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Day 25: Invest in sustainability for the developing world

READ:

Pope Francis: "The vocation of being a "protector", however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live." (3/19/13)

ADVOCATE:

Many green solutions are available for the poor in the developing world, but the poor do not have the means to pay, nor to access a loan. But sustainability means more than protecting the environment -- it means increasing the economic participation of the poor as well. With a circle of friends, you can provide a small loan to make sustainability solutions available for the poor. Check out info on kiva.org here and here. Click on “advanced search” and select a sustainability category from the lower left bar.

Kiva.org is a microfinance institution that links lenders in the global north with borrowers in the global south. Check out info on kiva.org. You can make loans of as small as $25, and you can browse potential recipients by their intended use. You get to select the person, the location, the investment, and the amount you loan. Kiva.org bundles the small loans made here in the US and provides them to recipients in the developing world. When the recipient has repaid his or her loan, you will be asked whether you want your money back, or wish to reinvest it in a project of your choice.

Sustainability necessarily has an economic dimension. We have many innovative technologies and ideas to make human society greener. What we generally lack are incentive structures to make it easier for people to conserve energy or use greener technologies. Many people and institutions in the industrial economies are already committed to using polluting technologies, such as coal. Many parts of the developing world could, with small investments, more easily take advantage of greener technologies.

You can see hundreds of examples of these technologies at the SCU Center for Science, Technology, and Society’s Energy Map.

The rise of peer-to-peer microfinance institutions, mediated by the internet, opens up wonderful opportunities for individuals -- or small groups of friends -- here in the US to help poor people seeking to be green in the poorer countries in the world. Many times, these recipients are part of a community that provides peer support for repaying the loans. Thus, while dirty technologies such as burning coal tear apart the community of life by disrupting our climate, other technologies can be part of the solution. In this case, the internet links together communities of ethical concern, across thousands of miles, in a common project that enhances economic well being and sustainability.

REFLECT:

Read through 10 full profiles of people requesting loans from kiva.org. Identify the obstacles facing these people -- obstacles that you do not have to face. Reflect on how few resources could make such a difference in the lives of people in the developing world. Meditate on your own life, and your life choices, and what you might be able to do on an ongoing basis to make a difference.

Contributed by Br. Keith Douglass Warner OFM (Center for Science, Technology & Society)

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