Tag Archives: rio+20

Banks put a price on Earth’s life support

Note: For years, social movements, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, and civil society networks have denounced the so-called “Green Economy” as a scheme designed by the global ruling class to gain control over the world’s last remaining lands and natural resources.  This resistance came to a head last summer at the UN Rio+20 Summit, where thousands of people marched in opposition to this new wave of green capitalism, calling instead for the recognition and strengthening of communities’ rights to land, water and food sovereignty, and the rights of Mother Earth.

Search “Green Economy” in the Climate-Connections search box for past coverage and analysis.

-The GJEP Team

By Paul Brown, 30 August, 2013. Source: Climate News Network

Image: UNEPFI

Image: UNEPFI

It is not easy to put a value on an intact forest, a clean river, or unpolluted air, but that is what a group of the world’s biggest banks is attempting to do.

They have agreed that the present economic system uses and often destroys the environment without paying to do so. And that, they say, is not sustainable.

The banks are also concerned that some companies are using up natural resources so fast, with no thought for their own future, let alone that of the planet, that they will collapse. They want a way of warning them and ultimately withdrawing their credit unless the companies mend their ways.

The 43 financial institutions, including the World Bank, are setting up a working party as a consequence of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, also known as the Rio+20 summit, when the initial 39 large banks signed a Natural Capital Declaration. Continue reading

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Climate change hits Pacific islands

By Catherine Wilson, October 1, 2012. Source: Inter Press Service

Kiribati climate activist Wanita Limpus in Brisbane. Photo: Catherine Wilson/IPS

BRISBANE, Australia – Climate activist Wanita Limpus, from the low-lying island nation of Kiribati in the Central Pacific Ocean, says the outcome of the Rio+20 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in June was a serious letdown for small, developing island states.

Half of the 10 million people of the Pacific islands reside within 1.5 km of the coastline, and Limpus stressed that climate change and rising sea levels were not a prediction but a reality threatening human security now.

Kiribati, with a population of over 100,000, comprises a coral island and 32 atolls that are 1-3 m above sea level.

“I couldn’t believe it. Did they (world leaders at Rio) really care about these small islands?” Limpus questioned during an interview with IPS in Brisbane. “It didn’t seem to be on their agenda. What can you do? Who is going to listen?” Continue reading

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IUCN puts the accent on business

Note: As Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, points out in her recent article in Z Magazine, “Rio Earth Summit: tragedy, farce and distraction,” multinational corporations and Big Green NGOs such as IUCN are barreling ahead with their plans to impose a neoliberal “green economy” amidst intergovernmental deadlock at the United Nations, and despite broad opposition from governments, social movements, and indigenous peoples.

–The GJEP Team

By Amantha Perera, September 12, 2012. Source: Inter Press Service

Photo: Amantha Perera

JEJU, South Korea – The outcome of the June Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development was the undisputed inability of governments to come to an agreement on moving ahead to protect the planet. Three months later, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is proposing what can be done as a collective.

“I think we are really moving ahead on the agenda set at Rio with all the agreements that are being reached here,” Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN director-general told IPS. Members at the Congress are exploring ways of turning the Rio agenda into action, she said.

The emphasis at the IUCN congress is on what big businesses can do to help achieve sustainable growth. The Geneva-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is one of the major sponsors of the congress.

It took out a two-page spread in the International Herald Tribune over the weekend of Sep. 8 and 9 to highlight the congress, which is being held from Sep. 6 to 15. Sponsorship for the supplement came from big companies like Hitachi, Holcim and Shell, who are also sponsors of the congress. Continue reading

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Rio Earth Summit: tragedy, farce, and distraction

By Anne Petermann, September 2012.  Source: Z Magazine

As I flew to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 12 for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)—the 20-year anniversary of the historic “Rio Earth Summit”—I read an article in the Financial Times titled “Showdown Looms at OPEC After Saudi Arabia Urges Higher Output.” The article explained that Saudi Arabia was urging OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to increase their output of oil in order to ensure that the global price of oil would not exceed $100 per barrel in order to “mitigate the risks that high oil prices pose to the global economy.”

The article pointed out that ensuring the health of the global economy requires expanding oil production. This, as we know, will worsen the climate crisis. The takeaway message of the article, therefore, is that the global economy will only thrive by destroying the life support systems of the planet.

At the Rio Earth Summit, this was also the underlying logic of the so-called “green economy” proposals that have polarized and paralyzed the talks since the first preparatory meeting for Rio+20 in May 2010.

