Tag Archives: United Nations

A note concerning the International Day of Forests

Note: Today , March 21st, has been declared the “International Day of Forests” by the United Nations, to celebrate the “value” of standing forests.  But what type of “value” is the UN really celebrating?  Wally Menne of the Timberwatch Coalition in South Africa provides a deeper look at the United Nations’ increasingly pro-corporate agenda.

-The GJEP Team

By Wally Menne, March 21, 2014 

Natural peatland forest in Sungai Sembilang Nature Conservation Park in South Sumatra.  Photo: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

Natural peatland forest in Sungai Sembilang Nature Conservation Park in South Sumatra. Photo: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

On 21st March, the International Day of Mourning for Millions of Hectares of Destroyed and Stolen Forests, we should weep in solidarity with the millions of displaced, dispossessed and now poverty stricken, formerly forest dependent local communities and indigenous peoples around the world.

In a message, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlights the value of the world’s remaining forests to nearly 1.6 billion people worldwide who “depend on forests for their livelihood, food, fuel, shelter and medicine”.

The value of forests for their climate change mitigation and adaptation services is acknowledged too, but nothing is said about the ongoing corporate driven land grabbing; and the complete destruction of forests through logging and land use change, that has occurred over the past 60 years at least.

Praise is poured onto the timber and paper industries: “Round wood production, wood processing and the pulp and paper industries account for nearly 1 per cent of global gross domestic product”. But at what cost to forests, rivers and forest dependent people comes this mere “1 per cent”? Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Japan bails out on CO2 emissions target

By Stephen Leahy, November 15, 2013.  Source: Inter-Press Service
The Japanese government blames the shutdown of its 50 nuclear reactors as the reason why it must revise its target. Credit: BigstockThe Japanese government blames the shutdown of its 50 nuclear reactors as the reason why it must revise its target. Credit: Bigstock

WARSAW, Nov 15 2013 (IPS) - Japan announced Friday that it will renege on its carbon emissions pledge, likely ending any hope global warming can be kept to 2.0 degrees C.

The shocking announcement comes on the fifth day of the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw known as COP19, where more than 190 nations have agreed to a 2.0 C target and are trying to close the carbon emission gap to get there.

“It’s like a slap in the face of those suffering from the impacts of climate change such as the Philippines.” — Wael Hmaidan

Japan will increase that gap three to four percent with its new 2020 reduction target, according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT). It amounts to a three-percent increase compared to a 1990 baseline. Japan’s 2009 Copenhagen Accord pledge was a 25 percent reduction by 2020.

“Japan is taking us in the opposite direction,” Marion Vieweg of Climate Analytics, a German climate research organisation, told IPS here in Warsaw.

“Their revision shows the bottom up approach is not working if countries can simply drop their pledges at any time,” Vieweg said.

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Morales: Obama can invade any country for US energy needs

Note: Watch the video here

-The GJEP Team

September 27, 2013. Source: RT

evo-moralesIn his dramatic speech in New York, Bolivian President Evo Morales called for the UN to be moved out of the US and for Barack Obama to be tried for crimes against humanity. Speaking to RT, Morales explained his controversial proposals.

In his most controversial demand, Morales said that Obama should face an international trial with human rights watchdogs among the judges. The Bolivian president accused his US counterpart of instigating conflicts in the Middle East to make the region more volatile and to increase the US’s grip on the natural resources it abounds in. He gave Libya as an example of a country where “they arranged for the president to be killed, and they usurped Libya’s oil.”

“Now they are funding the rebels that fight against presidents who don’t support capitalism or imperialism,” Morales told Eva Golinger of RT’s Spanish sister channel, Actualidad. “And where a coup d’état is impossible, they seek to divide the people in order to weaken the nation – a provocation designed to trigger an intervention by peacekeeping forces, NATO, the UN Security Council. But the intervention itself is meant to get hold of oil resources and gain geopolitical control, rather than enforce respect for human rights.”
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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydrofracking, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Oil, Politics, War

