Mar 08, 2012
Daniel Pentzlin introduces Farming Money, Friends of the Earth Europe's latest report that looks at how European banks and private finance profit from food speculation and land grabs.
One cause for the 2008 and 2010/11 food crises is the huge growth in financial speculation. It led to prices no longer being solely driven by supply and demand, but increasingly by the actions of financial speculators and the performance of their investments.
Companies, investment funds and sovereign wealth funds are increasingly investing in land to hedge their price risks, driving land grabs.
In January 2012, FoEE published the study “Farming Money”. It shows that a broad list of EU-based private financial institutions – banks, pension funds and insurance companies – are involved in trading or marketing investment products based on agricultural commodity futures or other agricultural commodity derivatives and complex instruments. Some of those which seem most involved are Deutsche Bank, Barclays, the Dutch pension fund ABP, the German financial services group Allianz and French banking group BNP Paribas.
A significant number of financial institutions across Europe appear to also be involved in financing land grabs directly or indirectly. Allianz has a fund that invests in Bulgarian agricultural land, Deutsche Bank has a fund that invests in Brazilian farm land, and a subsidiary of the Italian insurance group Generali has purchased land in Romania. Other financial institutions have financed agribusinesses with explicit links to land grabs and human rights abuses, notably ABP in Mozambique, AXA in India and HSBC in Uganda.
The study recommends a set of key measures to regulate EU financial markets and tighten corporate policies on financial services and investments in food commodity derivatives and land deals. In order to avoid excessive speculation influencing food prices, the de-regulation that has taken place over the last 20 years must be reversed.
Caps on the size of the bets speculators can make, so called ‘hard position limits’, are essential to tackle excessive speculation. The EU proposals must be strengthened and improved supervisory capacities must be introduced.
Private financial institutions, including banks, pension funds and investors, should liquidate their open positions in food commodity derivatives and related funds and refrain from further activities that are not directly linked to hedging for farmers, food processing companies and related commercial traders. Fund managers and financial service providers should apply strict codes of conduct on the use and sale of food commodity products and agricultural land investment, as well as respective financial services.
Jan 27, 2012
At a press conference within view of the World Economic Forum (WEF) a banking giant and construction giant have been crowned the world's worst companies.
The jury prize was awarded to the British banking corporation Barclays, for its food speculation at the expense of the world’s poorest people. The People’s Award went to Vale. 88,766 people cast their votes online.
The organisers recognized two corporations that are exemplary cases of those WEF members and corporations whose social and ecological offenses reveal the downside of pure profitoriented globalization.
For its food speculation practices, the expert panel conferred the Public Eye Global Award on British banking giant Barclays. As the fastest-growing food speculator in the world, Barclays drives up food prices at the expense of the poorest. In just the second half of 2010, 44 million people worldwide were driven into extreme
poverty due to rising food prices.
“We hope this award will encourage European lawmakers to introduce tough regulations to curb food speculation and stop banks gambling with food prices while nearly a billion people go hungry. Women, children and elderly people in the Global South are often the hardest hit by food speculation,” said Amy Horton of World Development Movement, the NGO that nominated Barclays for the award.
A new record of people voted via the web for the Public Eye People’s Award. The most votes (25,041) went to Vale, followed closely by Tepco (24,245) and Samsung (19,014).
Vale is Brazil’s second-largest corporation, the world’s second-largest mining firm, and the largest global producer of iron ore. The corporation has a 60-year history tarnished by repeated human rights abuses, inhumane working conditions and the ruthless exploitation of nature. Vale is currently taking part in the construction of the Belo Monte Dam in the Amazon. The dam is likely to result in the forced relocation of 40,000 people, who have neither a voice in the matter nor will they likely receive compensation.
Jan 11, 2012
Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Brazil urge you to vote for the construction company behind Brazil's Belo Monte Dam - currently displacing 40,000 people in the Amazon - to be crowned the worst corporation of the year.
Vale, the Brazilian mining company present in 38 countries and the largest iron-ore mining corporation in the world is one of six finalists for the Public Eye Award, which annually elects the worst company in the world by popular vote and announces the winner during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Cast your vote now!
