The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
El Salvador signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with other Central American countries and the US in 2004. This allowed transnational corporations such as Holcim, Monsanto and Pacific Rim to intensify their operations in the country. With the support of local ruling elites, they have been able to secure the necessary infrastructure to extract the countries’ natural resources to export to markets with stronger currencies.
Guatemala is a focus for transnational companies and capital seeking to access Guatemala’s rich natural resources and commercial potential. The Guatemalan government’s support for this trend is reflected in its willingness to construct vast megaprojects, and to open Guatemala’s markets to other countries’ goods and capital through free trade agreements. The serious social and environmental consequences that these projects and pacts can have on Guatemala’s communities and people are overlooked.
Friends of the Earth Philippines/LRC-KsK’s new food sovereignty campaign focuses on indigenous peoples’ and other rural communities’ loss of access to and control over their land and resources from a food sovereignty perspective. It seeks to link the food sovereignty discourse to existing peoples’ struggles for the right to self-determination and against resource extraction and energy projects.
The rapid spread of industrial agriculture across Latin America is devastating indigenous peoples, local communities and the environment, as people and forests are moved out of the way to grow vast tracts of soya and other monocultures. These crops are mainly exported, to feed people and fuel vehicles in wealthy industrialized countries. The Southern Cone of Latin America is also a key region for the biotech industry, since many countries either permit or are unable to restrict the cultivation of genetically modified crop varieties, which is prohibited in many other countries.
Government authorities and companies must abide by the law, be accountable for their actions, and respect the need for public participation in the development of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). If they refuse to do so, it sometime becomes necessary to resort to legal means to bring about change.
The forest industry in Chile is based on extensive plantations of exotic tree species. Chile is now so well known for its pine and eucalyptus exports that it has even been represented visually by a pine seed at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, and the Expo’s Chilean Pavilion is advertised as being built with "renewable pine wood from Chilean tree plantations, in the various forms in which it is sold: plywood, laminated boards and singular wood elements."
The Ugandan government began building the Bujagali dam on the River Nile in 2007, even though the project had previously been delayed for over ten years for many reasons, including exorbitant project costs and its predicted economic and environmental impacts. The project is financed by the World Bank (WB), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). Both the banks and the Ugandan government have overlooked and even ignored their own safeguard policies.
Cameroon is in Central Africa’s Congo Basin, one of the world’s largest reservoirs of biodiversity. Yet unsustainable logging, industrial plantations, mining and large construction projects carried out by foreign transnational corporations are threatening Cameroon’s indigenous communities and wildlife.
The West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) is a 681-kilometre pipeline built to transport natural gas from Nigeria to Benin, Ghana and Togo. The World Bank and other project sponsors claim that the WAGP will help stop dangerous gas flaring in Nigeria, as well as improving the environment, providing cheap energy, and promoting regional integration. There is no evidence to support these claims however. In fact, the WAGP has brought further violence, social disruption and environmental devastation to Nigeria. A World Bank Inspection Panel found that gas flaring continues, in spite of the WAGP and the fact that the Nigerian courts have declared gas flaring illegal.
Although there were a number of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects operating in Uruguay by the end of 2008, there was little information available, and no public debate. The CDM project portfolio for Uruguay includes 33 activities, but Friends of the Earth Uruguay/REDES found that most people knew nothing at all about the CDM or its projects, in Uruguay or elsewhere.
Although the Asian Development Bank has established a Carbon Fund, a Renewable Energy Fund and a Climate Fund, its professed commitment to addressing climate change is completely undermined by the fact that ADB-backed projects have many negative social and environmental impacts, with many contributing directly or indirectly to climate change. This in turn impacts on the most vulnerable and marginalized people in the region. These impacts are a direct consequence of the Bank’s outdated and climate-damaging policies: its Energy Policy, for example, still supports coal power.