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Jan 24, 2013

Summit of the Peoples - Santiago de Chile

by Denis Burke — last modified Jan 24, 2013 06:40 PM

The Summit of the Peoples of Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe will take place in Santiago, Chile from January 25 to 27.

Chile bannerThe Summit of the Peoples of Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe will take place in Santiago, Chile from January 25 to 27. Over 120 social movements, organisations and networks have been involved in setting up the event under the theme "For social justice, international solidarity and peoples’ sovereignty". The meeting will take place in the Urban Planning and Architecture School of the University of Chile, in parallel to the EU-CELAC Summit taking place on the same dates.

The summit aims to “give visibility to the demands and proposals of peoples (…) who struggle against neoliberal policies that impact our societies and eliminate our rights” according to the public call to attend.

According to the organisers, the sectors that caused and profited from the ongoing crisis want the peoples to pay, imposing “huge” social and democratic setbacks. “The “austerity” policies implemented in Europe combined with the political evolution in Latin America and the rest of the world, demand a unified answer from our peoples and an alternative to the strengthening of the current neoliberal model”, reads the call. “This historic moment requires [us] to reassess the relationship between both continents”, it adds.

For the over 120 social organisations, movements and networks involved, the summit is an important opportunity to question the different dimensions of the crisis and governmental attempts to use European capital in Latin America as a way out.

“The peoples of Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe say no to these FTAs. We demand the renegotiation of those in force and an end to the negotiation or ratification [of those in advanced stages]”. The organisers demand that the peoples be consulted about relations between the two continents; that these relations serve their interests and not the interests of investors or transnational corporations.

They further call for the establishment of a new type of relationship between the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean, based on equality, decolonization, the primacy of the rights of the population over the profits of transnational corporations and respect for sovereignty and the rights of the peoples. “We don’t accept that the crisis caused by the transnational financial system serves to promote social setbacks to the detriment of rights and the wellbeing of the peoples”, they say. “This meeting will demand an end to adjustment and austerity policies and a reassessment of the international financial architecture”, they add.

For the social organisations, movements and networks, the Summit of the Peoples should address a number of key elements including; the model of society they want, democracy and citizen participation, human rights, the claims of native peoples, women and different sectors, common goods, nature, integration, investments and trade, the democratization of communications, global governance.

Real World Radio will cover the different activities, preparations and outcomes at the Summit of the Peoples, as part of a media platform that will work with others to follow and report on the developments at the meeting.

For more information on the summit:

Real World Radio's special section on the summit

Jan 21, 2013

Verdict due in case against Shell

by Denis Burke — last modified Jan 21, 2013 06:05 PM

Four Nigerians who have been victims of multinational oil giant Shell’s polluting activities in the Niger Delta are striving for justice. They are hoping a Dutch court will issue a verdict in their favour on 30 January, as part of a ground-breaking legal case filed against the Anglo-Dutch oil corporation.


Plaintiffs outside court. Friends of the Earth Netherlands/ Pierre Crom

On 11 October 2012, the court in The Hague heard their case against Shell, the first time in history that a company had been brought before a Dutch court to account for environmental damage caused overseas. The four plaintiffs are farmers and fishermen from the villages of Goi, Ikot Ada Udo and Oruma in the Niger Delta.


The October 2012 date was a landmark in itself. It signaled to Shell and other multinational corporations that they cannot act with impunity in other parts of the world. Residents of the Niger Delta may feel relieved or vindicated if the company assumes a more responsible attitude.

The four Nigerians are demanding that Shell cleans up the oil pollution in their communities, compensates those affected and prevent further leaks from occurring. The communities of the Niger Delta depend primarily on the environment for their livelihoods, including farming and fishing. Oil industry operations in the Niger Delta have damaged or destroyed local food and water supplies, biodiversity and fishing ponds and crops that locals had used to earn money.

Companies such as Shell purportedly engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) through, for example, the construction of health clinics. CSR projects in the oil communities of Nigeria are accounted for as part of the production costs of crude oil and are thus not actually funded from the massive profits of the companies. They constitute nothing more than tokenism and smokescreens.

The case was brought to the court with the assistance of Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) working closely with Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth Nigeria).



Coverage from the last hearing in October, 2012


Resources for journalists including photos and media coverage of the case so far



Chief Eric Dooh is one of the plaintiffs


Plaintiff Alali Efanga is taking Shell to court for pollution in Nigeria

Jan 07, 2013

Real World Radio: “They Shall Not Pass”

by Real World Radio — last modified Jan 07, 2013 01:57 PM

Uruguayan environmental activist warns about advance of agribusiness and land grabbing in the world

Karin Nansen“The policies of our governments have not really tried to address the structural causes of the food crisis, but on the contrary, they encouraged what is causing even more trouble: the advance of agribusiness and land grabbing”, said activist Karin Nansen, member of the executive committee of Friends of the Earth International.


“Today, the food system is increasingly controlled by a few companies. They control everything, from seeds to what is sold in supermarkets, to what reaches our tables”, said Nansen.


“And now these same companies are beginning to control land. They are the ones who define what is produced, how we do it and how the products are distributed. And these companies are also the ones who decide the prices of food”, she added.