The company's entry in mid-2010 in the Northern Consortium Energia SA, responsible for building the Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River in Para, was considered by the organizers of the award the determining factor for their inclusion in the list of six finalists in the Public Eye this year.
Vale owns 9% stake in the consortium, which will be responsible for the forced displacement of about 40,000 people, directly and indirectly reaching 14 indigenous communities of the Middle Xingu, flooding and drying 668 square kilometers, and drying out 100 kilometers of the Big Bend River of the Xingu.
The other nominees for the award are, the banking giant Barclays, the US mining corporation Freeport, South Korean electronics giant Samsung, the world’s largest agrochemical producer Syngenta and the Japanese energy company Tepco.
Nov 16, 2011
Friends of the Earth International is inspired and energized by the current unfolding of world-historic, transformative events. From the popular uprisings in Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula to the indignados of Europe, from the encampments of the #occupy movement to the student movements in Latin America and the UK, people from all over the world are calling for economic and socio-political justice.
Friends of the Earth International's Executive Committee show solidarity with the Occupy Edinburgh movement, October 2011.
Our history of campaigning against transnational corporations and environmentally destructive economic policies has clearly indicated that we must attain economic justice in order to save the planet.
We believe that the vast inequalities lived by the 99% today are the consequence of the globalized capitalist system which subsidizes dirty industry and invests in military expansion at the expense of securing healthy and just economies with strong social services.
This system has resulted in a legacy of ecological devastation that will be passed on to our children and to the many generations thereafter.
Friends of the Earth International’s key struggles for environmental justice take place at the local level. Whether we are defending the rights and livelihoods of people in Ogoniland, Palestine, Ireland or Honduras, we stand together in the struggle against economic injustice and corporate greed. To save our communities and our environment, we stand united in calling for a profound transformation of the current globalized political economic system.
In many parts of the world people are losing their livelihoods and social security as a result of an expanding economic crisis. In addition, many people are suffering the impacts of other ongoing related crises: in food and water, forests and biodiversity, energy and climate. Each of these crises is the result of an economic system that promotes the endless commodification, privatization and over-consumption of our common natural resources. We see how these crises only exacerbate global socio-economic inequalities.
We also believe that the growing economic inequalities within our societies are coupled with growing inequalities in political power. The great majority of us live within broken, unresponsive political systems. The influence of big business has expanded to such an extent that our national and global governance institutions have largely been captured by corporate lobbyists. The world's democratic institutions should by definition serve the peoples' interest, and in so doing also protect our environment. But if our democratic institutions fail to represent the common good, if our national and global governance institutions are controlled by corporate interests instead, then we must mobilize to the streets to demand that the system changes. Today, the transformation of our world begins with people mobilizing and demanding real, systemic change.
an alternative system
We cannot expect the same global market model that has caused climate change, ecological destruction and poverty to solve the problems we are facing today . We must work together to strengthen our resistance to this system. We must work to create new, transformative economic models that promote our collective prosperity, social equity and real environmental sustainability. We strongly believe that an alternative system must be created, and it must include both environmental and economic justice at its core. We must create economies not for profit, but for life.
The spirit of the times is one of urgency. We at Friends of the Earth International, along with other allied social movement organizations, recognize our own struggles in the struggles of the 99%. We offer our solidarity and our support, and we join this movement whole heartedly.
Mobilize, Resist and Transform!
Oct 21, 2011
Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka is celebrating a recent court victory that will dramatically reduce the amount of lead in paints made and imported into Sri Lanka.
The Consumer Authority of Sri Lanka has set guidelines to the manufacturers and importers of paints regarding the lead content of their products. Sri Lanka is one of the countries which has high lead levels.
The Consumer Affairs Authority published the standards for lead in paints in response to the Fundamental Rights application filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) /Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka in the Supreme Court.
Speaking about the victory CEJ Executive Director Hemantha Withanage said: "The standards just established are a great achievement for consumers who get contaminated every minute due to unknown toxics in consumer products such as decorative paints at home, in the school or in the work place".
The ruling states that no manufacturer, importer, packer, distributor or trader shall manufacture, import and use or distribute, pack, store or sell or display for sale, expose for sale or offer for sale, wholesale or retail any paints unless such paints shall conform to the corresponding Total Lead Content given hereunder as specified by the Sri Lanka Standard Institution for such paints.
