The Curse of Mega Projects

mega curse 2

In Mozambique, 2016 was marked by the scandal of illegal debts – EMATUM, MAM and Proindicus – which, one after the other, drastically brought down our currency (Metical) and dramatically increased the cost of living for Mozambicans. As if the political problems and the undeclared state of war we were already living in, were not bad enough, we discovered that the country had been mortgaged off… Thus, we entered 2017 with a lot of concern and very little hope, We were convinced that corruption in Mozambique thrives at the highest level with impunity. We were absolutely skeptical that there would ever be a competent and exhaustive investigation of the country’s mortgaged situation nor holding the culprits accountable.

In the last few years, we have done our best to explain that our greatest concern, our greatest fear for the future, is that our rulers continue to sell off our country – carelessly and without abandon – to Multinational corporations whose mega projects not only do not serve the Mozambican people, but hurt them greatly. They directly injure and impact on the lives of thousands of people who are expropriated from their lands and ways of life, conned and abandoned, or are subjected to living in unhealthy or even inhuman conditions. Indirectly, the sum of the social, environmental and political consequences of the “development” model that these mega projects bring – whether agricultural, mining, hydroelectric, etc. , far exceeds the meager economic benefits that our chronic “lack of bargaining power” guarantees the country.

But this story is not new nor is it only ours. Several publications, from various organizations, are tired of warning and denouncing the numerous problems that foreign mega investments bring to Mozambique. The Centro de Integridade Pública (Public Integrity Center) in Mozambique, for example, is responsible for some of the most pertinent reviews of the negotiations and contracts (the few that are being made public) between these investors and our government. These contracts, weak and often harmful to the State, allied to the State apparatus’ incapacity to enforce our laws, to unjust and inadequate resettlements, and to the ease with which – with the collusion of our rulers – these foreign investors unscrupulously usurp peasant land, make foreign investment in Mozambique a socio-economic calamity.

Like a stubborn child, we seem not to be interested in learning. With the new year, regrettably, new mega contracts have arrived, for the extraction of mineral resources from the north of the country. These contracts have been signed with some of the most infamous polluters on the planet, companies like Shell or ExxonMobil, who have been responsible for environmental disasters of epic proportions, including the disasters in Nigeria and Alaska. These companies are also marred by shameful disinformation campaigns.

Likewise, over the country, the mindless plans to “capitalize” on the country’s hydro potential with an arsenal of hydroelectric plants are still alive and oblivious to reason and science. Keeping in mind that most of the energy expected to be produced will be destined for export and not to supply the homes of millions of Mozambicans who continue to live under the light of a xipefo (lantern in the local language Changana) The science is clear that decentralized and renewable energy systems such as solar and wind energy should be part of a fair, adequate, safe and even cheap energy solution model.

On the Zambezi River alone, our government’s plans :

Expanding the existing Cahora Bassa dam, projected to increase the power capacity by 1,250 megawatts. Estimated to cost about US$700 million.

Mphanda Nkuwa, projected to generate of 1,500 megawatts. Estimated cost of US$4.2 billion.

Lupata, with the potential of 416 megawatts. Estimated cost of S$1.072 billion

Boroma with the potential of 210 megawatts. Estimated cost US$572.5 million.

If all these dams are built on the Zambezi, we have no doubt that this will be the river’s demise, and that of its ecosystems and the thousands of communities whose livelihoods depends on the river. In addition to these 4 projects in the Zambezi, there are also Lúrio and Alto Malema in Nampula, and Pavua, in the Púnguè River in Sofala. Pavua – the most recent addition to the list – appears to be (as yet we know very little about the project) an environmental atrocity of biblical proportions, purely and simply because (according to its Background Information Document) it will be 115 meters high by 950 meters long! (To generate only 120 MW!)

mega curse

Why so many dams? Are we adequately addressing the potential impacts these could have on our people? Have we thought about the use and management of water taking into account variables such as those expected in the face of climate change? Have we seriously considered the feasibility of other alternatives? We are sure this has not happened.

It seems clear to us that – either because of the greed of those who bargain and benefit from these mega projects, and/or because of the lack of clear guidelines (or willingness to follow them) – the foreign investment trend continues to be to devise profitable “solutions” for the few, instead of providing effective solutions for all, thus perpetuating a modus operandi in which the urgent need is repeatedly used to justify the investments, rather than the investment being requested to fully meet the identified need. We are running out of time to correct the damage we are inflicting on our environment (and therefore on ourselves)… but we could at least stop contributing to the problem.

More info and references:

COP 21: Mudança climática envolve poder, manipulação e guerra psicológica

New dams add 3,600 megawatts of power production in Mozambique

Pavua Hydropower Project, Background Information Documents

The pinnacle of capitalism – a hymn to imbecility and an incalculable risk to humanity

 

Regardless of what you think of him, and as surreal as it may still seem to the vast majority of Earthlings, Donald Trump is really the new President of the United States, and by the look of things, the New Yorker is not just going to play pretend President, and his vision to “make America great again” – slogan of his presidential campaign (which was curiously originally used by 1980 Ronald Reagan’s campaign, him too a man from the entertainment world who became President of the United States – is, to say the least, radical.