Chile: Mapuche step up resistance, as UN urges government to stop repression

Mapuche step up struggle for land and water

July 30, 2013. Source: World War 4 Report

Photo: Caroline/Intercontinental Cry

Photo: Caroline/Intercontinental Cry

Indigenous communities in Arauco province in Chile’s central Biobío region have announced plans for a march on Aug. 2 to protest a proposal before the National Congress to extend Forestry Decree 701 for another 20 years. Community residents, who belong to the Mapuche group, Chile’s largest ethnicity, say the forestry laws have allowed timber companies to take over traditional Mapuche lands starting in 1974 under the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The most important of these companies are Arauco (Celulosa Arauco y Constitución), largely owned by the Angelini family, and Forestal Mininco, controlled by the Matte family. According to Mapuche activists, there is little chance that the forestry proposal will be defeated, since many of the congressional candidates from Mapuche areas in the upcoming Nov. 17 elections are being financed by these two powerful families. (El Cuidadano, Chile, July 27)

Mapuche groups have been using militant protests and land occupations since the 1990s in their push to regain the territories they claim. On July 24 the Mapuche Territorial Alliance’s blog announced a new series of land occupations that the group said the media were ignoring. The blog reported that various communities in Cautín province in the southern region of La Araucanía had taken possession of estates since the weekend of July 19 near Temuco, the regional capital, and in the area of the construction for a new Quepe airport. On July 24 the autonomous community of Temucuicui—which was subject to a violent police raid in July 2012—announced plans to occupy the La Romana and Montenegro estates and several nearby areas under the control of timber companies. (Alianza Territorial Mapuche blog, July 24)

Mapuche activists are also targeting salmon farming in Mapuche areas. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has suspended the importation of salmon produced in Chile by the Norwegian multinational Marine Harvest; on June 5 the US agency found traces of crystal violet, a fungicide with carcinogenic effects, in a batch of the company’s salmon farmed in Chile. Economy, Development and Tourism Minister Félix de Vicente insisted on July 23 that this was “an isolated unique case.“ Marine Harvest facilities “have not used this product for a couple of years, therefore, it should not be a cause for concern,“ he said. But Mapuche activists want the government to investigate the extent to which crystal violet and other dangerous chemicals may have been used in the salmon farming operations and whether the chemicals have polluted water Mapuche farmers use for irrigation.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean

Mozambique-EU forest carbon deal is fraught with problems, new report reveals

Note: Jeff Conant is a good friend and former Communications Director for Global Justice Ecology Project.

-The GJEP Team

By Jeff Conant, June 17, 2013. Source: Friends of the Earth

mozambique_seedIn Sofala province, Mozambique, a group of initiatives collectively known as the N’hambita Pilot Project have been promoted as a flagship program for the protection of forests and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations cites it as a model example; well-known retailers in Europe have purchased credits that claim to offset their carbon footprint through the scheme; the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) — the group that certifies many Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) projects — says it meets their Gold Level standard for project design. The European commission has funded it to the tune of 1.5 million euros. But does the N’hambita project live up to its reputation?

Today a group of NGOs in Europe, including Friends of the Earth France and FERN in the UK, have issued a report called “Carbon Discredited: The offset project that couldn’t count its own trees,” that charges that the N’hambita Forest Carbon Offset Pilot Project, run by the company Envirotrade, and initially funded by European Commission (EC), has failed to deliver most of its climate change, development, and financial objectives.

The findings are particularly relevant to concerns about climate policy as viewed from the US, as the N’hambita project is the flagship example of a case where developing countries — in this case, the EU — seek to offset their industrial emissions by purchasing carbon credits from a tropical forest protection scheme. California is seeking to do much the same through its pending  REDD+ offsets agreements with Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil. Whether the N’hambita project is deemed to be a success or failure is important not merely because of the public money the European Commission poured into the project, or because of the immediate impact on the people and forests of Sofala province, but because it will have a long-lasting influence on developed countries’ approaches to carbon offsetting and international support for forest protection.
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Industrial livestock production key threat to world’s forests and biodiversity

May 22, 2013. Source: Global Forest Coalition

Photo: The New York Times

Photo: The New York Times

On the occasion of International Day for Biodiversity and the start of UN talks on a possible sustainable development goal (SDG) on agriculture [1], a coalition of environmental NGOs has published a briefing paper to raise awareness of the negative impacts of rapidly expanding industrial livestock farming and large-scale cattle ranching on the world’s forests and biodiversity. Industrial animal agriculture cuts across multiple sectors, affecting land use, water, food security, public health, and climate change. But too often these intersections are overlooked.

