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In the past in people who were unable to pay their debts were locked up in jail. Today this is no longer an accepted as a punishment for unpaid debts, and yet, figuratively, we continue to lock developing countries into debtor’s prison.
The countries have no access to an arbitration to rid them of unfair, onerous and unpayable debts. They have no choice but to continue paying the ever-increasing debts, sacrificing their people’s education, healthcare and other basic services. This is clearly a situation that needs to be remedied.
The solution is to introduce an international debt court. This would allow countries to have their debts examined by a neutral judge and written down or cancelled if it was indeed onerous, unfair or unpayable.
The key point of this campaign is that the definition of unpayable is not the strict definition that the country doesn’t have the money to pay the debt, but takes into account the need for expenditure on healthcare, education and other services taken for granted as part of basic human rights.
By introducing an international debt court we can discourage irresponsible and reckless lending such as we saw in from the ECDG in our previous blog countries would have a remedy against those lenders.
In light of the recent debt crisis here in Europe people are beginning to awaken to the necessity of this debt court but it without the support of the public this will never become a reality. You can keep up to date on developments on this campaign and see how you can get involved at the Jubilee Debt Campaign’s website.
Recently we met with the team at Nestle UK, and they offered to answer some of your questions about how they work. After gathering your suggestions on Facebook, we passed the five most liked questions onto Nestle. These are the answers from Nestle's Corporate Affairs team for questions 3, 4 and 5. The answers to the first two questions are published here. Our thanks to Alison and Sam at Nestle for being open to such dialogue.
3/ Clarice Fell: Hi there, so great what you guys do. I recently took a 4 month trip to Uganda Africa. I saw where coffee is made. Where the beans are grown. Nescafe and other major coffee brands buy their beans from there. They pay next to nothing for it the workers live in extreme poverty. The companies put massive taxes on the coffee and charge us massive prices. I don't know how one of the world’s biggest exports leaves it's workers in poverty. I know that this same senario is like for chocolate the coco beans are sort the same way. If anything ask them to provide better pay and living conditions to the ones who actually grow the coco beans. As without them there wouldn't even be chocolate. Ask them to follow Cadbury’s league and make it fair trade. Thanks any way for all the hard work. Praying for justice for our world. :)
For more than 30 years, we have been working with our coffee suppliers to encourage sustainable farming and improve the living standards of coffee-farming communities. To do this we need to address global issues such as food and water security and work with coffee farmers to improve the quality and quantity of their produce as this is crucial to increasing their income.
In August 2010 Nestlé launched The Nescafé Plan, a global initiative which aims to help guarantee a long term supply of quality coffee produced with a lower environmental impact. The plan will be implemented with the support of Rainforest Alliance, other partners from the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and the 4C Association (Common Code for the Coffee Community Association).
The plan outlines our commitments in three key areas; coffee farming, coffee production and consumption and is backed by an investment of £213 million until 2020. Similar to The Cocoa Plan, The Nescafé Plan accelerates and expands programmes of support that we have been involved in for decades. We believe it will help us guarantee a long term supply of quality coffee by making coffee farming more attractive to the next generation of farmers and enable them to produce coffee with a lower environmental impact. Information is available for consumers on both www.nestle.com and http://www.nescafe.com/sustainability-uk.
4/ Jenny Jones: I live in Australia and if I see something with Nestle attached to it I deliberately don't buy it. So my question would be: "when will you step up and lead the world in becoming a fair company that puts your fellow humans in front of your massive profit? I'm sure you can afford to do this. That's when I will start supporting your products again."
Nestlé’s basic business principle is that we can only create value for our shareholders if we at the same time create value for society and we have identified three focus areas where, for Nestlé, business and societal value creation can be optimized and these are nutrition, water and rural development. We call this Creating Shared Value (CSV).
About half of our factories are in developing countries and we source about 70% of our raw materials from these rural areas. CSV means that more than just being present in these regions, we are actively leveraging our presence to reduce poverty, improve nutrition and health, and preserve the environment for future generations.
We have recently published a report which outlines over 290 business activities and programmes which support one or more of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (http://www.community.nestle.com/Pages/mdg-landing.aspx) which you may be interested in looking at. The projects range from supporting female livestock workers in Pakistan to helping farmers in our supply chain reduce the environmental impact of the crops they produce.
5/ Awal Ahmed: I want to know what measures they have in their contract to ensure environmental sustainable production methods at the community level and what they are doing to reduce communities vulnerability to climate change?
Environmental responsibility is a key component of our Corporate Business Principles and Supplier Codes (http://bit.ly/ieh2aB and http://bit.ly/dKZ4TH). As a company our aim is to not just offer products with the lowest environmental impact compared to alternatives but to work throughout our supply chains to reduce the environmental impacts of farming and crop production and promote sustainable agriculture. A key component of our major initiatives such as The Cocoa Plan and The Nescafé Plan is to help farmers produce crops in a way that minimises the environmental impact while maximising yields and to help them deal with challenges such as climate change. For example we supply coffee and cocoa farmers with high potential plantlets which produce earlier and are bred to be disease resistant. We have also highlighted water as a priority issue. Aside from our global commitment as a founding signatory of the CEO Water Mandate an initiative led by the United Nations Global Compact, we are committed to improve our efforts in sustainable water management across the business www.nestle.com/csv/environment. As agriculture uses two thirds of the world’s water we also work with farmers and suppliers to encourage effective water management – in courntries ranging from Italy to Cote d’Ivoire. Our drip irrigation project in Nicaragua is a good example of working collaboratively to develop a low-cost drip irrigation system to be used in plantations where we source coffee as part of a public private partnership between Nestlé, ECOM, the Rainforest Alliance and International Development Enterprises IDE covering 1500 coffee farmers. Through the sustainable use and control of water we can accelerate plant growth and achieve better quality crops even during water-stress periods. You can read more about this and other projects in our MDG Report www.community.nestle.com/mdg7 or on the section on water on www.nestle.com.
