Note: Watch the video here
-The GJEP Team
By Kate Hodal, May 13, 2013. Source: The Guardian
Two Vietnamese firms bankrolled by Deutsche Bank and the International Finance Corporation – the World Bank’s private lending arm – are leading a wave of land grabs in Cambodia and Laos, causing widespread evictions, illegal logging and food insecurity, according to a report.
The study, concluding a year-long investigation by the watchdog Global Witness, names two of Vietnam’s biggest companies, the privately owned Huang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and state-owned Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG), as the businesses behind the land grabs. It claims they are working with the explicit support of the Cambodian and Laotian governments, who have authorised the land developments.
“We’ve known for some time that corrupt politicians in Cambodia and Laos are orchestrating the land-grabbing crisis that is doing so much damage in the region,” said Megan MacInnes, head of Global Witness’s land team, in a statement. “This report completes the picture by exposing the pivotal role of Vietnam’s rubber barons and their financiers, Deutsche Bank and the IFC.”
Global Witness researched land deals between the two governments and the firms, and found that HAGL and VRG had together been handed more than 200,000 hectares (nearly 500,000 acres) of land, including protected forest with rosewood, in which to grow rubber.
May 6, 2013. Source: African Women’s Development Fund
We the undersigned participants at a strategic meeting on Women’s Economic Empowerment and Livelihoods, held in Cape Town on 3-4 May under the auspices of the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), wish to communicate the following key messages from our deliberations to the World Economic Forum-Africa meeting “Delivering on Africa’s Promise”, 8-10 May 2013
We welcome the new positive image of “Africa Rising,” and stand proud of the achievements of the continent’s women and men against overwhelming odds. As partners in the efforts to ensure that Africa’s growth is sustainable and is in the interest of the continent and its peoples, we wish to bring to the attention of this meeting, the following concerns in the hopes that they will form a part of the deliberations:
We remain sceptical that real progress for Africa’s one billion people—the majority of whom are women–will change radically through policies centred unremittingly on markets and profits, and based predominantly on the extraction of mineral resources. African people’s needs and interests—particularly those of women—are not part of this narrow economic vision. As African women, we are only too aware that:
Note: Cynthia Hendel is a former holistic educator and long-time volunteer for Global Justice Ecology Project.
-The GJEP Team
Book by Rob Nixon. Review by Cynthia Hendel, May 4, 2013.
Graciela Galup’s cover design for Rob Nixon’s book is arresting. An image of early industrialism’s smokestacks dominates the scene. Superimposed as a dark mass over a barely visible line of trees, the smoke seems to cross time. In the distance lies the risen city of a human progress founded on centuries of degradation and pain. The skyscrapers are faint, almost entirely erased in the smog-dense air of a ruined sky. The cover resonates urgency, but in the end Nixon’s book is not an urgent work.
Given the compelling theme and cover, Nixon’s position as Rachel Carson Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madision, and the fact that a social justice/ecology organization of on-the-ground activists (who have been confronting slow violence for decades) was contacted for this review, I expected the book to focus on the living, dying realities of the “poor” of the title.
In part it does. Nixon’s chapters offer a history of slow violence across recent decades. From the contaminative practices of industry, to corporate land grabs for resource extraction, to the aftermath of chemical, oil, and nuclear accidents, and the mutagenic effects of radioactive cluster bombs and bullets used in recent US wars, Nixon describes how a military-industrial complex of economic growth powers on for the elite while the unvalued are left to suffer and die. The introduction opens with a juxtaposition of quotes that inspire empathy and outrage and set a tone for the book. The first is from Arundhati Roy:
I think of globalization like a light which shines brighter and brighter on a few people and the rest are in darkness, wiped out. They simply can’t be seen. Once you get used to not seeing something, then, slowly, it’s no longer possible to see it.
By Alberto Alonso-Fradejas, April 11 2013. Source: Upside Down World
Photo: Upside Down World
In the last ten years, the expansion of corporate sugarcane and oil palm plantations in northern Guatemala has encroached on the lands of Maya Q’eqchi’ indigenous people—many of whom fled to this region during the country’s 36-year genocidal war. These plantations have already displaced hundreds of families—even entire communities—leading to increased poverty, hunger, unemployment, and landlessness in the region. The companies grabbing land are controlled by European-descendent Guatemalan oligarchs who are benefitting from rising global commodity prices for food, animal feed, and fuel (biodiesel and ethanol). In the face of violent expulsion and incorporation into an exploitative system, peasant families are struggling to access land and defend their resources as the basis of their collective identity as Q’eqchi’ peoples or R’al Ch’och (“sons and daughters of the earth”). Continue reading
Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Women, World Bank
By Melinda Boh, April 12 2013. Source: Asia Times
World Bank-backed Nam Theun 2 mega-dam in Laos under construction in 2009. Photo: Top News
VIENTIANE – It was once referred to by US magazine Newsweek as a “kinder, gentler” type of dam. Since the Nam Theun 2 hydropower dam commenced commercial operations in 2010, the World Bank and other proponents of the multi-billion dollar power project have trumpeted it as an economic and social development success story for host country Laos.
