dutch ministry of foreign affairs
Palm oil plantations around the world are responsible for massive forest destruction, carbon dioxide emissions, and broad environmental and social ills, yet demand for biofuels is furthering this destruction.
In 2007 Friends of the Earth International developed new ideas about how to convey our campaign messages and reach a wider public.
Hundreds of professional and amateur photographers from around the world entered our second annual photo competition, on the theme of “food and agriculture” in 2007.
Rapid economic growth in China and India is spurring mineral exploitation in the Asia Pacific region. Many national governments there, some saddled with debt, support the entry of transnational mining corporations, arguing this will stimulate growth. Meanwhile, miners are not held accountable for the enormous social, environmental and economic damage they cause. Regionally, civil society opposition to mining has been limited in scope to the local or national level; no forum had comprehensively examined the wider impacts of mining-led economies in the Asia-Pacific region.
The December 2007 climate summit, held in Bali, Indonesia marked the deadline for nations to agree on a “road map” for a new agreement to tackle climate change, beyond the current 2008-12 Kyoto Protocol commitment period.
In December 2006, FoE members joined more than four thousand other people from social movements and civil society organizations across Latin America and the Caribbean in the beautiful mountain valley city of Cochabamba, Bolivia.
On May 22 2007, Friends of the Earth International, together with others, organised an international forum on water privatisation in The Hague. The PPIAF (Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility) is a little known World Bank agency that funds consultants to advise poor countries on how to privatise key sectors including water. Many students participated in the forum, which took place a day before the PPIAF's own annual meeting. After the forum, our delegation delivered a letter to the PPIAF, signed by 138 groups from 48 countries, asking the donors to withdraw from PPIAF.
The Friends of the Earth International delegation to the World Social Forum 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya included some 30 people, including community representatives from Nigeria and South Africa.
The corporate agenda to liberalise trade is global and powerful, as are the international financial institutions (IFIs) which aid and abet it.
Spiralling emissions from burning fossil fuels are already causing glacier melt, worsening droughts and rising sea levels. Yet international financial institutions (IFIs) including the World Bank continue to fund fossil fuel projects that will add to this damage. And although the bulk of the emissions which cause climate change stem from developed countries, it is people in the world’s poorest regions who suffer the greatest impacts.
Friends of the Earth Netherlands is pleased that the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Gerda Verburg, has promised to pursue European legislation to halt illegal logging. This is the first time that specific steps to address the issue of illegal logging and the timber trade have been made in the Netherlands.
Government-sanctioned logging is destroying Sarawak's primary forest at an astonishing rate. Timber companies work through the night under floodlights to satisfy international demand for tropical hardwood. Cultural annihilation accompanies this destruction; approximately 70 percent of Sarawak's two million inhabitants are Indigenous and forest-dependent people, whose way of life and Native Customary Rights are extinguished along with their forests. Another extremely worrying trend is the push for oil palm plantations for biofuels. Both the Malaysian National Biofuel Policy and the European Strategy on Biofuels now focus on the substitution of petroleum for their transport sector.
Many multinational corporations have a legacy of polluting the environment, forcing people from their lands, and violating human rights. Friends of the Earth Indonesia / WALHI used legal means to address the social and environmental destruction of two such corporations, miner PT. Newmont Minahasa Raya and oil and gas company Lapindo Brantas Inc. The latter is infamous for causing the massive mud flow in East Java in 2006 which submerged eight villages and caused 13,000 people to be evacuated.
In recent decades Uruguay’s corporate-driven agricultural model has put exports before domestic needs. This has concentrated land in the hands of a few large enterprises and devastated family farms. The consequences: dramatic loss of rural employment, emigration from the countryside, loss of agro-biodiversity, and an unprecedented food crisis.
The Green Revolution of the 1970s inflicted many problems on Paraguay’s Los Altos Mountain region. In addition to leaving the soil impoverished, it forced many peasant families to migrate from the land, fuelling an urbanization process that changed the region’s cultural makeup. This migration also eroded the knowledge of sustainable agriculture — a loss which ultimately threatens food sovereignty.
The operations of Southern Copper Corporation (SCC), one of the world’s largest copper producers, have caused severe social, health and environmental problems in Peru’s Ilo province for decades. Thus this project sought to improve civil society’s capacity to influence and manage negotiations with this mining company. Particular focus was placed on increasing civil society’s capacity to assess impacts and propose technical solutions, and to negotiate effective compensation for damage caused by SCC.
In 2006, Friends of the Earth Haiti / Haiti Survie and Friends of the Earth Mauritius developed a climate change project which concluded with some recommendations, one of which was to take action to mitigate climate change impacts on affected communities. With this aim, FoE Haiti proposed a project to reforest certain zones. The goal was to achieve, on the one hand, watershed protection as a way to stop soil degradation, and on the other hand, to generate additional sources of income for local populations.
Friends of the Earth Guatemala stands in solidarity with people in several municipalities who organized a major community consultation on gold mining in 2007.
El Salvador’s Cordillera el Bálsamo and El Espino forests are areas of national relevance, for their biological diversity as well as their role as rain water catchments. However, these forests are being devastated by the construction industry to give way to housing for rich people, shopping centres and hotels. Furthermore, in the case of El Espino, a highway is slated to pass through it, as part of the framework for Plan Puebla Panamá infrastructure projects. Both these forest areas are very fragile and vulnerable to climatic events such as hurricanes and storms.
The campaign against the Central American Free Trade Agreement culminated in a major movement building success for COECO/Friends of the Earth Costa Rica.