Unorthodox, with the fallacy, arrogance and lack of sensibility of a spoilt child, accustomed to impose his will on his hierarchy, Trump does not exude wisdom, solidarity or complacency. And that, for both Americans and the rest of the world that is irreparably subject to the consequences of US policies and actions, is a serious headache.

In environmental terms, Trump is potentially the worst thing that could have happened to the planet. It is a very low blow in the already meagre hopes for concrete and tangible changes to safeguard the environment, and thus the future of humanity. At a time when environmentalists and developed countries such as the United States were still duelling over the agreement reached at the Paris COP in 2015, Donald Trump is elected after stating categorically that climate change is a hoax and promising his electorate to repeal all the measures taken by the previous government to address the problem. A tiny little setback.

However, last week Trump shared his federal budget proposal with the American people. As expected, military expenditures gained about 53 billion dollars – a sum he deemed necessary for America to go back to winning wars. Scary…

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But guess where the 53 billion dollars come from? From all sides, experts say, except from defence programs. We Africans will be particularly affected by two budget cuts: the cut to the EPA, – its Environmental Protection Agency – that will affect the entire planet by weakening the monitoring, regulation and all the protection policies and mechanisms of one of the planet’s biggest polluters; and the cut to international aid, which despite representing only about 1% of the federal budget is expected to be drastic and dramatic for countries like Mozambique that benefit annually from hundreds of millions of US dollars of funding. The situation is so alarming that, according to CNN, last Tuesday hundreds of groups supporting the humanitarian work of the United Nations wrote a letter to members of the US Congress and Senate, calling for them to maintain their support to the UN and its Secretary General. The same news article pointed out that this political shift in the United States – notably the country that provides the most international aid – could not have come at a worse time, particularly given the serious problems of hunger in Southern Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia, where about 22 million people need urgent help; and, above all, due to the acute refugee crisis that the world is experiencing (the largest since World War II with more than 65 million displaced people) as a result of conflicts in countries such as Syria and Iraq.

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To wrap it up, let’s revisit the phrase we underlined out a few paragraphs ago: “Trump is potentially the worst thing that could have happened to the planet.” The only caveat for this statement is the sad possibility that, in the next few years, his presidency – which is expected to be seriously environmentally damaging – may coincide and contribute to climatic events so extreme that they end up catapulting political will to adequately address and resolve the issue. Unfortunately, if that happens, the cost of running this hypothetical full cycle will be many millions of lives.

Supports who?

Another mega agricultural project launched in Mozambique

We received the news about its launching ceremony with skepticism. For many of us, it was the first time we were hearing about the project. Another mega project loaded with ambitious and (some) noble goals, like so many others that preceded it and vanquished without achieving half of what they set out to do.

“This mega project of my Government, whose objective is to gradually take rural families out of poverty, is the embodiment of the investment in Mozambican families as the main mechanism to promote sustainable, integrated and inclusive development and reduce regional and local asymmetries”, said Filipe Nyusi.

It is premature to make major considerations or comments on the subject because still very little is known. We have not yet had access to any document on the project, and the little information that exists is circulating in the mainstream media. However, the simple fact that a project this big (judging by the amounts involved and by the 125 thousand families of alleged beneficiaries) is launched in this manner, leads us to ask: Where did this project come from?

Once again, this is a top to bottom approach. The project was designed, discussed and launched, without giving the alleged beneficiaries or other interested parties and/or affected people, the chance to participate in its construction!

Surely there are more than enough reasons to justify the urgency to launch this project. To justify why there was no time to perform appropriate public consultations; to involve the many actors who deal with agricultural issues such as research institutions, academics, civil society, grassroots organizations and peasants in discussions on priorities for the development of peasant agriculture; and to design the project on the basis of a truly open and transparent process.

To justify their hurry, the noblest of reasons will be invoked, such as the urgent need to support the development of the peasantry, given their evident poverty and vulnerability. Obviously, old and less noble arguments – which, truth be said, are nothing but mere distractions – will also come back, like accusing those who question the project of being against development and/or unpatriotic.

Interestingly enough, the World Bank and other similar agencies are far more influential in deciding what may or may not happen in Mozambique than the Mozambican people. And although, as we have said earlier, we know nothing about this project yet, we risk guessing that the role of the World Bank is not limited to financing it. They have certainly been involved in the project’s conception, ensuring that their altruistic support goes mainly to what interests them most: agro-business and forest plantations – monocultures of exotic species – they call reforestation.

“More than 5,000 jobs will be created by forest plantations, through the reforestation of more than 1600 hectares of degraded lands.”

According to information in the media, this project was conceived by MITADER and will be supported by the World Bank! The perfect wedding!

In other words, we owe a great debt to our government (and no, it is not that hidden and illegal debt we talking about)! We are deeply grateful to them for granting us another ready-made project to reduce poverty. Free from burdens such as having to think about development issues, about inclusive and participatory strategies, about how to ensure that the priorities of the peasantry are properly included, and even about how we want to manage our resources and how we want to see our country in the coming years.