The paper, [2] launched today by Brighter Green [3] and the Global Forest Coalition [4], highlights the reality that large-scale cattle ranching and production of feed and fodder for the industrial livestock industry are by far the main causes of forest loss in Latin America, and play significant roles in biodiversity loss in other continents. The global livestock sector is also one of the main contributors to global warming, responsible for no less than 18% of world-wide greenhouse gas emissions.

The paper also features short case studies of how communities from Chad to Indonesia to Argentina are feeling the effects of industrial livestock production on forests, livelihoods, and their land. Continue reading

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Forest protection groups call on UN to take serious steps to halt deforestation on International Day of Forests

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project is a signatory to this letter, calling on the UN to take real steps toward addressing deforestation, and opposing false solutions like REDD+, biofuels, and monocultures plantations, which can lead to increased deforestation and human rights abuses against forest peoples.

-The GJEP Team

March 21, 2013. Source: World Rainforest Movement

On the occasion of March 21st, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as International Day of the Forests (1), the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) and more than 300 signatories call on the General Assembly and UN Institutions and Initiatives related to forest issues to use the new initiative to address the underlying drivers of deforestation.

The letter is motivated by the fact that in spite of several UN initiatives aimed at calling attention for forests at the international level, the process of deforestation -affecting especially tropical forests- continues and the proposed solutions have not slowed down tropical forest loss worldwide – on the contrary.

“The proposals discussed at UN-level, by the FAO, CBD, UNFCCC and UNFF, to solve the forest crisis, for example REDD+ (2), are false solutions because they do not address the underlying drivers of deforestation and strengthen a false idea of sustainability. This is why deforestation has increased in many countries, rather than decreased”, declares Winnie Overbeek, International Coordinator of the WRM.
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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, UNFCCC

U.N.’s water agenda at risk of being hijacked by big business

By Thalif Deen, February 11, 2013.  Source: Inter Press Service

Amidst growing new threats of potential conflicts over fast-dwindling water resources in the world’s arid regions, the United Nations will commemorate 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation (IYWC).

But Maude Barlow, chairperson, Council of Canadians and a former senior advisor on water to the president of the U.N. General Assembly in 2008-2009, warns the U.N.’s water agenda is in danger of being hijacked by big business and water conglomerates.

“We don’t need the United Nations to promote private sector participation under the guise of greater ‘cooperation’ when these same companies force their way into communities and make huge profits from the basic right to water and sanitation,” Barlow told IPS.

At this time of scarcity and financial crisis, she said, “We need the United Nations to ensure that governments are fulfilling their obligations to provide basic services rather than relinquishing to transnational corporations.”

The Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which has been designated the lead U.N. agency, formally launched IYWC at a ceremony in the French capital Monday.

In New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of the new pressures on water, including growing populations and climate change. One-third of the world’s 7.1 billion people already live in countries with moderate to high water stress, he said.

“Competition is growing between farmers and herders; industry and agriculture; town and country,” Ban said. Upstream and downstream, and across borders, “We need to cooperate for the benefit of all now and in the future… Let us harness the best technologies and share the best practices to get more crop per drop.”

Back in December 2010, the 193-member General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 2013 as the IYWC, following a proposal by Tajikistan.

The 2013 World Water Day, which will take place on Mar. 22, will be dedicated to water cooperation.

Barlow told IPS big water corporations have gained influence in almost every agency working at the United Nations.

The CEO Water Mandate, a public-private sector initiative launched by the United Nations in July 2007 and designed to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices, puts corporations such as Nestle, Coca Cola, Suez and Veolia directly into a position of influence over global water policy and presents a clear conflict of interest, she said.

“For-profit private companies cannot uphold the public interest if it conflicts with their bottom line,” said Barlow, who is also founder of the Blue Planet Project.

Even the World Water Development Report is now advised by an industry group on “business, trade, finance and involvement of the private sector,” she added.

Tom Slaymaker, senior policy analyst on governance at the London-based WaterAid, told IPS the United Nations recognised the “human right to water and sanitation” back in 2010.

“But today over 780 million lack improved water supplies and 2.5 billion lack basic sanitation facilities,” he added.

The 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation will be a critical year for the United Nations to reflect on why universal access has not yet been achieved, he said.

