Dec 10, 2013
Hoy, 10 de diciembre, es el Día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos, por ello desde Amigos de la Tierra Internacional, nos gustaría brindar especial atención a todos los defensores y defensoras ambientalistas cuyos derechos están siendo violados por los intereses económicos de grandes corporaciones y gobiernos. Nos gustaría invitarles hoy a que vean este video y realicen una simple acción, por la comunidad indígena Lenca que habita los territorios de Río Blanco, Intibucá, Honduras.
ALERTA! ¡Las comunidades de Río Blanco están en peligro!
La policía Hondureña amenaza con cometer una masacre en los territorios de la comunidad indígena Lenca de Río blanco, Intibucá, que se oponen a la construcción ilegal e ilegitíma de una represa. La escalada de represión en contra de las comunidades en resistencia ha llegado al extremo de violentar la vida cotidiana de sus pobladores. La policía, la Corte Suprema y el gobierno hondureño parecen obedecer más a los suculentos intereses económicos internacionales del proyecto, a pesar de las fatales consecuencias que este puede traer a la población local.
Las amenzas a la comunidad continúan.
El día primero de noviembre del presente año efectivos de la policía hondureña fuertemente armados y encapuchados irrumpieron en la comunidad indígena de La Tejera. Forzaron puertas de las casas en busca del presidente del consejo indígena Lenca y amenazaron con disparar a niños, niñas y ancianas. Este hecho se suma al listado de agresiones con las que el Estado de honduras criminaliza y persigue a las comunidades indígenas organizadas en el COPINH (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras) , quienes se han opuesto públicamente a la construcción de esta represa tan controvertida.
Por favor vean este video con los testimonios de la comunidad Lenca donde explican cómo la policía les está amenazando constantemente
Les pedimos que vean este video y que hagan una llamada a los números que pueden encontrar acá abajo:
- díganles su nombre y el país del que llaman
- díganles que han visto este video y que temen por la situación de la comunidad y que por favor hagan todo lo que esté en sus manos para evitar los futuros abusos de los derechos humanos de estas comuniades.
Luis Green, secretario de los Pueblos Indígenas y Afrohondureños SEDINAFROH : Telf: +504 995 84 364
Juan Carlos Bonilla,Director de la Policia Nacional: Telf: +504 970 02 801
Comisario de la Policía de Intibucá: Telf: +504 971 18 034 y +504 278 31 006
Martiniano Domínguez Meza, Alcalde de Intibuca: Telf: +504 783 06 60/0069
Ana Pineda, Ministra de Justicia y Derechos Humanos: Telf: +504 998 26 801 y +504 223 56 119
Sr. Ramón Custodio López, Comisionado Nacional de los DDHH.Telf: +504 223 10 204
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
Nov 27, 2013
Eskom coal-fired power stations surround the home of Thomas Mnguni, who lives with his two young children in the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa, experiencing daily the health impacts of Eskom’s coal addiction. South Africa’s energy utility supplies 90% of its electricity through its coal-fired power stations. The pollutants generated by coal combustion and the health impacts are severe, and it is those that are most vulnerable, such as the elderly, pregnant women and children, that are forced to bear the brunt of Eskom’s activities. Eskom is now attempting to avoid compliance with South Africa’s laws on air quality, put in place to protect people’s health.
Thomas plays an active role in his community on these issues as he sees the impacts Eskom’s addiction to coal has on them:
“Eskom is directly polluting us, but they are in denial about how the emissions from their coal-fired power stations affect our health. In Middleburg, where my children and I live, the air is some of the worst in the country, if not the world. My child and many others in the community suffer from asthma”.
Thomas, his community, and the entire South African community need your help to put pressure on Eskom to clean up their act! And the way you can do this is by naming and shaming the company by voting for it in the Public Eye Awards www.publiceye.ch
Regardless of Eskom publicly admitting that it is probably the biggest emitter of pollutants in South Africa, it is currently attempting to gain exemption and/or postponement for 14 of its 18 coal-fired power stations from having to comply with air pollution standards (minimum emissions standards). The areas in which many of these power stations are found already exceed South Africa’s air quality emission standards, so these applications are a flagrant disregard for people’s health. It is estimated that the external public health cost resulting from the Kusile coal-fired power stations in Mpumalanga, will be over R180 million (US$17.7m) , and 51% of hospital admissions in this province are from power generation activities.
Hosted by Greenpeace and the Berne Declaration, the international Public Eye Awards take place annually in parallel to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, to name and shame the world’s worst corporations, eight of which have been shortlisted this year based on human rights violations, environmental destruction and corruption.
