Remembering Robert Craig

Feb 20, 2015

Robert W. Craig was a visionary who helped create and lead the field of environment conflict resolution and solutions development and implementation. He was also a mountaineering legend. Bob passed on January 16, 2015, in Denver, Colorado. He was 90.

In 1953, he joined seven other Americans to form the Third American Karakoram Expedition for the first American attempt to summit K2, an effort which left four climbers injured and one dead. Craig, along with teammate Charlie Houston, detailed the account in their 1954 book, K2, The Savage Mountain.

In the 70s, Bob decided to climb another mountain—solving environmental and natural resource conflicts. In 1975, Bob founded The Keystone Center, in Colorado, a collaborative problem-solving organization that tackles state and national environmental regulatory issues. He also founded the Keystone Science School, which is committed to the development of the next generation of environmental leaders. Bob led the Center as President and CEO until 1996, at which time he became President Emeritus.

I met Bob a number of years ago. While I did not have an opportunity to work with him directly, RESOLVE and other organizations like us, as well as the professionals who are dedicated this field, owe him a debt. Without his vision and perseverance, the space for organizations like RESOLVE would not exist today and our collective successes would not have been achieved. All of us, whether we sit in conservation organizations, government, corporations, civil society organizations, or other institutions, owe Bob a debt of gratitude and a tip of the cap to a remarkable life and legacy. Thanks, Bob.

RESOLVE is making a donation to the American Alpine Club in his name. Please join us.

- Steve D’Esposito, RESOLVE President

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What are the “Foundational Capabilities” of a Functioning Public Health System?

Feb 3, 2015

What are the “foundational capabilities” of a functioning public health system and how are they defined? Do variations exist in these definitions among public health practitioners? The de Beaumont Foundation and RESOLVE recently teamed up to conduct research and publish two articles further examining how practitioners in governmental public health are conceptualizing, defining, and funding foundational capabilities and foundational areas (From Patchwork to Package: Implementing Foundational Capabilities for State and Local Health Departments and Practitioner Perspectives on Foundational Capabilities).

The findings in these reports build on a recommendation issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in an April 2012 report calling for the description of, cost estimation for, and the sustained funding of a foundational set of public health services:

“The committee believes that it is a critical step to develop a detailed description of a basic set of public health services that must be made available in all jurisdictions. The basic set must be specifically defined in a manner that allows cost estimation to be used as a basis for an accounting and management framework and compared among revenues, activities, and outcomes. The committee developed the concept of a minimum package of public health services, which includes the foundational capabilities and an array of basic programs no health department can be without.”

In short, we need to have a clear understanding of what public health departments must do and provide everywhere for the health system to work anywhere. Many health departments at the state and local levels, including in Ohio, Colorado, Texas, and Washington have been working to do that.

In partnership with the de Beaumont Foundation, RESOLVE sought to further understand whether and how practitioners were thinking of this issue. The project team conducted 50 interviews with leaders representing state and local health departments in order to better understand their knowledge and beliefs about the foundational capabilities of governmental health departments. The team sought to gather perspectives from a diverse range of health departments across the country, conducting interviews with health department representatives based on geography and jurisdictional characteristics, including population size, governance structure (i.e., centralized or de-centralized), and level of poverty.

Researchers asked specifically about familiarity with the term “foundational capabilities,” and included discussion of public health’s role in communicable disease prevention and health promotion, policy development and support, workforce development, environmental health, assessment and surveillance, among other topics.

While only half of the interviewees had heard of the term “foundational capabilities,” most were familiar with, and affirmed the concept, citing examples in their particular context. When interviewees did relate to these concepts, they used different phrases to describe them, such as “cross-cutting capacities,” “core competencies,” “basic support services” and others. This data reveals that while the term “foundational capabilities” may not exist in the everyday language of a practitioner, the notion of a need to define and acknowledge a “foundation” for governmental public health clearly resonated with many interviewees.

