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Jul 29, 2009

Donate to the Honduras Solidarity Fund

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 29, 2009 05:10 PM
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People in Honduras need your support. Please make a donation to help Friends of the Earth Honduras protect people's rights.

The Honduran people continue to risk their lives and livelihoods demonstrating in support of democracy in Honduras.





Jul 23, 2009

FoE Malta climate change photo competition

by Krista Stryker — last modified Jul 23, 2009 03:38 PM
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The climate is changing... are you?

BL-1st-Prakesh Hatvalne-IndiaFriends of the Earth Malta is launching an international photographic exhibition and competition on the effects of climate change. The theme is: 'Climate Change: the change is already here.'


Science shows that the present state of our planet will not improve any time soon if we do not take action now. The biggest impacts will be on poor and developing countries, especially small island states. The biggest culprits of greenhouse gas emissions are developed countries.


FoE Malta is looking for photos illustrating damage caused by climate change - photos which capture what is being changed, damaged and lost both in the natural and human world.


They're looking for photos that illustrate the effects of climate change already influencing natural processes on our planet, affecting the lives of millions of people, disrupting animal habitats and eco-systems.  And photos that show human beings as an integral part of the impact of climate change (i.e. ice-melting; flooding; desertification, drought) will be appreciated. Use your imagination when shooting and processing photos.


The deadline for the competition is August 9, 2009.


Contact Christian Debono for rules and more information about the contest.

Jul 08, 2009

Friends of the Earth International statement on Honduras, 8 July 2009

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 08, 2009 05:35 PM
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Friends of the Earth International is alarmed by the increasing violence and repression after the coup d'etat, kidnapping and illegal transportation of the democratically elected President of Honduras. We stand in solidarity with the men and women of Honduras who continue to struggle for democracy and respect for human rights.

The alternative G8 summit final summary statement

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 08, 2009 10:43 AM

Ahead the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, members of civil society movements gathered in Sardinia for an alternative G8 summit.

The FoEI mission to Honduras calls for solidarity

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 08, 2009 10:57 AM
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The criminal repression of the demonstrators who gathered on Sunday in Honduras to welcome his president Manuel Zelaya, resulted in two people dead and tens of injured. Besides this, the coup perpetrators decided not to allow the return of President Zelaya to Honduran territory.

This marks the start of a new state in the struggle for sovereignty and the peoples' rights, as well as the incipient democratic processes in the region. These events lead to a call to strengthen and radicalize the actions in support of the Honduran people.


The coup d'état in Honduras should be understood not only as an action against a certain people or country, but as an attempt against the social victories that have been achieved by the popular struggles determined to end hunger and injustice in the region. These violent attitudes are motivated by the interests of groups and corporations who see their political and economic privileges collapse. They don't even care to challenge the international community represented by oranizations like the OAS or the UN, which have condemned the coup in Honduras.


FoEI's mission had planned to enter Honduras by land, or by air, but in both cases we were unable to do that, so we stayed in Managua holding meetings with La Via Campesina, planning the solidarity and sovereignty strategy for the region. We urge you to increase the pressure in your own countries to publicly reject the military coup and the de facto government, and to start emergency fundraising to support Madre Tierra.

Jul 07, 2009

Message from the FoEI mission to Honduras

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 07, 2009 09:07 AM
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Hildebrando Vélez from Friends of the Earth Colombia is part of Friends of the Earth International's mission to accompany the ousted President back into Honduras. The President was refused entry to the country on Sunday so the team are stationed in Nicaragua and awaiting further instruction.

Greetings from Nicaragua, the land of Sandino, Rubén Darío and Fonseca, where we are right now in a Friends of the Earth International Mission, called for by Vía Campesina, with whom in addition to thousands of other voices, we condemn the brutal coup d´etat perpetrated in Honduras, which reminds us of the worst times of military regimes which violated human rights and have caused so much pain and blood in Latin America.

