Media Archives

Green (Greed) Economy Alive and Well in the Hotels of Rio de Janeiro

For Immediate Release                           

22 June 2012

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–Concurrent to the multilateral government negotiations happening at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development are bilateral negotiations and so-called “public-private partnerships” being driven by corporate conglomerates such as the Consumer Goods Forum–a global industry network of 650 corporations that have combined sales of over US$3 trillion. [1]

One such industry-led event in Rio this week, hosted by the Avoided Deforestation Partners, featured executives of Coca Cola and Unilever [2], alongside celebrities such as the Prince of Wales (via video), Dr. Jane Goodall, US Climate Change Envoy Jonathan Pershing, rainforest advocate Bianca Jagger and Sir Richard Branson.

In response to the dominance of the private sector in discussions such as this that affect everyone, members of Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) and Biofuelwatch attended and disrupted the event with placards and chants denouncing the green economy as the new face of corporate capital.

“We took action at this event to underscore the fact that civil society efforts cannot focus solely on the official UN negotiations. While the ‘green economy’ has been heavily contested inside the Rio+20 UN conference and outright rejected at the Peoples’ Summit [3], private corporate-organized conferences and meetings are imposing their new economic model in a totally undemocratic and non-transparent way”, stated Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project.

Such events make it clear that the public-private partnership model is at the heart of the green economy. During the Avoided Deforestation event, Ambassador Donald Steinberg of USAID emphasized the importance of the industry meetings at Rio. “These events are not side events, these are the main events”, Steinberg said.

Business is leveraging the global environmental and social crisis to retrofit the economy, moving speculative “green” trading schemes like carbon funds and biodiversity offsets to the center of the financial services industry. Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Groups, was quoted in Der Speigel stating, “One way to look at climate protection is to regard it as a business model, because our only option to stop climate change is for industry to make money from it”. [4]

The keystone policy of the so-called ‘green economy’ is the program to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). REDD, initially developed at the UN and pushed by the World Bank, has met with serious challenges inside the UN process, due to the social and ecological impacts it will have, and the absence of a clear funding source beyond the failing carbon markets. At the same time, sub-national REDD agreements, such as one between the states of California (US), Chiapas (Mexico) and Acre (Brazil) [5] are moving forward outside of the multilateral process.

A day-long conference sponsored by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Governor’s Climate Change Task Force (GCF) focused on promoting sub-national REDD projects and catalyzing private sector investments, with participation of government leaders from the states of Acre, Matto Grosso, and Amapa in the Brazilian Amazon, Cross-River state in Nigeria, Chiapas, Mexico, and Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, as well as private companies like Google, and Wildlife Works. Yet, the event had no participation by the citizens of those states or the indigenous communities who are directly affected by such policies.

Far from the scene of such meetings, communities in Chiapas, Acre, and Kalimantan that would be impacted have lodged vocal protests of the REDD project. [6 ]

“Industry has been tremendously effective at co-opting the concerns raised by civil society to create plans to advance business as usual”, stated Keith Brunner of Gears of Change and Global Justice Ecology Project. “For example, the huge corporations that make up the Consumer Goods Forum have pledged to create a ‘deforestation free supply chain’ by 2020. Unfortunately, what they mean by ‘zero net deforestation’ is continuing to cut down the world’s forests and displace Indigenous Peoples and forest dependent communities, while developing highly profitable but devastating industrial tree plantations”.

Large NGOs are enabling this corporate takeover. Julia Martin-LeFevre, Director General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), explained that the way to protect nature was to “harness the capacity of the markets through [strategies like] payment for biodiversity and ecosystem services”. She added that big NGOs like IUCN play a role in this process: “we conservation organizations sit very well together with corporations”.

“In addition, renewable energy initiatives such as Sustainable Energy for All, a joint UN-private sector initiative, are a cynical bid to capitalize on the demand for truly sustainable energy sources, but include devastating projects such as biofuels made from large scale, toxic GMO soy monocultures as well as massive hydro-electric projects that displace entire villages and drown thousands of hectares of land”, stated Jeff Conant of Global Justice Ecology Project.

