Tag Archives: biofuels

Rio+20 Alternative Peoples’ Summit opens today: People of the world vs. the “green economy” and global economic foreclosure

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Today is the opening day of the Cupola dos Povos–the alternative Peoples’ Summit for Environmental and Social Justice in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

It was pulled together by Brazilian groups and is being attended by social movements, Indigenous Peoples, activists and organizations from all over the world who are coming together to identify real solutions to the multiple and rising crises we face as humans on planet Earth.  The summit was organized in direct opposition to the official UN circus known as the Rio+20 Conference for Sustainable Development.  More aptly it would be called the Rio+20 Conference for the greenwashing of Business as Usual.

As I flew to Rio on 12 June, I read an article in the Financial Times titled “Showdown Looms at OPEC After Saudi Arabia Urges Higher Output.”  The article explained how Saudi Arabia is urging OPEC to increase their output of oil in order to ensure that the global price of oil does not exceed US$100/barrel in order to “mitigate the risks that high oil prices pose to the global economy.”

The insane logic of expanding oil production in the face of mounting climate chaos in order to help rescue the global economy accurately reflects the mindset behind the negotiations around the UN’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, set to start next week here in Rio.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20, World Bank

KPFK Weekly Earth Segment Featuring Nnimmo Bassey, Nigerian Environmental Activist

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod and the Sojourner Truth show at KPFK Pacifica in Los Angeles for weekly Earth Segments and weekly Earth Minutes.

This week’s Earth Segment features Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria, West Africa, on the Niger Delta oil disaster and on the move to replace fossil fuels with biofuels.

To listen to the Earth Segment, go to the following link and click on minute 15:35.

March 29, 2012 Earth Segment on KPFK

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Pollution, Water

KPFK Earth Segment on Synthetic Biology Lab Scheduled to be Built in Richmond, CA

This week’s Earth Segment featured GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann discussing the new synthetic biology lab that is scheduled to be built in Richmond, California, and the concerns about this extreme genetic engineering technology.

To listen to the segment, go to the link below and scroll to minute 8:40.

KPFK Earth Segment Jan 26, 2012

For more on the proposed Synthetic Biology lab in Richmond, see our previous blog post: http://climate-connections.org/2012/01/26/genetic-engineering-gets-extreme-now-comes-synthetic-genetic-modification/

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Earth Segment every Thursday.

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Genetic Engineering, Greenwashing, Posts from Anne Petermann, Synthetic Biology

La Via Campesina Invites Allies to Share Perspectives in Durban

La Via Campesina, the largest federation of peasant farmers in the world, has brought a delegation of hundreds from across Africa to gatherings in and around the UNCOP 17 Climate Summit. As a federation of smallholder farmers and fisher groups, La Via Campesina opposes the kinds of top-down, market-driven policies promoted by the World Bank and the UN Climate Regime.

Yesterday we were invited, along with several of our friends and colleagues, to participate in a working session with La Via Campesina at their encampment near a highway overpass miles from the official summit.

Forthcoming, we hope to report on what La Via itself is doing here in Durban. For now, here are some snapshot portraits of GJEP’s allies and what they had to say yesterday. (Reporting: Jeff Conant. Photos Orin Langelle/GJEP)

“The talk now on the table at the COP is to base the Green Climate Fund on private investment. But if there is an investment, they need a return. What does that mean, a return on investment? It means the corporations, the private sector, and the financial industry want to set up the Green Climate Fund in a way that returns money to them. That’s why we call it the Greedy Corporate Fund.”

Lidy Nacpil, Jubilee South


“They say we are talking about the transition to a Green Economy – that capitalism has to turn green. This is like saying that a tiger is going to become a vegetarian.”

Lucia Ortiz, Rede, Brazil


“Before you trade anything, you have to determine, whose property is it? Before they can trade seeds, they have to determine, ‘who owns that seed?’. Some corporations own that seed. Well, who owns the carbon dioxide in the air? That’s what they are working out in the carbon markets and at these UN climate conventions. That’s why we call the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change the World Trade Organization of the Sky.”

Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network


“More than half of the gases that cause global warming come from the industrial food system. They say the industrial food system feeds the world. It’s bad food, it’s toxic food, it’s not very nutritious, but they say, ‘we are feeding the world,’ so we have to live with it. Well guess what? They’re lying. The industrial food system produces 30 percent of the food. The other 2/3 is produced by small farmers and fishers. Now they say they will stop using all the oil. Don’t believe them. They will use every drop of oil. But with that excuse, they say now, they will make green fuels. They will make fuels out of biomass. What is biomass? It is forests, it is fields, it is your harvest. They want to use all of this to make their fuels.”

Sylvia Ribeiro, ETC Group


“The FAO and others have reduced agriculture to counting carbon and putting a price on it. The value of the carbon is added to the value of the water and the crops that could be grown on the land, and this makes it appealing to investors, which leads to land grabs. But today, a ton of carbon is worth about 3 euros – less than a pizza. This may explain the somber mood of the talks in Durban.”

Rachel Smolker, BiofuelWatch


Renaldo Chingori Joao, Member of the International Coordinating Committee of la Via Campesina, Mozambique

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Geoengineering, Green Economy

Video: Agrofuels: Industrial Agriculture’s Latest Attack on the People and the Planet

Note: GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann was interviewed for this film at a Rising Tide event in 2008.  The film details the devastating ecological and social impacts of agrofuels.   The trailer for the film is below.

–The GJEP Team


Released in October 2011: a half-hour in depth educational supplement to the feature film:

Agrofuels: Industrial Agriculture’s Latest Attack on the People and the Planet

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering

Do Trees Grow on Money?

 A UN-Backed Plan to Address Climate Change by Slowing Deforestation Sounds Like a Good Idea. Unless You Live in the Forest

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project Comunications Director Jeff Conant and Co-Director/ Strategist Orin Langelle traveled to the community of Amador Hernandez in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico in March of this year.  While there, residents were interviewed about their opinions regarding use of forests as carbon offsets, and about the threats of relocation the community was facing due to plans to “protect” the forest and sell its carbon to California companies as offsets.  A statement was recently released by the communities of the region of Amador Hernandez condemning REDD+ (the scheme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).  You can read that statement here.

Cross-Posted from the Autumn 2011 edition of Earth Island Journal

BY JEFF CONANT (Communications Director for Global Justice Ecology Project)

In Mayan cosmology, the ceiba tree, with its elephantine, silver-grey trunk that towers above the jungle, is the tree of life, shoring up the corners of the sky and sending its roots deep into the underworld. In the centuries following the conquest of the New World, Mayans by the thousands were forced to work in monterias, or timber camps, and the ancestral role of the ceiba as a bridge between the world above and the world below gave way to the board-feet of timber the trees surrendered when felled. The ensuing rush for sugar, for rubber, for minerals, and for cattle left the jungles of Mesoamerica reduced to a fraction of their original area and devastated the peoples who once thrived there.

Today, another vision is shaping the jungles of southern Mexico: The idea that protecting forests is central to the struggle against global warming.

aerial photo of a tree plantation
photo of two women conversing

photos courtesy Orin Langelle  

Under REDD, “forests” may also mean plantations.

Tropical deforestation and forest degradation contribute between 12 and 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, as some 13 million hectares of forest are lost annually. The Lacandon Jungle on the border of Chiapas and Guatemala is a case in point: Only about 10 percent of the jungle remains intact. Saving forested areas like the Lacandon is key to reducing the impacts of runaway climate change.

Past efforts to reduce deforestation, like setting up protected areas or promoting sustainable land-use practices, have had limited success. That’s because the drivers of deforestation – agriculture, mining, fossil fuel extraction, paper demand – offer rich financial rewards. But what if forests were more valuable left standing than cut down?

A new policy mechanism is being developed to do just that. Dubbed REDD, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, the mechanism (along with a list of spin-offs such as REDD+ and REDD++) is backed by major multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank. Support for REDD spans the spectrum of green groups, from market-minded conservation NGOs likeEnvironmental Defense and Conservation International to more capital-skeptic outfits like Greenpeace.