As FoEI members, we are proud to represent a federation which remains faithful to its mission, principles and values, which is completely committed to express and realize solidarity with the brothers and sisters of Madre Tierra (Friends of the Earth Honduras), together with the most impoverished sectors of Honduran society people are demanding justice. It is urgent, in the face of the attitude of the perpetrators of the coup, to be alert in order to protect the lives of Juan Almendares and all members of FoEI in Honduras and our allies in the popular movement.

All of us in the federation should consolidate our unity and mobilize in the defense of life and the rights of the peoples, since this moment is decisive for the present and future of our continent because the achievements reached by the popular struggles in other countries and regions are also threatened by the military force. These struggles show the ways that need to be walked in order to achieve sustainability and justice.

The situation in Honduras is worsening increasingly. The refusal by the coup perpetrators to negotiate a way out with the Organization of American States (OAS) is proof of their determination to continue and deepen this historic injustice against the will of the Honduran people, and to continue insulting the international community. Breaking into hotels, persecuting foreigners that are being accused of indoctrination and instigation to violent actions, shows an ideological-military offensive against the international solidarity, which is raising in support of the people and the organizations of the Honduran social movement. The analysis we can carry out from here indicates that we must continue looking for the best way to mobilize solidarity and the constant support from foreign countries and inside Honduras.

At the time we are in Managua. We have to remain alert, let´s raise the flags of solidarity, let´s create a support fund for the struggle of the Honduran people, let´s establish support networks, let´s not allow the dictatorship to disguise or to become legitimate. Let´s demand a breaking of the diplomatic ties with the coup perpetrators.

Jul 06, 2009

A tree plantation is not a forest

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 06, 2009 10:51 AM
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Take a look at this poster on monoculture tree plantations produced by Friends of the Earth Argentina.


Jul 05, 2009

The people need soil not oil!

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 05, 2009 05:55 PM

Ahead of the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, the alternative G8 summit is taking place in Sardinia. Nnimmo Bassey Chair of Friends of the Earth International is there.

Today the debate is on the Crisis of Civilization and Research for new Paradigms. The day began with a presentation by Roberto Espinoza of the Coordination of Native Andean Organisations. He spoke about the recent resistance in Peru and noted that some of the underlying factors were the privatization of land for agrofuels production as well as moves in the destructive mining sector. The people resisted because their livelihood was being made impossible by the pollution of their waters, land and air. 6000 communities were affected and half of these have their coastline impacted by mining. He mentioned also that oil corporations have appropriated up to 15 million hectares of forest area for their activities.

Roberto stressed that the struggle of the people is not for a mere of government but for a fundamental constitutional review to defend the collective rights of the peoples’.

Speaking further on the subject of today’s debate, he said that the multiple crises the world is faced with today go beyond being a crisis of neo-liberalism. According to him, this is a crisis of civilization with soft words such as climate change being used to describe its manifestations. Man has gradually been separated from nature and consumerism is driving humanity towards destruction. He noted that oil and mining remove the soil on which the peoples depend and that the people need soil not oil!

Human wellbeing cannot be constructed on increased consumption and competition but on solidarity. Everything cannot be a commodity. Commodification leads to expropriation and control. We must defend our diversity in every sphere.

A commentator from Italy noted that what the nation (Italy) was facing is a challenge of democracy and that this is the case with other European nations. He agreed with Roberto that cultural, social and other crises all affect the peoples’ way of life and builds uncertainties and uneasiness. This uneasiness creates fears and tensions and does not create a path for the future. What is needed is a joint project that would pool resources together to effect a radical change in the way we do things. This new path must lead away from free trade, which dissipates nature. This new path must help the people recover their sovereignty from market forces.

He called for cultural change and a new discussion of the very concept of modernity. This must include the recovery of the imagination in a lifestyle that recognises human interdependency with nature.

Another high point of today’s debate was the contribution of the mayor of Iglesias. He captured the multiple crises as one of identity. He rooted his contribution to the historical realities of colonialism and neo-colonialism in Sardinia within the Italian context.

