type of activity: biodiversity and fair trade network
what: Bioplaneta is a Mexican non-profit that arose several years ago in response to the thousands of Mexican communities and small businesses that were struggling to commercialize their products and services without being forced to undersell to the highest international bidder. It is a national network of rural and self-sustained cooperative organizations committed to the environment, fair trade and the improvement of the living standards of its members. This organisation provides a unique model for the entire country of Mexico. In one state alone, Bioplaneta has identified 3,000 rural production initiatives that would benefit from the types of tools the network offers, but it can only enrol about 30 of them at present because the organisation is stretched to its financial and logistical limits. "By far the biggest problem we face," remarks Hector, its director, "is one of scale."
Since its conception, Bioplaneta has benefited from the help of volunteers in all areas of the network, from training to donations to hands-on construction. Through the Bioplaneta webpage you can get to know their 58 producers a bit better, but - they argue –“…working with them directly is the most rewarding way to see first hand the impact of sustainable development projects. Each project has specific needs and we hope to match you with one that can best use your skills.”
why: Bioplaneta seeks to link the gaps that exist between the least-privileged sectors of the global village, always respecting the values, culture, and natural and traditional resources of each participating region of its network. Such values are based on the following ideas: sustainable development (every process, productive or commercial activity should be carried out in such a way that it helps to promote conservation and/or environmental rehabilitation) and cultural equality.
how: Bioplaneta bases its work on the co-operation of networks, and was founded on the principle that people from different cultures and beliefs should work and live together in harmony. By proposing and promoting new communication and cultural exchange methods, they help to transform the current greed-based commercial negotiation scheme into one that embodies the equal exchange and fair compensation of goods, services, ideas, culture, etc. There are a variety of ways a volunteer can support Bioplaneta’s Network. At present, there are four volunteer positions (to find out more information, please check their website regularly):
cool for you: the current development paradigm has become a global issue. Become a part of the new forms of dealing with the challenges that face environmental conservation, social and economic development and their impact on the quality of life of the world population as a whole.
- in a Mexican community: individual volunteers or groups can spend from one week to a year in one of the 58 co-operative groups that form the Bioplaneta Network in 13 states throughout Mexico, living in and helping the community. The cost of the programme depends on your length of stay, on the community you live in and includes transportation inside Mexico, accommodations, food and activities;
- in the Bioplaneta México City office: composed of four departments, there is the possibility to improve your particular background, from fashion design to business administration to biology;
- virtual volunteer: from your home. There are many activities you can take part in without your presence in the office, such as consulting, problem-solving, research, translation, graphic design, web page updates and design, and more;
- internships and social services: from market research studies to architecture projects to biological and environmental research, the work of dedicated interns has provided useful resources to many communities. All internships are unpaid, but often arrangements can be made to live in the chosen community at very low cost.