Eskom is of course amongst these companies and the people of South Africa need your vote to put an end to Eskom’s coal addiction which is killing the people and their environment.
Nov 13, 2013
Please donate now to Friends of the Earth Philippines and help provide relief to affected communities
An estimated 2,000 people are feared to have been killed in the fierce typhoon that hit the Philippines on Friday. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and as many as 10 million affected.
Please donate now to Friends of the Earth Philippines and help provide relief to affected communities, including the Tagbanua indigenous community whose ancestral domain and waters have been devastated.
Join us in demanding climate justice!
For more than twenty five years Friends of the Earth Philippines has campaigned for the rights of indigenous and rural peoples, those who are directly dependent on the land and natural resources for their livelihoods. These communities are at once the most vulnerable to climate change and the least responsible for it. Friends of the Earth Philippines is working with organisations of Indigenous Peoples and disaster relief agencies on efforts to provide assistance to communities that are most inaccessible.
Friends of the Earth International and our members around the world are calling for urgent and just action to avert the worst consequences of climate change, and to fundamentally change the world’s current energy system. Ordinary people and communities around the world are paying with their livelihoods and lives as the risk of runaway climate breakdown draws closer.
Contribute to Friends of the Earth Philippines and help support those who are struggling to defend their rights and livelihoods in the face of the climate crisis.
As government negotiators meet in Poland for the UN climate summit, the typhoon should serve as another reminder that the world is on a precipice. From flooding to hurricanes to droughts and food shortages, the impacts of climate change are becoming more frequent and devastating day by day.
Tackling climate change means changing the unjust and unsustainable economic system, especially our dependence on polluting fossil fuels and other forms of dirty energy which is driving land grabbing, pollution, deforestation and the destruction of ecosystems, as well as human rights abuses, health problems, premature deaths, and the collapse of local economies.
Help support the environmental movement of the Philippines and across the globe as we echo the words of the chief representative from the Philippines at the UN climate talks in Poland: “stop this madness.”
Image: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection
Oct 25, 2013
Four leaders of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) are being persecuted by the Honduran court systems for standing up for a local community, the Lenca people, who were not consulted about the construction of a hydroelectric project on their lands. This is COPINH's latest call for solidarity.
The Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH)’s General Coordinators are calling for the solidarity of grassroots organizations, progressive social and political groups, the resistance as a whole, national and international human rights organizations and the media.
We would like to inform you about a situation that took place as a result of political persecution against our organization by the Honduran courts, which are racist and follow the orders of private corporations. We are referring in particular to the cases of Bertha Isabel Cáceres Flores, General Coordinator, and Aureliano Molina Villanueva and Tomas Gómez Membreño, communicators and indigenous members of the grassroots and of the executive committee. They are being persecuted for COPINH’s defense of the collective and individual rights of the communities of Rio Blanco, of common goods, of the rights of the Lenca people in general and for their struggle against the privatization of River Gualcarque.
For all of the above we hereby express the following:
1. That the case brought about by DESA corporation against our colleagues, accusing them of damage and sedition is now at the appeals court of Camayagu. Legally, the court has up to five days to respond to the appeal filed by COPINH’s lawyers. Judge Lissien Lisseth Knight sentenced Bertha Caceres to prison and Tomas Gomez and Aureliano Molina to punitive measures, including appearing in court every fortnight and forbidding them to go to the places where the incidents purportedly took place, as claimed by the Attorney General Henry Alexander Pineda and private lawyers led by Juan Carlos Sanchez Cantiyan.
2. That on October 3rd, at the request of DESA, Judge Lissien Lisseth Knight changed the punitive measures in the case of Aureliano Molina. The new measures included banishing him from neighboring communities, even though it is an unconstitutional and ridiculous measure to ban someone from visiting his or her ancestral lands.
3. That in the case of the court’s false accusation of “illegal possession of arms to the detriment of the internal security of the State of Honduras” brought against Bertha Caceres by the Army and the Attorney General’s office, the Appeals Court of Santa Barbara gives absolute priority and credibility to the testimonies of the military officers of the Army Engineers Batallion. Besides, there has not been an investigation into who are the actual owners of the weapon planted in COPINH’s vehicle, which has been used as evidence to accuse Bertha Caceres, even though there is no evidence, records or expert opinions to support this accusation. This is a way of rendering legal the Army’s illegal acts to criminalize even further the struggle of COPINH and of the Indigenous Peoples. The increasing cases brought against Bertha Caceres show the bad faith and racism of a judiciary at the service of colonial companies.
4. For all of the above we demand the Appeals Court of Comayagua and the judiciary in general to:
-Stick to the law, which includes the indigenous law, by securing the right to justice, truth, the respect of territories, culture and spirituality of the Lenca People, as well as the full and effective enforcement of ILO’s Convention 169.
- To not treat the people who are the actual invaders and usurpers of territories, common goods and life of the Lenca People as victims. This case involves the corporation DESA, which has caused historical and irreparable damage, such as the murder of Tomas Garcia by the mercenary Honduran army at the service of the company. His murder has remained unpunished and it has sown insecurity in our communities, by seeking to divide them, or threaten them with the presence of military and assassins.
-To annul the decision of the Court of Intibuca regarding the aforementioned accusations, and the sentence to prison of Bertha Caceres, the punitive measures against Aureliano Molina and Tomas Gómez Membreño. We also demand the annulment of a court warrant for the eviction of the communities of Rio Blanco.
-That justice be served on those who, from their position of power, are denying the existence of the Lenca People and of our native peoples, such as Deputy Attorney General Rigoberto Cuellar, former Minister of SERNA (Natural and Environmental Resources Secretariat).
JUDGES: LAWYERS HUMBERTO MIDENCE (Presiding the C.A.); RUBEN RIVERA FLORES; OMAR BONILLA.
PHONE/FAX: (504) 27.72.01.76
Our voices of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace raise with the ancient strength of Icelaca, Lempira, Mota and Etempica!
No more criminalization of COPINH! Stop the criminalization of the right to defend our rivers, territories, ancient culture and lives!
Rio Blanco is not a barracks! Army and Police out of Rio Blanco!
Intibucá, October 21st, 2013
Chair of Friends of the Earth International Jagoda Munic reflects on the international solidarity mission to Palestine
Monday, October 14th 2013
It is time to go home. On the way to the airport by taxi, I was stopped at a check point. A soldier asked where I had been and whether I had passed check points. They searched a rucksack belonging to the taxi driver for weapons. The driver, an Israeli Jew, said later: “It is always a problem when you travel from Jerusalem. There are many Arabs there, and if they stop them, they keep them for a half an hour or longer at the check point. That is way I always tell them that I drive from Tel Aviv, not from Jerusalem. But now, I couldn’t because of you, so that our stories are not different. There are people from Spain, and other countries coming to help Palestinians. Coming to the airport from Jerusalem is always a problem.” We got to the airport, two and a half hours before the scheduled departure. My mind was still stuck on the check point. But little did I know what was ahead of me.
At the airport, my passport was checked 5 times. Apart from where I had been, with whom, etc. they asked me if I had explosives, why had I been in Malaysia (twice), do I know anyone there and where did I stay there (note these travels were in 2010 and 2005 respectively.).
They manually searched all my check-in and hand luggage and I was interviewed by security officers twice. They pulled out Palestinian scarves I had bought and threw them on top of the stuff, as if I was smuggling drugs. Of course, they found a copy of the FoEI annual report and the publication 'Environmental injustice and violations of the Israeli occupation of Palestine' and asked me about FoEI. One security officer said that my readings were rather biased towards the Palestinian perspective, and that he has a feeling that I do not say all the truth. I replied: “What is the whole truth?”. After this, they let me stand there for a while, searched my things a bit more. Then the lady that was searching my things escorted me to the check in desk and then on to a hand luggage scan.
Though I seemed to pass the scan, they put “samples” of something – they wouldn't tell me what – into a computer. The computer display turned red and an alarm went off. They said that they found a little problem in my hand luggage and that they need to search it thoroughly. They took me aside for a body search. Three of them went through all of my stuff, opening jars of cream, pulling coins out of my wallet and taking shots with my camera. I was intimidated of course, but even more worried that they would delete my photographs. I was also worried that they would write down the names of people we met from the notebook and business cards I had with me. After more questions about which hotel I had stayed at etc., they took my laptop out of my hand luggage and put it in a box, which was sent on the same plane. I got the laptop back in Zagreb with my check in luggage.
In the end, I was escorted to passport control and had to go straight to the gate, just in time before the already full plane started to roll off. I was thirsty, exhausted and angry all at the same time. I reckon that is how they treat “Palestinian friends”, as the rest of the team was also questioned and searched. Perhaps this experience is the final proof that what we have observed and heard from Palestinian people is not an exaggeration, but a harsh and underreported reality.
I am now home in Zagreb. It is sunny after rain and green parks are turning in the autumn yellow and red colors. Such a contrast to the dry landscape of Palestine. Croatian problems seem insignificant in comparison with Palestinian, despite our troublesome history in the Balkans and the many economic, social and environmental problems we face.
But what have I learned from this trip? Has this visit to Palestine changed me? And what we can do about it?
You see, before I went to Israel and Palestine, I would not consider myself pro-Palestinian. I was following the conflict superficially. I also know, from the war in Croatia and later in Bosnia, that the media are quite biased and that each side has its own version of a story. I am also very reluctant to jump to conclusions. I prefer to have good information before I make my mind. I did some reading and watched some documentaries prior to the trip.
But nothing prepared me for the harsh reality of Palestine. It is not about two equal sides fighting each other, for reasons illogical to outsiders. There is one side that has much more power and it is abusing this power at every step in the West Bank. The oppression perpetrated by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories is so apparent, that is not surprising that they do not want foreigners to visit the area. It is understandable that Palestinians aim to stop the occupation and that they see it as a root cause of environmental degradation. I also have a much better insight into the work of PENGON - FoE Palestine, that on one side, politically exposes environmental degradation and injustice, but their member groups are working in the fields with poor communities providing access to water and electricity. Indeed, If we stand for environmental and social justice and anti-militarization, we have to support their work and provide accurate information to international fora. I have no doubt that the way to go is to join the boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. The boycott has worked well in the case Montgomery and helped in the case of South African apartheid system, so I believe it can work in the case of Palestine too.
Oct 21, 2013
October 19 marks the global day of action against fracking, known as the Global Frackdown. Friends of the Earth South Africa/ Groundwork sent the letter below to President Jacob Zuma.
Community people all over the world are sending a message that we want a future powered by clean, healthy, renewable energy, not dirty, polluting fossil fuels, which fracking is a part of.
Dear President Jacob Zuma,
In South Africa, the fracking debate may appear to be polarised along racial lines with greater emphasis on the Karoo. However, it is not only white farmers in the Karoo and a bunch of ‘Greenies’ who are concerned about the government’s green light on fracking, but there are citizens of every race, social and economic standing who are concerned and are vehemently opposed to fracking. This experience is global.
We are concerned that government is speeding the fracking process up by the lifting of the fracking moratorium without enough time to conduct meaningful and transparent impact studies and engage with stakeholders. Furthermore, government is moving too fast to authorise shale gas exploration, as the Minister of Trade and Industry indicated, it will happen before elections next year.
Of great concern is that the poor are once again being used as pawns in this process, with promises ofhundreds of thousands of jobs based on ‘independent’ research commissioned by Royal Dutch Shell.
The unskilled poor in whose name many such developments take place will neither receive the jobs nor will they be able to afford the electricity once it is produced. Socio-economic inequalities will continue to widen.
In our hard-fought democracy, there has been little meaningful public consultation during this process. The South African public is not being heard on the issue of fracking and our decision makers are not learning from over 100 jurisdictions around the world where fracking has a moratorium, been banned or restricted. Sadly, our ability to enforce any good legislation is currently lacking which leaves us and our environments open to abuse by multinationals – as Minister Manuel suggested at the 12 Annual International Corporate Governance Network Conference in 2007 – like Shell who have shocking records of environmental and human rights abuses in countries like Ireland, America and
We will not be acting responsibly as one of the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters in the world if we allow fracking. Methane gas from fracking is a far more powerful GHG than CO 2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says methane is 86 times more damaging than CO2 over a 20 year period. Coal has devastated our land and water resources and shale gas fracking will do the same. South Africa has places like the Karoo and KwaZulu-Natal which have the potential to produce alternative energy sources, tourism and agriculture, which are now earmarked for an environmentally destructive process like fracking.
President Zuma, we urge you to take leadership on the issue of the development of clean energy systems that are protective of our health and wellbeing. We urge you to take a lesson from countries that have held onto their moratoria while doing thorough investigations. We urge you to learn from the United States where the destruction of land and peoples’ livelihoods has taken place as a result of fracking. We urge you to find out what the majority of South Africans want, rather than rely on the push by corporations for the exploitation of our resources.
What will the legacy of your presidency be? Will it be that we have more polluted toxic water, land and air than ever, that result in health impacts especially on the poor who cannot afford medical treatment?
We are calling for a government that hears the voice of its citizens and not just the voice of profit and economic self-interest.
Climate and Energy Justice Campaigner
groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa
Fracking is a dirty word: The Global Frackdown with Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Local groups in England, Wales and Northern Ireland call on councils to keep their communities ‘frack-free’.
Saturday, October 19, residents joined forces with people in more than 60 areas of the UK, to ask their council to swear not to allow fracking locally.
Friends of the Earth local groups set up an oversized swear box in their town centres. They invited passers-by to drop in signed postcards to the Leader of the local council. The postcards ask them to swear not to allow the ‘dirty F-word’ in their local area.
The dirty F-word
The Government is running rough-shod over local communities and plans to puncture holes across huge swathes of the country. This is in search of controversial new fossil fuels: shale gas and coal bed methane.
Burning these fossil fuels will contribute to climate change and risks polluting local water supplies. It is highly unlikely to lower fuel bills.
Recent polling shows that 52% of people would support wind turbines within 10 miles of their house compared to just 18% who would support shale wells.
Global Frackdown Day
October 19 was ‘Global Frackdown Day’, with hundreds of actions taking place in communities in over twenty countries, as part of a month of international action on energy.
“People all over the world are making a bold stand against fracking. If the UK Government is serious about tackling climate change and providing energy we can all afford, the solutions are renewables and energy saving.” said Tony Bosworth, Senior Energy Campaigner.
Image: Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Oct 09, 2013
The Global Frackdown will unite concerned citizens everywhere for a day of action on October 19, 2013 to send a message to elected officials in our communities and across the globe that we want a future powered by clean, renewable energy, not dirty, polluting fossil fuels. The journey to a renewable energy future will not be fueled by shale gas. Climate scientists warn that continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels will lead to catastrophic climate change.
As the oil and gas industry escalates its public relations offensive, it is critical that our elected officials hear the truth from their constituents. Fracking is an inherently dangerous technology and shale gas is not a bridge fuel to a low-carbon economy. It’s time to expose the oil and gas industry’s desire to profit at the expense of our communities and our environment. It’s time to hold our elected officials accountable. It’s time for another Global Frackdown.
Participants in the Global Frackdown will organize events in their communities to challenge decision makers to oppose fracking, united around a common mission statement calling for a ban on fracking and investment in a clean energy future.
The first-ever Global Frackdown in September 2012 brought together 200 community actions from over 20 countries to challenge hydraulic fracturing, or fracking—a risky technique that uses millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals to break open shale rock deep underground to release previously unrecoverable deposits of oil and gas. The oil and gas industry has spent millions of dollars on slick PR campaigns and high-profile lobbying efforts to buy the ability to extract fossil fuels from our communities with as little government oversight as possible, all while destroying our water resources and our climate.
While the industry is working hard to protect its profits and drown out the worldwide demand for clean, renewable fuels, there is a tremendous movement afoot around the world to protect our global resources from fracking.
Together as a movement, since the first-ever Global Frackdown, we have:
- Passed more than 336 measures against fracking, wastewater injection and frack sand mining in communities across the United States
- Passed a moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin Commission
- Banned fracking in Longmont, Colorado
- Passed an indefinite moratorium on fracking in Vermont
- Upheld bans on fracking in Bulgaria and France, despite intensive pressure from industry
- Pushed for moratoria in multiple regions in Europe
- Obtained local referenda on fracking in Romania, which rejected fracking by more than 90 percent
- Pushed for a ban on fracking in areas for drinking water provision in Germany
- Passed moratoria on fracking in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic
- Organized to oppose fracking in communities in Argentina, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt
- Spurred the introduction of new laws for assessing unconventional gas impacts in Australia
- Delayed fracking in South Africa and the Republic of Ireland
- Forced the European Union to start analyzing the risks of fracking in Europe
- Persuaded 262 Members of the European Parliament – more than a third – to vote in favor of an immediate moratorium on shale gas
Sep 23, 2013
Honduran and international social movements have spoken out against the sentencing of Bertha Cáceres , Aureliano Molina and Thomas Gomez, members of COPINH members (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) last Friday, September 20. They were charged with theft, coercion and damage to DESA , a company implementing a hydroelectric project in the ancestral lands of the indigenous Lenca.
The decision, taken by Judge Reyes Lissien Knight (who did not appear in court), as requested by the Public Ministry and the company, included prison for COPINH coordinator, Berta Caceres and punitive measures for her fellow activists.
The charges are a government response to the activists' peaceful efforts to defend community lands, indigenous knowledge, and local ecosystems.
Friends of the Earth International is urgently consulting with local partners and hopes to provide further updates in the near future. Spanish speakers can listen to interviews and updates on Radio Mundo Real.
We are very grateful for all of your support so far.