According to the mayor, the local people had over the years got to depend on what they are told was right for them rather than discovering their own realities for themselves. He regretted that today, our world views are framed by what we see on television and unfortunately the medium is largely controlled by those whose desire is to keep us under their control!

The major talked about how an agriculturally prosperous region had their livelihoods disrupted by promises of a better life through mining. While they moved to the mines all they got in return was polluted environments, health problems and a rapacious appropriation of their resources. Even coastlines that served as touristic magnets became damaged by a culture that sees concreting as a measure of development and progress.

An activist or community person from any nation in the global South could have made the mayor’s presentation as they mirrored the exact situation of things today in those climes. We saw in this presentation the clear fact that struggles of the peoples of this world can find common grounds if we are true to our sense of perception and the realities we face.

For those who do not know, Iglesias is a town in Sardinia, an island province in the south west of Italy.

I will pause here.

We are working on the outcome document or declaration for the debates on the post carbon economy. That document will be my final post on the Gsott8.

Nnimmo Bassey speaking at g8 undergound

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 05, 2009 09:00 AM

He's the one on the left.

Nnimmo speaking at G8 Underground

Jul 04, 2009

The tar sands threat

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 04, 2009 05:45 PM

Ahead of the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, the alternative G8 summit is taking place in Sardinia. Nnimmo Bassey Chair of Friends of the Earth International is there.

Saturday, July 4, 2009 was devoted to debates on food sovereignty and the important need for support to be given to smallholder farmers and agro-ecological approaches.

For a large part of the day I was engaged in brainstorming on the massive threats of tar sand/bitumen mining. Specific focus was on the situation in Congo DR where ENI, the Italian oil company, is involved. We particularly looked at the looming dangers to communities and their environment as well as what needs to be done to mobilize them and build resistance.


Lessons were also drawn from the situation in Canada. The moves towards bitumen mining in Nigeria were mentioned including the fact that a committee was set up in 2008 by the government (of Nigeria) to handle the process of bidding for 3 bitumen blocks.

We agreed that sharing of information and experiences would be a good way to move forward.

Jul 03, 2009

Keep the oil in the soil

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 03, 2009 06:35 PM

Ahead of the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, the alternative G8 summit is taking place in Sardinia. Nnimmo Bassey Chair of Friends of the Earth International is there.

I should have mentioned that there are three of us here from the FoEI family. Anne-Sophie Simpere of Les Amis de la Terre, France is here. Also here is BAsilo Tzoy Grijalva of the Council for the Protection of the territory of Indigenous people, Guatemala. His organisation related with FoE Guatemala.

Today’s events are organised in panels and will conclude at midnight after the screening of La Ricaduta, a documentary on irresponsible extractions in the Niger Delta.  There will also be a special testimony by a citizen of Abruzzo – the earthquake region where ENI wants to extract crude. The people of Aruzzo don’t want crude extracted from their territory.
As already mentioned in my earlier post, today’s panels are focusing on oil/gas, mining and tar sands. Tomorrow the focus will be on food sovereignty matters. The three cardinal objectives of these sessions are the phasing out of oil economy, keeping the oil in the soil; community control over their resources; new frontier of resource exploitations. The idea is also to strategize on how to find allies and build alliances for the struggle. 

The first panel opened with Tom Kucharz of Ecologistas en Accion, Spain interviewing Ivonne Yanez of Accion Ecologica, Ecuador. The thrust of the discussion was the Ecuadorian Yasuni proposal in which a civil society driven process led the government to state readiness to leave the billion barrels of crude oil in the soil at the protected Yasuni Park. Ivonne traced the history of the campaign and noted that although the government was initially seeking payment for leaving the oil in the ground in a way similar to the carbon trade arguments, this has changed to the demand for solidarity funds to avoid drilling for oil in the area.

