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[ Source @ BBC News online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40584139 ]

Record number of environmental activists killed around the world

By Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent

Growing competition for land and natural resources saw a record number of environmental activists killed in 2016, says Global Witness. The green group's report details at least 200 murders across 24 countries, up significantly from 2015. Disputes over mining were the cause of the greatest number of killings, followed by logging and agribusiness. Brazil saw the most deaths overall, but there were big increases in Colombia and India.

Global Witness has been publishing annual reports on the threats to activists since 2012, although it has data going back to 2002. The organisation compiles its analysis from media sources, information from other non-governmental organisations and from the UN. It also verifies the data with monitoring groups in priority countries, such as Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and the Philippines.

Some 60% of the killings last year took place in Latin America, with a significant number of victims from indigenous communities. According to those who compiled the report, those doing the killing have become bolder in recent years.

"We've always thought of these cases taking place in remote isolated areas but we are seeing attacks becoming more brazen, and that's because so few of these cases result in successful prosecutions," said Billy Kyte from Global Witness. "Indigenous people are massively over represented in the figures and that's because many of their lands overlap with lands rich in minerals and timber and also because they have less access to justice or communications."

Disputes about mining resulted in 33 murders, while those linked to logging increased from 15 to 23 in a year. A similar number were linked to agribusiness projects.

Full text of article for archiving purposes. )
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Conference for Water and Pachamama


“This Conference arises from the need to articulate the isolated struggles from different parts of the continent, that we are suffering the same consequences”, said Carlos Pérez Guartambel, Quechua lawyer, water systems leader, and coordinator of the Continental Conference of the People of Abya Yala for Water and Pachamama [Encuentro Continental de los Pueblos del Abya Yala por el Agua y la Pachamama], celebrated June 21st to 23rd, 2011.

“The same language used by multinationals about a responsible and sustainable mining industry is repeated by Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, [and] Alan Garcia in Peru. Not even Chávez is immune. Up against that, we see the weakness of isolated struggles”, adds Pérez. The Conference was called by the country’s principal social movements: the Azuay Union of Community Water Systems, Ecuarunari, Conaie, the Ecumenical Commission on Human Rights (CEDHU), and Acción Ecológica, among others[1].

Some two thousand people from 15 countries in the Americas participated in the conference, debating around three topics: Living Well or Sumak Kawsay; extractivism; and the commoditization of nature, the mass media and culture. Activities were held at a youth camp and combined workshops and debates with videos and music.

Water was at the center of the assembly; the communities have an intimate relationship with it, “especially indigenous women, who are the key to this resistance”, declares Pérez. In southern Ecuador, transnational mining interests have bought politicians, journalists and local governments, but they have not yet been able to drive a wedge into the community of campesinos, who do not live on the land but “with the land”, as the Quechua say.MORE



xposted
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FEATURES:The agony of Ogoni by Nnimmo Bassey

A recent report on the pollution of Ogoniland prepared by United Nations Environment Programme marks ‘the first official confirmation’ that there is ‘a major tragedy on our hands’, writes Nnimmo Bassey.

When the Ogoni people demanded a halt to the unwholesome acts of the Shell Production and Development Company (SPDC or Shell) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the government called them names and unleashed security agents to maim, rape and murder and hound many into exile.

The report on the pollution of Ogoniland prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and released on August 4, 2011, marks the first official confirmation that there is a major tragedy on our hands. UNEP's report unequivocally shows that the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) under the prescient leadership of Ken Saro-Wiwa was not crying wolf when it maintained that grave injustice was being inflicted on Ogoniland.

UNEP officials say the report was issued to respond to innuendos. At over $9 million, this must be the most expensive innuendo-dousing report on record. Whether the "innuendo" provoked the study or the release of the study is not known. But if it was that the report was a prelude to resumption of oil exploitation in Ogoniland, it is certainly not doused.

It is shocking that in the face of the Ogoni tragic environment the UNEP report suggests a possible restarting of oil exploitation in Ogoniland. That may be likened to obtaining blood from a dying man.

The report largely says what has been known and said before. But this is official and very valuable. When Shell doled out the funds for the study, they claimed they did so on the basis of the polluter-pays principle. True. Shell polluted Ogoniland, just as they and other companies have done and continue to do all over the Niger Delta.

Claims by Shell that a majority of the oil spills in Ogoni are caused by interference by local people flies in the face of the observations in the UNEP report. The report says the bush refineries, for example, became prominent from 2007. Obviously, one of the conclusions should have been that with livelihoods utterly destroyed, some of the people had to find a means of survival and chose this unfortunate and illegal trade. With UNEP's obvious care not to antagonise Shell in the report, this path was not pursued. MORE
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I.H.T. SPECIAL REPORT: SMART CITIES
An Urban Jungle for the 21st Century



SINGAPORE — The math is impressive. In the last 25 years, the population of Singapore has nearly doubled, to more than five million. Over the same period, its green cover — planted areas that appear green on satellite photos, from parks to rooftops — has increased from a little more than a third of the city-state’s area to nearly half.

But it is not enough. In Singapore’s next “green road map,” its 10-year development plan, the country aims to go from being “a garden city” to “a city in a garden.” “The difference might sound very small,” says Poon Hong Yuen, the chief executive of the country’s National Parks Board, “but it’s a bit like saying my house has a garden and my house is in the middle of a garden. What it means is having pervasive greenery, as well as biodiversity, including wildlife, all around you.”


Read more... )



From the NYT
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Large-Scale Mining to Test Rights of Nature in Ecuador

Ecuador is the only Andean nation without any large-scale metallic mines (such as gold and copper). This unique state of affairs is about to be tested in the next few weeks when the Correa government signs exploitation agreements with Chinese and Canadian transnational miners looking to exploit the country's copper and gold reserves. More importantly, the legitimacy of the nation's Constitution, which grants nature rights, will also be tested.

There is no other economic activity in the world that would so clearly violate the rights of nature as large-scale open-pit mining. Large-scale mining, unlike petroleum, creates environmental liabilities that can endure for thousands of years. The impacts are order of magnitude worse.

Bingham Canyon, an active open pit copper mine in Utah, can be seen from outer space
. It is over a kilometer deep and four kilometers across. A similar gaping hole in Chile's Atacama desert, the Chuquicamata copper mine, has eaten a good part of the town by the same name and can, likewise, be seen from outer space. The infamous Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea, on the other hand, has devastated a whole river's ecosystem, impacted fisheries and, by the time the mine closes, it will have destroyed 3,000 square miles of tropical forests, as well as the livelihood of 30,000 local inhabitants. The still-active mine disgorges nearly 160,000 tons of spent ore and waste rock per day into nearby rivers.

Water is the resource most impacted by these mines.
Many mines around the world, including some in the US and Canada, are leaching heavy metals into rivers and the ocean today, and will continue to do so for thousands of years. Millions of gallons per day may have to be used, transported- and contaminated- as part of a normal mining operation. A good deal of that water will be mixed with toxic chemicals like cyanide, in order to extract the few grams of gold that is usually found in a typical ton of gold-bearing ore. Some of the water draining from mines is as acidic as car battery fluid, and more toxic.

In fact, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, mining in the US accounts for over one half of all toxic releases into the environment, and produces an unimaginable 8-9 times more solid waste, per weight, than that all its municipalities put together. The costs of stabilizing and treating some of these impacts are staggering. A mining project in Montana is the single biggest Superfund site in the US, with nearly one billion dollars earmarked to try to clean up the huge toxic mess left behind after decades of mining and milling.1 You'd think so much destruction would add greatly to a country's economy. Yet, in the US, the economy of mining adds less than 1% to the nation's Gross National Product.

Thus, it is clear that there is no way that large-scale mining can avoid serious, irreversible, and long-lasting environmental impacts. MORE






And there are troubling signs aplenty: People's Court Finds Ecuador's President Guilty of Criminalizing Protest

It's been three years since Ecuador became the first country in the world to grant nature "inalienable rights" in its constitution. As the country (on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorian plaintiffs) continues in its ongoing legal battle against Chevron (formerly Texaco) for damages associated with the company's destructive practices in the Amazon, another enforcement issue is emerging: the criminalization of protest. The situation in Ecuador will certainly serve to inform policies as other countries -- like Bolivia and Turkey -- prepare to enact their own similar environmental laws.

At the recent week-long Continental Conference in Defense of Water and Mother Earth that took place June 17-23 in Cuenca, Ecuador, a (non-binding) people's court heard hours of testimony regarding charges that the current Ecuadorean government, under the leadership of President Rafael Correa, is criminalizing "defenders of human rights and nature." The jury of this "Court of Ethics" concluded that "there is a systematic practice to discipline social protest and thus eliminate it...While justice is employed to criminalize the defenders of nature, it remains passive before human rights violations committed against them and against nature."

Correa was in power when the country's Constitution was redrafted to include the new language. Even at the time of the vote, some analysts were focused on how the changes might help Correa "gain and hold more power".

The people's court, which has no jurisdictional power, made a series of recommendations, including that the president refrain from making public statements that delegitimize and stigmatize environmental activists. According to Upside Down World, Correa made the following statement in 2007, at the beginning of his term: "Don't believe in romantic environmentalists. Anyone who is opposed to development in this country is a terrorist." He was referring to the community of Dayuma, Orellana which was protesting oil drilling in their territory. 


 
MORE
ETA: ECUADOR Fate of Untapped Oil Hangs in the Balance - of Trust Fund
QUITO, Jul 14, 2011 (IPS) - "Ecuador will not wait ad infinitum" for a decision by the international community, and "at the end of the year" President Rafael Correa will decide whether to extract oil that was to have been left underground at the Yasuní nature reserve, non-renewable natural resources minister Wilson Pástor has announced. The novelty in Tuesday's announcement was that Pástor detailed an oil production plan, in the event that drilling goes ahead. He said 14 wells would be drilled, with an investment of 8.6 billion dollars at the extremely attractive internal rate of return of 99 percent. The minister also gave the possible start date for production in the oilfields as the third quarter of 2012, and added that "the fields are less than 100 km away from an oil pipeline that has spare capacity." He was referring to the Heavy Crude Pipeline (OCP), built in Ecuador by private companies to transport oil from the Amazon jungle to the Pacific coast, and mainly owned by the Spanish firm Repsol. Pástor's announcement at the opening session of the First Latin American and Caribbean Seminar on Oil and Gas, organised by the Ecuador-based Latin American Energy Organisation (OLADE), was the most detailed so far from a government spokesperson about the option to exploit the crude oil.
 
The Under Secretariat of Hydrocarbons Policy has already been contacting potential interested parties since March, in case the drilling goes ahead. The initiative for not extracting the oil was originally proposed 20 years ago by Fundación Natura, the largest environmental organisation in Ecuador, and has since been supported by a number of environmental and indigenous groups defending the Yasuní National Park and its buffer zone, where the oilfields are located.

The Yasuní is one of the world's most highly biodiverse regions, with more plant and animal species found in one hectare than in the whole of North America, according to scientific studies.

It is also home to the Tagaeri and Taromenane indigenous groups who are living in voluntary isolation from the outside world.

The Yasuní, declared a national park in 1979 and a World Biosphere Reserve 10 years later, covers an area of 982,000 hectares of the Upper Napo river basin.

Leaving one of the country's largest oil reserves underground would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for global warming, by 407 million tonnes, environmentalists say.

The environmentalists' proposal was adopted by Correa when he took office in 2007, and he made it official Jun. 5, 2007 at the United Nations as a multifaceted project, combining protection of the environment and of indigenous communities with promotion of renewable energies, to which the funds would primarily be devoted. MORE
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INDIA 'Seed-Mothers' Confront Climate Insecurity

BHUBANESWAR, India, Jul 1, 2011 (IPS) - In eastern Orissa state’s tribal hinterlands about 200 ‘seed-mothers’ are on mission mode - identifying, collecting and conserving traditional seed varieties and motivating farming families to use them.

The seed-mothers (bihana-maa in the local dialect) from the Koya and Kondh tribal communities have reached 1,500 families in the Malkangiri and Kandhamal districts and are still counting. These women are formidable storehouses of knowledge on indigenous seeds and biodiversity conservation.

Collecting, multiplying and distributing through exchange local varieties of paddy, millet, legume, vegetables and leafy green seeds, the seed-mothers already have a solid base of 80 converted villages.

As they spread their message through the hinterland, targeting another 140 villages, the women also promote zero dependence on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

Considering that Malkangiri is Orissa’s least developed district, with literacy at a low 50 percent and isolated by rivers, forests, undulating topography and poor connectivity, the achievement of the seed-mothers is admirable.

The struggles of Malkangiri farmers with climate change is visible in the Gudumpadar village where seed-mothers are passionately reviving agricultural heritage and convincing the community to stay with local seeds and bio-fertilisers and pesticides.

"This is the best way to cope with erratic rainfall, ensure the children are fed and avoid the clutches of moneylenders," says 65-year-old seed-mother Kanamma Madkami of Kanjeli village, who has multiplied 29 varieties of local millet and paddy seeds. MORE



xposted: to politics.
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xposted:

The Chilling Beauty of Brazil's Green Desert

When travelling through the Minas Gerais state last April, the blogger known as the Viajante Sustentável (The Sustainable Traveller) spoke to inhabitants of the Jequitinhonha valley [en], and discovered how the region's visual and social landscape has changed over the last twenty years:

A catastrófica monocultura de eucalipto pelas empresas privadas nas cabeceiras dos rios e riachos, além de envenenar o solo, expulsou a fauna e flora do local, secou as nascentes e o lençol freático. O deserto verde do eucalipto tornou-se uma calamidade socioambiental. A região já foi auto-suficiente em alimentos essenciais, cultivados pela agricultura familiar, integrados com a natureza. A situação mudou radicalmente, exibindo riachos completamente secos, sem olhos d’água, rios cada vez mais baixos e assoreados, praticamente toda a alimentação proveniente de distribuidores em Belo Horizonte, pastos abandonados. Enquanto isso, as transnacionais de eucalipto e celulose engordavam os lucros.

The disastrous concept behind growing company-owned eucalyptus monocultures in river and stream sources not only poisoned the soil, but also destroyed local flora and fauna and dried up streams and the water table. Consequently, the eucalyptus green desert became a social and environmental calamity. The region already produced essential foods in a sustainable manner, as food was grown using integrated farming, but the situation changed radically. The streams completely dried up, there were no freshwater springs, water levels gradually decreased, silt levels increased, farms were abandoned and practically all food came from distributors in Belo Horizante. Meanwhile, the eucalyptus and cellulose transnational corporations were making huge profits.

MORE
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Or maybe its this: "Exploitation by Any Other Name (Might be Monsanto)"

Whoever titled the sections had a definite sense of humor...



GMOS and Peru: The Debate Continues


In Peru, the debate over the introduction of GMOs into the country has been very public, involving a plethora of participants such as scientists, chefs, farmers, restaurant owners, politicians, and far-ranging members of civil society. Several Peruvian regions, including Cusco, Lambayeque, Huánuco, Ayacucho, and San Martín, were the first to declare themselves “GMO-free zones.”[i] Lima soon joined as the newest GMO-free zone in late April.[ii] This move came just days after President Alan García and former Peruvian Minister of Agriculture Rafael Quevedo had signed Supreme Decree 003-2011-AG on April 15.[iii]

The decree, which was actually drawn up two years ago, set up an agency to regulate the research, production, and trade of GMOs.[iv] Rafael Quevedo, who has since resigned from office due to intense criticism surrounding his stance on GMOs, claimed that the order was merely “a regulation which tries to eliminate errors, control the use of genetically modified organisms, and make sure they don’t come into the country if they are found to be a risk.”[v] However, many citizens felt that the decree paved the way for a flood of transgenic products into the country, which could hurt its rich biodiversity and its growing market for high quality organic products. The immediate backlash against the signing of the decree indicated that there, indeed, existed widespread support for a GMO-free Peru. Such indications were soon confirmed, as Peru’s Congress recently repealed the decree on June 8 by a 56 to 0 vote, with two abstentions.[vi] The bill has placed a “10-year moratorium on the entrance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for cultivation and breeding or any other type of transgenic products.”[vii] However, the transgenic battle in Peru is far from decidedly won, as the moratorium simply puts the heated spar on a temporary hold.


MORE
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El Salvadoran Government & Social Movements Say No to Monsanto

On the morning of Friday, May 6th President Mauricio Funes of El Salvador’s left-wing FMLN party, arrived at the La Maroma agricultural cooperative in the department of Usulután for a potentially historic meeting with hundreds of small family farmers. Usulután has often been referred to as the country’s bread basket for its fertile soil and capacity for agricultural production, making it one of the most strategic and violent battleground zones during El Salvador’s twelve year civil war between the US-supported government and the FMLN guerrilla movement.


