Dec 19, 2013
The outcome of the World Trade Organisation’s Ministerial Conference held in Bali, Indonesia, from December 3rd through 7th, is a “great disaster for peoples’ lives and for Mother Earth”.
Listen to the interview with Lucia Ortiz: MP3 (6.8 MB)
This was the assessment made by the coordinator of the Economic Justice Program of Friends of the Earth International, Lucia Ortiz, in interview with Real World Radio.
The Brazilian activist attended the WTO talks in Bali and said the resolutions adopted there are a threat to food sovereignty, which would lead to more “hunger and death”.
On December 3rd, several social movements, organizations and civil society groups demonstrated in Bali and in Geneva, Switzerland against the corporate capture of the WTO negotiations and of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The groups, which are part of the international campaign “Dismantle Corporate Power and End Impunity”, had demanded legally binding rules to punish transnational corporations for their crimes.
Ortiz highlighted the social movements’ demonstrations and actions in Bali. There was a memorial in honor of South Korean peasant Lee Kyung Hae who killed himself during the protests held in Cancun, Mexico, against the WTO negotiations on September 10th, 2003. With this memorial the demonstrators wanted to show what the WTO does to peasants.
Ortiz said that, contrary to the demands of social movements, the WTO passed a legally binding package to facilitate trade.
“Not even the measures to protect the least developed countries were achieved here. They (developed countries) keep only empty promises by an organization whose aim is to deliver trade liberalization and business for corporations”, said Lucia Ortiz.
Real World Radio presents the assessment by Friends of the Earth’s Food Sovereignty program coordinator Kirtana Chandrasekaran on the latest decisions of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on agrofuels.
Chandrasekaran speaks about the CFS resolutions regarding investments in smallholder agriculture and civil society’s role in the committee.
Real World Radio also interviewed environmental activist Otto Bruun, from Friends of the Earth Finland, who focused on the role of social movements and organizations in the so called “Civil Society Mechanism”.
The CFS decisions on investment in smallholder agriculture and agrofuels, which go in different directions in terms of tackling world hunger, were negotiated and adopted by the governments at the CFS 40th session held in Rome, Italy, from October 7 to 11. Both Chandrasekaran and Bruun, as well as co-coordinator of FoEI’s Food Sovereignty Program, Martin Drago, attended the CFS talks in Rome.
The Committee on World Food Security is a multilateral agency reformed in 2009 to include the participation of different stakeholders in the debate on food security and nutrition. In 2011, the CFS commissioned reports on two different issues to a High Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. As regards the investment in smallholder agriculture, the CFS followed the panel’s recommendations, while it dismissed its assessment on agrofuels.
Dec 10, 2013
9th of December 2013 – In response to years of pressure from civil society, Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil trader, has just announced a “No deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation Policy”.
Friends of the Earth International and many Friends of the Earth member groups have
campaigned for years to end Wilmar’s destructive, unsustainable, and often illegal practices. The ravages of the palm oil sector are well known and well documented, and we need urgent action to reduce the massive harm caused to forests and communities by industrial palm oil plantations.
We are strongly cognizant that Wilmar’s commitment to improvement comes in the wake of many years of land-grabbing, fueling of conflicts, destruction of endangered habitat, and other abuses – all of which has rewarded Wilmar and its associates with enormous profits, and established the company as the world’s largest palm oil trader.
Given this history, and the context within which transnational corporations such as Wilmar
operate, Friends of the Earth recognizes that a voluntary commitment by Wilmar, no matter how broad, can only be fully effective when accompanied and overseen by strong national legislation and international norms to prevent systematic exploitation of lands, lives and livelihoods, and by the full empowerment of local communities and community-based organizations to determine the best use of their lands and resources.
Friends of the Earth has documented several ongoing cases of social and environmental abuse involving Wilmar, its subsidiaries, and its third party suppliers. These cases demonstrate that Wilmar’s membership in the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil did not prevent it from violating the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities or from deforesting large areas.
In light of this, Wilmar needs to take immediate steps to demonstrate that it takes this new policy seriously. These steps include bringing an immediate end to conversion of natural forest to plantations; halting its purchasing of palm oil from Bumitama Agri Ltd.; immediate adherence to national laws in Uganda and all the countries where it operates; and the full and demonstrable application of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in all of its operations, including consideration for returning lands which were previously acquired without communities’ consent and through processes which did not respect their ownership rights. Without these concrete and immediate actions, the statement of Wilmar will be merely greenwash to prevent pressure from civil society groups.
Friends of the Earth will be closely monitoring the implementation of Wilmar’s stated
Image: Riau palm oil 2007