At a high-level event during COP16, the UN climate summit last year in Cancún, Mexico, pilot REDD projects were hailed by heads of state and a gamut of global figures including primatologist Jane Goodall, Walmart CEO Sam Walton, and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. The World Bank’s Robert Zoellick called REDD “the best chance, perhaps the last chance, to save the world’s forests.” Zoellick admitted that the policy still has some kinks, but closed his remarks to great applause with one of the mantras of the summit: “Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.”

After the applause died down, Linda Adams, the head of California EPA, took the stage and announced that, as one of his last acts in office, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had signed a carbon trading agreement, predicated on a REDD scheme, with the state of Chiapas. Adams called the plan “a way for California to help the developing world by investing in forests.”

“Saving our forests is good not only for the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s also good for Indigenous Peoples.” Chiapas Governor Juan Sabines, on hand to promote his state’s comprehensive Climate Change Action Program, nodded in vigorous agreement.

But as official delegates applauded REDD in Cancún’s plenary halls, grassroots activists in the streets were staging protests against the policy. Benign as it may appear, what outsiders see as forest protection many locals see as the potential loss of their homes. REDD is fiercely contested by many human rights advocates and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, who see in it the continuation of colonial resource extraction at best, and at worst perhaps the largest land grab in history.

Tom Goldtooth, Director of the North America-based Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), has called REDD “a violation of the sacred, and the commodification of life.” Goldtooth warns that the policy won’t actually reduce emissions, that it is already violating communities’ rights, and that it relies too much on the market. IEN, along with the Global Forest CoalitionWorld Rainforest MovementFriends of the Earth International, and La Via Campesina, the world’s largest federation of peasant farmers, came away from Cancún charging that the UN, in promoting REDD, had become “the World Trade Organization of the Sky.”

“When a natural function like forest respiration becomes a product with a price, it’s easy to see who’s going to end up with control of the forests.”

The REDD scheme unfolding in Chiapas offers a particularly compelling test for this controversial idea. Home to most of Mexico’s tropical trees, a third of its mammal species, and half of its bird and butterfly species, the Lacandon is also, famously, home to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, the insurgent rebel group that rose up in 1994 to demand that Indigenous Peoples be allowed to control their own territories. That struggle, and the Mexican government’s response, has engendered paramilitary massacres, years of counterinsurgency, and tens of thousands of displaced people – and it can be traced, in part, to a decades-old agreement that took as its pretext the protection of the Lacandon. The region’s rich biodiversity, open conflicts over land tenure, and the potential investment from California make Lacandon a fascinating test case – or an instructive cautionary tale – of what REDD may bring.

REDD, in Black and White

REDD works like this: Because trees capture and store CO2, maintaining intact forests is essential to mitigating climate change. REDD proposes that governments, companies, or forest owners in the global South be given financial incentives for keeping their forests standing. REDD was formally taken up by the UN-sponsored climate change talks in Bali in 2007. Since then it has moved rapidly to the forefront of the climate agenda. Norway, its biggest donor, has pledged upwards of $120 million to the UN REDD program, and given $1 billion each to Indonesia and a confederation of Amazonian states to establish the program. In December 2010, REDD was adopted into the UN’s Cancún Agreements, the closest thing to an extension of the Kyoto Protocol.

While paying to preserve forests appears to be a long-overdue gesture of goodwill, it brings up an array of thorny questions. For starters, what is meant by “forests”? Because the UN’s definition is unclear, “forests” under REDD may include monoculture tree plantations or even genetically engineered trees. Since timber, paper, and biofuel plantations are more lucrative than natural forests, REDD could fund the destruction of native forests and their replacement with tree plantations.

Leap of Faith

One reason why REDD appears compelling is that, given the rapacious demand for resources, it is difficult to imagine a counterforce strong enough to halt forest destruction. Another is the deadlock in the UN negotiations. Nations’ resistance to binding emissions reductions makes REDD one of the only games around.

But even such a bastion of market fundamentalism asThe Economist magazine suggests that “REDD may not be possible at all,” due to factors including corruption and the fact that most of those who live in and care for forests do not have legal title to their lands.