Recently we met with the team at Nestle UK, and they offered to answer some of your questions about how they work. After gathering your suggestions on Facebook, we passed the five most liked questions onto Nestle. These are the answers to the first two questions from Nestle's Corporate Affairs team. The answers to questions 3, 4 and 5 are posted here. Our thanks to Alison and Sam at Nestle for being open to such dialogue.
1/ John Scale: I would like to ask why they continue to aggressively market baby milk formulas in developing countries, even going as far as promoting them as providing protection against illnesses such as diarrhoea despite the mass of evidence showing how this is causing huge harm to children in these countries and continuing breast-feeding could save 1.5 million children a year.
John, you raise a number of important points. Nestlé supports exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life with continued breastfeeding and the introduction of adequate complementary foods thereafter because as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated “… some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed”. However, the WHO never suggested that ‘not adequately breastfed’ meant ‘fed on infant formula’. The vast majority of women in developing countries breastfeed but exclusive breastfeeding is rare. In those countries, most children who are not exclusively breastfed do not receive infant formula, but are given water, solid foods like sticky rice, or whole cow’s milk which are not considered appropriate substitutes (for more information, see: www.unicef.org/publications/index_51656.html).
We take our responsibility to market infant formula in a responsible manner very seriously and have, since 1982, applied the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes universally and voluntarily in developing countries. Today this means that we do not advertise or promote infant formula to the public; do not donate free samples to mothers or to hospitals; ensure that all our infant formula products state that ‘breastfeeding is best’ with instructions for the safe preparation in the primary languages as well as diagrams to overcome the challenge of low literacy. Also, all our labels comply with local legislation and all health claims we make are scientifically substantiated. If you know of a Code breach, tell us and we will investigate. For more information please follow the link to our website www.babymilk.nestle.com.
2/ Graeme Hodge: Nestle: when are you going to expand your Fairtrade accreditation to all of your products and stop hiding behind the cocoa initiative- an initiative that has made little or no change to the daily reality for over 12,000 trafficked children who produce your cocoa products for you?
Nestlé has been working to address key issues facing cocoa farmers for many years and in 2009 we launched our £65million Cocoa Plan to accelerate programmes that aim to improve the economic, social and environmental issues facing cocoa farming communities. See www.thecocoaplan.com
Focusing predominantly on Cote d’Ivoire the world’s largest cocoa producing country the plan is based around working closely with farming cooperatives, paying a premium for better-quality cocoa, investing in farmer training and providing 12 million high potential cocoa plantlets to improve yields and therefore farmer productivity and income.
Kit Kat is our leading confectionery brand and Fairtrade certification of our most iconic brand is a demonstration of our commitment to bringing The Cocoa Plan to life and improving the lives of cocoa farming communities. We have started with Kit Kat four finger because one of the challenges of certifying a brand as large as Kit Kat is that there is currently insufficient supply of quality Fairtrade certified Ivorian cocoa to certify the whole brand. We will continue to work with Fairtrade to build relationships with additional co-ops to increase the supply of high quality Fairtrade cocoa from the Ivory Coast.
With regard to child labour Nestlé is against all forms of exploitation of children. The company is firmly committed to actions to eradicate unacceptable practices, in line with our commitments in the Nestlé Corporate Business Principles and the Nestlé Supplier Code and you can find out more about these on our website at (http://bit.ly/ieh2aB and http://bit.ly/dKZ4TH). We are also a founding member of the International Cocoa Initiative set up specifically to address child labour issues in cocoa farming. I would also urge you to consult the Fairtrade position on child labour. The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation recognises “child labour is a very complex and intractable issue...” Unfortunately, “no person or organisation can simply guarantee that child labour does not occur in a supply chain, but Fairtrade can provide assurance that its standards, certification, and producer support services all contribute to a solution” http://bit.ly/fx20E2.
On 8th April 2010 the UK passed the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill. This act restricted the activities of so called ‘vulture funds’. But what exactly are vulture funds and why was this bill restricting their actions so crucial in the campaign against poverty?
The campagn to create and pass this bill into law was run by the Jubilee Debt Campaign, and so we caught up with their Director, Nick Dearden to get some more information about the funds.
As Nick explains, vulture funds are investment funds, usually based in off-shore tax havens, who prey on some of the world’s poorest countries by buying up their debt for vastly decreased amounts (sometimes pennies in the pound). They then go on to sue for the full amount in courts in the UK and US.
Throughout 2010, the Jubilee Debt Campaign’s supporters waged a relentless campaign to get the government to pass a law restricting this activity and in April it was passed into law, meaning heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) can no longer be taken to court in the UK and sued for full repayment of these debts.
However, the act does not extend to all developing world countries and so does have its limitations and the US has yet to pass an equivalent law. A further problem may occur when the bill is reviewed in a year’s time, at which point Parliament has the ability to repeal it.
It is vital that this legislation remains in force and is extended to protect all developing world countries from this repellent activity. You can keep updated on the developments in this campaign via the Jubilee Debt Campaign’s End the Vulture Culture pages.