But with the negative publicity and diplomatic tussles now focused on the proposed US$3.5 billion Xayaboury dam, which if built promises to hurt downstream communities and the environment in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, Nam Theun 2′s emerging failures have largely escaped critical scrutiny.
In particular, there are rising indications that Nam Theun 2 and its 450 square kilometer reservoir are responsible for massive amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, amounting to as much as one million tons of methane and carbon dioxide per year, according to recent independent academic studies, including a statistical assessment produced by the US’s Duke University.
If accurate, that figure is substantially higher than the level of emissions initially estimated in the project’s environmental impact assessment. Researchers from Toulouse University in France have concluded that Nam Theun 2 produces in excess of 40% of the GHG that would be emitted from a coal fired power plant of equivalent energy output, and far more than a natural gas-fired plant. Continue reading
Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Hydroelectric dams, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Water, World Bank
By William Lloyd George, March 19, 2013. Source: The Guardian
Anuak village in southern Ethiopia. The World Bank is under fire for links between its funds and relocation of Ethiopians. Photo: Alamy
An independent panel has called for an investigation into a World Bank-funded project in Ethiopia following accusations from refugees that the bank is funding a programme that forced people off their land.
In a report, seen by the Guardian, the inspection panel – the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism – calls for an investigation into complaints made by refugees from the Anuak indigenous group from Gambella, western Ethiopia, in relation to the bank’s policies and procedures.
The refugees claim the Protection of Basic Services (PBS) programme funded by the bank and the UK Department for International Development (DfID), is contributing directly to the Ethiopian government’s “villagisation” programme, introduced in 2010. The programme seeks to move people to new villages, but residents say this is done with little consultation or compensation, and that these sites lack adequate facilities.
In a letter sent to the panel in September, the refugees say some people have been forcibly relocated from their land, which is now being leased to foreign investors.
“These mass evictions have been carried out under the pretext of providing better services and improving the livelihoods of the communities,” says the letter. “However, once they moved to the new sites, they found not only infertile land, but also no schools, clinics, wells or other basic services.”
By Chris Lang, March 21, 2013. Source: redd-monitor
On 27 February 2013, Panama’s Indigenous Peoples Coordinating Body, COONAPIP, withdrew from the UN-REDD process in Panama. In a letterannouncing the withdrawal, COONAPIP explains that UN-REDD “does not currently offer guarantees for respecting indigenous rights” or “the full and effective participation of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama”.
On 10 March 2013, Jesus Amadeo Martinez, Senior Advisor to the Central American Indigenous Council (Consejo Indígena de Centro América – CICA), wrote to Kim Bolduc, the UN Resident Coordinator in Panama, in support of COONAPIP. CICA’s letter is posted below (this is based on a google translation from the Spanish original, which is available here [pdf file 451.8 kB]).
In the letter, Martinez writes:
In my capacity as Senior Advisor of the CICA, I worry that the actions of the UN-REDD program in Panama with COONAPIP are not isolated, but form a new practice of racial intolerance and discrimination with Indigenous Peoples and organisations.
He also mentions his concerns about the problems with the REDD process in Honduras, documented in a series of letters from Indigenous Peoples’ organisations. Honduras is one of the six countries whose Readiness Preparation Proposal is being considered by the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Participants Committee this week.
By Carey L. Biron, March 19 2013. Source: Inter Press Service
The controversial Sardar Sarovar dam on India’s Narmada river. Photo: Wikipedia
WASHINGTON – A group of environmentalists, gender activists and international finance watchdogs are calling on the U.S. government to support calls for the World Bank to step back from a new programmatic focus on large-scale infrastructure, which critics say does little to help alleviate poverty.
The call comes just ahead of a major funding meeting, to be held Mar. 20-21 in Paris, of donors to the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries. In a background briefingreleased earlier this month outlining priorities for the IDA meeting, the bank includes a new thematic proposal to fund large-scale infrastructural projects.
Almost 100 percent of jobs went to men, not only in building the coal plants and mines but even office jobs, while women lost jobs.
In discussing examples of what it calls regional transformational initiatives, referring to large projects with cross-border scope, the brief notes proposals for large, multi-billion-dollar dams in Africa and South Asia, among others. Continue reading
By Chris Lang, March 19, 2013. Source: REDD-Monitor
The Thai Climate Justice Working Group has written a very critical short paper about the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility Readiness Preparation Plan for Thailand. Both the process of producing the R-PP and its content are deeply flawed.
The R-PP for Thailand is to be considered by the FCPF Participants Committee at its meeting this week in Washington DC. The FCPF and the USAID-funded Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) organised a workshop on 7-8 March 2013 in Bangkok: “CSOs/Local Community/Women/Ethnic Group Review of Draft Thailand Readiness-Preparation Proposal (R-PP)”. In the afternoon of the first day of the meeting, the participants learned that the draft R-PP had already been sent to the FCPF Participants Committee, meaning that the workshop could not lead to any changes in the draft R-PP. As a result, the representatives of the Thai Climate Justice Working Group, Banthat Mountain Land Reform Network and the Karen People Network walked out of the workshop. Continue reading
Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, World Bank