Slaymaker said it’s also time to reflect on the kind of political leadership and new forms of partnership that are required to accelerate progress towards universal access as part of the emerging post-2015 development framework of the United Nations.

According to the United Nations, the primary objective of IYWC is to raise awareness, both on the potential for increased cooperation, and on the challenges facing water management in light of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services.

Since the General Assembly recognised the human right to water and sanitation, a number of countries, including Mexico, Kenya, Bolivia, The Dominican Republic, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ecuador, El Salvador, The Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and France, have either adopted laws recognising the right to water or amended their constitutions to do so.

The Vatican recently recognised the human right to water and added that “water is not a commercial product but rather a common good that belongs to everyone.”

And last June, all 193 member states signed the Rio+20 Declaration which includes the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation as a universal right.

Specifically zeroing on the role of the private sector, Barlow told IPS that corporations are among those pledging their support for IYWC.

Aguas de Barcelona, the water company at the heart of a fierce debate in Spain over control of drinking water, is participating, she pointed out.

So are “corporations who fought us on the right to water are now scrambling to claim it in their own image”.

She quoted Nestle as saying that 1.5 percent of the world’s water should be put aside for the poor and rest should be put on the open market.

If Nestle gets its way, she argued, there will one day be a water cartel similar to big oil, making life and death decisions about who gets water and under what circumstances every day.

“But at least we have this recognised and acknowledged right that no one should be allowed to appropriate water for personal gain while others die from an inability to pay for water,” she said.

With time, “we will build consensus around the right to water and the understanding that water is a common heritage and a public trust.”

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UN ‘failed Sri Lanka civilians’ says internal probe

Note:   We already know that the UN’s attempts to combat climate change have failed miserably.  As it turns out, the UN can’t do anything right these days.  While the UN certainly doesn’t have a perfect track record for keeping the peace and protecting civilians in war-torn areas, this latest report is horrifying.  From ecological devastation to humanitarian conflict, Ban Ki Moon’s UN is shaping up to be a total failure.

-The GJEP Team

By Lyse Doucet, November 13, 2012.  Source: BBC News

Hundreds of thousands of Tamils ended up trapped in a tiny strip of land. Photo: BBC

The United Nations failed in its mandate to protect civilians in the last months of Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war, a leaked draft of a highly critical internal UN report says.

“Events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN,” it concludes.

The government and Tamil rebels are accused of war crimes in the brutal conflict which ended in May 2009.

The UN’s former humanitarian chief, John Holmes, has criticised the report.

Mr Holmes said the UN faced “some very difficult dilemmas” at the time and could be criticised for the decisions it had taken.

“But the idea that if we behaved differently, the Sri Lankan government would have behaved differently I think is not one that is easy to reconcile with the reality at the time,” he told the BBC’s Newshour programme.

The UN does not comment on leaked reports and says it will publish the final version.

The 26-year war left at least 100,000 people dead. There are still no confirmed figures for tens of thousands of civilian deaths in the last months of battle. An earlier UN investigation said it was possible up to 40,000 people had been killed in the final five months alone. Others suggest the number of deaths could be even higher.
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Rainforest Roulette? – new briefing on REDD and markets from Rainforest Foundation UK

By Chris Lang, August 29, 2012.  Source: redd-monitor

A new briefing by the Rainforest Foundation UK argues against creating an international carbon market to finance REDD. The briefing is released just before a UN meeting in Bangkok, that will discuss potential options for financing REDD.

The policy briefing, which is available below, is structured around five main critiques of trading forest carbon:

1. It is highly questionable whether a forest carbon market will reduce the cost of tackling climate change or generate billions for forest protection.

2. The proposed forest carbon market is distorting ‘readiness’ preparations for REDD so that they are more focused on creating a tradable asset than outcomes that are beneficial for forests, forest peoples and biodiversity.

3. The ownership of forest carbon – the underlying asset of the proposed market – is contested and unclear, and its trade is particularly susceptible to fraud.

4. Potential REDD emissions reductions credits may not represent genuine reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, due to inflated baselines and leakage. Trading them in an offset market could lead to increased total global carbon emissions, and prolong existing heavily polluting activities.

5. Alternative financing options and approaches exist and are viable.
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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, UNFCCC, World Bank