The activist, who is also coordinator at REDES – Friends of the Earth Uruguay, gave a presentation called “Expansion of agribusiness and land grabbing” at the international conference “Climate change, territories and social movements”, held in San Salvador, from November 5-6, 2012. The conference was organized by Friends of the Earth International through CESTA-Friends of the Earth El Salvador.


Real World Radio covered the conference and is still publishing some of the most relevant presentations and audio. Members of grassroots organisations, communities and different social movements of Central America participated in the event, in addition to hundreds of representatives of Friends of the Earth groups from the five continents. Over 500 people from 80 countries attended the meeting, the purpose of which was to share knowledge and experiences of defending territories, vizualising the cases of resistance against transnational corporations in the region, and cases of sovereignty building and survival practices to confront socio-environmental conflicts and inappropriate measures promoted by regional economic forces.


The conference was also organised by multiple social and environmental networks from Central America, especially the Movement of Victims and People Affected by Climate Change and Megaprojects (MOVIAC).


In her presentation, Nansen made reference to the severe food crisis of 2007 and

2008, which saw 100 million people starving around the world. Around 1 billion people are starving worldwide today.


The environmentalist talked about land grabbing to grow soy, tree monoculture plantations for carbon offsetting schemes, among others, and regretted the massive use of agrotoxics by agribusinesss. The expansion of these agribusiness and land grabbing are global phenomena, but they especially affect the global south. It is “terrible” in Latin America and Africa, highlighted Nansen.


However, there are reasons to be optimistic. “The good news is that the food crisis isn´t larger because peasants, indigenous peoples, black communities, family production, produce food consumed by human beings”, said the activist. Karin Nansen quoted the Erosion, Technology and Concentration Group (ETC Group) who work on global socio-economic and environmental issues, related to the new technologies and especially about the impacts of technology on indigenous peoples, rural communities and biodiversity. According to the ETC Group “50 per cent of food is produced by these small production units”, said Nansen. “(…) The good news is that peasant agriculture continues supplying food to the world. That´s why it is essential to defend the permanence of indigenous, black communities, peasant agriculture and fisherfolk in their territories; defending their permanence is what will save us”, she added.


By the end of her presentation, Nansen highlighted that “the resistance space is in those territories where you are, this is why we have to come together in this struggle to defend every piece of territory in this world, (…) it is a struggle for the future of humankind”. “Our peoples continue feeding the world. These businesses want other things, they want to take over our lands. We have to do everything in our power, we have to come together in a joint struggle at international level, to stop them. They shall not pass”, concluded the Uruguayan activist.


Listen to the entire interview on Real World Radio

Photo: Friends of the Earth International

(CC) 2013 Radio Mundo Real

Real World Radio: It Should Not Be a Secret

by Real World Radio — last modified Jan 07, 2013 02:10 PM

Costa Rica: Ecologist Movement Challenges GM Law

Costa RicaOn December 12, environmental, student and peasant organizations that make up  Costa Rica's Green Bloc, marched in the country’s capital to file an amparo appeal before the Constitutional Court to make information on the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) public.


The amparo appeal aims to challenge a regulation of the National Technical Commission of Biosafety (CTNBio), a body in charge of applications for the release of GMOs, which is known for limiting access to information and participation in discussions on the entrance of GM seeds.


This action is part of a day of action “In Defense of Our Corn”. The campaign began with a march from the Matambu indigenous territory to the Costa Rican capital along more than 200 km. It was a day to disseminate information and of action against the release of four varieties of GM corn patented by transnational corporation Monsanto from BT and RoundupReady (RR) technologies, including the mon-603 variety. The march lasted almost two weeks from November 24 to December 2.


The day after the activists arrived in the capital, on Monday 3 December, hundreds of people demonstrated before the CTNBio headquarters against the application to plant four varieties of GM corn patented by transnational corporation Delta & Pine Land Ltd., a subsidiary of Monsanto.


The company was declared as one of the world’s twenty most irresponsible companies, responsible for hundreds of cases of serious contamination in communities. One of the most renowned cases is the one of Rincon’I community contaminated in 1998 with over 660 tons of GM cotton seeds contaminated with agrotoxics without the community’s prior consent.


At the CTNBio session on December 3, the Cost Rican public body decided to postpone the decision because of pressure from social, environmental and academic sectors that submitted evidence against Delta & Pine Land’s request to

plant GM corn Avangares, in Puntarenas province.


The community has been declared “free of GMO” since 2007.

Because of the postponement of the decision at the body depending on the Ministry of Livestock and Agriculture, the Costa Rican environmental movement filed an unconstitutionality appeal last December 12 against the regulation of Phitosanitary Protection that regulates the CTNBio and the allocation of the licenses.


Real World Radio interviewed Jose Maria Villalta, House representative of the Frente Amplio party and member of the Coordination Network on Biodiversity when they submitted the documents to the Costa Rican Court.


The claim has legal and technical arguments against not only the release of GMOs, but also against the way in which licenses are authorized.

