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You are here: Home / Resources / publications / annual report / archive / 2003 / membervictories


member group victories in 2003

cleaning up the prestige mess in spain

When the Prestige oil spill dumped tens of thousands of tons of oil on the Galician coast at the end of 2002, Friends of the Earth Spain mobilized quickly in response to what became one of the gravest environmental disasters in European history. By early 2003, the local Friends of the Earth group in Galicia had coordinated the training, lodging, food, equipment and transport for some 1,650 volunteers from across Spain and Europe to clean up the mess and to help save coastal animals that had been coated with oil. Many of the hundreds of birds and other animals treated in one of the rescue centres coordinated by Friends of the Earth Spain survived. Nonetheless, despite the heroic efforts of volunteers, the Galician coast and its marine resources will not completely recover for many years to come.

Volunteers cleaning up after the Prestige oil spill off the coast of Spain

ghost ships ruled illegal in the uk

In November 2003, four dilapidated US exnaval ships contaminated with toxic PCBs, asbestos and oil arrived in the UK for scrapping against a background of disapproval. Friends of the Earth, together with local residents from Teesside where the ships would be scrapped, said that the ships should be disposed of in the United States where they originated. Furthermore, they argued, the company importing them, Able UK, did not have the necessary permissions to do the work legally. In December, the High Court found in favour of Friends of the Earth and local residents, and the UK government said that the ships should be sent back to the US unless an appropriate environmental solution could be found for dealing with them. As of early 2004, the ghost ships remain docked in the UK, waiting for calmer weather whilst arguments continue to rage about their final fate.

First ghost ship enters Teesside in the UK

saemangum wetlands victory in korea

Korea’s Saemangum wetlands, one of the planet's most important and ecologically diverse tidal flats, came closer to survival when the Seoul Administrative Court ordered the temporary suspension of the controversial reclamation project in mid-July. The project has been the subject of years of protests by Friends of the Earth Korea and partners around the world. It involves the construction of a seawall damming the mouths of two rivers, and would turn 40,100 hectares of mud flats into 28,300 hectares of farmland and a freshwater lake. Accepting the petition filed by local citizens and Friends of the Earth Korea, the court recognized the urgent need to suspend the project in light of the massive environmental damage that is feared to result. read more

human river defends right to water in uruguay

A ‘human river’ co-organized by Friends of the Earth Uruguay and other social and environmental groups delivered a petition of 280,000 signatures to the Uruguayan Parliament in October 2003. The petition launched a procedure for constitutional reform that would halt the privatization of drinking water services and guarantee the sustainable management of the country’s water. If adopted, the reform would make access to water a fundamental human right in all of Uruguay.

canadian polluter forced to pay

A major victory in the Canadian courts in 2003 upheld the ‘polluter pays’ principle. In an attempt to dodge costs, Imperial Oil took the Quebec Minister of Environment to the Supreme Court of Canada alleging conflict of interest over a clean-up order. While strongly supporting the polluter pays principle found in almost every environmental law across Canada, the Supreme Court decision also addressed the importance of inter-generational equity. "This decision will affect how the more than 30,000 contaminated sites in Canada will be dealt with," said court intervenor Bea Olivastri of Friends of the Earth Canada.

Howler monkey's in Brazil's Atlantic Forest

brazil’s howler monkey protected

The forests around Porto Alegre, Brazil have historically been home to the endangered howler monkey. In recent years, however, urban sprawl and electric power lines have threatened the habitats and water supplies of these primates. In 2003, campaigning by Friends of the Earth Brazil and local groups resulted in the establishment of a 1,600 hectare reserve for the howler monkey in order to compensate for the environmental impacts of a huge new sewage system in Porto Alegre. This victory was part of a wider campaign to protect the Atlantic Forest, which also met with success in 2003 when new national legislation was passed to govern the protection and sustainable use of one of the world’s most biologically rich ecosystems.

brazilian pipeline plugged up

An important victory in the campaign against the Urucu Porto Velho pipeline was achieved in April 2003 when the Brazilian Federal Justice suspended the temporary license issued by the federal environmental agency for the project. In the months preceding this decision, Friends of the Earth Brazilian Amazon and Friends of the Earth International promoted a global web campaign calling for this suspension. As a result of this decision, the whole legal process supporting this destructive pipeline went back to the stage of public hearings.

chilean mega-aluminium plant defeated

In August 2003, the planned Alumysa mega-project, in which the Canadian Noranda company would have sited an aluminium plant, three hydroelectric dams and a new port in one of the most pristine areas on earth, was cancelled. The victory was termed a "triumph of citizen’s organizations" by activists from CODEFF/Friends of the Earth Chile, who were actively involved in opposing the plan.

dutch company abandons pulp dreams

Friends of the Earth Netherlands celebrated in January 2003 when Dutch chemical giant Akzo Nobel cancelled its plans to participate in the construction of a pulp factory on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan. Since 2001 Friends of the Earth had asked Akzo Nobel to withdraw from the project, which involved the destruction of 50,000 hectares of tropical rainforest, even draping a "jungle curtain" accompanied by chainsaw noises in front of company headquarters at the end of 2002.

better packaging, recycling and composting in slovakia

In 2003, seven Slovakian towns benefited from improved waste collection, recycling and composting thanks to campaigning by Friends of the Earth Slovakia. Activists organized training seminars, issued a practical manual, and in some towns even constructed compost sites. On the national level, they lobbied successfully for legislation ensuring that packaging waste be reduced. Thanks to their efforts, large supermarkets are now required to provide consumers with reusable beverage containers.

Friends of the Earth Slovakia information stand on recycling and composting.

checking the impacts of mediterranean free trade

If established, the Mediterranean Free Trade Zone would become the world's most populous regional free trade zone. The MedNet network, which unites Friends of the Earth groups from Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain, Tunisia and the regional Middle East office, is busy raising awareness about the social and environmental risks likely to accompany this free trade area. Their efforts throughout 2003 met with success when the European Commission agreed with MedNet’s demand to launch a Sustainability Impact Assessment on the free trade zone.

clean water in the middle east

Friends of the Earth Middle East’s Good Water Neighbours project showed refreshing results in 2003. For example, on the border between Tulkarem (Palestine) and Emek Hefer (Israel), an old sewage treatment facility was rehabilitated following the collection of thousands of petitions from both communities. In addition, thousands of water saving devices were installed in public buildings in several communities, and eleven school buildings in Palestine, Jordan and Israel were fitted to collect rainwater, reuse gray water and maintain ecological gardens.

costa ricans battle patents on life

Since 1999, the Costa Rican government has been pressured by multilateral trade institutions to adopt laws allowing patents on life. In response, Friends of the Earth Costa Rica is working in a coalition of campesinas, indigenous peoples, and environmental groups to oppose this development. In November of 2003, the coalition presented a legal proposal to Congress that forbids patents on life forms. Although the free trade agreement with the United States has dampened prospects for the proposal’s success, it still enjoys support from some members of Congress. In the meantime, the coalition is working to ensure that indigenous peoples and campesinas obtain collective rights over biodiversity.

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