Tag Archives: nagoya

Victory for Developing Countries Over Northern Business Interests at Biodiversity Summit

Global Justice Ecology Project is the North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition.  GJEP’s Executive Director, Anne Petermann, was in Nagoya for the negotiations.

-The GJEP Team


Conference Adopts Binding Decisions Against Biopiracy and Geo-engineering

by Global Forest Coalition www.globalforestcoalition.org

1 November 2010 –  The Global Forest Coalition congratulates Southern countries on their success in reaching a legally binding agreement to equitably share the benefits of genetic resources at the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan.

The conference, which was baptized as a ‘re-birth of environmental multilateralism’ after the failed climate talks in Copenhagen, also adopted a strategic plan with concrete targets to reduce biodiversity loss, restore 15% of the world’s degraded areas and significantly increase the financial contribution of donor countries to biodiversity conservation.

Negotiations were stalled for most of last week when it was clear Canada and the EU did not want to agree on a strong and legally binding protocol and strong commitments to provide financial resources to conserve biodiversity.

The conference was marked by a significant divide between developing countries and industrialized counties over market-based and other pro-business approaches to biodiversity. While the EU and other Northern countries pushed for market-based mechanisms, including as a financial resource for biodiversity conservation, many Southern countries pointed at the serious environmental and social risks of these mechanisms, and proposed strong policies and measures instead.

As a result of this opposition, references to risky innovative financial mechanisms like the Green Development Mechanism were removed from the final outcomes of the conference.

Southern countries also expressed strong concern about the potential impact of climate change mitigation measures like monoculture tree plantations, REDD+ and bio-energy on biodiversity and the rights and needs of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. As a result, the conference adopted a world-wide moratorium on geo-engineering, including large-scale biochar and other forms of large-scale carbon sequestration by tree plantations.

The Conference calls upon countries to prevent negative impacts of other climate changes mitigation measures like bio-energy and REDD+, on biodiversity and people. The meeting also urges governments to be precautious with the use of the synthetic biology or invasive alien species like eucalypt for bio-energy production.

“It is clear that Southern countries are increasingly concerned about the commodification of nature through market-based approaches like carbon markets and the potential impacts of these markets on Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women” says Simone Lovera, Executive Director of the Global Forest Coalition.

“We are happy that, in the end, the EU and other Northern countries realized that the survival of our planet’s biodiversity is of fundamental importance for the survival of mankind and thus needed to be prioritized over the interests of pharmaceutical companies and carbon traders”.

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7 Generations Walk and Hunger Strike Against Nuclear Power Plant

Note: Japanese activists arrived at the UN CBD COP-10 meetings 45 days
after beginning their 800 kilometer walk–to protest the fact that the
Japanese government is allowing the construction of a new nuclear power
plant in one of the most pristine areas remaining in Japan–a place with
many endangered and endemic species.

It is not unprecedented for the host country for the UN Biodiversity
Convention to be simultaneously causing massive destruction of
biodiversity.  In 2008, the CBD COP-9 took place in Germany only days
after Germany struck a deal with Brazil to exchange nukes for agrofuels.
And Brazil hosted the COP-8 in 2006 at the same time that they were
allowing GE soy to expand uncontrollably into the Amazon forest.  Ain’t
irony great?

–Anne Petermann, for the GJEP Team


Source: 7 Generations Walk

Nagoya, Japan–Anti-nuclear activists from Japan began the 7 Generations
Walk on 25th August 2010, walking over 800km from Kaminoseki-cho in
Yamaguchi Prefecture to the UN Biodiversity COP-10 in Nagoya.  This is
their statement:

We have started a hunger strike in protest of the nuclear plant, for the
sea and for future generations.  Our leader, who is also a monk, has not
eaten or drank anything for 7 days as of today.

On the morning of 15th October, barges gathered off Kaminoseki-cho in
Yamaguchi Prefecture, the
planned site of the Kaminoseki nuclear power plant, to begin filling in
the sea. This place is a biodiversity hot spot, full of endangered
species. Also, it’s the gateway of the Seto Inland Sea. The effect of this
reclamation and the eventual nuclear power plant is immeasurable.

We started the walk to spread the message of co-existence and to think
about what we
want to hand on to future generations.

