of different components, materials, goods,chemicals and sprockets, come together in readiness for a transformation. Like the passengers on thetrain in Larkins Whitsun Weddings, a "frail travelling coincidence - ready to be loosed with all thepower that being changed can give".Take that hard, dark-blue denim, for example. Kansas denim, to give it its proper name, is broughthere by land and sea from Italdenim in Milan, 600 miles away, where it is spun and milled and dyedusing synthetic indigo made 316 miles north of there in Frankfurt, Germany. At Ras Jebel it is cut,sewn and then altered again into a soft, wearable fabric in huge, industrial washers, using pumice froman inactive volcano in Turkey.This stonewashing, by the way, is one of the dirtier processes involved in jeans production. Althoughthe Italdenim factory has all the best environmentally friendly equipment, much of the dye is washedout at Ras Jebel, which does not. The indigo itself is benign, but when it finds its way into localstreams it cuts out the light in the water and kills plants and fish. The pumice, replaced now by anenzyme treatment in modern European factories, is reduced to a powder and then discarded. A factorylike this can produce several tons of powdered pumice every year.And what of the cotton that goes to make the denim? Italdenim buys from several sources, but mainlyfrom Benin in west Africa. So after travelling some 2,700 miles north, to Milan, this cotton travelsseveral hundred miles back to Tunis before setting off north again on its journey to England.Benin is one of several cotton-growing countries in west Africa, and there is a permanent carnival air.Here, parrot-bright robes make a blessed change from the drab American cast-offs that dress the restof the continent. But a closer look at Benins cotton industry, the mainstay of its economy, is not socheering. Corruption and mismanagement keep most cotton-farmers here as poor as when Franceintroduced the crop to the region 100 years ago. And where a little technology filters down, ininsecticides and fertilisers, people are dying. During last years cotton season here, about 100 peopledied from poisoning thanks to the pesticide endosulfin, one of a number of dangerous chemicals beingdumped on west Africas cotton-growers, despite being banned by some wealthier countries. Calliope,the French company that supplies the chemical, points out that endosulfin is widely used in Australia -where cotton is grown on vast prairies, miles from other foodstuffs. Benins cotton farms are of adifferent order.On Nestor Zinkponons three hectares in the village of SakloAgoume, central Benin, AtingounonDesire Souo, 45, is hoeing cotton-drills in the heat of the day. Bent double, he inches along the field,ladling the soil aside to leave a shallow trench. Sandy, red earth covers him entirely, except whererivulets of sweat carry it away. Souo has two hectares of his own, but the soil has become sodegraded through decades of cotton-growing that it no longer supports him and his three sons. Hestarts work before light, collecting discarded wads of cotton seed to fertilise his fields. At sunrise, hegoes to work for Zinkponon in an effort to keep his boys at school in the nearby town of Bohicon. "Idlike them to be important men, not farmers," he says.Between the cotton crop, there are spindly coconut and orange trees, and tiny plots of groundnut andcassava. It would be impossible to spray one crop and not the other. Zinkponon, 33, says a lot ofpeople became ill after using endosulfin, but none on his land. All the same, he prefers to leave thespraying to his employees. At the busiest times of the season, sowing and picking, 48 people work inthese fields for about 60p a day. This outlay leaves Zinkponon dangerously exposed by a poorharvest. Last year, the early rains failed and his freshly sprinkled fertiliser blew away. Consequently,
  5. 5. he made just £15 profit from one-and-a-half tonnes of cotton - enough to buy one leg of a pair of LeeCooper LC10s.The only way to make cash out of cotton is to have plenty of family members working for free, saysZinkponon, who has two wives but only one son: "Some farmers have six or eight wives." According tothe UN Childrens Fund, the north-central cotton areas are the only parts of Benin from which childrenare not trafficked to the regions wealthier countries. They also have the highest school dropout ratesin Benin. All the children are needed in the fields.Benins cotton marketing board, La Societe National pour la Promotion Agricole, is tailor-made to robthe small producer, Zinkponon says. Corrupt government officials routinely keep small farmerspayment for themselves. "Then when you cant pay for the fertilisers youve used, they seize your landor whatever you have, your bicycle maybe," he says. Back in Tunis, though, the denim that comesfrom Benin isnt the only cotton being used to make our jeans. Theres the pocketing, grown inPakistan or Korea, milled and heat-treated in Pakistan. Theres also the cotton coating on some of thepolyester threads, which is a whole story in itself.Coats Viyella makes these threads and they may all look the same to you or me, apart from theirorange, white or blue colouring, but there are different thicknesses, different strengths, for differentparts of the job. They get made in Lisnaskea, in Northern Ireland, as well as in Hungary and in Turkey.They get dyed in Spain and wound on to spools in Tunis before being delivered to Ras Jebel.The polyester fibre which gives the thread its strength is bought by the company from Japan, where