Still, if there is an opportunity for business, business will be done. New private carbon-marketing firms are springing up daily to prepare for the windfall from REDD. One such firm is Boston-based Ecologic Development Fund. Ecologic’s director, Sean Paul, has years of experience promoting Payment for Environmental Services projects. Paul appears genuinely devoted to preserving forests; REDD is one way to do this, and Ecologic supports it, including a REDD initiative in the Lacandon. Yet Paul himself is ambivalent: “Part of the challenge of REDD,” Paul says, “is that a lot of people see a gravy train, a gold rush. I see a lot of investors excited at the prospect of carbon trading. But all that excitement is around the trading – it has so little to do with the people, and the forest.”

Pavan Sukhdev, former head of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Economy Initiative, estimates the value of global ecosystem goods at $4.5 trillion per year. “The rewards are very clear,” Sukhdev says.

The problem is how to generate these rewards, literally out of thin air. The offsets-based REDD scheme that is in the pipeline requires a stable and reliable carbon market. And so far there isn’t one.

The US Government Accountability Office reports that carbon offsets are impossible to verify, warning that “it is not possible to ensure that every credit represents a real, measurable, and long-term reduction in emissions.” The US Congress failed to pass a national carbon-trading initiative last July, and the European Carbon Market – the largest in the world – is proving fatally flawed, with uncontrollable price volatility and regulations that seem to incentivize more climate pollution, not less. After European emissions rose to unprecedented levels in 2010, Friends of the Earth-Europe called the system “an abject failure.”

But in business, failure can be generative: Billions have been made through ventures that failed, such as subprime mortgages and derivatives. For the believers, faith in the market remains strong. At a Carbon Expo in Barcelona this summer, representatives of Point Carbon, a global firm that provides technical support for business, wore buttons that read, “I can’t help it – I still believe in markets.”—JC

Beyond the ecological concerns, REDD is proving exceedingly elusive to put into practice. One fundamental question is: Where will the money come from? At present, there is no “compliance market” for REDD – meaning it is not yet part of any mandated legislative effort to reduce emissions. Of numerous government-sponsored REDD projects worldwide, the agreement between California and Chiapas, expected to come on line by 2015, is the most advanced.

The most likely source of funding for REDD is a combination of private investment and multilateral funds, boosted by a huge dose of carbon offsets from industry in wealthy nations. An offset-based REDD will allow those who protect forests to earn carbon credits – financial rewards based on the amount of CO2 a forest can store and a market-derived price per ton of CO2. Governments (or NGOs, or local communities) that protect forests can then trade these credits to industrial polluters for revenue that, in theory, provides incentive not to cut down trees.

But if the money comes from carbon offsets, as the UN and the California protocol propose, this means that even if deforestation is reduced, industrial emissions – the main driver of climate change – will not be.

The offsets component brings REDD strong support from the fossil fuel industry. BP (yes, that BP) recently became the first company to join the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, which will allow the company to offset its emissions. REDD’s market-share potential has also attracted the financial services industry – Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley – the same Wall Street speculators that threw the global banking systems into a tailspin.

The whole idea is based on the notion of “Payment for Environmental Services.” To the market-minded, this is a pioneering method for quantifying the worth of ecosystems, thus incentivizing their preservation. Many in the global South, however, see it as the rationale for a wholesale privatization of territories and natural resources. Gustavo Castro of the Chiapas-based NGO Otros Mundos says, “When a natural function like forest respiration becomes a product with a price, it’s easy to see who’s going to end up with control of the forests.”

That is, the people who have the cash to put up the protection money.

REDD Alert in Chiapas

Amador Hernández is a village of about 1,500 Tzeltal Mayan peasant farmers set deep inside the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the Lacandon Jungle. Three months after the Cancún talks, as darkness fell over the village assembly hall there, a few dozen villagers gathered in the dusty glare of a single solar-powered lightbulb to talk about the climate policies that were lapping at the edges of their territory like the first ripples of an oncoming flood. One villager, Santiago Martinez, explained REDD to the assembly in broad strokes: “REDD is a program the government is promoting to do what they call ‘capturing carbon,’ and conserving the jungle,” he said. “From what we’ve heard, it’s a global program led by rich people, businessmen, Europeans.”