Once again, Usulután has entered the spotlight for its agricultural reputation. The FMLN, which initially formed around an ideology of national liberation from US hegemony, has now adopted the goal of “food sovereignty,” the idea that countries hold the right to define their own agricultural policies, rather than being subject to the whims of international market forces. On Friday, officials representing the Ministry of Agriculture and the local governorship accompanied President Funes in inaugurating a new plan aimed at reactivating the country’s historically ignored rural economy and reversing El Salvador’s growing dependence on imported grains.


The opening ceremony for the new plan was hosted by the Mangrove Association, a non-governmental organization established by members of a grassroots social movement called La Coordinadora del Bajo Lempa y Bahia de Jiquilisco (known locally as La Coordinadora), which has been supporting initiatives for food security and environmental sustainability in Usulután for over 15 years. MORE
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Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-13592989

'Brazil 'to step up Amazon activists' protection'

The Brazilian authorities say they are ready to offer increased protection to environmental activists considered most at risk after receiving death threats. Ministers held an emergency meeting on violence in the Amazon, where three activists were killed last week.

"We will not accept these murders," said Rural Development Minister Afonso Florence.

The Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) has a list of 125 activists who have been threatened. Justice Minister Luiz Paulo Barreto said they would analyse the CPT's information and respond on a case-by-case basis. At their meeting in the capital, Brasilia, on Monday, ministers agreed to increase co-operation between the federal and state governments.

"We will intensify monitoring and investigation and strengthen actions leading to sustainable development in the region," Mr Florence told reporters.

The talks came after three campaigners were killed in the Amazon.

On Friday, rural leader Adelino Ramos was shot dead in Porto Velho, capital of Rondonia. The CPT said Mr Ramos had denounced illegal loggers in the states of Acre, Amazonas and Rondonia. He had survived a bloody dispute in 1995, when some 300 police officers opened fire on a landless workers' camp near the town of Corumbiara, killing at least 10 people.

On 24 May, the bodies of Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo were found on a nature reserve, Praialta-Piranheira near Maraba, where they had been working for the past 24 years. According to family and friends, the couple had received numerous threats in the past two years for their environmental activism.

On Saturday, farmer Eremilton Pereira dos Santos was found shot dead in the same area as the couple. Police said there was no link between the murders.

The CPT says that over the last decade, 1,855 people have received death threats. Of these, 42 were murdered and another 30 had actual attempts on their lives.

"In the Amazon, killing and clearing (the forest) go hand in hand," the CPT said in a statement, calling on the government to do more to tackle the violence.'

Yes!

May. 23rd, 2011 09:46 am
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Curbing foreign ownership of farmland

As international food prices continue to soar, land purchases by foreign investors face ban in much of Latin America.

...The governments of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay are drafting laws to curb acquisition by foreigners of extensive tracts of their fertile agricultural land.

Despite slight differences between them, the proposed measures are generally fairly mild. None of these three member countries of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) - the other member is Paraguay - proposes to ban land sales to private or public foreign capital, nor to regulate land use, nor to repossess land that has already been sold.

But they are attempting to set limits on further expansion of rural properties in the hands of companies or citizens belonging to foreign countries that regard them as an asset to supply food for their own markets, or as a speculative investment.

Brazil has already passed a law limiting the purchase of land by foreigners, and by Brazilian companies partly owned by foreign capital, while Argentina and Uruguay are studying similar bills.

Alarm has arisen over the increasing purchases of land in these countries in recent years, due to soaring international food prices and the lack of other safe options for financial investment.

A 2008 report by Grain, an international non-governmental organisation working on behalf of small rural food producers, had already warned about this trend and described concrete examples of its advance.

China, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, India, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are all buying or leasing fertile land in other countries where food is not always abundant, the Grain report says. MORE
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Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12819035

Kenyans fear Dakatcha Woodlands biofuel expansion (by Will Ross)

Sitting in the shade of a tree beside his thatched mud hut in in Kenya's Dakatcha Woodlands, Joshua Kahindi Pekeshe is defiant, "We are not going to let this land go even if it means shedding blood," he told the BBC. "Land is very important to us. We farm and get our livelihood from it. On this land we bury our dead."