itis manufactured from petroleum products. As is the polyester tape for the zip, which coincidentally ismade in France by a Japanese company, YKK. The brass wire that makes up the teeth of the zipcomes from Japan, too.Brass, of course, is an alloy made mainly of copper with a little zinc. And it is brass, again, that goes tomake the rivets and part of the buttons. They come from Prym, a German-based firm that makes itsown brass using zinc and copper from Australia and Namibia.Back, then, to Africa, to southern Africa this time, where the centre of the Namibian copper industry isat Tsumeb, in the north. Here the mine and smelter have just re-opened after a two-year closure thatfollowed a strike. The town is breathing a sigh of relief at the return of its main industry.But there is a downside, according to Derek Sherratt, a community centre manager from Chesterfieldin Derbyshire who spent two years in Namibia as a VSO beekeeper and who now keeps a house inTsumeb, visiting regularly with his Namibian wife Saima. The town could earn much more for itsvaluable mineral resource if it could make things from it, ornaments for tourists perhaps, instead ofexporting it as raw "blister copper", he says.And theres the vexed question of whats in the air. Sherratt passed on his beekeeping skills to a localfamily while he was living in Namibia, but the bees kept dying. After the mine closed, though, themunicipality had trouble keeping them under control. They kept forming nests at the top of the lamp-posts, making bulb-changes a hazardous business."It seems they had been falling foul of the pollution from the mine. There are some strong pollutantssuch as arsenic," he explains. He hasnt checked on their welfare since the mine reopened, butalready there are concerns about the effects of pollution on the human population. Some of the minerswho worked in the mine before the closure are planning to sue its former owner for severe lungdamage, according to the Namibian newspaper.But despite this, Tsumeb is delighted to see its mine open again. Coincidentally, the town is twinnedwith Chesterfield, a town that knows only too well the effects of pit closures."Its a difficult subject because its easy to be in the UK and to be concerned about environmentalissues, which I am. But when hundreds of people are without jobs, and when that means they get nomoney whatsoever, considering the environment seems like a luxury," Sherratt says.
  6. 6. So, who will buy our jeans? Sherratt and the other members of the Chesterfield TsumebAssociation?Maybe, maybe not."Id like to consider myself a spot-on sort of person, but sometimes, without giving it much thought, Ijust buy the cheapest," he says. "I suppose I dont really consider myself part of the designer jeansmarket."Back in Ipswich its 5.30pm and Cromwells Madhouse is closing for the night, the sound of its greymetal shutters reverberating around the mall as they crash to the floor one by one. And inside, in themiddle, on a pile under a sign saying "Famous Brands for £19.95", Ejallahs English stitch, Fasedjspockets, maybe even a little of Zinkponons cotton, sit silently waiting for their journey to end.
  7. 7. Social aspects of sustainable development – document 3Beating our consumption habitBBC Gaia Vince Smart Planet 12.7.12A pre-Rio+20 event asked the question: how many of us can truly say that we havehad our happiest experiences when we have been shopping?No period in history compares to the Great Acceleration after World War II, a rapidincrease in human activity driven by population expansion, globalisation,technological and communications improvement, improved farming methods andmedical advances. The Great Acceleration can be seen in the rise in everything fromcarbon dioxide release, to water use, to number of cars, to ozone depletion, todeforestation, to GDP, to consumption.A century ago, life expectancy in Europe and the US was less than 50 years, now itsaround 80 years. Ive been fortunate enough to live in an age in which I’ve beenvaccinated against killers from polio to tuberculosis to measles; Ive had an insidetoilet and bathroom with hot and cold running water; a refrigerator; central heating; afree education and health service; and hunger has been a pleasant and soon-relieved sensation rather than a chronic debilitating experience.In short, like the average person living in the developed world at the end of the 20thcentury, my life is comfortable and far removed from that experienced by the averageperson a century earlier.This rapid transformation was a filthy undertaking: pea-soupersmogs shrouded citieslike London killing thousands; acid rain poisoned rivers, lakes and soils, erodedbuildings and monuments; refrigerant chemicals ate away at the protective ozonelayer; and carbon emissions caused a change in the global climate and acidified theoceans.In addition, our voracious appetite for manufactured products has led to massivedeforestation and created a mining boom for minerals, oil and coal that is destroyingecosystems and producing a deluge of toxin and plastics waste that will takecenturies to degrade.Lesser-developed nations will strive to follow the Great Acceleration trajectory set byindustrialised nations. Peasants scraping for subsistence in the dirt of India do not toilunder romanticised notions about their labours. They too would like to experience thesame acceleration in life expectancy, as well as basic requirements like clean waterprovision, toilets, electricity, internet access, and creature comforts like cars, airconditioning, refrigerators, washing machines… the list is endless.Tightening belts