For now, let’s wait for the enthusiasm to fade so we can then try to understand how this mega project is supposed to work and, above all, how will it – unlike the many others in the past just like it (loaded with the same promises and the same rivers of money to implement) – finally get Mozambicans out of poverty?

Who has left poverty behind thanks to the fantastic green revolution? Who has left poverty behind growing jatropha or other biofuels? Who will benefit from Prosavana? Someone always profits, but who? And at what cost? How many hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans’ well being will these ready made projects with incognito beneficiaries “cost”?

And while misunderstandings and failures in communication are, unfortunately, too often invoked to justify civil society’s opposition to so many mega-projects, – even though they are never the main reason – people insist on doing things behind closed curtains. Where is the official information about the project? It has already been inaugurated; it is already being advertised in the media; but it is not available on the websites of the entities involved and all we know about it is what is being reported by the media.

We would also like to believe and share their enthusiasm, but skepticism has taken over us long ago. Now we prefer a “seeing is believing” approach, and we have not seen anything yet …

 

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South-South Dialogue: The Bataan Statement

On the 29th and 30th of October, 2016, people from about 20 countries in the global south gathered together in Bataan city in the Philippines, to discuss about the climate catastrophe and dirty energy, from the perspective of southern countries and social, economic and environmental justice. JA! was proud to be part of that gathering. Below is the final statement released by the meeting.

 

SOUTH-SOUTH DIALOGUE: The Bataan Statement

1. The world has already begun to experience unprecedented and unparalleled catastrophes as a consequence of the global climate crisis. While governments have agreed to limit global average temperature rise to below 1.5-degrees Celsius under the Paris Agreement, the combined Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of countries who committed to this target will still ultimately condemn present and future generations to a devastating 3-degree Celsius average increase in the global temperature. Disturbingly, the commitments submitted by the governments of the North fall way below their fair share in combating climate change. The worst lurks in the offing for, should all the coal projects under construction and in the pipeline go online it would usher in a 6-degree Celsius average global temperature increase.

2. The Global North, in continuing to deny their responsibility by not committing to and pursuing an ambitious mitigation pathway, is condemning numerous species to extinction and an end to biological life as we know it, even as we already contend with the impacts of a destabilized climate. It is putting the lives, homes, and livelihoods of peoples across the globe in harm’s way.

3. At the frontlines of suffering from the worst impacts of the climate crisis are indigenous peoples, women, children and youth, workers, farmers, pastoralists, elderly people, differently abled and other marginalized and vulnerable communities, especially of the Global South, who, without the technology and resources to adapt, are left to fend for themselves. This poses an added burden to their daily struggles for survival in the face of poverty, want, hunger, political disenfranchisement, and discrimination.

4. Real solutions to the climate crisis exist in many communities, and we need governments to recognise and promote them. Most, if not all, countries continue to pursue a development pathway heavily reliant on the mass-scale extraction and burning of fossil fuels, however, it is the North who engage in the transfer of their emissions to the South to socialize liability to the detriment of developing countries while concentrating economic gains in their favor. Northern countries and the elites of the South persist in peddling false solutions like the deceptive, dirty lie of “clean coal”, geo-engineering schemes, carbon capture and storage (CCS), bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) as the answer to the much-vaunted industrialization of countries in the South.

6. While we agree on our right to development, as the right of all peoples, we believe that development should not be through dirty energy or else it is not development. Development must mean building sustainable societies, empowering people and communities, challenging injustice, discrimination and inequality at all levels and ensuring security, well-being and peace for all people.

7. We oppose all new coal projects. Furthermore, the climate science demands that all fossil fuels must remain in the ground to keep us from breaching the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold as set in the Paris Agreement. The North must scale up its ambitions in emissions reductions to steer the world away from the road to perdition. All countries should do their fair share of effort. It is thus imperative for countries of the North to fully decarbonize by 2030 and all countries well before 2050. Thus, the North must start phasing out its coal projects now. The South must cancel all coal projects in the pipeline while pursuing the transition to clean renewable forms of energy.

8. We must absolutely resist the attempts by the coal industry and governments to lock us in to coal power, leaving us with stranded assets. Coal extraction and burning do not only cause negative climate change impacts, they result in adverse health and environmental impacts threatening local ecosystems and community livelihoods. In areas where there are coal projects, resisting communities are met with and subjected to intimidation, harassment, human rights violations and other forms of violence.

9. Moreover, Southern governments should not hide behind the poor in their countries. While there are legitimate demands to address energy poverty in the south (1.2 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity), this has been used as an excuse to promote dirty energy policies, which have only benefited elites, transnational corporations and financial institutions, and the governments that support them. Though Southern governments have rightly called out Northern countries for their culpability in creating the climate crisis, we have reached our ecological limits, and no country, North or South, can afford to pursue a carbon-intensive development pathway.

10. The remaining carbon budget must be equitably divided across countries, based on historical responsibility and historical emissions. We oppose the trading of countries’ share of carbon budget, as we oppose nature being turned into a trade-able commodity in other forms as well. The remaining carbon budget must be used for the country’s own development not for export and trade.