The purpose of the Yasuni proposal is to commence a process of breaking the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, and by so doing reduce carbon emissions and directly tackle climate change. She revealed that just a fortnight ago Germany offered to contribute $1Billion to Ecuador at the rate of $50 million per year over the next 20 years – towards leaving the oil in the ground at the Yasuni Park.  This proposal has thus become very concrete.

Nicholas of Corner House interviewed me on the second panel. The thrust of our discussion was our proposal to leave new oil in the soil of the Niger Delta. This proposal is similar to the Ecuadorian proposal but with some key unique aspects. The similarities basically include simply leaving the oil in the soil, defending the environment from degradation related to oil spills and gas flares and also directly tackling climate change. 

I traced the historic struggle of the Ogoni under the leadership of Ken Saro-Wiwa who was executed in November 1995 with the active connivance of Shell. Since 1993 direct oil activities in Ogoni ceased with the expulsion of Shell; and the land has from after the post expulsion conflicts known a measure of peace.

The key demand is that there should be no new oil field developments in Nigeria for the following reasons. Nigeria can easily meet a 3 million barrels production right if the Niger Delta knows some peace. Currently the nation’s production quota stands at 2 million barrels per day with another estimated 1 million barrels of crude stolen on a daily basis. The government has plans to increase daily production to 5 million barrels per day from the year 2015. We propose that Nigerians can contribute funds to keep those additional 2 million barrels per day in the soil. This comes to only $156 per year for each Nigerian. We note that not all Nigerians (for example the children) can make this contribution. But, there are many who can buy multiple units. There are businesses who can but muliple units and there are concerned citizens, organisations and governments of the world who would be willing to contribute to this fund.

The direct implication of keeping new oil in the soil would manifest in reconnection of Nigerians to the national economy. This would raise accountability and transparency in governance. It would also directly move the nation from dependence on one source of revenue and lead to a diversification of the economy in a productive way. FoE Nigeria schedules to present this proposal formally to the federal government of Nigeria by November 2009.

The other panel that shows the people resisting new oil is in Abruzzo, Italy. This is the region where a devastating earthquake occurred recently. Speaking on this was Maria Rita D’Orsagna of the Abruzzo Movement Against Oil Extraction. She said that when the idea of oil production in the area was first announced to the people the general understanding was that it would be the production of olive oil! A strong resistance is building with the realization that it is crude oil that is to be drilled for here.

The struggle against the Shell Pipeline in Ireland was presented by Nessa  Ni Chasaide of Action From Ireland (AFRI) in a day that was loaded with stories of resistance and mobilizations from several countries. The stories of tar sands in Canada and the degradation of indigenous areas were brought by Ben Powless of the Indigenous Environment Network. The mining situation in the Republic of Congo; the situations in Zambia, Guatemala, Philippines and Indonesia all took centre stage. 

The last session of the day was a panel that spoke on alternatives. The ideas that came from this panel were mainly on what people and communities can do to show that alternatives exist and that others can be constructed. The vital need to build movements was stressed. The transition to a post carbon civilization will not be easy, but must be planned for and made to happen. The need for reduced consumption and the need to change from the current fossil fuel intensive agriculture were also brought forward forcefully. Other alternatives included building designs using locally available materials and skills thereby being climate sensitive and reducing dependence of materials transported over long distances.

It was agreed that REDD was not a solution to forest protection or for climate change. The need to reframe the climate debate towards climate debt, equity and justice was emphasised.

The day ended at midnight with the screening of a documentary “La Ricaduta” – a story of irresponsible behaviour of oil companies in the Niger Delta with a special focus on ENI (AGIP).

A statement will emerge from the sessions on extractives. It is in the forge at the moment!
4/5 July will focus on Food Sovereignty issues. La Via Campesina and other groups are driving this section.

Jul 02, 2009

Movement against mining's leader disappears

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 02, 2009 11:13 AM
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CESTA/Friends of the Earth El Salvador expresses concern about the disappearance of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno, leader of the social movement against mining in San Isidro Cabañas. His has not been seen since June 18.