After Global Justice Ecology Project and Biofuelwatch disrupted the speech of Sir Richard Branson, Bianca Jagger, who also spoke at the event, came out to express her support for the action, and helped escort the activists safely off of the premises. Bianca Jagger is a longtime advocate of rainforest protection and her group just released a report on the Belo Monte dam project–a hydro-electric dam to be built in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, that is being sold as a “renewable energy” project. [7]


Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project +55.21.8079.0538 (Brazil) +1.802.578.0477 (US), email:

Jeff Conant, Global Justice Ecology Project, +55.21.8079.0790 (Brazil) email:



[2] Coca-cola and Unilever both sit on the Board of the Consumer Goods Forum:

[3] The Peoples’ Summit for Social and Environmental Justice:





Rio+20 Breaking News: GJEP and Biofuelwatch disrupt industry event with Richard Branson

For Immediate Release 21 June 2012

Activists Disrupt Sir Richard Branson at Avoided Deforestation Rio +20 Event

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–Activists from Global Justice Ecology Project and Biofuelwatch disrupted Virgin Airlines owner Branson’s speech with chants and placards at the Rio+20 Earth Summit event titled “Advancing Public-Private Partnerships for Deforestation-Free / Sustainable Agriculture” today at the Windsor Barra hotel in Rio.

“We came here to interfere with this event because we recognize that the negotiations inside the UN’s official Rio+20 Conference are essentially irrelevant,” stated Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project. “The real negotiations that will determine the fate of the planet are being held outside of the UN space at these industry-sponsored events,” she added.

Ambassador Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of USAID was clear on this point when he stated during his presentation at the event, “these [public-private partnership] events are not side events, these are the main events.”

“Biofuelwatch took part in this action because of Richard Branson’s key role in promoting large-scale biofuels for aviation, geo-engineering and other destructive techno fixes,” stated Almuth Ernsting. “Branson is responsible for vast carbon emissions from his airline to which he now wants to add space tourism – his ‘solutions’ include more destructive monoculture plantations which harm forests, peoples and climate.”

Parallel to the negotiations that have been going on around Rio+20, the UN Climate Conferences and other UN forums, industry is coming together with countries like Norway to create ways to implement highly controversial market-based approaches like REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) that cannot be passed in the multilateral meetings.

Participants in the event included executives from Coca Cola and Unilever, both of which are implicated in serious human rights abuses and environmental destruction.

“We took this action in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, local communities and small farmers whose livelihoods are threatened by the privatization of their lands for Green Economy-style projects”, stated Keith Brunner of Gears of Change and Global Justice Ecology Project. “Public-private partnerships, such as those discussed here, are driving a vast transfer of wealth, resources and land into private hands–from the 99% to the 1%.”

After the disruption, participants in the action left the premises.

Contact: Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project +55.21.8079.0538 (Brazil) +1.802.578.0477 (US)


For Immediate Release 19 June, 2012

From Global Justice Ecology Project, STOP GE Trees Campaign, World Rainforest Movement, Global Forest Coalition, Carbon Trade Watch

GMO Trees and the Green Economy: Green Deserts for All?

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–While the highly controversial “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative [1] is underway today at Energy Day at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, the international STOP GE Trees Campaign [2] is demanding a global ban on the release of destructive and dangerous genetically engineered trees (also called GE trees, GMO trees or GM trees) into the environment.

Brazil is one of the most active countries in promoting the development of GE trees for the production of “renewable” bioenergy.

“Much of the research on GE trees in Brazil is focused on eucalyptus trees, which are being engineered for faster growth, and for modified wood qualities–such as increased cellulose and decreased lignin content.  These engineered traits will facilitate the production of wood-based bioenergy”, stated Isis Alvarez of Global Forest Coalition.

