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Opinions: Poverty Footprint; Aid To Promote Good Governance

Poverty Footprint Analysis Is Just A Start

“Carbon and water footprint measurements have become almost commonplace among large corporations … But these measurements only tell part of the story. The piece where a corporation mows down an entire village in the developing world to make way for a carbon-cutting wind farm is rarely mentioned,” journalist Ariel Schwartz writes in a Fast Company piece.

In the article, which focuses on the recent release of the poverty footprint analysis for Coca-Cola and SABMiller’s (the beer manufacturer and bottler of Coca-Cola products) activities in El Salvador and Zambia, Schwartz highlights some of the findings in the analysis after noting the difficulty that accompanies quantifying “the effects that these two companies have on these suppliers, distributors, and retailers.” According to Schwartz, “None of this is as simple as measuring the amount of carbon dioxide that a company spews or tracking how much water is used in manufacturing. So while we can’t begrudge Coke and SABMiller for analyzing their operations, we wonder if they should really use the word ‘footprint.'” She concludes, “We’ll see if Coke and SABMiller actually take any of the recommendations to heart. Finding out your footprint is great – but then you have to reduce it” (4/11).

Aid Should Be Directed To Efforts That Promote Good Governance In Developing World

“Simply put, private givers and rich nations have focused on the wrong type of aid in recent years,” the Christian Science Monitor writes in an editorial highlighting the findings of the recent World Bank report, which recommends “building national institutions of governance, both public and private, with sustained aid over at least a generation.”

“A long-term commitment for such tasks as training police is difficult for wealthy democracies. Sending food aid, creating clean water, or giving military aid is often an easier sell to voters,” the editorial states. “Yet establishing rule of law and effective government are the best preventers of criminal violence and civil conflict, especially if they create the kind of economic growth that provides jobs to young people.” The editorial points out that the bank “doesn’t seem inclined to shift its loans and grants toward developing better security, governance, or justice in poor nations. Many of its client states don’t want money flowing to their political opponents. The bank instead points to the United Nations. But the U.N.’s record on aid is suspect. Its Millennium Development Goals for halving poverty by 2015 didn’t even mention reform of justice.”

“Breaking the cycle of violence in many countries needs a rethink of aid programs by the richer nations, and then better coordination between them. Private givers, too, can use this report to direct their money to the acute causes of conflicts. Giving the poor a stake in their governments is the first step to giving them a better life,” the Christian Science Monitor concludes (4/11).