11. In the South, our countries have great, enormous potential for clean and renewable energy technologies. However, there are certain renewable energy projects that have contributed to social conflicts, land-grabbing, and exacerbating inequalities. We thus take a strong position that renewable energy projects must be implemented in an equitable, just, safe, sustainable, and democratic way that benefits all and creates truly sustainable societies. We can and must achieve energy sovereignty through fundamental transitions to 100% clean, safe, affordable, locally-appropriate and socially-owned, democratic renewable energy technologies. We also call on the North to deliver climate finance to the South in order to make the clean energy transition possible.

12. We reject any mitigation action that reinforces prevailing exploitative and oppressive relations and policies. Equity and justice should be the driving consideration in taking on the climate crisis.

13. Clearly, the climate science confirms that the sun has set on coal and other fossil fuels. They no longer have a place in an increasingly uncertain future. It is this generation that will make the difference. The urgency to act is especially true for countries of the South who are now bearing the brunt of climate-induced disasters. It is, thus, important for peoples of the South to unite and demand for immediate actions from the North and from their own governments. The window to act is fast closing. Our actions now carry intergenerational consequence as the welfare of this and future generations is hinged on the decision we make today. We offer hope and solidarity by resisting the continued fossil fuel dependence and struggling for genuine change.

Tuloy ang laban! (Onwards with the struggle!)

Signatories of attending organisations:

Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development

Botswana Climate Change Network – Botswana

CENSAT Agua Viva/ Friends of the Earth Colombia

Change/350Vietnam – Vietnam

Center for Energy, Ecology and Development – Philippines

Centre for Environmental Justice/ Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka

Ecodefense – Russia

Earthlife Africa – South Africa

Egyptians Against Coal – Egypt

Environics – India

GreenID – Vietnam

groundWork/FOE South Africa – South Africa

JATAM – Indonesia

Justica Ambiental/FOE Mozambique – Mozambique

Kenya Civil Society Platform on Oil – Kenya,

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice – Philippines

The Egyptian Centre for Civic and Legislation Reform – Egypt

Umeedenoo – Pakistan

Walhi/ Friends of the Earth Indonesia

JA! launches new report on coal finance in Mozambique, during climate justice conference

On the second day of our climate justice conference here in Maputo, Mozambique, with over 100 people in the room with us again today, JA! with our colleague Tim Jones from the Jubilee Debt Campaign, launched  a new report on the situation of coal finance in Mozambique.

tim and report launch

The report is titled: “The Economics of Coal: Where are its Benefits?” The English version of the report can be found on our Issuu page here. The introduction of the report lays out the situation perfectly:

“Despite much talk, the anticipated coal mining boom in Mozambique has never taken off. Just three mines are operating, probably exporting just over 4 million tonnes of coal in 2015 (compared to claims of 30 million tonnes of exports just a few years ago). Internally there have been difficulties in transporting coal from Tete province to the coast, and coal produced has been of a lower quality than expected. Externally, the price of coal has been falling over recent years and collapsed in 2015 as China’s construction boom ended, and major economies have begun to turn away from coal given its high local and global pollution costs.

Today, all the existing coal mines operating in Mozambique are running at a loss, and there can be little expectation of further development based on current global coal prices. However, even if coal prices did recover, the costs of coal
mining in Mozambique far outweigh the benefits.

In 2014, the Mozambique government received just 13% of revenue generated from coal mines, but it is likely that this percentage has fallen further with declines in coal price and profitability. Coal mining is likely to account for just 1% of the government’s total revenue, in 2015 between $44 million and $50 million. In contrast, we have identified more than $700 million of loans to the Mozambique government which were supposedly spent on transport infrastructure for the coal industry and technical advice on managing the coal industry. Even if these came with 0% interest rates, which they didn’t, it would take between 14 and 16 years at current revenue levels just to recoup this money. There is likely to be other public funding spent on infrastructure development for coal mines which we have not identified, or has not been made public.

Extractive industries by their nature employ few people. Currently there are at most 3,000 Mozambicans employed directly by the coal mines,4 with mining making up just 0.6% of employment in Tete province. In contrast, 3,500 families (around 17,000 people) have lost their farmland through the development of coal mines so far, many of whom have not received land of similar quality in return. Mining has had a net destructive impact on livelihoods.”

This report launch wasn’t the only highlight of the day. Today we heard from Trusha Reddy of the International Coal Network about the situation of coal worldwide, the need to end coal and she shared some coal struggles from across the world. We then heard from Vijayan M.J. of Programme for Social Action, India, speaking about some victories of the communities in India fighting back against coal and other infrastructure projects. He talked about the importance of not feeling alone, and linking struggles across continents, such as the struggle against Jindal Indian company, now operating in Mozambique. We then had a very strong and emotional panel, hearing from communities speaking out against the Vale and Jindal coal mining in Tete province of Mozambique, and from Matthews Hlabane from South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, demanding a revolution against the lying mine-owners everywhere.

All this happened before lunch! After lunch, we worked to denounce gas being called as a transition fuel. Mozambique has discovered a huge gas reserve off our northern coast, but we discussed how the emissions of gas are still really high, and the pollution and leaks are known to be horrific. We made connections between the current debt and financial crisis situation of Mozambique, linked to extensive borrowing which happened on the backs of the gas reserves.

The third and final day of the conference takes place tomorrow.

 

 

Maputo climate justice conference – Summary of the 1st day

“Seeding Climate Justice II” – Summary of Day 1 of Maputo Climate Justice Conference

Justiça Ambiental’s climate justice conference began this morning at 8.30 am at Kaya Kwanga in Maputo. This is the second Annual Conference on Climate Change he are hosting, under the name “Seeding Climate Justice II.” Over 100 people, in fact about 108 people participated in the first day of the meeting, including representatives of local communities from 10 out of 11 provinces across Mozambique, Maputo-based civil society organizations, government representatives, and community and NGOs from South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, India, Sweden, United Kingdom, and more.

Anabela Lemos, Director of Justiça Ambiental welcomed the participants, hoping that we can continue this process and be together next year as well, so that we can together contribute to the strengthening of local social movements for climate justice. Anabela Lemos then invited the Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Dr. Celso Correia to officially open the conference.

The Minister, Dr. Celso Correia, performed the official opening of the Conference, welcoming JA! for organizing the conference. He referred briefly to the history of the Mozambican Environment Ministry (known as MITADER), and the main issues of concern facing Mozambique, such as biodiversity loss, poaching, uncontrolled slaughter of our forests, referring to the conservation of these as a national imperative. He stressed the importance of building consensus, and the openness of the Ministry to work together with non-governmental organizations. The Minister put a challenge to JA! and the conference participants, that this conference should also be space to bring up solutions and build consensus for the numerous environmental problems that Mozambique is facing.

photo with celso correia

The conference proceeded with interesting presentations aimed to establish a common base of understanding of the current situation of climate change, the planetary crisis, why do we need to stay under 1.5 degrees, what does that even mean, what about the rights of impacted peoples or climate refugees. Then Nnimmo Bassey gave an overview of the link between climate, social and environmental injustice, which is still directly related to the models of “development” and the financial system that has been systematically implemented. He also spoke about the Paris Agreement, what did we gain and what did we lose, and how do we use those international spaces for connecting our struggles. Nnimmo also spoke about the spread of false solutions, financialisation of nature that we need to fight. A robust discussion followed, raising questions including the following:

  • the situation of climate crisis is so dire, sometimes it’s hard to care, but we have to, because this is a matter of justice, rich countries created the problem and we are going to die from it, this is an injustice that we need to fight;
  • what about the corporate capture of the UN negotiations, multi-national companies that are sitting in the discussion with more access than the NGOs;
  • since governments signed the Paris Agreement they are doing the opposite and are going for more fossil fuels so it makes Paris Agreement even weaker than it is, because it is not legally binding;
  • when we talk about climate science, whose science are we talking about, because we know that science is not without politics;
  • we need to understand the true nature of African Renewable Energy Initiative so that it doesn’t turn into an initiative that we have to oppose;
  • we shouldn’t be seeing ourselves as victims, we need to hold the rich countries accountable, but we also have to build our movement so that we don’t go down the same path;
  • as civil society we need to look at ourselves and analyse how successful have we been in claiming the outside spaces that were ours in Paris;
  • and many many more relevant issues were raised and discussed.

 

“We have to ensure that global average temperature does not exceed 1.5 degrees is crucial, there is how to adapt to an average temperature rise higher than this … There is no way to adapt, there is nothing to adapt!”

Nnimmo Bassey: “The Paris agreement was for many an important step, but for what we value, it a step in the wrong direction.”

The conference will continue for 2 more days, with many presentations and interesting discussions.

 

JA! Hosts 2nd Climate Justice conference in Maputo

 

After a hugely successful climate justice conference last year, JA! Friends of the Earth Mozambique is hosting our 2nd climate justice conference on 31 August, 1 and 2 September.
Below please find a draft agenda of our meeting.
Even though the budget for this year’s meeting was even less than what we got last year, we are managing to bring together about 50 community people from all across Mozambique plus Mozambican civil society organisations and government officials. We also bringing together about 20 international people, including from Africa, Europe & Asia. The countries represented are Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Sweden, India and Japan.
And the Mozambican Minister for Environment, Land and Rural Development is officially opening the conference!
We hope to make this a yearly conference, and hope you all will plan to join us for this in the future.
thanks
from the JA! team
JA logo small                FoE Moz logo small

 

 

FINAL AGENDA

“SEEDING CLIMATE JUSTICE II”

31 August – 2 September 2016

Maputo, Mozambique

 

Participants arrive – latest 30 August

 

DAY ONE: 31 August (Wednesday)

 

Time Item Speaker/ Facilitator
07.30 – 08.30 Registration of all participants  
08.30 – 08.45 Welcome note

 

 

Official Opening: H.E. Minister Celso Correia – MITADER

ANABELA LEMOS, Director – JA!

 

 

 

08.45 – 9.30 Short Introduction of participants Facilitator/ All

 

Intro to Main Big Picture Climate Reality Session Moderator
9.30 – 9.45 Maputo declaration from 2015 & where has the world come since then Samuel Mondlane
9.45 – 10.00

 

Planetary Crisis – introduction, urgency for action on climate change (climate science, 1.5°, tipping points, carbon budget, impacted peoples) dipti bhatnagar
10.00 – 10.15 Explaining the post-Paris scenario, what did we win and what did we lose in Paris, how we use the international spaces for inter-connecting our struggles Nnimmo Bassey
10.15 – 10.45 Debate All
10.45 – 11.15 Coffee Break All
11.15 – 11.45 False solutions – the problems with net zero, geoengineering and financialisation of nature and real world consequences of false solutions Nnimmo Bassey
11.45 – 12.00 Big dams as a false solution to the climate crisis Rudo Sanyanga
12.00 – 13.00 Debate All
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch  
Intro to Session on Mozambican Climate Change Platform Moderator
14.00 – 14.30 Mozambique Climate Change Platform presentation & debate Manuel Cardoso
   
14.30 – 16.15 Economic injustice feeds climate change: Corporate power, commodities markets, debt and the international climate negotiations Ruth Nyambura and Tim Jones
     
16.15 – 16.30 Wrap Up & close Day 1 One of the participants
16.30 – 17.00 Coffee and snacks and then people can leave All

 

DAY TWO: 1 September (Thursday)

Time Item Speaker/ Facilitator
08.30 – 08.45 Overview of Day 1 One of the participants
Intro to Coal and Climate Session Moderator
8.45 – 9.00 Framing the debate on coal – why does it need to end now, how coal finance angle can be used in coal campaigning, etc (Include the international scenario on fights against coal) Trusha Reddy
9.00 – 9.15 Presenting the Indian context on coal – coal fights in India as well as Indian coal companies operating in Africa Vijayan M.J.
9.15 – 9.30 Hearing from the Jindal and Vale Mozambican coal affected communities, including information about the recent southern African Peoples’ Tribunal held in Swaziland Anabela Lemos, Gizela Zunguze
9.30 – 10.30 Communities speak out about coal impacts they are facing Affected communities, Vale, Jindal, Mpumalanga
10.30 – 11.00 Coffee Break All
11.00 – 13.00 Launch of JA coal report, talking about the economics of coal in Mozambique. Tim Jones
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch Break All
Intro to Gas and Climate Session  
14.00 – 14.15 Framing around why Gas is not a transition fuel Daniel Ribeiro
14.15 – 14.30 Presentation by CIP (Contracts) CIP
14.30 – 14.45 Presentation by CTV about gas (Resettlement and compensation) CTV
14.45 – 15.00 Presentation by Grupo de Divida (Debt and resources) Grupo de Divida
15.00 – 15.30 Coffee Break All
15.30 – 16.45 Debate All
16.45 – 17.00 Overview & Closing One of the participants
     

 

DAY THREE: 2 September (Friday)

Time Item Responsible/Speaker
08.30 – 08.45 Overview of Day 2

 

One of the participants
Intro to real peoples’ solutions to the climate crisis, and way forward  
8.45 – 9.00 Good energy solutions – what kind of energy solutions do we want for the world, with examples dipti bhatnagar
9.00 – 9.15 Micro Hydro as a solution Domingos Neto, Associacao Kwaedza Simukai Manica
9.15 – 9.35 Community forest management            as a real solution to the climate crisis, and challenges that communities face Rene Machoco, JA!

 

Communities from Mabu and  Muzo

Session on Food sovereignty, Agriculture and Land  
9.35 – 9.55 Agriculture, land and energy David Fig
9.55 – 10.15 Agroecology as a real peoples solution to the climate crisis, and challenges faced Elizabeth Mpofu
10.15 – 10.35 Agriculture challenges and solutions in Mozambique Renaldo Chingore
10.35 – 11.05 Coffee Break All
11.05 – 12.00 Recap the agriculture and land arguments & Debate Ruth (recap) Discussion – All
12.00 – 13.00 Linking Gender, Extractives & Climate Justice -including debate Ruth Nyambura and Mela Chiponde
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch All
14.00 – 15.30 Strategy and way forward in small groups All
15.30 – 16.30 Coming back to plenary to discuss next steps ahead All
16.30 – 17.00 Closing remarks Anabela Lemos
17.00 onwards Snacks and get together  

 

 

DENUNCIATION OF THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN WWF AND PROSAVANA

nao ao prosavana

For over three years social movements, peasant families, civil society organisations, religious organisations, scholars and concerned citizens that are part of the No to ProSavana Campaign have been resisting the implementation of ProSavana in the Nacala Corridor of Mozambique.[1] This project is the result of a partnership among the governments of Mozambique, Brazil and Japan, to promote agribusiness development in the Nacala Corridor, resulting in the violation of human rights and negative impacts on peasant agriculture and the environment.

Alliances among Mozambican, Brazilian and Japanese civil society organisations, among other actors, forced the postponement of Part II of ProSavana (the Master Plan) [2] as well as the organisation of public hearings with communities affected by ProSavana between April and June of 2015.[3] However, these hearings violated national and international laws,[4] including International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 169, which guarantees the right to free, prior and informed consent.[5]

We, organisations of civil society and social movements articulated in the No to ProSavana Campaign, denounce the current involvement of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in ProSavana. We identified an alliance between WWF and MAJOL, the consultancy company hired by ProSavana’s promoters (in this case, JICA), to facilitate the dialogue between ProSavana and civil society.