According to Jim Thomas of the ETC Group, who wrote about the Rio+20 summit’s preparatory meetings for the Guardian back in March 2011, “Far from cooking up a plan to save the Earth, what may come out of the summit could instead be a deal to surrender the living world to a small cabal of bankers and engineers. Tensions are already rising between northern countries and southern countries…and suspicions are running high that the…‘green economy’ is more likely to deliver a greenwash economy or the same old, same old ‘greed’ economy.”

At the Rio+20 summit, industrialized countries and multinational corporations, accompanied by institutions like the IMF and World Bank, led the push for development of the green economy—that is, to use the very ecological devastation caused by global capitalism to create markets in so-called “environmental services” by turning them into tradable commodities. These new markets would help prop up the global economy in a greenwashed version of business as usual.

“Environmental services,” provided by intact natural ecosystems—which include such things as the storage of carbon, the purification of air and water, and the maintenance of biodiversity—would be given a monetary value in the market, enabling them to be purchased and supposedly protected. In reality, however, it would allow companies to destroy a biodiverse ecosystem in one area, by purchasing the protection of an equivalent ecosystem.

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La Via Campesina at Rio+20: The people of the world say “No to the Green Economy”

For a week throughout the People’s Summit, Via Campesina, the global movement of peasant farmers, mobilized in Rio de Janeiro to say “No to the Green Economy” and to reinvigorate the process of building new alliances thanks to plenaries, social movements’ assemblies, street demonstrations to show the real needs and aspirations of our peoples.

Download the article in PDF format.

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Brazil: Xavante territorial rights affirmed following ranchers’ uprising

Note: Will there ever be justice for the Indigenous Peoples of the Brazilian Amazon?  Soy, cattle, illegal logging, mining, eucalyptus plantations and massive hydroelectric dams threaten the Amazon rainforest and the Indigenous communities that have lived there for generations.

–The GJEP Team

Cross-posted from WW4 Report, 07/17/2012 

Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency FUNAI issued a statement July 5 affirming the validity of a May 2010 ruling of the First Regional Federal Tribunal in Mato Grosso state that called for the return of usurped lands of the Xavante indigenous people. FUNAI demarcated the 165,000 hectares as Xavante indigenous territory in 1992, but ranchers and soy producers now in possession of the lands in question challenged creation of the reserve, to be called Marãiwatsede, near the towns of Cuiabá and Alto Boa Vista. The Xavante were pushed from their lands by Brazil’s military government in 1966, and the Marãiwatsede area is now one of the most completely deforested areas of the Amazon Basin. When Xavante led by chief Damião Paridzané held protests at the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development last month to pressure for return of their lands, local ranchers in the Marãiwatsede territory launched an uprising, blocking roads and burning bridges.

Brazil’s government pledged to return the usurped Xavante lands at the 1992 Earth Summit, but 20 years later has failed to follow through. Paridzané said in a letter delivered to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff: “The illegal soy production and cattle ranching in our sacred land are a shame upon our country.” (Diário de Cuibá, July 15; Outras Mídias, July 10; Maraiwatsede blog, July 5;Survival International, June 29; Maraiwatsede blog, June 21)

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After Rio+20, Brazil’s cemetery of mangroves and fisherfolk

Cross-Posted from The Africa Report 

By Nnimmo Bassey, 4 July 2012 19:44

Two visits outside the heart of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, marked the highpoints of my visit to that city for the infamous Rio+20 summit.

The first was on 14 June with colleagues from the Oilwatch International network and that visit took us to Caxias. This is a community that has had to bear fifty years of toxic assault by petrochemical installations including the Refineria Duque de Caxias (REDUC).

This refinery is the heart of petrochemical factories that dot the Caxias landscape and is the fourth largest supplier of refined petroleum products to the country. Potable water is a problem in this municipality and some folks reportedly rely on untreated water from the refinery.
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Green businesses set to lead creation of Rio’s+20 “Future We Want” (yea, right…)

Note: As logic tells us, Capitalism will not solve problems caused by Capitalism; the economic system driving deforestation will not stop deforestation; corporations whose sole purpose in existence is to make profits for their shareholders will not act in ethical ways that risk future profits; and the 1% will not solve the problems for which they are responsible.  Solutions come from the bottom up, not the top down.  The “Future THEY Want” is clearly not the “Future WE want.”  One example: large-scale biofuels and hydropower are NOT renewable energy.  They devastate land, air, water and communities.

Time to get off this train before it barrels off the cliff.

–The GJEP Team

Governments and businesses pledge £330bn during Rio +20 Earth Summit, including plans to eliminate deforestation from the retail supply chain

By Jessica Shankleman

Cross-Posted from BusinessGreen, 25 Jun 2012

It has been impossible to avoid the glut of criticism from green NGOs and politicians left deeply disappointed by the lack of ambition on display at the Rio +20 Earth summit last week.