Questions probed on (1) the extent to which their health departments possessed foundational capabilities, (2) how (if at all) these activities were funded, and (3) how they went about prioritizing these activities within their health department. Most respondents interviewed indicated their respective department currently possessed these capabilities, though to what degree was not investigated. Notably, many current public health department leaders said that while they were funding some amount of foundational capabilities with existing funds, they were doing so by piecing together a patchwork of support from state, local, and/or federal funds.

Health departments play a critical role in protecting and improving health in all communities across the country, and yet the funding and infrastructure is fragmented – hampering efforts to maximize public health’s role in providing all people the robust health system everyone should have regardless of their zip code. This study is the first of its kind to assess practitioner perspectives on foundational capabilities of public health and highlight the importance of being able to define, first, what public health is doing, and second, use those definitions to seek funding to support public health’s foundation.

For more reading:

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Expanding Commercial Agriculture without Clearing Pristine Rainforest

Dec 24, 2014

RESOLVE’s Dr. Eric Dinerstein and colleagues at Woods Hole Research Center, World Wildlife Fund, and University of Minnesota have identified 125 million hectares (309 million acres) of degraded lands in the tropics that could support expansion of commercial agriculture for another 25-50 years without clearing more pristine rainforest.

In a paper published in the journal Conservation Letters, the researchers defined degraded rainforests as those with an above-ground carbon density (carbon stored in vegetation) of 40 or fewer metric tons per hectare. Intact rainforest has roughly 250 metric tons/ha.

This simple, transparent measure of carbon stock can be easily monitored using remote sensing technologies and could help agricultural producers, governments, investors, environmental stewards, and consumers to invest, plant, harvest, govern, and buy tropical agricultural commodities more responsibly.

Read more about the article, entitled “Guiding Agricultural Expansion to Spare Tropical Forests,” at Mongabay.com and view the full paper here.

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BWS Director Eric Dinerstein – Why I Joined RESOLVE

Nov 21, 2014

For much of the past 25 years, I had a dream job—serving as WWF’s Chief Scientist and VP for Science, a coveted position that took me all over the world to work on behalf of endangered species and their habitats. The chance to continue to pursue my life’s mission entered a new chapter when, six months ago, Steve D’Esposito, the President and CEO of RESOLVE, made me one of those proverbial offers you can’t refuse. Come on over to our small NGO, he proposed, and bring your core team of innovators with you to create a new program, Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions (BWS).

The move to RESOLVE seemed like a natural continuation of pursuing my passion and commitment to speaking for those species that have no voice in their own future. Since 1975, my mission in life has been to save endangered wildlife. My career began when, as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife in Nepal, and their Chief Ecologist, Hemanta Mishra, assigned me to census tigers in the newly created Bardia Wildlife Reserve. After Peace Corps service, I returned to graduate school at the University of Washington and conducted research on tropical fruit bats in Costa Rica. After my PhD, I joined the Smithsonian’s Conservation and Research Center of the National Zoo to conduct five years of field research on rhinos and tigers in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park and then moved on to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). While at WWF, my science program gave birth to delineations of, and books on, the terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecoregions of the world, the Global 200 ecoregions, ecoregion-based conservation, HydroSheds, Tiger Conservation Landscapes, and WildFinder. Our program also provided key support to important collaborations like the Global Tiger Summit, the Global Tiger Initiative, and the Alliance for Zero Extinction, among other initiatives.

The chance to innovate was what brought our team to RESOLVE. RESOLVE’s expanded vision to attract exciting new solutions-based programs—Peace Diamonds, Solutions for Hope, Resource Diplomacy Initiative, Resilient West Africa (post-Ebola crisis) to name a few—is what drew us in, a spirit to tackle big problems supported by a staff highly efficient but limited in number. One of the wisest and most experienced conservationists I know told me soon after joining RESOLVE: “Eric, I am convinced that in the future, the breakthroughs in conservation are going to come from those small NGOs, like yours, devoted to a few issues where a small team of experts can innovate without the bureaucracy of a large organization, that are nimble to seize opportunities, boots-on-the-ground, and pragmatic. You are on the right track.”

