The BRICS Initiative for Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS) is a collective of largely BRICS-based or connected academic researchers concerned with understanding the BRICS countries and their implications for global agrarian transformations. Critical theoretical and empirical questions about the origins, character and significance of complex changes underway need to be investigated more systematically.
TNI is advocating Public Public Partnerships (PUP) as an alternative policy to privatisation or to Public-Private Partnerships in water services as well as a concrete tool to work with partners to reform public water companies/utilities, improve services and realise the right to water on the ground. A public-public partnership (PUP) is simply collaboration between two or more public authorities or organizations, based on solidarity, to improve the capacity and effectiveness of one partner in providing public water or sanitation services. They have been described as a “peer relationship forged around common values and objectives, which exclude profit-seeking”. PUPs avoid the risks which are typically encountered in public-private partnerships: transaction costs, contract failure, renegotiation, the complexities of regulation, commercial opportunism, monopoly pricing, commercial secrecy, currency risk, and lack of public legitimacy. In general the objectives of PUPs are to improve the capacity of the assisted partner. In practice, PUPs' work can be divided into five broad categories: training and developing human resources, technical support on a wide range of issues, improving efficiency and building institutional capacity, financing water services, improving participation. Public Community Partnerships Public-communitarian partnerships (PCPs) are internationally referred to as public-public partnerships but PCPs has a stronger connotation of community. While government and public water authorities should adopt and implement a water delivery policy that prioritises serving the needs of rural communities, many state-owned utilities fail to serve hard-to-reach areas. Community-based water systems are bridging the gap in water service delivery in many parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. TNI has observed new forms of partnerships between public authorities and rural communities, in which the communities are engaged in the decision-making about water solutions, supported with public funding and expertise and are empowered to take responsibility for running water systems. Such partnerships can bring rapid and lasting improvements.
A more refined distinction is required to define appropriate drug control measures according to the specific characteristics of drug substances, their health risks, the dynamics of their markets and their user groups. The existing classification schedules for drugs from the UN 1961 and 1971 Conventions do not provide sufficient differentiation. The consideration of such diverse substances as coca, cocaine, cannabis, opium and heroin in the same schedule, hampers effective policy responses that can properly take into account the different properties of drugs and the reasons people use them.
Since its origin in 1989 there is a growing awareness that the international anti-money laundering (AML) regime is not working. After two decades of failed efforts, experts still ponder how to implement a regime that does work. During that time other illicit or unregulated money flows have appeared on the international agenda as well. Today, tax evasion and avoidance, flight capital, transfer pricing and mispricing, and the proceeds of grand corruption are seen as perhaps more detrimental obstacles to good governance and the stability and integrity of the financial system.
Hands on the Land for Food Sovereignty is a collective coalition by 16 partners, including peasants and social movements, development and environmental NGOs, human rights organisations and research activists aiming to conduct activities in Europe to raise awareness on issues related to the use and governance of land, water and other natural resources and its effects on the realization of the right to food and food sovereignty. In the context of food insecurity and climate change, the governance of natural resources requires addressing the core questions of who ought to have what rights to which resources, for what purposes and who ought to decide from a social justice-based rather than profit making-led perspective. This requires putting the visions and aspirations of those at the frontline of struggles for food sovereignty, whether they be small-scale fishing communities, peasants, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, young and prospective farmers, as well as the most vulnerable and marginalised, at the heart of policies which affect them.
The economic and political rise of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has far-reaching implications for global agrarian transformation as key sites of production, circulation and consumption of agricultural commodities. In each of the BRICS countries, profound changes are underway in rural society and agrarian economies. These vary from concentration in landholdings, changes in rural-urban links, migration, promotion of smallholder farming alongside the rise of corporate agribusiness, class differentiation of smallholders and family farmers, new forms of agri-business upstream and downstream of farming, vertical integration in value chains, supermarketization – and different combinations of these. The BRICS initiative in Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS) is a collective of largely BRICS-based or connected academic researchers concerned with understanding the BRICS countries and their implications for global agrarian transformations. Critical theoretical and empirical questions about the origins, character and significance of complex changes underway need to be investigated more systematically.
The UN has held almost annual climate talks since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992, however these have failed to deliver the radical and justly-distributed emission cuts that are required largely due to the failure of industrialised nations to accept their historic responsibility, the corporate capture of the talks by fossil-fuel interests, and the false market-based solutions pursued by many nations.
Increasing renewable energy is critical to ending fossil-fuel dependency and providing energy for all, but it is critical it is not done in a way that dispossesses communities, benefits only corporations and a rich elite, and causes further environmental damage.
A 'Green Economy' is defined as an economy that reduces impact on the environment. Many advocates promote pricing mechanisms for valuing nature as a key way to factor in environmental costs into the economy that are otherwise externalised and ignored. While this may sound a good idea in theory, in practice this ends up extending corporate control into new areas from forestry to biodiversity and even the air (carbon trading), often denying access and undermining the control of marginalised communities.
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) was established in 1968 as the monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions. Tensions have arisen about the way the INCB performs its duties and about its legal interpretation of the conventions which many feel goes beyond its mandate.
In contrast to other Central American countries, the possession of drugs for immediate personal use is not a criminal offence in Costa Rica. In August 2013 the cultivation, manufacture, transport and trafficking of drugs have all been made a criminal offence under the same article, which provides for a prison sentence of between 8 and 15 years without making any distinction between the offences. The government of Costa Rica supports the launch of an open international debate on the issue, but has declared itself against decriminalisation.
Consensus is growing that the prohibition on production, supply, and use of certain drugs has not only failed to deliver its intended goals but has been counterproductive. Evidence is mounting that this policy has not only exacerbated many public health problems, but has created a much larger set of social harms associated with the criminal market such as violence, corruption, organised crime, and endemic violence.
The war on drugs is waged at its worst in the source zone of production. Major consumer countries - the US in particular - think they are able to tackle drug consumption at home by reducing the supply from the "source zones" such as the Andean region - Colombia, Bolivia and Peru - and Central and South-East Asia - Afghanistan and Burma. The primary goal of the supply reduction strategies is to decrease the amount of drugs entering the major consuming countries and subsequently, because the strategy allegedly leads to higher prices that would lead to lower demand.
Global drug policy could see major changes following The United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) from April 19-21, but political divisions and entrenched institutional dynamics have dampened hopes that it will go down in history as the beginning of the end of the war on drugs.