Issue

Global Goods, Local Costs

Behind almost every product we buy and the GDP numbers we worry over, there is a story whose trail crosses the globe. Every physical product starts as raw material somewhere, from the gold in our jewelry to the shrimp at our favorite restaurant and the minerals within our mobile phones and laptops.

The rapid industrialization of countries like India, China and Brazil and a voracious consumer culture in Europe, the United States and Japan mean ever greater demand for these raw materials—and ever greater pressures on the individuals, communities and environments that bear the cost of providing them.

These local costs too often remain hidden. They are obscured by companies and governments that put a premium on production and exports. They are little understood by consumers, whose concept of "price" and "value" does not include damage done to people and places far away.

Global Goods, Local Costs is an effort to make those connections plain, to show the true costs of producing the commodities that have become essential to our lifestyles but that we mostly take for granted. These reports touch on goods and challenges across the globe that share a common theme: the implications of a vision of endless prosperity set against the reality of a finite planet.

Global Goods, Local Costs

The Toll of Small Arms Op-Chart

Despite the presence of the world's largest peacekeeping mission, the Democratic Republic of Congo remains in the grip of civil war. The reason is clear. A flood of small arms and light weapons undermines the 17,000 United Nations troops' mandate to protect civilians.

Bukavu

Bukavu in a city located east of the DRC and the capital of the South Kivu province.

Daily Life

A series of photographs capturing the influence of cellular phones on the daily lives of people in DRC.

Mining in the DRC

Mining is becoming a growing industry in DRC where many farmers are switching jobs to join the destructive industry.

Coltan Processing

Coltan mining continues to grow in the DRC. Coltan is commonly used in mobile phones, and the DRC counts for one of the world's largest coltan reserves.

Victims of War

Women and children have been raped systematically by the armed forces in the conflict. Also, about 1200 people die daily because of non-direct fighting, according to some NGOs.