  8. 8. However, as global citizens sharing this planet, we cannot afford for billions morepeople to eat and live as the average American now does at the expense of theenvironment. Climate change, ecosystem services degradation and limitations onnatural resources threaten the lives of millions.So whats the answer?Many poor countries have argued that they must be allowed to develop theireconomies, with however much pollution that entails, and then clean up when theyare rich. It seems like a reasonable argument, after all, thats what rich countries did.Except that rich cities still suffer from smog, much of our biodiversity has beenirrevocably lost, and were still pumping out greenhouse gases.Others point out that there is more than enough environmental space on this planetfor everyone to live sustainably, but the developed world needs to scale back itsconsumption and allow for a more equitable sharing of resources.I’ve seen both sides of the argument first hand. I spent over two years travellingaround the developing world and living on the contents of a backpack. In severaldestinations, I washed, like the local people, with a bucket of cold water and apouring scoop – usually river water, but in some places skin-itching seawater. Inother, more touristic places, I would have access to a shower – sometimes with warmwater – even though the local people rarely had such facilities. (Actually, this is partof a wider issue, highlighted in a recent report about how developed-world peoplebring their resource use on holiday with them to poor countries – something I mayreturn to in a later column.)When I returned to London, of all the luxuries now at my disposal, I was mostpleased to have drinking water on tap and a dependable hot shower. As I broughthome my many boxes out of storage, I was bewildered by just how much stuff Iowned. When was I going to wear so many clothes; read so many books; what was Igoing to do with all these accumulated items?Of course, not everyone living in the West is going to experience such an epiphanyon excessive consumption. And, a year on, I catch myself perusing shops, wonderingwhether I need a new t-shirt... (I dont). But there are encouraging signs that ourrunaway appetite for new stuff is beginning to wane, in the UK at least, that peopleare eating less environmentally costly meat, and that Americans are copying theirEuropean counterparts in adopting more fuel-efficient cars. Some of this is down topeople having smaller disposable incomes in the recession, and some due to policy-led changes that encourage a less polluting lifestyle.Polluter paysNevertheless, these are small steps in economies based around consumerism.Citizens are encouraged to desire items from childhood onwards, and consumerismis the main economic strategy for governments trying to climb out of recession.Meanwhile, the excessive consumption habit has spread throughout the world, and isparticularly obvious in China, as I noticed on my visit earlier this year. Barely adecade ago, streams of bicyclists pedaled down alleys in Beijing. Now Chinese buy
  9. 9. more Lamborghinis and Rolls-Royces than anybody else in the world. Shanghai’s percapita energy use is already higher than Londons, and the city has become ashoppers paradise for China’s nouveaux rich . The four busiest Apple stores in theworld are in Shanghai and Beijing. And cities including Paris, London and New Yorkare falling over themselves to attract this new breed of label-obsessed consumeraddicts.One way of prompting people to be more thoughtful about their purchases – andwhether such a purchase is even needed – would be to levy an environmentalservices fee.The polluter pays principle already covers dirty factories in the UK and othercountries, for example, who must pay to clean up their damage to soil, water or air,and to safely dispose of toxic waste. But many people think it should be extended toinclude carbon dioxide pollution, freshwater and energy use by manufacturers, sothat the price of a product more accurately reflects its environmental cost. The chargewould encourage more sustainable production and also help pay for remedial effortsfrom carbon capture and storage to waste water clean-up to recycling.Socially educating people not to seek happiness through excessive consumption willbe a huge and possibly doomed undertaking, however many times it is shown that itcan’t buy you happiness. So perhaps the answer is in trying to restore the naturalbalance of things.In nature, resources are cycled – for example, water taken up by plants is eaten byanimals that breathe out water vapour, returning the water to the soil for the plants byway of rain. Nothing is lost. But the scale with which we humans are using resourcesis too rapid for natural systems to manage. Microorganisms, for example, candegrade our waste, but not at a rate that matches our production. Likewise, trees andplants can take in our carbon dioxide, but not fast enough.Ultimately, the answer lies in a synthetic version of this natural cycling, so-calledclosed-loop manufacture, in which products are created using renewable energy, allthe materials used in the process are re-used and the final product is also fullyrecycled to minimise original resource-use. It means no waste, no pollution, and fargreater efficiencies, as closed-loop pioneers are already discovering.Guilt-free consumption could one day be possible. Whether it will make us happy isanother question.Source:
  10. 10. Social aspects of sustainable development – document 4Source: