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international campaign victories in 2003

WTO ministerial collapses in cancún

Developing countries flexed their muscles at the September 2003 World Trade Organization talks in Cancún, standing up to rich countries and multinational corporations. Civil society, including social, environmental and peasant farmers’ groups, celebrated when the meeting ground to a halt. Proposals on the table, which would have opened developing country markets to foreign investment and even more cheap agricultural imports, were overturned.

FOEI joins protests at the WTO mininsterial in Cancun

Some 40 Friends of the Earth campaigners from around the world were present in Cancún, working and demonstrating in coalition with other social movements including the Our World Is Not For Sale network and Vía Campesina. Friends of the Earth participated in memorial actions for Lee Kyung Hae, the South Korean farmer who took his life in front of police barricades in Cancún in order to draw attention to the impact of neoliberal economic globalization on food production, livelihoods, and the environment.
with thanks to our funders: the sigrid rausing trust, novib/oxfam netherlands, icco and the hivos-novib biodiversity project.

another trade failure in the americas

Just eight weeks after the World Trade Organization’s collapse in Cancun, trade ministers from most of the western hemisphere came to Miami for a key negotiating summit for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA/ALCA). A brutal police force – now accused of human rights violations by Amnesty International – tried to limit the free speech rights of thousands of protesters. But those same police could not prevent the negotiations inside, where Mercosur countries refused to make concessions on issues such as investment and services, from unraveling.

Friends of the Earth activists from Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States came to Miami, but it was really the dozens of protests and citizen-sponsored plebiscites in Latin America during the run-up to the summit that led to today’s shaky, watered-down FTAA. On the heels of Cancún, Miami was a reaffirmation of popular resistance to a biased and unsustainable trade agenda.
with thanks to our funders: the sigrid rausing trust, novib and the swedish society for nature conservation.

pushing the world bank out of oil and mining

In 2000, Friends of the Earth International Chair Ricardo Navarro publicly confronted World Bank President James Wolfensohn with the tragic impacts of the Bank’s ongoing investments in oil, mining and gas. He spoke on behalf of Friends of the Earth International and the communities we work with that are impacted by Bank-funded projects like the Chad-Cameroon pipeline, the Yanacocha gold mine in Peru and the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline in the Caspian region.

In response, the World Bank commissioned an independent review of its financing of oil, mining and gas projects. In November 2003, this Extractive Industries Review culminated in a report recommending that the Bank stop financing all coal and oil projects in developing countries, respect human rights, up its funding for renewable energy projects, and implement "free, prior and informed consent" for the communities and indigenous people that will be impacted by Bank projects. Although it remains to be seen whether these recommendations will be implemented, communities and campaigners now have increased leverage for halting destructive projects.
with thanks to our funders: the c.s. mott foundation, the global greengrants fund, the wallace global fund and icco.

stopping up the baku-ceyhan pipeline

The planned Baku-Ceyhan pipeline is one of the most controversial projects in the world. When constructed, this US$3.5 billion pipeline will carry oil from the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to the Mediterranean, wreaking environmental and social havoc along the way.

Demonstration against the BTC pipeline in front of the EBRD office in London.

Campaigning throughout 2003 resulted in several stoppages to pipeline plans. Following a complaint by a coalition of human rights and environmental groups including Friends of the Earth, the European Union agreed to investigate alleged human rights abuses along the pipeline route. Furthermore, in early 2004 project consortium leader BP suffered an embarrassing setback with the postponement of the signing of a US$150 million deal with the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department. And finally, a longstanding civil lawsuit against the company brought by Friends of the Earth Georgia and others to the courts alleging that BP pressured Georgia’s environment minister to approve the pipeline route through a national park came to trial in early 2004.
with thanks to our funders: the c.s. mott foundation and the wallace global fund.

mangos over mining in tambogrande

In December 2003, the Peruvian government terminated Manhattan Minerals' concession to develop the Tambogrande gold mine in Peru. In 2002, the people of Tambogrande had held a community-initiated referendum in which 98.65 percent voted against the mine. This destructive project, long a campaign focus of Friends of the Earth Peru and Friends of the Earth International, would have destroyed the sustainable agriculture, polluted the rivers, and displaced one-third of the population of the village of Tambogrande. with thanks to our funders: the c.s. mott foundation and the wallace global fund.