“The dramatic and dangerous impacts of non-GMO industrial eucalyptus plantations are well documented and include invasiveness, desertification of soils, depletion of water, increased threat of wildfire and loss of biodiversity”, stated Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the STOP GE Trees Campaign.  “Eucalyptus trees are not native to the Americas and they inhibit the growth of native vegetation.  In Brazil, these plantations are called Green Deserts because nothing can grow in them.  Now they want to engineer them, which will make them even more destructive”, [3] she added.

There are currently seven million hectares of eucalyptus in Brazil.  These plantations have displaced native forests, grasslands or agriculture; or were grown on the lands of Indigenous Peoples, forest dependent communities.  There are plans to double the land covered by eucalyptus plantations in the next decade and the Brazilian government has even proposed to “reforest” the Amazon rainforest with eucalyptus plantations. [4]

In the United States, the GE tree company ArborGen is engineering eucalyptus trees to tolerate freezing temperatures.  Global Justice Ecology Project joined non-GMO organizations and forest protection groups to sue the US Department of Agriculture to stop the development of these non-native GMO trees in 2010. [5]

“Here in Brazil there has been fierce opposition to destructive eucalyptus monocultures, or Green Deserts”, said Winnie Overbeek, Executive Secretary of the Uruguay-based World Rainforest Movement. “Creating GMO cold-tolerant trees is extremely dangerous. This will allow the expansion of monoculture plantations to other regions of the world, increasing the destruction of Green Deserts into new untouched environments and communities”.

“While monoculture giants such as the Brazilian Suzano Papel e Celulose begin an advanced trial of genetically engineered trees with the goal of helping reach the global ‘demand’ on bioenergy, EU Renewable Energy policies are accelerating the demand for wood for bioenergy, for example through strategies like the goal of the UK to import 80 million tonnes of wood pellets, mainly from the US, Canada and Brazil for biomass energy production”, [6] stated Joanna Cabello of Carbon Trade Watch, a member of the No REDD Platform.

For all of these reasons, the genetic engineering of eucalyptus trees for faster growth to meet the rapidly increasing demand for bioenergy–which will be further exacerbated by the Green Economy–threatens to expand eucalyptus monocultures, and accelerate the destruction of the last of the world’s forests.


Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project +55.21.8079.0538

Winnie Overbeek, +55.21.8821.9007

Isis Alvarez, Global Forest Coalition, +55.21.6950.3337


[1] Sustainable Energy for All –Or Sustained Profits for a Few?, OPEN LETTER: Sustainable Energy for All Initiative- Using poverty and climate change as excuses to increase corporate profits from energy provision

[2]  The STOP GE Trees Campaign includes hundreds of organizations from around the world who have united in their struggle to globally ban the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment

[3]GE Trees, Cellulosic Biofuels & Destruction of Forest Biological Diversity

[4]Steel and Eucalyptus Heat Up Eastern Amazon

[5] Analysis of the State of GE Trees and Advanced Bioenergy

[6] Nothing Neutral Here: Large-scale biomass subsidies in the UK and the role of the EU ETS


From Kari Oca

For Immediate Release
June 19, 2012

Declaration of Kari-Oca II Adopted by Five Hundred Indigenous Representatives in Sacred Ceremony   

Photos at:

June 19, 2012 – Over five hundred Indigenous Peoples from Brazil and throughout the world gathered last night at Kari-Oca II, an encampment seated at the foot of a mountain near Rio Centro, to sign a declaration demanding respect for Indigenous Peoples’ role in maintaining a stable world environment, and condemning the dominant economic approach toward ecology, development, human rights and the rights of Mother Earth.

Hundreds of Indigenous representatives will march from Kari-Oca on Wednesday, June 20, to deliver the declaration to world leaders at the opening of the Rio+20 Summit. (Exact location TBD.)