It is unusual that the main facilitator of the dialogue, Mr. Peter Bechtel,[6] who today presents himself as a MAJOL consultant, had been a WWF manager for the Northern Region, where he managed the conservation areas of the Quirimbas Archipelago, Lake Niassa, and Primeiras e Segundas Archipelago.[7] During this period, Peter Bechtel and WWF funded and worked directly with civil society platforms and representatives that are currently involved in the partnership with ProSavana.

As members of the No to ProSavana Campaign, we condemn WWF’s use of its donor status to encourage civil society representatives to establish partnerships with ProSavana and the business sector, especially when it results in the violation of national and international laws that protect community rights. We also condemn the use of platforms, which have been an important tool for the exercise of citizenship, to impose international (individual and organisational) interests and agendas. Let us consider the following:

First, it is strange that Mr. Peter Bechtel, former WWF employee and currently the main mediator of the dialogue between ProSavana and civil society, has direct links with agribusiness in Mozambique, whether through the World Bank[8] or USAID.[9] These links are in breach of universal principles of mediation, such as the impartiality of the mediator and the parties’ free will, which create a conflict of interests.

Second, WWF attempted on multiple occasions to create civil society platforms without clear objectives, most of which were challenged by civil society. Without ever having been engaged in advocacy for ProSavana during the last three years, in only two months WWF strangely provided funds for the establishment of the ProSavana dialogue architecture. Further, Mr. Bechtel established questionable alliances with some of the representatives on the platforms, and became the coordinator of the dialogue mechanism mentioned above, as can be verified in the press release of the mechanism’s creation[10]—completely ignoring the work of national organisations involved in challenging ProSavana.

Third, the financial resources to set up the dialogue mechanism will be allocated by JICA (a proponent of ProSavana), including payments to experts that will be hired by the Rural Environment Observatory (OMR) to review the Master Plan.[11] Many independent studies argue that the current Master Plan does not meet the needs of peasant productive systems and pluriactive livelihoods, and demand that it be restructured. So it is strange that the OMR should review the plan (but in a non-structural and non-functional way, as outlined in the term of reference), eventually proposing an approach of “coexistence” between peasant agriculture and agribusiness.

Fourth, because they receive financial resources from JICA, both the dialogue mechanism and the OMR will be accountable to JICA.[12] This situation makes it impossible to ensure the impartiality and independence of these bodies.

Over the last few years, we have been following the ambiguous and disguised actions of WWF in Mozambique. With regard to its relationship with Mozambican civil society organisations, WWF has been imposing processes and the co-opting discussion spaces, such as the Agrofuels Platform and, more recently, the Alliance of Platforms, as well as the Dialogue Mechanism for ProSavana.

In 2009, UNAC and JA! published a study on jatropha and agrofuels in Mozambique, opening space for broad civil society debate, which resulted in a position document of many organisations committed to working on this topic. After a couple of months, WWF took over the discussion process, organising a meeting where it proposed to support the establishment of an agrofuels’ platform, that WWF would host and coordinate. On this occasion, WWF took many unilateral decisions without consulting the other member organisations of the platform—including the decision on the government’s involvement in internal discussions and deliberations. As a result, the majority of the members, including JA!, distanced themselves from the platform and from the collective struggle against biofuels.

In 2014, when WWF proposed the creation of the Alliance of Platforms, most of the civil society organisations present at the meeting agreed with the idea of an alliance, but argued that it should be coordinated by a Mozambican organisation instead of a foreign one. WWF ignored this request. The platform was established and is now coordinated by WWF, in its characteristic way of controlling decision-making and using its influence as a funder of many of the organisations that comprise this platform.

We do not agree with nor do we accept this sort of practice. The platforms should only exist if they are genuine representatives of the organisations they are composed of, based on open, transparent and democratic processes. Otherwise, there is no reason for them to exist. Moreover, they should not try to replace other civil society organisations that are not part of the platforms.

WWF is an international organisation that both implements its own projects and acts as a donor.  It co-opts spaces for debate, using its power and influence to manipulate discussion processes related to national concerns, such as ProSavana. As a result, it creates division among national organisations. And yet, curiously, it is the No to ProSavana Campaign that is being accused of defending outside interests. Shouldn’t we be questioning the interests of WWF?

Maputo, 7 March 2016.

logo UNAC   logo ADECRU   JA logo small  FoE Moz logo small

logo livaningo   logo liga   logo forum mulher   logo WMW

 

logo AAAJC

 

[1] http://www.dw.com/pt/sociedade-civil-lança-campanha-contra-o-prosavana-em-moçambique/a-17677729

[2] http://www.prosavana.gov.mz/prosavana-pd/?lang=pt-pt

[3] http://www.prosavana.gov.mz/auscultacao-publica-a-volta-da-versao-inicial-do-plano-director-do-prosavana/?lang=pt-pt

[4] https://adecru.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/chamada-dos-povos-para-invalidacao-imediata-da-auscultacao-publica-do-plano-director-do-prosavana/