Rivera Moreno, has been one of the main activists and opponents against the presence of mining companies in Cabañas. He campaigned against the harmful effect the mining operations were having on the environment and human health.

In recent years church groups, environmentalists and civil society leaders in the region have maintained strong opposition to the operations of the companies involved urging the government to take a similar position.

In El Salvador, 6% of the territory has been acquired by large organizations for the mining of gold, silver and copper. The Canadian company Pacific Rim is one of the largest players in the country.

CESTA  are calling on the authorities to launch a thorough investigation into the disappearance of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno. In addition they express there sympathies with relatives, social organizations and environmentalists that work and fight to prevent the continued destruction of the environment in the area.


take action

There will be a period of mobilization and protest starting today until next Sunday in Central Park, San Isidro, Cabañas, El Salvador.


The alternative g8 summit

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 02, 2009 10:31 AM

Ahead of next week's G8 summit in Naples, Italy, members of civil society movements are gathering in Sardinia for an alternative G8 summit.

GS8_logo-web.jpgFor a large part of the official G8 summit world leaders will be discussing climate change. Whereas they will be talking about market based solutions and the World Bank's role in bringing about a low carbon economy the alternative summit will be discussing how this transition must be managed in a way that does not harm the poor by limiting energy access or the right to develop, and adds to the empowerment of local communities to make decisions about local resources.


FoE Asia Pacific statement on Honduras

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 02, 2009 11:58 AM
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Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific stands in solidarity with the Honduran people and the Latin American nations.

foe-asia-pacific-web.jpgWe, the women and men of Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific (FoE APac), defend and uphold human dignity and the universal sanctity of human rights. We believe in a just society where sovereignty and social justice can only be attained through genuine democracy.


As a continent that has been ravaged by dictatorships and oppression, we oppose dictators and the military in their fascist attempts to suppress the sovereign rights of peoples. We continue to fight and stand together with masses of people, with communities and with movements in pushing for genuine democracy.

We cannot remain silent when our sisters and brothers across the oceans are blatantly denied their genuine democracy and are being abused for exercising their rights.

Therefore, our nations in the Asia Pacific, stand together with our sisters and brothers in Honduras and in Latin America who are opposing the fascist coup d'etat staged against the Honduran people and the government of Honduras which led to the kidnapping and exile of President-elect Manuel Zelaya.

We reject the installation of Roberto Micheletti as Honduran President and condemn the Congress, the military forces and their elitist powerful cohorts in protecting an installed leadership in Honduras which is not the popular will of the Honduran people.

We denounce the blatant abuse of power and the human rights violations committed against the right of the Honduran people to demonstrate against the perpetrators of the coup d'etat, where hundreds were beaten and seriously wounded. We oppose the repression, intimidation, persecution and silencing of our comrades and leaders of social movements.

We denounce the crack-down on freedom of speech and the closing down of broadcast media where national television stations and radio stations were taken off the air following Sunday's military-led coup d'etat. We condemn the corporate mass media in promoting Micheletti and the Honduran oligarchy in their efforts to stop popular will and peoples' democracy by justifying and supporting the coup d'etat.  

We, therefore, demand:

  1. The immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya as the President elect of Honduras;
  2. The protection and respect towards Manuel Zelaya upon his return to Honduras;
  3. That freedom of speech be respected and that the crack-down on broadcase media immediately ceases;
  4. That Honduran Armed Forces immediately cease to protect the interest of the powerful and the elite, and instead fulfil their duty to serve and protect Honduras and its people;
  5. That activists and leaders of social movements are respected and not harmed while exercising their right to freedom of speech; and
  6. That an immediate investigation be conducted on the human rights violations that have been committed against demonstrators, activists and social movements and that justice will be attained for those who fought for genuine democracy

We call on the international community to continue to be vigilant and support genuine democracy in Honduras.  Say NO TO FASCIST MILITARY RULE! NO TO DICTATORSHIP! NO TO HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!