Permissible maximum lead content Paints for toys and accessories for children (soluble in HCI acid) 90 mg/kg, Enamel Paints 600 mg/kg, Emulsion Paints for Exterior use 90 mg/kg, Emulsion Paints for Interior use 90 mg/kg and Floor Paints 600 mg/kg.
In the application Hemantha Withanage sought the Consumer Affairs Authority and others to formulate suitable regulations to compel the manufacturers and distributors to comply with the international standards relating to the presence of lead in paints considering the serious health impacts caused by adding lead to decorative paints.
Lead in paints is highly toxic. It is especially damaging to children. It impacts over 40 million children worldwide, more than 97 per cent of those live in developing countries.
May 26, 2011
Friends of the Earth Europe has produced a spoof newspaper ‘European Noise’ to highlight the baseless and irresponsible lobby influence of BusinessEurope against climate action.
Campaigners singled out prominent EU lobby group and summit organiser, BusinessEurope, for blocking ambitious climate action. BusinessEurope presents itself as the voice of the business community when in fact it favours the most polluting industries and denies there are economic benefits for Europe of early action against climate change.
Friends of the Earth is calling on European policy-makers to reject the skewed arguments of BusinessEurope.
Sonja Meister, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said:
“BusinessEurope has been resisting tougher emission reduction targets and obstructing the climate action we desperately need. BusinessEurope speaks on behalf of the most polluting sectors of industry and ignores its members which have realised ambitious climate policies can be good for our economy and create millions of jobs. BusinessEurope is pushing Europe into the role of laggard in the fight against climate change and decision-makers should stop accepting their arguments.”
The European Business Summit is Brussels' biggest lobby forum and is attended by business leaders and prominent EU decision-makers. This year ten European Commissioners, including Commission President Barroso, will participate. The theme of the event is ‘Europe in the world: leading or lagging?’.
Summit organisers claim, ‘EU decision-makers should put companies first for Europe to maintain a leading position in the world’. Friends of the Earth Europe believes that it is exactly this approach that is fuelling the climate crisis, and has led to Europe’s most severe financial crisis in the last 80 years.
Dec 02, 2010
RWE (npower), Goldman Sachs and derivatives lobby group ISDA have been given the dubious honour of being named the Worst EU Lobbyists of 2010. The results of the dual climate and finance categories of the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2010 have been revealed during a ceremony outside the ISDA office in Brussels.
Citizens across Europe participated in an online public vote for the most deserving of the climate and finance nominees. Voters sent a clear message to EU transparency and ethics Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič that a major clean-up of the Brussels lobbying scene is urgently needed, and it’s time the European Commission put public interest above the commercial interests of large companies.
In the climate category, German energy giant RWE’s subsidiary npower, nominated for claiming to be green while lobbying to keep its dirty coal- and oil-fired power plants open, won with 58% of the total vote. BusinessEurope, nominated for its aggressive lobbying to block effective climate action in the EU while claiming to support action to protect the climate, took second place with 24% of the total votes and Arcelor-Mittal, the steel Industry "fat cat", came in third with 18% of the total votes.
Nina Katzemich, speaking for the organisers of the 2010 Worst EU Lobbying Awards, said: "These awards show that people around Europe are fed up with deceptive lobbying practices used by big business when it comes to climate regulation. RWE claims to be green but has pulled out all the stops to keep its dirty power plants open, promoting their profits over public interests. If the European Commission is serious about tackling climate change, it must stop listening one-sidedly to corporations. It can make a new start – now, in Cancun.”
In the finance category, Goldman Sachs and derivatives lobby group ISDA, nominated for aggressive lobbying to defend their ‘financial weapons of mass destruction’, took first place with 59% of the total vote. Royal Bank of Scotland (23%) took second, nominated for secretly lobbying in Brussels and for exploiting insider contacts. Hedge funds and private equity lobby groups AIMA and EVCA (18%) took third, nominated for deceptive lobbying to block regulation of damaging speculation in the financial sector.
Paul de Clerck friends of the Earth International corporates campaigner said:
"Despite the unprecedented crisis following the financial meltdown, intense lobbying by large banks and investment firms continues to delay and seriously water-down much-needed regulatory reforms. While people around the world are suffering severe consequences, corporate lobbyists are blocking any measure that could limit the massive profits of banks. This is unacceptable. We call on the European Commission to put an end to the privileged access granted to big business, for instance limiting their access to EU advisory groups on future financial regulation."
The awards are part of an ongoing campaign to expose and counter dirty lobbying tactics and privileged access impacting on EU decision-making.
For more information about this year’s nominees, and to follow future developments, please visit: www.worstlobby.eu
Sep 16, 2010
Friends of the Earth Mozambique / Environmental Justice are fighting one of the country's most powerful businesses, an aluminium producer, which has been granted permission to pollute the air for six months.
Mozal the company that owns the Aliminium smelter, one of the largest in the world, is refurbishing its smoke and gas treatment centres (filters) and have asked the government for the right to carry on production without these treatment centres in place.
Environmental groups in Mozambique, including Environmental Justice (JA!), have said that the unfiltered fumes being pumped out of the smelter will affect towns and villages within 40-100 kilometres from the source causing a serious risk to public health.
According to JA! the unfiltered substances being released from the smelter can cause severe irritation to the skin, eyes, airways and an increased risk of lung cancer.
JA! and other environmental groups in the Mozambique are lobbying the government and Mozal for there to be a public debate on the serious issue.
To date there has not been an Environmental Impact Assessment and therefore it's unclear to everyone what the impact will be of operating without filters. However, JA! can only conclude that the filters, when in place, significantly reduce air pollution or Mozal would not be investing $10 million in their renovation.
In addition, JA! have looked at a similar case, from October 2004, at a smelter in South Africa owned by Mozal's parent company BHP Billiton.
In that instance the filters were put out of service for only 72 hours and the company issue issued a press release calling for "people with asthma and others with respiratory problems, or who have low tolerance for smoke and dust, to remain indoors".
Now BHP Billiton are claiming that they can perform the same operation for six months without any significant risk. This makes JA! question the difference of criteria and behaviour of BHP Billiton in South Africa and Mozambique.
JA! have collected more than 14,000 signatures calling for a public debate on the renovation project which is scheduled to go ahead in November 2010.
Jun 09, 2010
Support the campaign to introduce a tiny tax on bankers that would give billions to tackle poverty and climate change around the world.
The Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax on banks and other financial institutions that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change, at home and abroad.
It can start as low as 0.005 per cent - and average 0.05 per cent . But when levied on the billions of dollars, pounds, euro and yen sloshing round the global finance system every day through transactions such as foreign exchange, derivatives trading and share deals, it can raise hundreds of billions of pounds every year.
What would it cover?
It would include transactions involving stocks, bonds, foreign exchange, and derivatives (including trade of futures and options related to stocks, interest rate securities, currencies and commodities).
It would cover all transactions traded on exchanges as well as off-exchange or "over the counter" (OTC).
It would be limited to transactions between financial market actors. Ordinary consumer transactions such as payments for goods, paychecks and cross-border remittances would not be subject to the Robin Hood Tax. Short-term inter-bank lending and central bank operations would also be excluded from the Robin Hood Tax.
Angela Merkel (the German Chancellor) and Nicolas Sarkozy (the French President) have all spoken out in support of a tax on financial transactions.
Plenty of business bigwigs are on-board too. Lord Turner (from the UK Financial Services Authority), George Soros (the philanthropist) and Warren Buffet (US businessman extraordinaire) have all backed transaction taxes. And then there are the hundreds of economists who have backed the idea, too.
This isn't some crazy pipedream. It's a simple and brilliant idea which transcends party politics and which - with your support - can become a reality.
Please sign the petition on the Friends of the Earth Europe website calling on the The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to support the tax.
Take action and find out more
May 28, 2010
A meeting of the World Bank in Brussels on May 27 was targeted by campaigners who urged it to stop financing fossil fuel projects.
Activists gathered outside the meeting at which bankers, EU officials, industry representatives and other stakeholders were discussing the future of the bank’s energy lending. They staged a peaceful 'black comedy' and handed out dirty contracts for so-called 'clean coal' to expose the disastrous impacts of the bank’s financing on climate change and the world’s poorest people. Civil society representatives later went inside to participate in the consultation.
The World Bank has ear-marked massive funds for investment in fossil fuels, especially large coal projects. Between 2007 and 2009, the World Bank increased funding for fossil fuels by 22%. Since 2007 the World Bank Group has provided $6.6 billion for coal-based energy development. This strategy locks developing countries into carbon intensive energy models for decades instead of helping developing countries to make the transition to sustainable energy production.
The latest illustration of the bank's climate-damaging lending is the Eskom project in South Africa, to which the World Bank approved a $3.75 billion loan in April. Most of the money will be used for the building of the Medupi power plant, one of the largest and dirtiest coal fired plants in the world. Over 165 civil society groups and some governments were opposed to the World Bank loan to Eskom, because of its disastrous environmental and climate impacts, and as it will mainly benefit large foreign multinational corporations to the detriment of South Africans, perpetuating a serious energy apartheid in the country.
Anne-Sophie Simpère of Friends of the Earth France said:
"The World Bank should use its energy strategy review to stop financing fossil fuels and to redirect its investments to renewable energies and energy efficiency. The World Bank must make the needs of local communities and the global need to fight climate change paramount in its lending policy."
Similar demonstrations have taken place in South Africa and the United States.
May 06, 2010
A new report warns that global development of tar sands will magnify the climate crisis and damage the EU’s environment and development objectives.
Pressure is on high-level representatives from the EU and Canada to discuss the issue of tar sands and Europe’s aim to limit greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels through its Fuel Quality Directive. Political attention currently focuses on Canada as the major producer of oil from tar sands, but the new report reveals that investment by European oil companies – such as BP, Shell, Total and ENI – is expanding with developments around the world including in the Republic of Congo, Venezuela, Madagascar, Russia, Jordan and Egypt, with potentially disastrous consequences for the climate and local communities.
Read the report here
Darek Urbaniak, extractives campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:
“Europe risks becoming a climate villain if it does not take effective action to prevent the entry of oil from tar sands into European markets. The environmental damage caused by tar sands may be outside the EU, but the trail of destruction leads to its door.”
The report reveals that the current EU proposal for the implementation of the Fuel Quality Directive does not penalise oil products from high-carbon sources, treating oil produced from tar sands as conventional oil. This could allow an influx of oil from tar sands – heavily criticised for its poor environmental and social record – into Europe.
Paul de Clerck, economic justice campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:
“The Fuel Quality Directive is supposed to benefit the climate, but the latest proposal from the European Commission leaves the European market wide open for energy-intensive fuels produced from tar sands. The EU should be a global standard-setter, and should refrain from giving political or financial assistance to tar sands projects, instead incentivising low carbon projects like renewables.”
The vast infrastructure and capital requirements of tar sands (estimated around US$ 379 billion in the next 15 years in Canada alone) would be better spent financing the shift towards a low-carbon economy, and on efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the report says.
Nov 20, 2009
The Croation Ministry of Environment is attempting to shut down Zelena akcija/FoE Croatia due to a peaceful protest the group held in March.
Zagreb, Croatia, Sept 23, 2009 -- The Croatian Ministry of the Environment, Spatial Planning and Construction has launched a case at the Court of Offences in Zagreb against the biggest Croatian Environmental NGO, Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia, threatening its closure with a fine of 50.000 to 110.000 euros for a peaceful protest action held in front of the Ministry on 12th March 2009.
The action consisted of a small group of activists exhibiting empty cans of paint and varnish in the shape of a question mark for 7 hours in front of the Ministry to protest at the Ministry's failure to implement the Waste Act and provide collection points for waste paint. The Ministry, however, in its statement described it as illegal dumping of waste, which carries a fine of 50.000 to 110.000 euros - a sum which would bankrupt the NGO.
Ironically, the action was successful and led to the provision of free waste paint disposal services at the recycling yards in Zagreb.
"The Ministry must drop the court case immediately and concentrate on the real polluters", said Tomislav Tomasevic the President of the Zelena akcija / FoE Croatia. "A fine of 50.000 - 110.000 euros for a peaceful protest action is ridiculous, particularly considering that Croatian oil company INA was fined just 15.000 euros in 2005 for decades of choking air pollution in the city of Sisak, and even then the judge imposing the fine was removed from his position afterwards".
"It is hard to see this court case as anything other than an attempt by the Ministry to silence the biggest and most successful environmental NGO in Croatia," added Jagoda Munic, the Vice-President of the NGO. "It is an embarrassing step backwards for a government which sees itself as leading the country towards EU membership".
Zelena akcija / FoE Croatia also calls on the Prime Minister Ms. Jadranka Kosor to take action against the politically responsible people in the Ministry.
For more information contact:
Tomislav Tomasevic, president of Zelena akcija / FoE Croatia
+385 98 719253, or email email@example.com
Nov 16, 2009
Vote for the company or lobby group you think is doing the most to sabotage effective action on climate change.
The Angry Mermaid Award has been set up to recognise the perverse role of corporate lobbyists, and highlight those business groups and companies that have made the greatest effort to sabotage the climate talks, and other climate measures, while promoting, often profitable, false solutions.
The award is named after the iconic mermaid statue in Copenhagen - where crucial climate talks will take place this December. The mermaid is angry about the destruction being caused by climate change.
Tell us who you think is the biggest culprit by casting your vote online now!
Sep 17, 2009
Europe is using increasing quantities of the world’s natural resources, according to a new report launched by Friends of the Earth Europe.
According to a new report launched by Friends of the Earth Europe at the 'World Resources Forum' in Switzerland, Europe is more dependant on imported resources than other global regions.
The extraction and use of natural resources such as food crops, fossil fuels, minerals, agrofuels and timber has major environmental and social impacts.
Case studies in the report – including of oil extraction in Nigeria and biofuel production in Indonesia - demonstrate some of these impacts. Europe does not just import such materials directly, it also imports them as part of finished products, for example a computer imported from China will have large amounts of resources associated with its production.
Dr Michael Warhurst, who leads Friends of the Earth Europe’s Resources and Consumption campaign, said:
“Europe is using an ever-increasing amount of the world’s resources, and our society is already very dependent on imports of materials – yet we have no targets to reduce this resource use, and new policies are not assessed for their potential to increase our resource efficiency.
Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on the EU to take the first steps to tackle this issue through ensuring that our resource use is measured, and by adopting new policies to increase our resource efficiency, such as higher recycling targets. The EU must also start to devise long term targets and strategies in order to radically reduce our resource use.”
Friends of the Earth Europe and Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI) have analysed possible methods of measuring Europe’s resource use, and are proposing that four key aspects be covered: material use (the focus of this report), land use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions. Each of these analyses must properly account for the impacts of Europe’s consumption on the rest of the world, by incorporating the ‘rucksack’ of the resources used to make products which are imported into Europe.
Dr Warhurst added:
“In order to continue to thrive on this planet, our societies will need to become less resource dependent, so that we are able to protect our natural resource base and the fragile eco-systems on our planet.”
Europe is using more than its fair share of resources, and reducing our consumption will also free more resources to increase the quality of life in the developing world. In addition, a more resource-efficient economy will be a competitive advantage for Europe as resource availability becomes more constrained in the future.”
Read the full report here.
Jul 23, 2009
Thousands of indigenous Guatemalans took to the streets in July to demonstrate against a new mining law and a cement company threatening to damage rural communities.
Nearly 15,000 indigenous Guatemalans began a march this week to the country's capital and blockaded roads to demand the suspension of a new mining law, a law they say will be extremely damaging to rural communities.
The indigenous community had previously held consultations where the population expressed their rejection to mining extraction projects, and the new mining law would render these agreements void.
Furthermore, the community of San Juan Sacatepéquez is calling on cement company Holcim-Cementos Progreso to leave their territories. The company aims to install a plant that would start operating in 2012.
Members of the Friends of the Earth Guatemala/CEIBA said the residents that would be affected by the Holcim-Cementos Progreso project are mainly craftspeople and flower harvesters.