At BWS, our focus is laser-sharp. Our program targets two of the greatest conservation crises of our time: the approaching extinction of endangered wildlife and the destruction of tropical forests where more than 50% of the world’s species resides in only 5% of the land area. By combining creative, field-oriented approaches to conservation and technological innovations, we hope to add ideas, scalable projects, and solutions that can halt, even reverse these destructive trends. We have launched three new solutions-focused programs with these aims in mind. In each we seek to bring together leading partners from different sectors.

WildTech connects front-line wildlife conservationists with technology leaders to identify, adapt, and apply innovative science and technology to dramatically improve how we monitor and protect endangered wildlife and their habitats. The technologies we help catalyze will be open-source, low-cost, durable, efficient, and easy-to-use. For example, an upcoming post will feature David Olson, Nathan Hahn, of BWS and Marc Goss of the Mara Elephant Project as they train Tanzanian wildlife officials to use a low-cost, unmanned airborne vehicle designed to deter wild elephants from entering and destroying villagers’ croplands. We will also apply innovations from other sectors, such as networks for communication in remote areas and hidden cameras with face recognition and real-time image transmission, to help reduce illegal hunting of large mammals and other wildlife-related challenges. Pioneering the development and use of a variety of innovative technologies will improve the success of research teams and conservation agencies and, in turn, help us accelerate our understanding and the recovery of highly persecuted species.

Global Forest Watch Biodiversity is a partnership with World Resources Institute, a leading NGO that brought forth in February 2014 the most powerful new conservation tool in decades: an interactive website that displays near real-time updates of changes in tree cover across the world’s forests. This amazing tool greatly enhances our ability to map changes in tropical forests, where a disproportionate number of species live. For example, we recently used Global Forest Watch, to conduct, in collaboration with other tiger experts, the first ever State of the Tiger Habitat analysis. Conservation leaders in tiger-range countries are now considering this analysis of forest cover as the monitoring tool to measure progress towards protecting tiger habitat, a prerequisite to reach the goal of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022—the next Year of the Tiger in the Chinese calendar. Other applications of the monitoring tool—to aid conservation of elephants, great apes, rare vertebrates—are in the works.

The Biodiversity Leadership Forum, our newest venture, provides a platform in Washington, D.C. for efforts to bring together the leading thinkers and practitioners in conservation to ensure that biodiversity conservation remains an important consideration in the eyes of decision-makers and the public. A formational grant from the Weeden Family Foundation has launched this effort that will allow those interested in working across organizations for the good of nature conservation to connect with colleagues with whom to collaborate.

I know we can create an exciting, vibrant, and relevant program because we have done it before in creating the Conservation Science Program at WWF almost 25 years ago. Here at BWS, we can call upon a group of world-class scientists and conservationists with decades of experience across all the continents. Some of our team include familiar faces who have collaborated previously —including David Olson, Sue Palminteri, Eric Wikramanayake, Anup Joshi, Tom Allnutt, and independent adviser George Powell. They are joined by dozens of other advisers and contributors. Even my former Peace Corps boss, Hemanta Mishra, the winner of the Getty Prize for Conservation and the architect of Nepal’s exceptional protected area system, has joined our team.

Working with such seasoned conservation biologists offers a further advantage: it has the potential to attract and nurture the brightest young scientists and students to be mentored by the world’s best and save endangered wildlife. As our way of honoring the memory of Russell Train, the founder of WWF-US and the African Wildlife Foundation, who also helped nurture RESOLVE as it grew, we are committed to mentoring outstanding young biologists from the U.S. and from developing countries, place them into the field with our expert biologists, and then guide them to graduate programs to propel them on their careers.

The new journey has just started. Please join us in support of our programs and conservation!

- Eric Dinerstein

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6th Sustainability Breakfast Features Technologies for Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions

Nov 13, 2014

Last Thursday, RESOLVE hosted the sixth in our ongoing Sustainability Breakfast series. The event – “Eat a Bear Claw, Save an Elephant” – focused on the nexus of technology and wildlife biodiversity challenges.

RESOLVE intern Nathan Hahn kicked us off with a brief introduction to RESOLVE’s fleet of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) currently being tested for their potential to guide elephants away from farmers’ crops and people, an innovative strategy for mitigating human-elephant conflict in Tanzania . RESOLVE is currently training park rangers in Tanzania to use these UAVs – check back on our blog and Facebook page in the coming weeks for updates and photos from Nathan’s trip!