“We see the goals of UNCSD Rio+20, the ‘Green Economy’, and its premise that the world can only ‘save’ nature by commodifying its life-giving and life-sustaining capacities as a continuation of the colonialism that Indigenous Peoples and our Mother Earth have faced and resisted for 520 years”, the declaration states.

“This document is a wind that will enter the doors of Rio+20 to open the minds of the politicians, to show them that we are not merely the Indigenous Peoples that live in their countries, we are sons and daughters of the Mother Earth”, said Marcos Terrena, an indigenous leader from Brazil, and one of the founders of Kari Oca.

“We are not ‘interested parties,’ we are essential parties”, said Terrena. “We are committed to the life of the earth and future generations. This declaration sends a message to the politicians that the economy has to change, to embrace social, cultural and spiritual values, not just economic value.”

The Kari Oca II encampment, a cultural and spiritual center located in a ramshackle neighborhood not far from the site of the UN negotiations, is a historic follow-up to the Kari Oca I, which gathered at the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. The Kari-Oca conference, and the mobilization of Indigenous Peoples around the first UN Earth Summit, marked a significant step forward for an international movement for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the important role that Indigenous Peoples play in conservation and sustainable development.

But, according to leaders at Kari-Oca II, the agreements made twenty years ago have been largely ignored by world leaders, to the world’s peril.

“The Kari-Oca II declaration is not just a paper. It is a sacred document that encompasses our struggles worldwide. It makes clear that we will walk the path of our ancestors,” said Windel Bolinget, of the Igorot people in the Philippines.

The signing ceremony took place in the early evening outdoors amidst smoke, drums, and dancing, with hundreds of celebrants in ritual dress, and in a spirit both solemn and jubilant. The document was blessed in ceremony by spiritual elders before signing.

Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, from North America said, “Goose bumps ran up my body as I observed hundreds of brothers and sisters from around the world standing in silence acknowledging the spiritual significance of this historical moment.”

“This is far more than a political declaration,” Goldtooth said.

“We are happy tonight because our sacred word is written and agreed to by peoples from all over the world,” said Mario Santi of Ecuador.

“The importance of this declaration is in the sacred recognition that we cannot sell the rights of our Mother Earth, and we cannot accept false solutions that manipulate nature for profit,” said Berenice Sanchez, Nahua from Mexico.

The Declaration of Kari-Oca II can be found in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, here:

Organizers of the Kari-Oca Village hope to deliver the declaration to UN officials at the summit’s opening, in ceremonial form and in full regalia. Time and place to be determined, stay tuned for media advisory to follow.


Tom Goldtooth,,+55 (21) 8626 5336+1 218.760.0442(English)

Marcos Terrena, +1 978.660.2102(Portugués)

Berenice Sánchez, (Spanish) +52 044 55 23 39 39 28


From Indigenous Environmental Network

Indigenous Peoples Denounce Green Economy and REDD+ as Privatization of Nature

For Immediate Release 15 June, 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO – Indigenous Peoples of the world participating in Rio+20 denounce that the Green Economy and REDD+ privatize nature, sell the air we breathe and destroy the future.

Indigenous Peoples´ powerful message to the United Nations summit is eloquently conveyed in the No REDD+! in Rio+20 Declaration launched this morning by of the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change against REDD and for Life.  The Alliance warns that REDD+ constitutes a worldwide land grab  and gigantesque carbon offset scam.

REDD+ is an UN-promoted false solution to climate change and the pillar of the Green Economy. Officially, REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. However, Tom Goldtooth (Dakota/Dine´), Director of Indigenous Environmental Network, insists that “REDD+ really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity.”

Just as Chief Seattle over a hundred years ago asked, “How can you sell the air?,” Marlon Santi of the Ecuadorian Amazon, condemns carbon trading and REDD+ and asks “How can you sell Mother Earth And Father Sky?” But apparently someone is trying, as the recently inaugurated Bolsa Verde do Rio de Janeiro (BVRio), a Brazilian stockmarket for forest carbon credits, shows.