Martinez was opposed to the program; among the reasons was concern that it would require abandoning their lands and traditional farming methods. The worries were fueled by recent government messages warning that a team would come through the village shortly to measure property lines and evict any ‘irregular settlers.”

The villagers clearly perceived this as the legacy of a land tenure arrangement that has been at the heart of conflicts in the Lacandon for decades. In 1971, the Mexican government ceded over a 1.5 million acres to the Lacandon tribe – one of the six Indigenous groups in Chiapas – which at the time consisted of only 66 families. Seven years later, the government created the 800,000-acre Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, overlapping the Lacandon territory. In order to give the first chunk of territory to the Lacandones, and to protect the second as a reserve, 2,000 Tzeltal and Ch’ol families – 26 villages – were moved. Among the displaced were some families who later came to form Amador Hernández.

The resulting tension between the Lacandones and the rest of the region’s Indigenous groups led to the formation of several peasant farmer organizations demanding redress; some of these groups later coalesced into the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The militant response made it impossible for the Mexican government to draw solid boundaries around the land in question. Now, with the promise of financing under REDD, the government is making a renewed attempt to get the boundaries drawn, to expel anyone without land title, and to inventory the Montes Azules Reserve to quantify, and then bring to market, the area’s carbon storage potential.

Earlier this year, the Chiapas government began distributing 2,000 pesos a month (roughly $200) to each Lacandon landholder. The payments were authorized, according to a government statement, “to allow the completion of the forest inventory so that [the Lacandon community] can access federal and international funds, as well as complement these funds with projects such as agricultural conversion outside the Reserve with species such as oil palm and rubber.” In the abstract, the money is incentivizing forest protection. But in the words of the villagers of Amador Hernández, the purpose of the payments is “to guard the border against their neighbors – that is, us.”

The most publicized aspects of REDD in Chiapas are the payments to the Lacandones and a program to train them as “environmental police.” As a Lacandon man named Chankayun said, “Yes, there are other poor Indigenous communities living in our territory, and I hope we can come to a peaceful agreement for them to find another place to live.” Governor Sabines speaks openly about the need to resettle jungle communities, and makes regular visits to the Lacandon to distribute funds and good will. “The jungle can’t wait,” he said in June. “Of 179 ‘irregular’ settlements within the jungle’s protected area, most have been removed and only eleven remain. Of these, some are Zapatistas. We hope they leave voluntarily, but if they want to stay, they stay.”

But what Governor Sabines describes as voluntary resettlement takes on a darker shade from the viewpoint of those with no land rights. At the village assembly in Amador Hernández, villagers stood up one by one to denounce what they perceived as a land grab. A year before, the villagers said, all government medical services, including vaccinations, had been cut off; several elderly people and children died due to lack of medical attention. This neglect, they believed, was due to their refusal to capitulate to the demands of REDD. “They’re attacking our health as a way of getting access to our land,” Martinez said.

The case of Amador Hernández appears extreme, but it’s hardly unique. As preparations for REDD are laid around the world, Indigenous communities in other countries – Ecuador, Peru, Congo – are saying, with increasing urgency, that forest protection without land rights represents a direct threat to their ways of life.

The Price of an Arm and a Leg?

A cornerstone of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a provision called Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. FPIC, as it is known, offers a theoretical bulwark against human rights abuses by declaring that Indigenous Peoples must have a say in projects that affect them. It is central to debates over REDD. Some argue that REDD can work as long as it includes FPIC safeguards. But FPIC is nonbinding, and as the case of Amador Hernández shows, it rarely works.

In Chiapas, where the Zapatista movement rose up in arms precisely because Indigenous voices had been disregarded for five centuries, “informed consent” has never been a consideration. Gustavo Castro says: “There’s a lot of talk in the government’s documents, in the REDD scheme, of the need for consultation. But there haven’t been any consultations, and I don’t believe there will be.”

photo of a girl carrying a package in a field
photo of a man and a boy

photos courtesy Orin Langelle   

What outsiders see as forest protection many locals see as loss of their homes.