He is one of the many people opposed to the creation of a large biofuel plantation in the area, about an hour's drive inland from the coastal town of Malindi. It is an arid area and home to some 20,000 people as well as globally threatened animal and bird species. An Italian company has asked the authorities for permission to lease 50,000 hectares there to grow jatropha, whose seeds are rich in oil that can be turned into bio-diesel. This plant, originally from South America, has long been grown in Africa as a hedge to keep out animals - goats stay well away as it is poisonous. The area affected is community land which is being held in trust by the local council.

Kenya Jatropha Energy Ltd is 100%-owned by the Milan-based Nuove Iniziative Industriali SRL. It has leased almost a million hectares in Africa; jatropha oil from a plantation in Senegal is being supplied to the Swedish furniture retailer Ikea. Other companies have leased land for the same purpose in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ghana, as well as in India. This expansion has been spurred by the European Union, which has set ambitious goals for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and reducing its reliance on imported oil. The 27 EU nations have signed up to a directive which states that by 2020, 20% of fuel should be from sustainable sources.

Why is Africa affected? Because it is difficult to find 50,000 hectares of available land to grow a biofuel crop in, for example, the UK or Italy. But campaign groups have labelled some of the projects in Africa "land grabs" with dire consequences for the often voiceless African communities.

Some ask: "Why 'feed' a car in Europe when hunger at home is still a reality?"

Full text of article for archiving purposes. )
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Resistance to fake marine 'protection' builds from Diego Garcia to Baja California :African Union supports Mauritius against UK's purported 'marine reserve'


Throughout the world, opposition is building to fake marine "protected" areas designed to fulfill the agenda of corporate globalization and the privatization of public trust resources.

The rights of indigenous people and fishing families are rarely considered in the creation of these unjust no fishing and gathering zones, whether they are installed in the Chagros Islands by the United Kingdom, the Sea of Cortez by the Mexican government, or along the California coast under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

The African Union recently backed Mauritius against the United Kingdom in the dispute over the Chagros Islands in the Indian Ocean. Secret cables between US and British governments released to the UK Guardian by Wikileaks disclosed how the so-called marine protected area supported by Greenpeace and other corporate environmental groups were installed to deny the native Chagossians the right of return and to allow alleged CIA renditioning of "terror" suspects on the US military base at Diego Garcia.MORE
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Tanzania Biofuel Project's Barren Promise

BRUSSELS and DAR ES SALAAM, Mar 9, 2011 (IPS/Freereporter) - An ambitious project to produce clean energy for the Netherlands and Belgium has degenerated into a controversial abuse of natural resources in Africa.

Bioshape, a clean energy company based in Neer, the Netherlands, is going through bankruptcy proceedings after spending 9.6 million dollars on a failed biofuel project in Tanzania. In 2006, the company agreed to lease 80,000 hectares of coastal woodland in the southern district of Kilwa to grow jatropha, a shrub whose seeds contain an oil that can be processed into green fuel.

Bioshape planned to employ thousands of local farmers and export seeds from Tanzania to the Netherlands, where they would be processed to produce electricity, heat and biodiesel. Jatropha is one of the preferred feedstocks for fuel produced from plant material. Commonly called biofuel - agrofuel to its critics - such fuel is supposed to be less polluting than traditional fossil fuels.Except that they proceeded collude with local authorities to bilk the villagers out of their land

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
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Dispatch From Cancun: Developing Paradise in the Suicide Capital

Today’s Cancun was built in early 1970’s under the leadership of then Mexican President Luis Echeverria, with the idea of creating the country’s premiere tourist destination—a new model for tourism development. It succeeded as a high-end tourism hub, and it did provide a model for Mexico and other parts of the world. But Cancun also succeeded in establishing what urbanists and geologists like Peter Weise called the “self destruction model of tourism development.”

The self-destructive model, according to Weise and others, begins when a remote, ecologically attractive area with low population density is identified as a potential hub for elite tourists—those willing to pay handsomely for privacy, isolation and unspoilt and beautiful environments. Rapid population growth and urbanization follows when, as in Cancun, large numbers of middle class tourists follow the more wealthy trend-setters. The need for more hotels, more entertainment venues, more development pushes the region into ecological imbalances that lead to the kind urban and environmental collapse found here today.