“Not only does REDD+ corrupt the Sacred and fuel financial speculation, it also serves as greenwash for extractive industries like Shell and Rio Tinto,” according to Berenice Sanchez of the Nahua People of Mexico.

The Alliance argues that REDD+ is a “new wave of colonialism.” From Peru to Papua New Guinea, carbon cowboys are running amok trying to rip off native communities and grab the forests of the world, 80% of which are found in Indigenous Peoples´ lands and territories.

“The REDD+ race to take over our land is on.  Without our land, we are nothing. The Green Economy  and REDD+ could make money with genocide,” alerts Mr. Santi.

“The environmental crisis is getting worse because of capitalists´ false solutions such as REDD+. The real solution to the climate crisis affecting the people of the world, especially Indigenous Peoples, is to protect Mother Earth, uphold social justice and respect the Indigenous Peoples’ decisions and right to say no,” said Marife Macalanda of the Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network.

Human rights activists like lawyer Alberto Saldamando, are also concerned about abuses by REDD+-type projects. “REDD+ threatens the very survival of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities. Indigenous Peoples and local communities are now being subjected to forced displacement and human rights abuses including violations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a result of the implementation of REDD+-type programs,” according to the Secretariat of the Alliance.

As for La Via Campesina, the 300 million-strong international peasant farmers´ organization rejects  REDD+ which not only includes forests but agriculture and soils as well. “REDD perverts the task of growing food into farming carbon,” and could cause a global “counter-agrarian reform” notes the Alliance´s declaration.

“Don´t be fooled, “ the Alliance urges , the Green Economy and REDD+ constitute “a planet grab.” “Rio+20 is not an Earth Summit, it is the WTO of Life.”


Tom Goldtooth  +1 218 760 – 0442

Berenice Sánchez +52 044 55 23 39 39 28


For Immediate Release    15 June, 2012

From Global Justice Ecology Project

Grassroots Voices Available for Interview at Rio +20 and Peoples Summit

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–As the Peoples Summit for Social and Environmental Justice and Against the Commodification of Life (Cupula dos Povos), kicks off today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, thousands of international climate justice advocates will be present to draw attention to the struggles faced by grassroots communities, and the solutions these communities offer to the multiple crises facing the world today.

While the triple crises of energy, economy and ecology ultimately affect everyone, low-income communities, land-based cultures, Indigenous Peoples, women, and youth are impacted first and worst. At both the Peoples’ Summit and the UN Rio+20 Earth Summit, Global Justice Ecology Project and the Climate Justice Alignment will be providing media outlets with a comprehensive list of grassroots climate-impacted people for interviews, as well as posting short videos, podcasts, articles and news pieces daily on

Speakers available for interview have a wide range of expertise, including environmental justice, forests and land tenure; tree plantations and genetically engineered (GMO) trees; REDD, carbon trading and Payment for Environmental Services; Indigenous Peoples’ Rights; land grabbing; bioenergy, and the bioeconomy; women’s, gender and youth issues; recycling, waste-picking and waste-to-energy; just transition strategies; and grassroots perspectives.

Global Justice Ecology Project will release media alerts throughout the events, between June 15 and 23. The speakers list available at will be updated daily. For information regarding the speakers list, to receive media alerts, or to follow the action from the grassroots, subscribe to Climate Connections, or contact GJEP or Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, below.


Jeff Conant, Communications Director, Global Justice Ecology Project


Phone in Brazil:  +55 (0) (21) 8079-0790 (to be activated late in the day on the 15th)

Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project


Phone: +1 (802) 578 0477

Shaun Grogan-Brown, Communications Coordinator, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance


Phone in Brazil:  +55 (0) (21) 8079-0796


For Immediate Release  June 12, 2012

From BiofuelWatch

Civil society groups denounce Sustainable Energy for All initiative promoted at Rio+20 Earth Summit

As the final negotiations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 conference get underway in Rio de Janeiro, almost 50 civil society groups have published an open letter denouncing the UN Secretary General’s new “Sustainable Energy For All Initiative” (SEFA). The letter states: “The SEFA process and Action Agenda are deeply flawed and threaten to further entrench destructive, polluting and unjust energy policies for corporate profit under the guise of alleviating energy poverty, while undermining community rights to energy sovereignty and self determination.”