Discussing the practical aspects of community participation, Castro is dour: “When we talk about consultations, we have to take into account who does it, and what we mean by ‘prior’ and ‘informed.’ What they say to the communities is, ‘We’re protecting the planet, we’re fighting climate change, and we’ll pay you to help.’ So then the consultation consists of one question: ‘Are you with us?’ And the answer you can expect from rural communities is, ‘Of course we are.’”

There’s little doubt that pouring money into rural communities involves serious challenges. As Miguel Angel García, whose NGO Maderas del Pueblo supports ecological projects in the Lacandon, says, “This whole thing is bringing on a terrible cultural transformation. Putting forests, a common good, into the market has the effect of tearing the social fabric and generating economic interests that go directly against the interests and values of the Indigenous peoples. And it’s causing death; not only physical death, but the death of a culture, and of a cosmovision. It’s an ethnocide.”

To be clear: Groups that oppose REDD are not against receiving funds from wealthy nations to maintain forests. The social movements that oppose REDD generally favor the creation of a fund to pay for the resources that industrialized nations have consumed. This is the idea of “climate debt.” Led by Bolivia, a coalition of more than 50 governments has submitted a proposal to the UN demanding that the costs of adapting to the climate crisis be borne by the countries that created the crisis, as a kind of reparations. It’s not that they don’t want payment; it’s that they don’t want payment based on pollution permits and market speculation.

Pablo Solon, until recently Bolivia’s Ambassador to the UN, offers a haunting analogy: “Through REDD they want to put a price on nature. Our point of view is that you can’t do that, and I’ll explain why: In Bolivia, if you lose an arm or a leg, you receive compensation of around $1,000. But can you imagine a situation where you create a market for arms and legs for $1,000 each? Sure, we need the money to pay for the operation. But the intention is not to commodify your arm.”

Solon’s analogy points to the core tension in the REDD scheme: We should protect forests because, like our own limbs, they have intrinsic value.

To think that global policy will ever be guided by the principle of forests’ inherent worth and Indigenous Peoples’ rights is perhaps naïve. But no less naïve, and certainly no less dangerous, is faith that the market, and the industrial society that drives it, can solve the global catastrophe it precipitated.

As global climate negotiations continue to generate friction without momentum, the world’s forests continue to burn in great blazes and to fall before an onslaught of mining, agribusiness, and timber plantations. REDD’s proponents envision a way to buy our way out of the cycle of destruction. And those who have inhabited and protected the world’s forests for millennia – and whose cultures have been devastated by the race to exploit resources – continue to press for a better deal. 7142.jpg

Jeff Conant is author of A Community Guide to Environmental Health and is Communications Director at Global Justice Ecology Project.

For the complete list of articles, photo essays and action alerts from the situation in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, click here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Chiapas, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD

Communique from the communities of the Amador Hernandez region, Montes Azules, Lacandon Jungle

A view of the Lacandon jungle from Amador Hernandez. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Note: GJEP received this communique from COMPITCH (Consejo de Médicos y Parteras Indígenas Tradicionales de Chiapas –Council of Traditional Indigenous Doctors and Midwives from Chiapas).  The communique was translated into English by Trisha Novak.  In March of 2011, GJEP’s Jeff Conant and Orin Langelle went to Amador Hernandez in Chiapas, Mexico to investigate the threatened forced relocation of the community and it’s relation to REDD+ and the California-Chiapas, Mexico-Acre, Brazil climate deal.

Español debajo

The indigenous communities of the Amador Hernandez region, Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, in the Lacandon Jungle communicate the following:

To the people of Mexico, to the people of the world, to the organizations and groups that do not serve the power interests but those of their own people, the lower classes.