In another example of how technology is improving both the accessibility and the reliability of conservation data, Benji Jones, from the World Resource Institute (WRI), shared insights on WRI’s groundbreaking Global Forest Watch (GFW) program, which combines NASA satellite imagery, crowd sourcing, country statistics, and other sources to provide a free and comprehensive map and database of wildlife and natural resources around the world. This open-source database allows users to overlay and analyze data from a variety of sources and to contribute their own stories and validate on the ground the remotely-triggered alerts of forest loss from GFW. RESOLVE is proud to be one of Global Forest Watch’s 45 partners working on this exciting and unique tool with huge potential for biodiversity conservation.

RESOLVE’s Director of Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions, Eric Dinerstein, elaborated on the some of the applications of GFW’s work to biodiversity conservation. Since the majority of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity lives in forested areas, the information generated through GFW can help us to pinpoint the critical areas for conservation action (such as corridors between tiger habitats) and monitor encroachment on protected areas. RESOLVE is using GFW maps to identify degraded lands that are suitable for rubber, oil palm, and other agricultural industries. Shifting production onto already degraded lands can reduce pressure on forested areas, which benefits biodiversity and reduces carbon emissions. Complementary work by BWS will use the information from this analysis to help identify areas with intact forests that also have high numbers of species and natural communities (mainly in the tropics), to provide both “Go” and “No-Go” zones for future commodity production.

Discussion and Q&A with participants in the room supported RESOLVE’s belief that solutions must be designed in consultation with representatives from all sectors, including conservationists, civil society, government, and industry – to understand constraints of each sector and design solutions that are practical and workable.

Find out more about how BWS is applying technology to wildlife and forest conservation by clicking here.

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Expansion of Solutions for Hope Platform

Oct 30, 2014

As you may have seen in yesterday’s press release, RESOLVE recently received a grant from Motorola Solutions Foundation to support the expansion of the Solutions for Hope platform. You can read the story of Solutions for Hope here, but the short story is that it was conceived in 2011 when, because of legitimate concerns about conflict minerals, many companies were refusing to source from the DRC. A de facto trade embargo would have significant implications for the livelihoods of the millions of ASM miners in the DRC, and Solutions for Hope was initiated by Motorola Solutions and AVX as a pilot project to demonstrate that companies could source legal, conflict-free tantalum  from the DRC while meeting their due diligence responsibilities.

The pilot was a success and gathered the attention and participation of a number of leading electronics companies. The Conflict-Free Tin Initiative launched shortly after, aiming to apply the Solutions for Hope model to tin. Now, working with leaders from both initiatives, and with this support from Motorola Solutions Foundation, we are building on the successes and lessons to expand the platform to other minerals and geographies.

It’s a busy but exciting time! We are identifying applications in the African Great Lakes Region on gold, and we’re planning pilots to develop verifiable conflict-free supply chains in Colombia. RESOLVE President Steve D’Esposito and former Canadian Ambassador Tim Martin recently published an article on the evolution of supply chain initiatives over the last 15 years and the continuing need for multi-sector interventions to support capacity building in conflict-affected regions.

Motorola Solutions Director of Supply Chain Corporate Responsibility Mike Loch will be talking about these issues and the future of the Solutions for Hope platform tomorrow as part of an event hosted by the Ford Foundation and chaired by UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson. The event, called “Managing Congo’s Natural Resource Wealth: From Plunder to Shared Prosperity” can be live streamed below.

Watch live streaming video from fordfound at livestream.com
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My Summer Internship at RESOLVE

Oct 29, 2014

Erica and Dana

Photo: Dana Goodson and Erica Bucki at RESOLVE

What struck me first about RESOLVE was the size of the organization. I had perused the website quite a few times, and I was confused about how such a small organization could have its hands in so many different parts of the world. From day one I was kept busy, and not just with files and copies (although I did do my fair share of that too!). Starting right up with the Community Health and Shale Development Guidebook, I felt like I was actually making a difference and valued on the project, a feeling that very few people have with their first summer internship, especially as an undergrad. I was treated with respect in the office, and I could tell that my thoughts, opinions, critiques and questions were all valued. I was the email correspondent for several health issues covered in the guidebook – light pollution and radioactive waste management being a few of them – and I was able to use the information I had learned in my classes directly (how rare)!

The office itself has been unbelievably kind and welcoming, and everyone was more than willing to give me a piece of advice as I go into my senior year of college and beyond that to the real world. This experience has been a good one in many ways, but the aspect of this internship I feel best about is being able to work with a company that shares the same values I do. I hear frequently from peers that their internships are boring and just another thing to put on a resume, and I just can’t say the same. I firmly believe that the work going on here at RESOLVE is doing things in the world of environmental and public health, and that shared passion has made the work I have done seem worthwhile. Thanks to the RESOLVE team for making my summer in Washington, DC so enjoyable!

- Erica Bucki

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Solutions for Hope Program to grow with new grant from Motorola Solutions

Oct 28, 2014

For printable press release, click here.

The Motorola Solutions Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Motorola Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MSI), today announced a grant to RESOLVE to help expand the Solutions for Hope platform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Colombia and other countries. Through Solutions for Hope, companies, civil society organizations and governments partner to build responsible minerals supply chains from regions where due diligence and market access are limited by both armed conflict and supply chains with limited transparency.

The Solutions for Hope model has proven effective in providing electronics companies with the first supplies of verified conflict-free tantalum used in their products. It aligns downstream companies’ needs for transparency and reporting compliance with regional stakeholders’ needs for development and capacity-building. Responsible sourcing of minerals from conflict regions can allow companies to support and contribute to peacebuilding, reducing armed conflict and violence while meeting their businesses’ supply chain needs.

Solutions for Hope was first piloted in the DRC by Motorola Solutions and AVX, which publicly committed to establishing a responsible “closed pipe” tantalum supply chain from mine to smelter to component manufacturer to original equipment manufacturer. In the DRC, the Solutions for Hope approach was designed to work within developing regional systems, such as the framework of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region Regional Certification Mechanism, and utilized proven systems such as the Conflict-Free Smelter Program to support due diligence and a traceable, auditable supply chain.

The newly expanded Solutions for Hope platform will seek to pilot the Solutions for Hope approach with other minerals and regions. With support from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, RESOLVE initiated a program in Colombia to support transparency in that nation’s gold, tantalum and tungsten sectors in tandem with peacebuilding and economic development efforts.

“RESOLVE is excited to continue to support and expand the Solutions for Hope platform,” said Stephen D’Esposito, RESOLVE president. “Solutions for Hope is a leadership platform for companies and NGOs. Participants who join are anxious for results, and they’re willing to roll up their sleeves and engage in trial-and-error to get results. Motorola Solutions, AVX and the Enough Project have demonstrated leadership in the DRC. Ongoing expansion of the platform with participation from actors across the supply chain will advance responsible sourcing in conflict and high risk areas.”

“The support and participation by companies like Motorola Solutions sends clear signals of downstream interest in verifiable conflict-free minerals,” said Tim Martin, former Canadian ambassador to Colombia, and a RESOLVE strategic partner. “Solutions for Hope is an asset. It supports Colombia’s interest in OECD membership, builds valuable global partnerships, and seeks to build tools that are right for Colombia.”

“We are very pleased to be part of the expansion of the Solutions for Hope platform,” said Matt Blakely, director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation. “The Solutions for Hope model demonstrates that companies can make a meaningful contribution to peace building while improving certainty of supply and cost, as well as increased supply chain transparency. With this grant to RESOLVE, we are supporting the expansion of this proven model to other minerals in the DRC’s Great Lakes region and to other geographies affected by conflict.”