Letter from Russian social and ecological organizations to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
The Russian Federal Security Bureau Border Service has detained the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise while it was situated in international waters in the vicinity of the exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation, and is now escorting the ship to the port of Murmansk.
The aim of the Arctic Sunrise expedition was to draw public attention to environmentally unsound drilling in the Arctic, in particular the Gazprom Neft Shell project in the Prirazlomnoe field.
It should be noted that Gazprom Neft Shell, whose draft plan has been strongly criticized by leading Russian experts in the field of oil and gas security of production in 2012, has not fulfilled its promises to establish a dialogue with civil society and to submit project materials for public discussion.
The detention of environmental activists is particularly cynical in the Year of the Environment and on the eve of the International Arctic Forum in Salekhard, the main theme of which should be the environmental security of the Arctic.
Given the extremely high social importance of environmental security in the Arctic, as well as the exclusively peaceful nature of the actions of the protesters, public organizations of Russia and the CIS urge you to release the crew of the "Arctic Sunrise" and the activists that are on it.
Signed by more then forty Russian human rights and environmental organizations.
Friends of the Earth International calls for the immediate release of the crew of the Arctic Sunrise.
Friends of the Earth International is calling for the immediate release of the crew of the Greenpeace vessel the Arctic Sunrise.
The ship was peacefully protesting at an oil rig in the Russian Economic Exclusion Zone in international waters. The Russian coastguard attacked activists as they prepared to stage their protest, slashing inflatable dingies, firing warning shots and threatening the protesters with guns and knives. The following day, September 19, the ship was boarded by the Federal Security Bureau (FSB). It has since been towed to the Russian port of Murmansk in a move that has been widely described as illegal under international law. Following a short stint in court, the activists have been remanded in custody for the next two months, pending an investigation.
The peaceful protest targeted the Prirazlomnaya oil rig, operated by Gazprom, which is due to be the first rig to begin oil production in the delicate environment of the Arctic seas. Arctic drilling is particularly dangerous. Given the extreme weather conditions and the great distances from emergency help, the possibility of a disaster is very likely. Royal Dutch Shell, having recently been banned from drilling in the American Arctic, has partnered with Gazprom to exploit Russia's Arctic shelf.
This high profile case is taking place in the context of a broader crackdown on civil society organizations in Russia. Friends of the Earth International wishes to take this opportunity to also express its solidarity with Russian environmental and human rights organizations working in this difficult context and supports this statement regarding the Arctic Sunrise. Peaceful protests help to protect our shared environment and are fundamental to any free thinking society.
Jagoda Munic, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, said:
“It is scandalous that Greenpeace activists are facing these criminal charges in Russia following a peaceful protest to highlight the very real dangers of drilling in the Arctic - we fully support the call for their immediate release. The real crime is the continued exploitation of the Arctic – in the face of catastrophic climate change we should be leaving dirty fossil fuels in the ground.
“These activists were standing up for the millions of people who are already facing droughts, floods and a loss of their livelihoods because of climate change impacts - it's the dirty energy companies risking the lives of millions who should be answering for their activities.”
Learn more and take action on the website of Greenpeace International www.greenpeace.org
Sep 20, 2013
Surprising as it may seem, many environmentalists are opposed to large-scale tree plantations.
September 21 is the International Day against Tree Plantations: industrial-scale tree monocultures that produce pulp for paper, wood, oils and agrofuels.
There has been a massive finance-driven increase in large-scale plantations over the last few years.
As part of efforts to counter climate change, large-scale tree plantations have also been increasingly posited as "carbon sinks" and have started to "generate" tradeable carbon credits in financial markets.
Several financial institutions, large corporations and investment banks are 'financialising' nature: a process whereby financial markets create new "financial assets" and new ownership rights.
But continuing to 'financialise' nature will surely lead to disaster, considering the abundance of financial crises-in-the-making dotting the landscape. 
Financialisation reduces the value of everything traded to its financial utility -- or a derivative of this -- whose future price, in the case of nature, is proportionate to its scarcity. With the ongoing destruction of the environment, this scarcity is likely to become increasingly lucrative.
Financialisation allows large corporations and industrialised countries to continue releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere guilt-free while buying hollow carbon credits.
But nature, biodiversity and forests need to be protected and not subjected to speculation on irresponsible financial markets.
Moreover, positing tree plantations as 'carbon sinks' is a patently false solution, which utterly fails to compensate for the loss of native forests.
Serious doubts exist about the quantity of carbon these plantations really absorb and the length of time that it remains absorbed.