On 20 and 21 August, the communities of the region had a forum in the Amador Hernandez common area entitled:  Regional Forum Against the Lacandona Brecha (the official border that would delimit the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve) and the Capitalist Looting of the Lacandon Jungle, and we approved the following:


  1. We reject and will not tire of confirming our rejection of the passing through the Lacandona Brecha next to our lands because it has as its purpose to make available the lands in the [Biosphere Reserve] to the service of the capitalist powers.
  1. The REDD+ project in the Montes Azules Reserve is the new mask, a climate mask, with which the federal government of Felipe Calderon and the Chiapas government of Juan Sabines attempt to cover up the dispossession of the biodiversity of the peoples.
  1. Speaking of climate change, it is clear to us that those who are most responsible are the capitalist enterprises and their governments, just like the federal government of Felipe Calderon and the Chiapas government of Juan Sabines, who have made a pact with the wealthy countries to allow that their greenhouse gas emissions be mitigated by the forests of our people.
  1. We reject all the ways in which the federal and the Chiapas governments and directors of organizations in service to the capitalists, want to dispossess us of our lands and our resources, through programs such as:  REDD+ (in the Montes Azules Reserve), Reconversion Productiva (Productive Restructuring), Pago de Servicios Ambientales (Payment for Environmental Services) and FANAR (Fund for Agricultural Entities without Regularization).

We point out the dual purpose of these programs: to dispossess us, but also to change our culture in order to disorganize us and neutralize our resistance.

  1. We denounce the control that the federal government exercises over the   people which, by decree (1972), it called the Lacandon, and which it has been using to legitimize all the plans for taking the lands and displacement of our peoples.
  1. We reject the projects for tourism by the capitalists or of the federal or Chiapas governments, such as the one that has divided the common lands of Emiliano Zapata in Laguna de Miramar.
  1. We reject monocultures, especially for biofuels and the new peonage that the peasant undergoes on his own land, just as the big landowners imposed in times of the Porfirio dictatorship.
  1. We reject the policy of land seizures promoted by the World Bank, conservationist organizations and their neo-liberal governments like that of Chiapas.
  1. Likewise, we reject the other face of “development:”  mining projects approved for regions that are not important for conservation and transnational exploitation of diversity, as happens in the Municipality of Chicomuselo where the people are resisting.
  1.  We demand agrarian regularization of the communities of Galilea, Benito Juarez Miramar and Chumcerro, located within the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve.

W E   P R O P O S E

To reorganize ourselves and expand at every level our relationships with other peoples and with independent organizations that are not at the service of the powerful in order to build a network of resistance among the peoples.

To develop internal plans in our communities to strengthen the production of our own foods.

To strengthen ourselves in the word of God and the community memory of our grandparents.

Agreement made in Ejido Amador Hernandez, Reserva de Biosfera Montes Azules, Selva Lacandona, Chiapas, Mexico, 21 August 2011


Comunicado de las comunidades de la región Amador Hernández, Montes Azules, Selva Lacandona

Las Comunidades Indígenas de la región Amador Hernández, Reserva de Biosfera Montes Azules, en la Selva Lacandona, comunican lo siguiente:

Al Pueblo de México, a los Pueblos del Mundo, a las Organizaciones y grupos que no sirven a los intereses del poder sino a los de su propia gente, la gente de abajo.

Los días 20 y 21 de agosto, las comunidades de la región celebramos un Foro en el ejido Amador Hernández, denominado: Foro Regional en Contra de la Brecha Lacandona y el Despojo Capitalista de la Selva Lacandona, y aprobamos la siguiente:

 D  E  C  L  A  R  A  C  I  O  N

1. Rechazamos, y no nos cansaremos de ratificarlo, el paso de la brecha Lacandona al lado de nuestras tierras porque tiene como propósito disponer las tierras medidas del lado Lacandón en servicio de las potencias capitalistas.

2. El proyecto REDD+ en la Reserva de Montes Azules es la nueva máscara, máscara climática, con la que el gobierno Federal de Felipe Calderón y el de Chiapas de Juan Sabines pretenden encubrir el despojo de la biodiversidad de los pueblos.

3. Hablando del cambio del clima, para nosotros está claro que los responsables mayores son las empresas capitalistas y sus gobiernos, como el Federal de Felipe Calderón y el de Chiapas de Juan Sabines, que han pactado con los países ricos que sus emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero se mitiguen en los bosques de nuestros pueblos.