In solidarity, the women and men of Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific, stand united with our sisters and brothers in Honduras.

Friends of the Earth Australia, BELA – FoE Bangladesh, WALHI – FoE Indonesia, FoE Japan, SAM – FoE Malaysia, ProPublic – FoE Nepal, PENGON – FoE Palestine, CELCOR – FoE Papua New Guinea, LRC/KsK – FoE Philippines, KFEM – FoE South Korea, CEJ – FoE Sri Lanka and HABURAS – FoE Timor Leste

GSott8 opens!

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 02, 2009 03:00 PM

Ahead of the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, the alternative G8 summit is taking place in Sardinia. Nnimmo Bassey Chair of Friends of the Earth International is there.

It is the 1st of July and we were on our way to the Southern tip of Italy. Getting to Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy, was a fascinating experience. From the aircraft seat, the runway below was clearly in sight but the pilot went a circuitous path before finally touching them smoothly. As we came in, you could see the entire breadth of the Sardinia Island, its rugged mountains and some of its population centres. On this flight were four of us heading for the GSott8: Luca of CRBM, Zakir Kibria of Praxa  Bangla, Bangladesh, Nicholas Hildyard of the Corner House and yours truly.

The welcome party was warm and soon we were on our way to Iglesias…town name and not a bunch of churches, if you get what I mean. The ride ended in a restaurant at the city centre where we did not only dine and wine but began to talk about the events of the next days. By midnight a bunch of us were on our way to Casa di Nonna, a Bed & Breakfast at Villamassargia…,which I thought was a massage home! But it was not…


2nd July broke with a bright sunlight hitting my tightly shut eyes from long before 6 AM. A quick breakfast and we were on our way to a trip to the mines at Monteponi….  Soon helmeted, we entered the belly of the earth though tunnels dug by men from 1882 and from which zinc, copper and lead were mined until 8 years ago. The mines and related infrastructure now serves as the Faculty of Mineralogy of the University of Cagliari where studies are focussed on the mining and other engineering studies.


The mine is as interesting as it is instructive.  Most of its equipment and spare parts were manufactured on the location and once installed were expected to stay in the belly of the earth “for ever.” The mine starts from 150m above sea level and goes down 200m below sea level and required a massive water pumping works to keep the water out of the tunnels and allow the extraction of the vital minerals.

Why was the mine closed? This is the point that is so instructive: the entire operations were so expensive that it did not make economic sense to invest so much resource on it. In other words, it was cheaper to import the zinc, lead and copper that this mine offered than to keep tunneling here. On account of this, and although there is still copper, zinc and lead underground, the mines are shut dues to economic exigencies. On result of this is that the huge labour force that was once employed in the mines were suddenly thrown into the labour market and the towns that grew around the mines are now a shadow of the ebullient selves they must have been in the hey days of hard helmets, picks and hammers.


Lesson learned: just because you have a resource does not mean that you must extract it. Thinking about crude oil: if the true cost of oil were paid, everyone would have left the resource in the soil! But because the crude is extracted from communities of the voiceless, the environmental costs, human rights abuses and the works are conveniently ignored and the world remains stuck on model of civilization that has dragged humanity into a blind corner.

Leave the oil in the soil, the coal in the hole and the tar sand in the land! The day ended with an opening event at the centre of Carbonia, a carbon town or a city built to service coal mines that have also been shut. Leaders of the municipal authorities who also welcomed all to the G8 Underground attended the opening event. This was followed by denunciations of the G8 and a condemnation of the subversion of the democratic systems of Honduras.

3rd July and the G8 Underground is set to focus on oil, gas and mining. We just concluded two interview panels...the first featured Ivonne Yanez of Accion Ecologica, Ecuador  while the second had me on the hot seat and I was interviewed by Nick of the Corner House ... More to come…