While we walked, we felt a connection with the land, ocean and sky and
realized that we are able to live only because of nature.

Take action:

Call, fax and email the following to protest the construction of this
nuclear power plant in the biodiverse and beautiful Seto inland sea of

Chogoku Electric Power company: +81-082-241-0211 ph  /  +81-082-523-6185 fax

email: go to https://www.energia.co.jp/cgi-bin/energia/contact/contact.cgi

Imori Industry: +81-820-22-1500 or +81-80-5612-6710 or +81-80-1939-4251

Yamaguchi Prefectural Governor: +81-83-933-2570 ph / +81-83-933-2599
email: mailto:a12900@pref.yamaguchi.lg.jp

Contact the Japanese Embassy in the US:

+1-202-238-6700 ph / +1-202-328-2187

(You can search the internet contact information for other Japanese

For more information: http://7gwalk.org 7gwalk@gmail.com

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Update on the Negotiations at COP-10: Will Biodiversity Survive the Process?

Note: A very important intervention by Anne Petermann follows her analysis in her latest dispatch from UN CBD in Japan.

–The GJEP Team

Anne Petermann today (21 October), speaks on behalf of Global Justice Ecology Project, in an intervention on Biofuels and Biodiversity at the UN CBD in Nagoya, Japan. Photo: Simone Lovera/GFC

–Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project Executive Director and North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition.

Wednesday (yesterday) began the CBD COP-10 Working Group negotiations
directly related to the work of Global Justice Ecology Project.  The first
item on the agenda: Biodiversity and Climate Change, under which fell
topics including geoengineering–on which ETC Group is here leading a
valiant effort for a strong moratorium–and REDD, the Reducing Emissions
from Deforestation and forest Degradation scheme.

While several countries spoke in favor of a moratorium on geoengineering,
REDD received extensive support.  With all of the propaganda here in
favor of REDD and other market-based conservation schemes, this outcome is
hardly surprising.

Out of the 6 hours of official negotiating time allotted yesterday, the
agenda item on climate change took approximately 4.5 hours, with countries
running on and on in their interventions and most positions firmly

After sitting in that oppressive lifeless artificial room for so long,
when the item finally concluded at 5:15pm, I fled to find some fresh air
and natural light.  The next item on the agenda was dry lands
biodiversity, and as the negotiations were scheduled to end at 6 pm I
concluded there was no way they would get to the next agenda item–forest
biodiversity–before the end of the day.

At 6:30 pm, however, Simone Lovera–our colleague from Global Forest
Coalition, arrived late to our scheduled side event on REDD and informed
me that not only had they started negotiations on forest biodiversity,
they had actually finished them in less than one hour, with no observer
organizations allowed to speak.

One hour?!  How to protect forest biodiversity is one of the key issues at
this COP.  With REDD coming down the pike, not to mention all the new and
emerging pressures on forests, the discussions around how to protect
forest biodiversity should have been a central focus of the negotiations.
Instead, they were swept under the rug.

And no observer organizations were allowed to speak.  “You can submit your
comments in writing…”  The excuse used to cut off the observers from
speaking was that the translators needed to leave.   I was advised by a
colleague to go back first thing in the morning and request permission
from the Chair of the Working Group to make an intervention before the new
agenda item was started, since there was no time the night before.  This I
did.  “No”—was the answer.  “Sorry, the item is closed.  We have to
stick to our schedule.  Submit your comments in writing.”

Right. Fine. Swell.

Today’s agenda was filled with agricultural biodiversity followed by
biofuels and biodiversity.  On the first item, there were numerous
comments from developing countries cautioning about the impacts of
industrial agriculture, including GMO crops, and especially “climate
ready” GMO crops–Monsanto’s latest scheme to monopolize the food supply,
using climate change as the opportunity.

Following that item came the next big contentious debate–this one on
biofuels–also known as agrofuels.

This item was pretty clearly divided between countries that intend to
benefit from biofuel production (led by Brazil, the global biofuel king)
and those countries whose lands and people are being negatively impacted
by the growing demand for land to grow biofuel crops.  This sector was led
by the African delegation.  In typical fashion, Canada, New Zealand, and
the EU made interventions that largely supported weakening the
precautionary text on the item, and emphasizing the “benefits to
biodiversity” from biofuels.  Short of the escape of GMOs or synthetic
organisms into the environment, which I suppose would technically add new
species into the ecosystem, it is unimaginable to me how biofuels could
increase biodiversity.