4. Rechazamos todas las formas con las que los gobiernos, federal y de Chiapas, y dirigentes de organizaciones, en servicio de los capitalistas, quieren despojarnos de nuestras tierras y de nuestros recursos. Como los programas: REDD+ (en la Reserva de Montes Azules), Reconversión Productiva, Pago de Servicios Ambientales y FANAR. Llamamos a estar pendientes de la doble intención de esos programas: despojarnos pero también cambiar nuestra cultura para desorganizarnos y neutralizar nuestra resistencia.

5. Denunciamos el control que el gobierno federal ejerce sobre el pueblo que por decreto (1972) llamó Lacandón, que ha venido utilizando para legitimar todos los planes de despojo de tierras y desalojos de nuestros pueblos.

6. Rechazamos los proyectos turísticos de los capitalistas o de los gobiernos federal y de Chiapas, como el que ha dividido al ejido Emiliano Zapata en la Laguna de Miramar.

7. Rechazamos los monocultivos, en especial los de agrocombustibles y el nuevo peonaje al que es sometido el campesino en su propia tierra, como los hacendados hacían en tiempos de la dictadura porfirista.

8. Rechazamos la política de acaparamiento de tierras impulsada por el banco mundial, las organizaciones conservacionistas y sus gobiernos neoliberales como el de Chiapas.

9. Rechazamos igualmente la otra cara del despojo: los proyectos de Minería, aprobados para regiones no importantes para la conservación y explotación trasnacional de la biodiversidad, como sucede en el municipio de Chicomuselo donde resisten los pueblos.

10. Exijimos la regularización agraria de las comunidades Galilea, Benito Juárez Miramar y Chumcerro, ubicadas dentro de la Reserva de Biosfera Montes Azules.

P  R  O  P  O  N  E  M  O  S

Reorganizarnos y ampliar a todos los niveles nuestras relaciones con otros pueblos y con organizaciones independientes que no sirvan al poder, para constituir una red de resistencia de los pueblos.

Elaborar planes internos en nuestras comunidades para fortalecer la producción de nuestros propios alimentos.

Fortalecernos en la palabra de Dios y en la memoria comunitaria de nuestros abuelos.

Acordado en el Ejido Amador Hernández, Reserva de Biosfera Montes Azules, Selva Lacandona, Chiapas, México, a 21 de agosto del 2011


Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Chiapas, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD

Forest Cover: The Official Newsletter of Global Forest Coalition

CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE (Download the 10 Page PDF by clicking here)

From standing trees to boiled, bleached pulp in one day. Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC

Rio+20 must Recognize the Role of Civil Society

by Fiu Mataese Elisara/ Chair of the Board, Global Forest Coalition

REDD and the Feeling of Standing Barefoot in a Peatswamp By Simone Lovera, Sobrevivencia, Paraguay

San Mariano Biofuel Project Should be Rejected as CDM Project By Feny Cosico, Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM), the Philippines

Genetically Engineered Tree Developments: GE Cold Tolerant Eucalyptus in the US By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project; North American Focal Point, Global Forest Coalition

African Faith Leaders get Organized for Durban COP17 By Nigel Crawhall, Director of the Secretariat of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) and member of the Western Cape Provincial Religious Leaders Forum

Calendar of Forest-related meetings

About Forest Cover

Welcome to the thirty-eighth issue of Forest Cover, newsletter of the Global Forest Coalition (GFC). GFC is a world- wide coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Indigenous Peoples Organizations (IPOs). GFC promotes rights-based, socially just and effective forest policies at international and national level, including through building the capacity of NGOs and IPOs in all regions to influence global forest policy.

Forest Cover is published four times a year. It features reports on important intergovernmental meetings by different NGOs and IPOs and a calendar of future meetings. The views expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of

the Global Forest Coalition, its donors or the editors.

For free subscriptions, please contact Yolanda Sikking at: [email protected]

Global Justice Ecology Project is the North American Focal Point of the Global Forest Coalition


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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, UNFCCC