At the heart of it all is an economy and way of life dependent on cheap labor (the average Cancun worker makes less than $200 per month). That labor most often takes the form of migrant workers from other, poorer Mexican states like Tabasco. Local experts say that climate change-induced floods in Tabasco last September are pushing new waves of migrants to Cancun. Like Ruben, many of these migrant workers will experience crushing loneliness and isolation shortly after arriving.MORE
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Latest Food Crisis Brewing for Months

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 10, 2011 (IPS) - The United Nations, which is trying to reach out to nearly a billion undernourished people, some living in perpetual hunger, is anticipating another food crisis later this year.

And the signs of impending trouble have been there for some time.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned last week that world market prices for rice, wheat, sugar, barley and meat will remain high or register significant rises in 2011 - perhaps replicating the crisis of 2007-2008.

Rob Vos, director of development policy and analysis at the U.N.'s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), told IPS that higher food prices are already affecting many developing countries.

He said countries like India and a number of other East and South Asian countries are facing double-digit inflation, mainly caused by higher food prices - alongside higher energy prices.

In Bolivia, the higher prices for food in world markets recently forced the government to reduce consumer subsidies as these were running up the fiscal deficit too high.MORE



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Gasping for Air in La Oraya 2006 article

LA OROYA, Peru, Dec 12, 2006 (IPS) - A grey blanket of smog hangs over the mining town of La Oroya high up in the Andes in Peru, where several generations have suffered the effects of the lead dust and toxic fumes spewed out by a giant smelting complex.

A look around, and a few deep breaths, are all that is needed to understand that something is wrong in this town of 35,000 people in the central Peruvian region of Junín, where humble adobe and brick houses are surrounded by bleak hills in shades of grey - the vegetation has been destroyed by acid rain - and the dense air stings the eyes and throat.

The cause of the smog stands out like a sore thumb in the middle of the town: the smokestack of the multimetal smelter and refinery complex that spits out clouds of black smoke, and has been doing so for over 80 years.

Luis Saldarriaga, the head of oversight of the mining industry in the Ministry of Energy and Mines, tells IPS that 1.5 tons of lead and 810 tons of sulphur dioxide are emitted daily by the smelting complex administered since 1997 by the U.S. company Doe Run.

The factory's emissions of sulphur dioxide - which can cause respiratory problems like bronchitis and are the main cause of acid rain - are four times the acceptable limit of 175 metric tons a day, as set by Peruvian law. MORE


Company offers band-aid solutions to polluted town 2006 article

Pollution Emergency Plan Instead of Real Action for La Oroya 2007 article

US-Owned Smelter Fined for Pollution2008 article

In search of less toxic mining 2008 article

Bailout of Mining Co. Eclipses Environmental Disaster2009 article US compnay fucks up the environment, Peruvian gov't gives them more time to clean up and banks give them money!! What the hell happened to their profits!!!!???


Adios Doe Run 2010 article


Doe Run's Latest Move

LIMA, Jan 15, 2011 (IPS) - The U.S. mining and metallurgical company Doe Run has once again challenged the Peruvian government. The Renco Group, of which it is a subsidiary, notified the government of its plans to start an international arbitration process, invoking the free trade agreement between this South American country and the United States.

The U.S.-based holding company said the arbitration will be filed in 90 days if no agreement is reached. What is behind this ultimatum?

In ads published Jan. 5 in newspapers in Lima, the Renco Group said it was turning to the mechanisms provided for by the trade promotion agreement because it had received "unfair treatment" at the hands of the Peruvian government and had not been given "protection and security" as an investor, as required by the treaty.

Doe Run began to run the large multi-metal smelter in the central Peruvian highlands city of La Oroya, known as one of the most polluted places on earth, after the plant was privatised and acquired by the Missouri-based firm in 1997.MORE



Which isn't to say that Peruvian companies have not been pulling shenanigans and fuckery on their own ppl., especially the indigenous tribes who can be easily bullied.
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
From the #Indigenous Hashtag on Twitter:

Penan Community ancestral land destroyed

Hundreds of indigenous people in Borneo who are due to be evicted from their land to make way for a giant hydroelectric dam have discovered that the rainforest they hoped to move to is being destroyed.