Plantations are not forests. Plantations do not possess the rich biological and social diversity that characterizes forests. On the contrary, they have serious negative consequences: displacement of entire communities, violations of peoples' rights, damage to local culture, widespread violence, pesticide pollution, loss of biological diversity and disturbance of hydrological cycles.
All of which has enormous consequences for nature and the communities who depend on it, with women being particularly affected. Unfortunately, there are many examples of the destruction of cultures, and historical and communal rights as a result of large-scale plantations.
What we need is more forests managed by local communities and fewer plantations managed and financed by large corporations.
Unfortunately, the interests of large corporations drive reforms in national and international politics, which helps them to take control of biodiversity and forests.
Contrary to common sense and the demands of civil society organisations, financial markets are infiltrating the economy and society more and more under the guise of the "natural resource economics".
Financial markets, institutions and elites are continuing to increase not just profits but also an enormous influence over economic policy. The state is increasingly serving the interests of the financial markets and elites.
At the same time, this process translates into greater social, workplace and environmental exploitation. Similarly it overturns the rights won by Indigenous People and the role of the state in securing those rights.
Financialisation harms biodiversity and nature, by subjecting them to ownership and control as financial assets.
But we can still stop the financialisation of nature. This significant step would defend forests, communities and Indigenous People, as well as help to halt corporate control of nature.
 The Economist, September 7, 2013 : 'Where's the next Lehman?' Editorial, page 12.
Sep 19, 2013
Ecuador led a call to the UN Human Rights Council to create more binding, enforceable, international human rights obligations for transnational corporations (TNCs), on Friday September 13. Ecuador's petition is supported by nine other nations, mostly from the South , and hundreds of civil society organizations worldwide, including Friends of the Earth International. TNCs continue to bear a large share of the blame for environmental, social and labor abuses around the world. Too often, unsafe or inhumane working conditions and environmental degradation lie in the dark shadows cast by giant TNCs .
The Ecuador petition is a sign of growing impatience with an ongoing process, which has been personified in the figure of Professor John Rugge, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). To (over) simplify, the principles are a set of voluntary guidelines, obliging signatories (including businesses) to take responsibility for their operations and to do 'due diligence' on the human rights contexts in their spheres of operation. The principles, though still in a relatively early phase of development, have been popularly slammed for not going far enough. This latest Ecuadoran initiative is welcomed by over one hundred social movements and civil society organizations, including Friends of the Earth International. They argue that the voluntary framework is symptomatic of a CSR-led approach that facilitates corporate impunity by allowing TNCs to appear to remedy the ill consequences of their operations, without taking any meaningful action at all.
Looking at the events of recent years reveals many instances of the persistence of corporate impunity and government failure to take action. The workers killed and injured in the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, the slaughter of miners in the Lonmin Plcs platinum mine in South Africa, or Ecuador's failure to comply with the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights regarding the Sarayaku indigenous people are just some of the many examples of the failure of businesses and governments to meet their obligations.
“There is no doubt that transnational corporations have the obligation to respect the law, and if they do not, they must suffer the civil and penal sanctions,” said Lucia Ortiz, Coordinator of the Economic Justice Program of Friends of the Earth International. And face the consequences they must, but questions persist about how best to do this. However, characterizing the Ecuadoran initiative as new is to forget that it is just one in a series of (often far more elaborate and detailed) proposals such as the 2003 'Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights', which have, like their voluntary counterparts, failed to introduce meaningful, binding mechanisms.
Problems to the implementation of a working set of human rights laws that would hold TNCs and their mother governments responsible for their actions are manifold. TNCs often fight hard to resist regulation. Existing approaches, whether products of the UN Human Rights Council, the International Labour Organization, or a regional human rights body, are all largely unenforceable. More worrying still is that national laws and regulations covering workplace safety, environmental responsibilities, etc. are often comprehensive, robust and utterly ignored in many 'competitive' countries around the world where human rights abuses are rife. Meanwhile, countries that are home to some of the world's largest corporations, such as Canada, the USA, China, Brazil and many EU countries, are unwilling to fully implement the oversights necessary to ensure that companies with a home within their borders respect human rights in their operations.
The trouble with voluntary principles is that many parties view them as an almighty standard of correct human rights behavior; a rubber stamp to be flaunted for its apparent merit, but sorely lacking in real meaning and consequence. While due diligence and other aspects of any voluntary principles are only to be commended, they certainly are not enough to ensure fair treatment for people around the world or the minimization of the environmental violence perpetrated by so many TNCs, so in critiquing the damaging elements of the UNGPs and other CSR strategies we would be unwise to ditch the baby with the bath water. Likewise, if the Ecuador led proposal is to stand out from earlier, similar incarnations, further thinking is needed on how to ensure compliance and the cooperation of governments and businesses.