Villalta said the regulation is being questioned because it fails to provide the minimum environmental guarantees to protect biodiversity, such as the need to submit an Environmental Impact Study and the restriction to Access of information about the licenses.


“The permission fails to comply with the law, the Constitution and with international treaties about the need for an environmental impact study. Another serious irregularity of this mechanism to grant licenses is the clause where they say all information the companies provide to the CTNBio is secret”.


He mentions that this harms the rights of citizen participation in environmental issues, enshrined in the Constitution.


The Costa Rican campaign is part of a regional Mesoamerican campaign, where corn is harvested, against the introduction of GM varieties that would have terrible medium to long term consequences.


Photo: Demonstration outside the CNTBio on Friday 12 December (Henry Picado-Coecoceiba-FoE Costa Rica)

(CC) 2012 Real World Radio

Solidarity with the victims in the resistance against agribusiness in Argentina

by admin — last modified Jan 07, 2013 05:37 PM

Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest federation of grassroots environmental groups, expresses its solidarity with the families of Cristian Ferreyra and Miguel Galván, members of the Peasant Movement of Santiago del Estero (MOCASE), and to all who support the fight against the advance of agribusiness in Argentina.


Cristian was 25 when he was killed on 16 November 2011 by leaders of armed gangs in association with soy agribusiness corporations, who systematicaly threaten communities that resist the expansion of soybean. Miguel was killed on October 10, 2012 at the hands of assassins in the service of agribusiness corporations that grab land disputed with peasant-indigenous territories.

We condemn the impunity and unjustice of both murders, as well as the evictions and illegal clearing that is carried out daily, and the suffering of the peasants and indigenous people that defend and guard their birthplaces, generation after generation.

We denounce the interference of transnational corporations with people's sovereignty, and the complicity of public officials with them, who would pave their way while violating the human rights of their compatriots.

We support the demand of our member group Friends of the Earth Argentina, to the national and provincial governments of Argentina, to be aware of the reality of indigenous peasant families, to protect their lands and support their production, knowing that this means banning logging, evictions and the advance of agribusiness corporations. Consequently we expect the government to urgently approve the law to stop evictions, known as "Cristian Ferreyra".

We will continue the construction of a world where justice and solidarity prevails, and from all corners of the world we will send messages of courage to the people of the province of Santiago del Estero. Its strength is that of all the peoples who are resisting the advance of this unsustainable and unfair model.

In solidarity,

Friends of the Earth International

Jan 03, 2013

Friends of the Earth International report on Palestine welcomed at Eco-Justice conference

by admin — last modified Jan 03, 2013 12:00 PM
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Friends of the Earth International's support for the people of Palestine struggling against environmental violations of the Israeli occupation, was welcomed by participants at a three day conference in Bethlehem.

Palestine conferenceThe Third Palestinian Environmental Awareness and Education Conference , entitled "Eco-justice of Palestine," was held between 17 - 19 December 2012. The conference focused on the international and local responsibility to care for and protect the Palestinian environment. The purpose of the conference was to raise awareness in the local and international communities about the critical environmental situation in Palestine due to the affects of the Israeli occupation, and advocate for sustainable change on both an international and a local level.

During the three day conference, information was presented and there were discussions on the status of the environment in Palestine; Israeli violations of the environment and land, unjust water distribution, the impact of the apartheid wall on the environment, and the Israeli Dimona nuclear reactor and its impact. The conference was also presented with international reports like the UN Environment Program's reports on the Palestinian environment and the environmental Nakba
(catastrophe) to come.

Following an observer mission in August 2012, Friends of the Earth International has committed to support the Palestinian people in their struggle against the environmental impacts of the Israeli occupation.

Abeer Al-Butmah of Friends of the Earth Palestine said "The people of Palestine welcome the support of Friends of the Earth International in our struggle against the Isareli occupation.  We appreciate FoEI's belief in our struggles against Israeli environmental violations. We hope to continue working together for international solidarity against Israel's crimes. This conference is a means to recognize the shared responsibility of Palestinians and internationals and improve the education, awareness building, and advocacy in order to achieve eco-justice in Palestine.
This can only take place on the ground with the help and support of the international community."

Eurig Scandrett, from FoE Scotland participated in the observer mission and addressed the conference on behalf of FoEI. He said "having heard reports of multiple environmental violations perpetrated by Israel, by the settlements and the military occupation of the West Bank, and by the bombing and contamination of Gaza, it is important for environmentalists not to cooperate with any organisation which accepts or normalises the occupation or colludes with the Israeli occupiers."

The final day of the conference was a field trip to the areas affected by the Israeli violations against the environment. Participants saw the wastewater that is dumped onto Wadi Foukeen Village from Betar Settlement and how it has destroyed the agricultural land. They also went to a town near Hebron city called Ethna where electronic and other solid waste is transferred from Israel and the settlements, then broken up and burnt in this town to extract the copper and steel that is then transferred to Israel again. This is really an environmental catastrophe.

This conference devised an action plan between different working bodies, ministries civil organizations and environmental activists, through dialogue and interaction with one another. The conference also called on environmental groups not to cooperate with any organisation which accepts or normalises the occupation or colludes with the Israeli occupiers.