They claim that the cement company's plans to “mitigate” the environmental impacts including reforestation with eucalyptus, something that would have even more serious consequences on the water sources.
call to suspend mining licenses
Real World Radio interviewed Alfonso Morales, leader of the Maya Mam organization in Huehuetenango, on the north west border with Mexico. His organization and others calling for an immediate suspension of mining licenses, and for the approval of the Integral Rural Development Law, which promotes the local and peasant economy.
“Thousands of indigenous people have taken to the streets to defend the 25 mining consultations carried out in Huehuetenango”, said Morales. He also expressed concern about the criminalization of local leaders in the area as a result of their outspokenness.
Former presidential candidate and human rights advocate, Rigoberta Menchu, is warning about the possibility that the country's most powerful sectors might orchestrate a coup d'état against President Alvaro Colom due to the current climate of social agitation.
See the photos of the demonstrations here
Listen to an the interview with Alfonso Morales here on Real World Radio
Jun 10, 2009
Damning evidence reveals Shell’s complicity in crimes against humanity as a landmark case is resolved in favour of families of executed Nigerian environmental leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and others after a 14 year legal battle.
After legal battles lasting nearly fourteen years, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has been forced to pay a $15.5 million out-of-court settlement. Plaintiffs from the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta have successfully held Shell accountable for complicity in human rights atrocities committed against the Ogoni people in the 1990s, including the execution of writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. The legal action is one of the few cases brought under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute that have been resolved in favour of the plaintiffs. The settlement includes establishment of a $5 million trust to benefit local communities in Ogoni.
“Shell could not stand the damage of bad publicity around this human rights case. Global campaigners have helped to highlight Shell's abuses and we share in this historic victory” he continued.
Han Shan from the ShellGuilty campaign said: “This case should be a wake up call to multinational corporations that they will be held accountable for violations of international law, no matter where they occur,”
This settlement though will not put an end to the daily struggles people throughout the Niger Delta face as a result of Shell's activities in the region. Despite this victory, justice will not be served in Ogoni and throughout the Delta until the gas flares are put out, the spills cleaned up, and the military stops protecting the oil companies and starts serving the people. This issue will not be solved until these legitimate grievances of the community are addressed.
the fight goes on
The next phase of the struggle continues with another case with an Ogoni plaintiff pending in the New York District Court, and a further legal action in The Hague, Netherlands, where Royal Dutch Shell is headquartered. The company faces a legal action there for repeated oil spills, brought by residents of the Niger Delta, with support from Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Friends of the Earth Nigeria.
“Shell will be dragged from the boardroom to the courthouse, time and again, until the company addresses the injustices at the root of the Niger Delta crisis and put an end to its environmental devastation,” says Anne van Schaik from Friends of the Earth Netherlands.
“Communities, human rights lawyers and activists will continue to demand justice with the same determination and hope shown by Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni people.”
May 26, 2009
The European Parliament elections will take place from 4-7 June. Now is the time to call on your MP to stop the corporate lobby's influence on EU policies.
Currently, more than 15,000 professional lobbyists are present within the halls of the EU institutions, a large majority of these representing business interests. Many of these corporate lobbyists are being granted privileged access to EU-decision-makers, often resulting in delaying, weakening or blocking urgently needed progress on social, environmental and consumer protection regulation.
The Commission’s existing voluntary lobbying register is inadequate: most lobbyists have not registered or fail to provide crucial information such as the names of individual lobbyists, what issues they lobby on, and how much money is involved in their lobbying operation. Moreover, the current laws do not address the influence of lobbyists over EU decision-making and raise serious concerns over the EU’s impartiality and democratic principle.
European citizens need to know who is influencing EU decision-making and how much money is involved. For the sake of democracy and transparency, it is essential to create a mandatory lobby register to which all lobbyists have to sign up and that gives clear information on the interests represented and how much money is involved.
We need strong Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) ready to fight for the ambitious social and environmental policy targets we know we need. In order to put corporate interests in their place, lobbying transparency and high ethical standards for EU policy makers are essential.
Take action now!
EU readers should go to Friends of the Earth Europe's Election Campaign Website and ask their parliamentary candidate to end corporate dominance in the EU today.