Mango farmers demonstrate in Tambogrande, Peru

damning the iceland dam

In July, following vigorous lobbying, cyberactions and a barrage of letters by a coalition including Friends of the Earth groups, the International Rivers Network and Icelandic groups, the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced that it would not finance the Kárahnjúkar Dam. The Icelandic government and Alcoa, the world’s biggest aluminium company, plan to build a large dam and aluminum smelter in Europe’s second-largest remaining wilderness area, damaging fish, seal, reindeer and pinkfooted goose habitats as well as rare vegetation and unique geological formations. Although the EIB will keep its hands off the dam, campaigners are now lobbying private banks not to fund this monstrosity.
with thanks to our funders: the c.s. mott foundation, the wallace global fund and vrom.

US export-import bank rejects camisea gas project

In August 2003, the US Export-Import Bank decided not to finance the Camisea gas project in Peru following intense local and international pressure from environmental and human rights groups including Friends of the Earth United States. Camisea is the most damaging project in the Amazon Basin, with gas extraction operations taking place in indigenous peoples' territories and a pipeline cutting through one of the world's most pristine rainforests. Campaigners hope that this rejection will send a signal to other funders that the project is financially, environmentally and socially risky. with thanks to our funders: the c.s.mott foundation and the wallace global fund.

Protests against Camisea at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC.

dutch bank rejects eib

In July 2003, the socially responsible Dutch ASN Bank decided to withdraw its investments in European Investment Bank bonds in response to questions and information submitted by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, Friends of the Earth International and our affiliate members CEE Bankwatch and A SEED. In a press release announcing its decision, ASN stated: “It is inconceivable that a big financier like the EIB should lack an environmental policy, internal environmental expertise, or a mechanism of regulation. The projects it finances in areas such as infrastructure, oil production, mining, waste processing and dam building, have an enormously destructive impact. We reject the lack of sustainability.” with thanks to our funders: the c.s.mott foundation, the wallace global fund and vrom.

bite back: wto get your hands off our food!

More than 70 percent of EU citizens do not want genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their food. However, George Bush and big biotech companies put consumer health and the environment at risk in 2003 by trying to use the World Trade Organization to force the EU and the rest of the world to accept genetically modified food and farming. In response, Friends of the Earth International and more than 350 other organizations – together representing 35 million citizen’s worldwide – launched the "Bite Back" campaign. This initiative invites civil society around the world to submit Citizens’ Objections to the WTO, demanding that the right to eat GMO-free food not be undermined and that the US complaint be dismissed. By the end of 2003, more than 30,000 objections had been signed. with thanks to our funders: the hivos-novib biodiversity project and icco.
more information:

biosafety protocol becomes law

In September, Friends of the Earth International welcomed the Cartagena Protocol, the first treaty that seeks to protect the environment from the risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Friends of the Earth, having lobbied for this important treaty for many years, celebrated the coming into force of the Protocol. Nonetheless, many issues are still pending, and we are calling for the immediate establishment of an effective liability mechanism under the Protocol to ensure that corporations are held financially responsible for damage they cause, for instance through contamination by genetically engineered crops. with thanks to our funders: the hivos-novib biodiversity project and the canton of basel.

socializing at the world social forum

Friends of the Earth International strengthened existing alliances with Vía Campesina, the Our World is Not for Sale coalition, the World Rainforest Movement, Corporate Europe Observatory, the Water Justice campaign, and indigenous peoples’ organizations at the January 2003 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Together with other social movements and environmental NGOs, we co organized seminars and workshops on water, forests, GMOs, food sovereignty, biodiversity and the impacts of trade and corporate misbehaviour on people and the environment. with thanks to our funders: novib, hivos, the sigrid rausing trust and the canton of basel.

World Social Forum Porto Alegre, Brazil 2003.

new right-to-know pollution treaty

In January 2003, a new international law improving the public’s right to know about the annual pollution output of individual industrial and intensive livestock sites was finalized. The United Nations treaty has so far been signed by 36 countries from Europe and Central Asia. Environmental NGOs that took part in the two-year negotiations, including Friends of the Earth, welcomed the agreement. Although many toxic chemicals and radioactive pollutants are not covered by the protocol, the public nonetheless will have an important new pressure tool to reduce pollution levels.

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