The Penan are being forced to move by the Sarawak state government to allow the billion-dollar Murum dam project to go ahead. But the Penan say the the area to which they hoped to relocate is now being cleared for oil palm plantations.

The Murum dam is one of 12 megadam projects the Sarawak government hopes to complete to power its industrial development and economic growth. The plans have proved controversial as they involve the destruction of vast areas of rainforest, uprooting of indigenous people and have already been plagued with corruption.MORE


B.C. Indian bands give thumbs-down to Enbridge




Several B.C. Indian bands have rejected Enbridge (ENB-T55.60-0.13-0.23%)offer of a stake in its controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, throwing new hurdles before the project that would ship oil sands bitumen to Pacific Rim markets.

Calgary-based Enbridge is currently in regulatory hearings seeking approval for the $5.5-billion project. It insists it is discussing benefits packages, including a 10-per-cent equity stake, with the native communities whose traditional territory will be traversed by the pipeline.


On Thursday, several chiefs publicly rejected Enbridge’s offer of a financial stake in the Gateway development, and instead delivered a declaration opposing the pipeline – signed by representatives of 61 British Columbia native groups – to Enbridge’s Calgary headquarters.

“Our lands and waters are not for sale, not at any price,” said Chief Larry Nooski of Nadleh Whut’en First Nation.

“We want no part of Enbridge’s project and their offers are worthless to us when compared to the importance of keeping our lands, rivers and the coast free of crude oil spills. What Enbridge is offering is the destruction of our lands to build their project, and the risk of oil spills for decades to come which could hurt everyone’s kids and grandkids.


MORE



Saami and the Finnish government sign deal to preserve rainforest

A long-running dispute between Finnish government Forest Enterprise Metsahallitus and Saami reindeer herders has been resolved in a landmark deal which will protect 80,000ha of pine forest in northern Finland.

The dispute over reindeer grazing forests in northern Finland has raged for eight years, with Greenpeace and indigenous Saami reindeer herders waging a campaign against harvester and forest manager Metsähallitus.

The deal will see 80% of the 107,000ha of reindeer grazing forests, mostly old growth, protected either permanently or for the next 20 years.

“Industrial logging has now been pushed out of the most important forest area in Finland,” said Greenpeace Nordic forest campaigner Matti Liimatainen.MORE


Why we try to protect our Land: Lessons from Barriere Lake


Take Barriere Lake, a small Algonquin community about 3½ hours north of Ottawa. This is an unceded first nation, meaning it never relinquished title to its land to the government by treaty or otherwise. Despite a very high unemployment rate and a far lower standard of living than the rest of Canada, these people, who call themselves the Mitchikanibikok Inik, are a proud group that maintains Algonquin as their first language and rely heavily on hunting, trapping and the land for subsistence.

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have always been governed by a traditional, customary government, not by Indian Act band council elections. That is until last summer, when then-Indian affairs minister Chuck Strahl, against the wishes of the vast majority of the reserve, abolished it by imposing Section 74 of the Indian Act, an archaic provision not forcibly used since 1924. Polling took place 45 kilometres outside of the community and, in an act of group resistance, only 10 ballots ended up being mailed in. Despite all of this, a new chief and four-member council were put in place by the federal government. Three of the four new members weren’t even residents of the reserve.

In 1991, the traditional government of Barriere Lake signed a groundbreaking trilateral agreement with Quebec and the federal government. This United Nations-praised deal was meant to reconcile the pressures placed on the community by industrial logging and was geared toward taking into account the environmental and cultural needs of the Algonquin. To date, neither Quebec nor Ottawa has upheld any part of the agreement, including the sharing of natural resource revenues generated in this unceded Algonquin territory.

Before a new government was forced onto the people of Barriere Lake, the reserve held a number of peaceful protests to draw attention to the fact that government on all levels completely ignored their end of the trilateral agreement. Some of these protests included the blockading of a nearby rural highway. Instead of the desired negotiations culminating from this, men, women and children were tear-gassed by the provincial police. And now, with a new and unwanted council in place, community youth spokesman Norman Matchewan says this council has “started dealing with forestry companies and signing away parts of our land to be clear-cut without the community’s consent.”MORE

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