Just before the Working Group reconvened after lunch, I overheard one of
the participants say, “REDD is the ultimate intelligence test for

While the speaker meant this to mean that it is imperative to get forests
into the market as the best and only chance to save them and stop climate
change, I interpreted it quite differently.  It is an intelligence test
alright.  Will dominant culture change its ways in the face of full-scale
ecological crisis, or will it not?  If this COP meeting is any indication,
it ain’t lookin’ too good.

Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over
and expecting a different result.”  One could easily apply that logic to
REDD and the attempt to use the market to protect biodiversity.

We’ve seen for centuries how the use of the market on natural resources
has impacted those resources.  We have the climate crisis, the
biodiversity crisis, the ocean crisis, the food crisis, the water
crisis…  Privatizing and marketing natural resources has driven Planet
Earth to the point where, to quote John Trudell, “civilized man may make
survival on Earth for civilized man impossible.”

Miracle of miracles, the Chair of the Working Group decided to allow some
observer organizations to make comments at the tail end of the biofuels
and biodiversity section.  What follows is the intervention that I made on
behalf of Global Justice Ecology Project.  It is a bit short because,
while “Parties” (i.e. countries) were allowed to go on endlessly, observer
organizations were strictly limited to one-minute interventions.  (The
marginalization of social justice and Indigenous Peoples Organizations at
these UN events is quite striking–the climate COPs are even worse.)

Intervention on Biofuels and Biodiversity:

Thank you Madam Chair.  I am speaking on behalf of Global Justice Ecology

Demand for trees for bioenergy is growing exponentially.  Second
generation biofuels will add to this problem.  Before emissions from
deforestation can be reduced or biodiversity protected, this rapidly
growing demand on forests must be stopped.  You cannot simultaneously
support REDD and promote biofuels and bioenergy.

The UN definition of forests must also be changed so that it is
science-based. As it is, it allows destruction of forests for conversion
into biofuel and bioenergy tree monocultures. Saying a tree monoculture is
a forest is like saying a cornfield is a native grassland. Even socially
and ecologically destructive genetically engineered trees are possible.

Demand for biofuels and bioenergy is also driving GMO tree development.
In the Southern U.S. alone, industry plans to plant half a billion GMO
eucalyptus trees every year just for bioenergy and biofuels.  These
plantations will replace some of the most biologically rich forests in the
world.  GMO eucalyptus should be considered an invasive alien species.
It’s ability to escape and colonize native ecosystems, destroying
biodiversity, is well documented.

In conclusion, demand for wood for fuel production is predicted to lead,
by 2050, to the almost total replacement of forests and grasslands with
biofuel and bioenergy monocultures.  This is an unparalleled threat to
biodiversity and to the land security of Indigenous and Local Communities.

There are no positive impacts on biodiversity from biofuels or bioenergy.
All references to positive impacts should be deleted.  This body must
protect biodiversity by enacting a moratorium on large-scale biofuel and
bioenergy development, and by prohibiting the use of GMO trees or
synthetic organisms in biofuel or bioenergy production.

Thank you.

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UN CBD COP 10: Business and Biodiversity, Hand in Hand

–Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project Executive Director and North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition

Nagoya, Japan–Today was the opening day of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s tenth Conference of the Parties (COP-10).  2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity.  It is also the year by which the UN CBD had tasked itself with achieving a set of “Millenium Development Goal” (MDG) targets with regard to staving off biodiversity loss.

As you can probably imagine, these goals came nowhere close to reality.

At this CBD COP, however, the Parties are pledged to create a new 10 year strategic plan.  Over the course of the next two weeks, the details of this plan will be discussed word by painful word.

The Opening Ceremony of the COP-10 took place this morning.  Part pep rally, part hand wringing, the presentations by the Big Wigs went on ad nauseum.  They went on so long in fact, that the environmental groups present–which had spent a couple of days preparing a 3 minute opening statement to the COP–were not allowed to present it.  No time…

But after all this taking “a hard look at” itself, the CBD has decided NOT to look at the root causes of this failure, but rather to commit itself to buddying up with business in order to devise a win-win that will supposedly protect biodiversity while promoting the interests of industry.