Global Europe: The tyranny of "free trade", the European way
Read our new analysis of the EU's 'Global Europe' strategy. This strategy is set out to support the profit of European corporations instead of people and the environment. Find out more.
Apr 07, 2009
Campaign organizations denounce the EU's continuing contribution to the financial crisis.
On April Fools day 2009 Brussels-based environment, development,
farming and transparency campaign organizations denounced the EU's
continuing contribution to the financial crisis and the limited
solutions it advocated at the G20 with a theatre spectacle in front
of the European Council.
Politicians and citizens battled their way out of the financial crisis, to the backdrop of a stock-exchange on stilts - all part of "Financial Fools Day", a global day of action on the eve of the G20 meeting in London.
Alex Wilks from the European Network on Debt and Development said:
"The ostrich approach to regulation -- put your head in the sand and hope for the best -- has been exposed as a sham, as many protesters have said for years. European companies and governments bear a big responsibility for the current crisis. Yet EU proposals for the G20 offer little for ordinary citizens in Europe, and the pledges for the world's poorer regions to be announced tomorrow will be a mere drop in the ocean compared to the dramatic impact of the crisis."
Friends of the Earth Europe and the other groups involved are concerned that European governments are bailing out the banks responsible for the crisis without demanding significant regulatory concessions in exchange. European governments are relying on the advice of controversial bankers, continuing to promote further financial services liberalization in trade negotiations, and failing to regulate European-based hedge funds.
are being hard hit by the financial and economic crisis, but are being
given no additional support by European governments.
Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth Europe said:
"We are witnessing not just a financial crisis, but a global systemic crisis with environmental, social, economic and democratic dimensions. Banks need to be held fully accountable for the impacts they have on the environment, food prices, destruction of biodiversity, climate change. To tackle this crisis we need a radical departure from the current economic and social model."
Apr 01, 2009
Thousands of protesters descended on European cities calling for green jobs, fair distribution of wealth and climate issues to be addressed by the G20 leaders.
The first of the protests took place on March 28 when 35,000 people marched for jobs, justice and climate with the 'Put People First' coalition of which Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland (EWNI) is a founding member. As part of their involvement, EWNI arranged for several climate activists to speak at the rally, including Biana Jagger, Tony Juniper and Father Joe Komakom. They spoke powerfully and eloquently about the urgency of the climate crisis and the impact of climate change on the poorest people in the world.
There were additional protests from Friends of the Earth member groups across Europe, including actions in France and Belgium under the name 'We Won't Pay for Your Crisis'.
Friends of the Earth International strongly supports the coalition's call for a fair, sustainable route out of recession and for an economy based on fair distribution of wealth, decent jobs for all and a low carbon future. The G20 summit was a meeting of the world's leaders which aimed to agree coordinated action to address the current economic crisis, as well as a blueprint for future reform of the world financial system. We demand that world leaders break with the failed policies of the past and embrace a new system that seeks to make the economy work for people and the planet.
Whilst the G20 summit itself was hugely disappointing – the world’s leaders failing to take any significant action to address climate change, the continuing global financial crisis and its impact on some of the poorest people in the world – throughout the UK's G20 presidency EWNI will continue to call for real action on green jobs, and economic and climate justice.
- Find out more about the Put People First movement -
- Find out more about the Stop G20 movement in France -
Mar 19, 2009
Bloomberg Philanthropies has awarded Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria for their extreme efforts in monitoring tobacco companies.
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA) received an award this year from the 2009 Bloomberg Awards for Global Tobacco Control at the 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Mumbai, India. The group was applauded for monitoring and publicizing tobacco industry activities intended to increase tobacco use and undermine tobacco control efforts.
ERA has extensively monitored and exposed the marketing activities of the tobacco industry. They have faced the industry's numerous attempts to undermine tobacco control policies in Nigeria head-on by exposing the front groups used by the industry to carry out its activities. Furthermore, they have highlighted unfair practices towards tobacco farmers and indifference to child labor.
The award for excellence in monitoring was accepted by Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, Programme Manager, ERA.
"Sadly, Africa is the newest frontier for tobacco companies," Mr. Oluwafemi said.
"Tobacco companies have mapped out the tender lungs of our youth and women as enormous profit opportunities. This is what ERA is dedicated to resisting."