Pilots will focus on testing validation approaches with local refineries, supporting formalization programs, providing a sourcing opportunity for artisanal scale miners and cooperatives meeting conflict-free standards; and capacity-building at all levels of the supply chain.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Website:              Solutions for Hope 
Website:              RESOLVE, Inc. 
Website:              Motorola Solutions
Article:              “Conflict Minerals, Ethical Supply Chains, and Peace” by D’Esposito and Martin
Article:              “Taking the Conflict out of Conflict Minerals” by Loch  

# # # 

About Motorola Solutions Foundation

The Motorola Solutions Foundation is the charitable and philanthropic arm of Motorola Solutions. With employees located around the globe, Motorola Solutions seeks to benefit the communities where it operates. The company achieves this by making strategic grants, forging strong community partnerships and fostering innovation.

About Motorola Solutions
Motorola Solutions is a leading provider of mission-critical communication products and services for enterprise and government customers. Through leading-edge innovation and communications technology, it is a global leader that enables its customers to be their best in the moments that matter. Motorola Solutions trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “MSI.” To learn more, visit www.motorolasolutions.com. For ongoing news, please visit our media center or subscribe to our news feed.

About RESOLVE

RESOLVE (www.resolv.org) is a Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit that builds strong, enduring solutions to complex environmental, social, and health challenges. RESOLVE helps community, business, government, and NGO leaders get results and create lasting relationships through collaboration. RESOLVE is an independent organization with over thirty years of success building collaborative solutions.

About Solutions for Hope

Solutions for Hope is a platform that supports companies, civil society organizations and governments working together to responsibly source minerals from regions experiencing conflict and where market access is limited by opaque supply chains. The program manages risk for participating companies and offers recognition for participation. The Solutions for Hope model is being explored for further expansion to gold and to other locations where increased transparency, traceability and supply chain due diligence is sought for tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. The Solutions for Hope program is part of RESOLVE’s Solutions Network.

Media contacts:

Tama McWhinney
Motorola Solutions
+1 847-538-1865
tama.mcwhinney[at]motorolasolutions.com 

Jennifer Peyser
RESOLVE
+1 202-965-6215
jpeyser[at]resolv.org

MOTOROLA, MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS and the Stylized M Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Motorola Trademark Holdings, LLC and are used under license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2014 Motorola Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Energy Shift: Proactive Collaboration for the Future of Energy

Oct 22, 2014

The shift to a low-carbon economy is urgent and the need for innovation across sectors is necessary in order to meet this daunting challenge. Energy Shift is a new initiative of the RESOLVE Solutions Network, developed in cooperation with the Pembina institute, and Hoggard Films that aims to set the table for fruitful discourse between parties that are unaccustomed to listening to one another.  The project’s inspiration is a correspondence between John Hofmeister, former CEO of Shell NA, and project co-lead Amy Larkin, former Director of Greenpeace Solutions, in which the two acknowledged how much they had to learn from each other and eagerly sought one another’s insights.

By convening discordant parties from across the spectrum of viewpoints and expertise, Energy Shift seeks to identify leverage points where unusual allies can build and test solutions–significant but actionable projects (such as accelerated depreciation for green infrastructure) that support a transition, build momentum, and build confidence that progress is possible.

- Meg Perry

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RESOLVE featured in Intel’s In Pursuit of Conflict-Free Campaign

Oct 15, 2014

RESOLVE has been working with Intel and others over the last 5 years to achieve ethical, conflict free supply chains for minerals. RESOLVE is a featured organization in Intel’s In Pursuit of Conflict-Free campaign. Developed by Intel as part of that campaign, this short digital animation tells the story of the minerals we use in daily life and why Intel and RESOLVE are so actively working to promote awareness and find solutions to support conflict free sourcing.  Check it out: 

Since 2008, RESOLVE has worked with a range of stakeholders from business, government, and civil society to enable responsible sourcing from conflict-affected regions. RESOLVE coordinates and facilitates the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade, which supports supply chain solutions to conflict minerals challenges in the Great Lakes Region (GLR) of Central Africa. RESOLVE is also the home for the Solutions for Hope project, which supports supply chain innovation and capacity building projects Central Africa, Colombia, and elsewhere in pursuit of conflict-free. To get involved, visit http://www.resolv.org/donate to make a donation to RESOLVE in support of the Solutions for Hope platform.

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