Saddened by the tragedy caused by Hurricane Stan in Central America, leaders of 70 environmental organizations attending the General Assembly of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) expressed their solidarity with the peoples of Central America and Mexico in these moments of devastation and tragedy.

9 October 2005

Hurricane Stan has left 232,000 people homeless, caused over 500 deaths in Guatemala alone and left hundreds still missing.The intensity as well as the frequency of severe weather phenomena such as hurricanes is increasing due to climate change, according to Friends of the Earth. In Central America the people are particularly vulnerable to severe weather events because of the intense poverty and environmental degradation already rampant in the region.

“The panorama of desolation, death, destruction of crops makes life even more difficult in a region that has suffered chronic poverty and social and environmental injustice since the colonialist invasion,“ said Jose Utrera, Coordinator of the Secretariat of Friends of the Earth International, who is himself from Guatemala.

“This hurricane, despite its relatively small scale, exemplifies predictions of the impacts of climate change. International scientific consensus has been clear in predicting that climate change will bring an increase in the intensity of such weather events. Stan is the third hurricane that has hit the caribbean region since September. It follows hurricane Katrina which destroyed the city of New Orleans and the surrounding area in the Gulf of Mexico and hurricane Rita which caused huge displacement of people in the same region,” stated Catherine Pearce, coordinator of the climate change campaign of Friends of the Earth International.

“We are worried about the high level of social and environmental vulnerability endured by the vast majority of communities in Central America. Only a few years ago hurricane Mitch left a large number of people dead and caused destruction to our agriculture and our infrastructure. Moreover, many people were left without means of sustenance. Both then and now, the poorest people suffer most from what climate change is bringing, triggered by the consumption of fossil fuels by the richest countries,” declared Fanny Figueroa of Movimiento Madre Tierra – Friends of the Earth Honduras.

Meena Raman of Friends of the Earth Malaysia and chair of Friends of the Earth International stated that “the ecological debt of the countries in the North to the countries in the South increases day by day. Climate change generated by unsustainable lifestyles and overconsumption in the North hits the poorest communities in the South the hardest, communities that have least responsibility in causing the problem.”

Faced with this situation FoEI calls upon the international community and especially the industrialised countries:

  • to bring the desperately needed financial and logistical support to the people affected by the recent storms in Central America, especially the poorest, so that they can speedily count on the means they need to live a life in dignity.
  • to finance a program of social reconstruction and environmental restoration that allows the central american society to decrease its level of vulnerability, restore its environmental conditions and generate socially and environmentally just conditions.

FoEI also emphasizes that climate change is no longer merely a challenge that is yet to come, but that dangerous climate change is already being felt and threatens to overwhelm our planet.

We make a firm appeal to the industrialised countries, who, due to their historical and current levels of greenhouse gas emissions must take responsibility for their contribution to climate change by taking the furthest and deepest cuts in their domestic emissions and by paying the costs for adaptation needs and decarbonisation strategies in the South.

In Guatemala Mario Godinez, Friends of the Earth Guatemala / CEIBA, Tel: +502 7839 6033 or +502 7839 10 33 or +502 5718 28 40, or email
In Honduras Juan Almendares, Friends of the Earth Honduras / Madre Tierra Tel: +504 237 5700, or email:
In El Salvador Ricardo Navarro: Friends of the Earth El Salvador / CESTA Tel: +503 220 3000, or email
In London (UK) Catherine Pearce, International Coordination Climate Change Campaign, FoEI Tel: +44 7811 283 641 or email