The “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative was announced in September 2011, and a “high level panel” was established by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon. The panel includes major investors in the fossil fuel economy including, Statoil, Eskom, Siemens and Riverstone Holdings. The initiative’s stated goals are to 1) double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, 2) double the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030, and 3) provide access to modern energy services for all of humanity. An action agenda is being put forward for endorsement at Rio+20, along with commitments for action from countries and groups.

Groups denouncing the initiative view it as an attempt to use claims of poverty alleviation to further expand corporate control over energy policies with the aim of gaining access to new markets and investment opportunities. The letter points out that the initiative’s goals are inadequate,that it promotes dangerous and unsustainable forms of energy and that there is a deplorable lack of transparency and democratic participation in the process thus far.

Rachel Smolker from Biofuelwatch states “While the term ‘sustainable’ is used, there is absolutely no indication what this means. Large-scale biofuels, natural gas projects, large hydroelectric dams, waste incinerators, even fossil fuels and nuclear energy all appear to be acceptable under this initiative and all are referred to as ‘sustainable’.”

“We are concerned that this initiative could end up providing yet more support for toxic waste incinerators, subsidized and supported as “sustainable energy” stated Mariel Vilella, from GAIA. Similarly Zachary Hurwitz from International Rivers points out: “Large hydro dams referred to as “sustainable energy” are likely to gain considerable support under the SEFA initiative in spite of clear evidence that they are risky, less resilient to climate change impacts and exacerbate problems with water stress.”

Simone Lovera, Executive Director of the Global Forest Coalition adds: “Lip service is granted to providing services to those in poverty, including, in particular, women who are currently dependent on fuelwood for their energy needs. But small scale community based, off-grid energy projects are not likely to generate profitable returns on investments in the manner these corporate players are accustomed to, so they are very unlikely to be prioritized by this initiative.”

Further, the open letter denounces the initiative’s process as “unaccountable and undemocratic”, pointing out that there are only 5 governments and 3 NGOs represented on the high level panel. There have been virtually no opportunities to participate or provide input into the action agenda, and there are no mechanisms in place to hold participants accountable.

Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project states: “While many are pleased to see the issue of energy access gaining much needed attention, there is little confidence that this top down, market-driven and undemocratic process can deliver human services on the scale necessary to both meet people’s needs and protect the planet and environment.”

Tatiana Roa of CENSAT/Friends of the Earth-Colombia adds: “This initiative is emblematic of the growing ‘corporate takeover’ of the UN as ‘public private partnerships’ like SEFA are becoming ever more pervasive. The private sector is now viewed as the only possible source of sufficient finance, and hence granted undue and inappropriate control and access. What we need are rights-based, bottom-up and participatory approaches that will ensure genuinely fair and sustainable solutions within the framework of energy sovereignty.”


1) The Sustainable Energy For All Initiative was established by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. A high level panel was selected and an action agenda released. It is expected that the initiative will be formally launched and country and other commitments under the initiative will be announced at the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

For more information:

2) The UN Commission on Sustainable Development RioPlus20 Earth Summit begins in Rio this week. The first Earth Summit, held in 1992 resulted in major treaties and agreements aimed at protecting the environment while addressing the problems of poverty, globally.

For more information:

3) A briefing “Sustainable Energy For All or Sustained Profits For A Few”, detailing concerns about the Sustainable Energy For All Initiative (English and Spanish) is available at:

4) The open letter is available in English and Spanish at:

5) A statement from civil society groups opposing the “corporate capture” of the UN – of which SEFA is a prime example – is available here:

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