However, business leaders maintain that that while the so-called “Future We Want” is unlikely to deliver sweeping economic and environmental changes on its own, it could still mark a turning point for the green growth agenda.

Malcolm Preston, global lead for sustainability and climate change at PwC, said that during the summit United Nations leaders effectively passed the baton of responsibility for building the green economy to the business community.

He said the text would only achieve successes if governments worked in tandem with businesses to drive the green growth agenda forward, predicting that as a result of the summit we will see an increasing number of public-private green project partnerships formed over the coming years.

According to UN figures, governments and companies made 692 individual pledges during the summit, totalling $513bn (£330bn) of investment in projects aimed at boosting sustainable resource management. It is the one area where the summit can be compared favourably with the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where no corporations were present and few investment pledges were made.

One of the more ambitious pledges was an announcement by the US government to partner with more than 400 companies and brands in the Consumer Goods Forum to achieve zero net deforestation in their supply chains by 2020.

The two parties agreed on Thursday that they would meet in Washington in the next 100 days to discuss how to achieve this goal, which would focus in particular on commodities such as soy, palm oil, paper, and beef that are thought to be responsible for half of the world’s deforestation.

Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, said the agreement showed the importance of businesses and governments collaborating on boosting the sustainability agenda.

“Individually both governments and business have already mobilised significant resources to address the challenge of deforestation but we all recognise that much more can be achieved if we align our efforts and work in partnership,” he said.

Preston added that this ambitious goal would require companies to start this year to meet the demanding target of delivering zero net deforestation by 2020.

“The implications of this commitment are huge as it requires eliminating deforestation in packaging, production, the use of raw materials for the member companies of CGF,” he said, adding that it would also put pressure on countries such as China, which currently have limited demand for sustainable palm oil.

“It’s really pushing towards a segregated supply chain, rather than using certification schemes,” he said. “With the speed that technology is advancing, it is not unrealistic that we will be able to trace it all by 2020, however whether there is sufficient volume so we could achieve these targets is another question.”

The summit also gave the go ahead to the creation of a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are expected to compliment the Millennium Development Goals after 2015. However, it remains unclear precisely what those goals will be.

The United Nations General Assembly is now expected to appoint a group of representatives from 30 countries by September to develop the goals, which are expected to focus on areas such as food, water, and energy.

UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said efforts should now focus on “turning words into action”.

“Rio+20 has shown that there is political ambition for change,” she said. “Now we have to make sure that will is not squandered. We have already started to make headway in the talks held since the text was agreed, such as good progress towards deciding on the themes the SDGs should cover.”

However, Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics, argued the UK should underscore its commitment to the agreement by formally backing the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which requires public and private organisations make green energy commitments by 2030.

The Brazil government, for example, pledged to invest $235bn (£151bn) over 10 years in renewable energy, mainly in hydropower and biofuels.

“The world needs clear time-bound and funded targets and practical action to get sustainable energy to poor people in all continents,” said Stern. “The UK can help show what is possible by working with countries, for example, in Africa, and their utilities and private sector to support action that gets results rapidly.

“The power of the example is the answer to international prevarication and vagueness. It is through actions rather than words that we will be able to create the future we want for ourselves and future generations.”

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Rio+20 Breaking News: Activists who spoke at the Peoples’ Summit killed

Cross-Posted from Front Line Defenders, June 28th, 2012

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mr_joao_luiz_telles_penetra_june_27João Luiz Telles Penetra.  Photo courtesy Front Line Defenders
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EJOLT partner Professor Marcelo Firpo has just send us a sad message:“I was with two fishermen on 19 June in a meeting at Peoples´Summit discussing the impacts of big projects (basically oil, mining and steel) in Rio de Janeiro State. Three days later they disappeared when went to work. They have just been found dead. The media is considering this case without importance and we will need more national and international pressure in order to protect other people and to investigate who have killed them.”
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On 24 and 25 June 2012 the bodies of human rights defenders Mr Almir Nogueira de Amorim and Mr João Luiz Telles Penetra were found following their disappearance on 23 June 2012.

Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra, or “Pituca” as he was known, were both leaders of the Associação Homens do Mar – AHOMAR (Association of Sea Men) which was set up in 2009 to defend the rights of the fisher-folk working in Rio de Janeiro, and particularly those affected by the construction of a gas pipeline for Petrobras. Since the founding of the organisation its members have reported being subjected to death threats, physical attacks and killings. According to AHOMAR’s members, the attacks are perpetrated by people linked to death squads, security guards hired by the companies in charge of building pipelines and militias operating in the region.

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Video: Pablo Solon on what’s next after Rio+20

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