Three activists from Honduras will go to court tomorrow (September 20) on trumped-up charges brought by the government. The false charges are a government response to their organization's peaceful efforts to defend community lands, indigenous knowledge, and the local ecosystem. The Honduran government has often proven sensitive to international pressure. Let's put the pressure on again. Please sign and SHARE this petition far and wide!
You don't just build forest
Monoculture tree plantations have been posited as solutions to a wide array of environmental problems, notably as a contributing solution to climate change. We define monoculture tree plantations as industrial-scale tree monocultures that produce pulp for paper, wood, oils and agrofuels. Unfortunately the logic informing these assertions is fundamentally flawed – you don't just build forest. The video below from Radio Mundo Real explains...
But more worrying still, is that the practice of throwing up these artificial forests around the world has led to some deeply disturbing practices. People have lost their land, animal habitats have been destroyed, and irreparable damage has been done to natural and historical heritage.
Hand in hand with this phenomenon is the financialisation of nature, a process whereby financial markets create new "financial assets" and new ownership rights for all things in nature.
You can read more about Friends of the Earth International's commentary on this year's International Day against Monoculture Tree Plantations.
Sep 10, 2013
On September 12, Berta Caceres, Tomás Gomez, and Aureliano Molina, leaders of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) must appear in court.
They are charged with usurpation of land, coercion, and causing more than $3 million in damages to DESA, a hydroelectric dam company. Berta, the general coordinator of COPINH and an internationally recognized human rights defender is also facing separate charges of illegally carrying arms “to the danger of the internal security of Honduras.”
COPINH, with support of Friends of the Earth Honduras, FoE members and allies in the region and around the world are calling on the government of Honduras to
1) drop the charges against Berta, Tomás, Aureliano, and all others defending their lands,
2) cancel the dam concession in Rio Blanco and stop the project,
3) respect ancestral territories, and
4) stop the violence against indigenous communities
How you can support the call
Send an e-mail to the Honduran government urging them to stop the judicial persecution of COPINH and to US officials urging them to end military aid to the Battalion stationed in Rio Blanco.
Call the Honduran authorities on September 10 and urge them to stop the criminalization of COPINH.
In the United States rallies are being organized in various cities including New Orleans, New York and San Francisco. Check out this Facebook Page for more information
Aug 22, 2013
Once upon a time in Galicia, a group of people decided to make a dream come true: to build a hostel where, combining environmental education and practical sustainable initiatives, they could demonstrate that another world is possible.
As Corcerizas (the name of this dream) is not a fairy tale but the real world realisation of Amigos da Terra (FoE Galicia), and their strong belief that, if we want change in the world, we must be this change and we have to demonstrate it.
As Corcerizas is one of the most interesting initiatives in the field of education (and hostelling). As well as acting as a hostel, it hosts events that aim to build networks of like-minded people who campaign for environmental and social justice - like the Young Friends of the Earth Summer Camp and Get Moving Too.
Moreover, the center also demonstrates that there are working alternatives to how we manage waste, energy, water and food. For example, the natural water-treatment system use plants and ponds, instead of chemicals to treat water. The buildings and equipment have all been built using bio-climatic construction techniques, with the help of volunteers making As Corcerizas a participatory project.
But As Corcerizas is mostly an Environmental Education center that believes in popular and environmental education as the way to shift people’s behaviour towards more sustainable patterns. For more than 20 years the venue has run, hosted and coordinated workshops, international and national events, camps, courses, etc...
So, what can you do to help? The people of As Corcerizas need your support. The Centre is one of the finalists of the sustainable youth hostel contest organised by the Hostelling international Sustainability Fund. The award could go towards new equipment (and the refurbishment of buildings) to help keep As Corcerizas alive. We need your vote to win! So please, sign the petition
Aug 05, 2013
Two years ago, the UN's Environment Programme (UNEP) handed Shell a report detailing the devastation caused by the oil company's operations in Ogoniland and listing measures it should take to clean up this mess. Guess what? Two years later not one of these recommended measures has been implemented. Ask Shell to clean up its mess in Ogoniland. Send a message to Shell CEO Peter Voser through the form below.
Jul 08, 2013
Malaysia-based Sime Darby, one of the world's largest producers of palm oil, is developing oil palm plantations in Liberia, swallowing up farmlands and forests used by local communities to sustain their livelihoods. Affected communities have organised to demand that their rights be recognised by the company and its international shareholders