The logic of this green capitalist model is fascinating.  I will share with you a few choice quotes from The Little Biodiversity Finance Book (available in great piles here at COP-10):

“The English playwright Oscar Wilde once commented that the cynic knows the price of everthing but the value of nothing.  Today’s cynics are those who claim biodiversity is priceless, yet are not prepared to pay for it…In the UN year of Biodiversity a quiet revolution is occurring.  Whilst the Millennium Development Goals for stemming biodiversity loss may be missed, the financial crisis is forcing a re-think of how products and services are valued. Investors are thinking, ‘if we got it so wrong with one property, what else out there is incorrectly valued?’  There is a growing realization that wealth creation cannot continue based on financial and social capital alone, but must recognize natural capital too–for without this, national accounts, business accounts and consumer accounts–long term, are ultimately built on sand.”

“[Biodiversity financing] is a natural follow on from REDD, which is essentially valuing one such service, namely the carbon cycle…Such a utilitarian view of biodiversity should not be allowed to erode the inestimable value biodiversity has for the human spirit but should secure it for future generations…This new economy could see the emergence of ‘biodiversity superpowers’ rich in natural capital and able to bargain their ecological muscle for aid or trade.”

Whew.  Where to start with logic like that…

Premise One: Biodiversity is priceless, therefore we should put a price on it.

Premise Two: If you disagree with this oxymoronic-logic, you are a “cynic.”

Premise Three: The lesson from the financial crisis is that “property” was valued incorrectly.  [Wow, that is definitely NOT the lesson I took away from the financial crisis…]

Premise Four: Ongoing wealth creation depends on “natural capital.” Well duh.  Isn’t that kind of the essence of “CAPITALism”–transforming natural “resources” into capital?  But what’s that got to do with protecting biodiversity?

Premise Five: A utilitarian view of nature is a good thing as long as we combine it with a reverential view.  [Again with the oxymoronics.]

Premise Six: Valuing biodiversity appropriately will create “biodiversity superpowers” who can hold their biodiversity hostage for aid or trade.  “Give us your money or the forest gets it.”  And this is a good thing?

Of course, this premise also ignores the reality of things like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund which have forced so-called “developing” countries into debt for decades by conning them into huge development loans, then using those loans as leverage to force them to sell off their vast natural resources to the lowest bidder–part of the process called “structural adjustment”. Structural adjustment programs are part of what has made the comfortable overconsumptive lifestyles of those of us in the North possible.

But under the premise in this little book, all of a sudden, the rich countries will pay the poor countries in exchange for them protecting their natural wealth.  Hmmm, that sounds familiar.  Debt for nature swaps–oh yeah, that was a smashing success.

Look, let’s face reality, shall we?  One cannot continue to live under a global economy that demands endless growth and simultaneously protect biodiversity.  And one cannot employ the very same economic strategies that have devastated biodiversity to now protect that same biodiversity by merely tweaking them slightly.  Putting a dollar value on nature simply means the rich will be able to control that nature.

And since the author brings up REDD, yes, let’s look at REDD as an example of what to expect from putting a price on biodiversity. Because REDD puts a dollar value on standing forests, it has launched a major global land grab with investors, companies and others buying up forests in the hopes of future profits.  The peoples who live in those forests–and are largely responsible for the fact that they are still standing, I might add–are being displaced.  Kicked out. Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?

Then there was the World Forestry Congress in October 2009.  The World Bank came to this huge gathering of timber industry executives and Big Greens to tell them about all of the profits to be had from forests under REDD.  By the time they were done, the timber executives were practically drooling.  The World Bank explained there would be around $45 billion in profits to be had under REDD, and that REDD would be very “beneficial for forestry.”  Yes, that’s right, the scheme ostensibly designed to protect forests will mean billions in profits for the very industry that thrives on cutting them down.

In exactly the same way that putting a price on carbon has meant billions in profits for the world’s worst polluters.  And so, commodifying biodiversity will in turn mean vast profit-making for the worst destroyers of biodiversity.

That, my friends, is what COP-10 is all about.

Business and Biodiversity, hand in hand at last…

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