dutch ministry of foreign affairs
Papua New Guinea is home to some of the Asia Pacific region’s largest continuous tracts of ancient rainforest. However, destructive and illegal logging are quickly erasing this natural wealth, while oil palm plantations are a growing threat to biodiversity and the livelihoods of rural peoples who depend on the land.
The Peruvian Sea is one of the world’s richest, not only in terms of fish numbers, but also the great diversity of species. The most important species are anchovies, as the base for one of Peru’s most important sources of income: the fish meal and fish oil industry, which generates two percent of the GDP and 150,000 jobs.
Increasingly, the governments of Honduras and El Salvador are giving up their natural resources to exploitation by mining and hydroelectric megaprojects. Local people are left with the resulting severe and persistent pollution, such as contamination of waterways vital for drinking and bathing. Such megaprojects also compete with farmlands upon which communities depend for subsistence.
The influx of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the West Africa subregion poses a grave and growing threat. Yet Ghana’s domestic national policy is very receptive to US influence, which is strongly pro-GMO. Furthermore, the close and growing political and diplomatic ties between Ghana and Togo extend this pro-GMO influence into Togo.
Over the past two decades, ten large-scale, foreign multinational mining companies have caused considerable environmental destruction and human suffering in Ghana. Largely focussed on mining gold through the use of cyanide leaching, their operations have led to water pollution, reduced air quality, land and soil degradation, and destruction of biodiversity. Human rights abuses are also known, including the eviction of Indigenous peoples from their homes and farmlands. Furthermore, mining company publicity programmes brainwash young people, and there is little information available for schools and youth groups to convey the true consequences of these activities.
One of the main objectives of Friends of the Earth Cameroon / Centre for Environment and Development is a program to promote economic alternatives. Specifically, this program aims to provide small producers with a reliable source of income which gives them the chance to develop while using resources sustainably.
Central Africa’s Congo Basin is one of the world’s largest reservoirs of biodiversity. Yet unsustainable logging, intensive mining, and large construction projects implemented by foreign transnational corporations are threatening Cameroon’s rich biodiversity. The biggest threat of all is logging, some of it legal, much of it illegal.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) entering African countries pose a growing risk to human health, the environment and poor farmers’ food security. Their governments are under major pressure to introduce GMOs from multinational corporations, which argue (despite lacking evidence) this will improve food security. Africans are also vulnerable to introduction of GMOs through food aid, from donor agencies such as USAID.
In February 2007, Shell announced that its profits were sky-high for 2006, following on from record-breaking 2005 profits. With such wealth, one would expect Shell to adhere to its much touted commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. Yet around the world, people living on the “fenceline” of Shell’s operations are paying dearly for its profits through severe environmental pollution and degradation.
The Doha Development Agenda (DDA) talks moved into a “deep freeze” in 2006, putting the World Trade Organisation’s quest for a multilateral free trade deal on hold. With that global trade agenda stalled, Friends of the Earth International shifted its campaign focus to regional and bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs).
In November 2007, Friends of the Earth International, FoE Europe, and other groups campaigning to end public funding for extractive industries achieved a key victory as an overwhelming majority of 540 Members of the European Parliament approved an important resolution. Despite some (expected) watering down of an original Green Group draft report for the resolution, crucial aspects still passed the plenary vote – a major success.
In March 2007, Friends of the Earth Europe and other groups campaigning for lobbying transparency and ethics regulation cautiously welcomed a European Commission communication on transparency.
Already responsible for about 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, aviation emissions are growing fast. Yet a September 2007 expert report commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe confirmed that the European Union must do more if these emissions are to be curbed. An important step in the right direction is to ensure that the cost of flying reflects its environmental impact, by putting a tax on aviation fuel and a value-added tax on airline tickets.
Shell is infamous for environmentally destructive and highly polluting oil operations around the world. So when Friends of the Earth campaigners saw a Shell advertisment depicting a refinery smokestack emitting only flowers, instead of smoke, they recognised it for what it was: blatant greenwash. And they took action, by filing simultaneous complaints to three European national advertising standards authorities in the Netherlands, England and Belgium.
In 2007, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced that it would no longer consider funding the Sakhalin II project, which will produce offshore gas and oil from Russia’s far eastern coast. In 2001, the shareholders of Sakhalin Energy – Shell, Mitsui and Mitsubishi – asked the EBRD to partially finance the project. This prompted many, including Friends of the Earth groups, to pressure the Bank not to do so.
Friends of the Earth International has been working with FoE groups in West Africa to support a stronger network and more solidarity among communities affected by the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP). This pipeline, which is now operational, runs from Nigeria through Benin, Togo and Ghana. In 2007 FoEI saw a major campaign goal achieved: the World Bank approved a July 2007 inspection of the controversial pipeline project.
Four years after its start-up, Real World Radio (RWR) went to Bali, Indonesia to broadcast the voices of social movements at the key December 2007 United Nations climate change negotiations.
In an era of globalised communications, Friends of the Earth International must adapt if it is to reach civil society groups and engage in movement building. During 2007, Real World Radio (RWR) aimed to reach out to more people and to have deeper coordination with communication strategies of different FoEI organizational structures.
A film-maker with a strong “participatory” approach finalized a Friends of the Earth International-commissioned documentary on the environmental and social impacts of oil production and gas flaring in Nigeria in 2007.
A 2007 report from Friends of the Earth International provides nine case studies of climate change impacts from countries around the globe. Looking at impacts and adaptations, the case studies also feature testimonies which provide insight into dramatic first-hand experience of the devastation of climate change.