[5] http://pro169.org/ilo-169/

[6] Minutes of the meeting on 11 and 12 January, https://adecru.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/acta-worshop-11-e-12-janeiro-final.pdf

[7] http://clarke.dickinson.edu/devel-mozambique/

[8] http://agtech.partneringforinnovation.org/docs/DOC-1589

[9] http://www.speed-program.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2013-SPEED-Report-009-How-USAID-can-Assist-Mozambique-to-Cope-with-the-Impending-Resource-Boom-EN.pdf

[10] https://adecru.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/comunicado-de-imprensa-do-prosavana-sobre-o-alegado-mecanismo-de-dialogo/

[11]  https://adecru.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/acta-do-dia-18-19.pdf

[12] https://adecru.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/acta-do-dia-18-19.pdf

 

The Tragic Murder of Berta Caceres

In the early hours of the morning of 3rd March, Indigenous activist from Honduras and human rights defender, Berta Cáceres, was murdered in her home.
 
Berta Caceres 2015 Goldman Environmental Award Recipient

Berta Caceres in the Rio Blanco region of western Honduras. Photo courtesy: Goldman Environmental Prize

Berta organised her fellow indigenous Lenca people. She was the co-founder, in 1993, of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She was addressing the constant threats posed to indigenous communities in Honduras by illegal logging, and was supporting their fight for their territories and secure their livelihoods. They were opposing the Agua Zarca dam on the sacred Gualcarque river, which was being pushed by Chinese and Honduran companies.
Berta Caceres 2015 Goldman Environmental Award Recipient

Berta Caceres at her beloved and sacred Gualcarque River where she, and the people of Rio Blanco have maintained a two year struggle to halt construction on the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric project. Photo courtesy: Goldman Environmental Prize

 
Since the US-backed military coup in Honduras in 2009, activists and human rights defenders have been under severe threat. Gustavo Castro Soto, from Otros Mundos Chiapas (Friends of the Earth Mexico) was in Berta’s home and is a witness to Berta’s killing. As of this writing, we are demanding that Honduran authorities provide him with safe passage to return to Mexico unharmed.
seguridadparagustavo
  Photo courtesy: Friends of the Earth International.

The Business of Manufacturing Doubt

We are a few short weeks away from what is meant to be an important event. An event where our world leaders get together to deal with one of the biggest threats of our time and to humanity as a whole: climate change. The event is the much-hyped COP 21 in Paris, France.

merchants of doubt- dany- cop21-label

Paris COP21 logo

Yet, almost everyone that really cares about stopping this climate catastrophe does not expect any major success or real solutions coming out of Paris this December. It is expected to be just another failed COP in a long line of endless failures of our leaders to have any backbone about dealing with climate change. And yes it just the political will that is potently lacking, because real solutions to the problem exist and people are working on such solutions every day.

So how can it be that after 21 long years of negotiations, we are still discussing and we still haven’t managed to figure out how to fix the problem of climate change in a global, binding and coordinated manner? The reasons are many, but there is one aspect of the problem that I would like to explore more, and which I feel has been a central cause of the problem around delayed action on climate change. That is the prevalence of manipulation of narratives, through “misdirection”, “distraction”, and “creation of doubt.”

In studying media coverage during the nineties until recently, we often saw an ongoing debate, often with one expert stating that climate change was happening and explaining the need for action, while another claimed that the science was unclear, complicated and that we needed to do more research and discussions before we do anything since that could cause major economic costs. This format gives the false impression that the scientific field is balanced in these different views, that there is still a debate to be had, that there are divergent opinion within the experts. If one looks at the time given to these two views, it is either equal time or in the case of some US channels actually more time is given to climate deniers then to the true experts.

Just in case some of you have been duped by this, it is useful to go through a quick timeline to understand how corporations and governments have been especially effective at redefining the narrative in the face of overwhelming evidence. As early as 1859 Tyndall shows the effect of greenhouse gases and suggested that increases in these gases could case climate change. In 1896 Arrhenius releases its first study calculating the effect of global warming from human emissions of CO2. Just a year later Chamberlin produced the first simple global carbon model with feedbacks, while Callendar in 1938 used records from 147 weather stations to show a correlation between temperature increase and CO2 concentrations. Since then more and more research has clearly showed the link between human-based emissions and climate change, such issues as data showing CO2 based global warming is underway, from the melting of Antarctic ice sheets, to complex global weather models showing the existence of climate change and much, much more all this already existed by the 1960s.

In the 1970s, numerous conferences and institutions starting raising concerns about climate change, with an ever-increasing consensus among leading scientists that serious global climate change was caused by humans and that action was necessary. In the 1970s there were still scientists and experts that had doubts, but as their own research continued one by one they shifted to the truth. By 1985, already 30 years ago, the Villach Conference had declared consensus among experts and called on governments to consider international agreements to restrict emissions.

The world reacted and in 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established and in 1990 they released their first report stating that the world was warming. In 2005, the Kyoto Protocol became the first international law to deal with climate change. Many felt it was too weak, but given that this was a first step, with a guarantee that stronger agreements were to follow, many felt that at least things looked like they were heading in the right direction. However, as we all know it didn’t go as hoped and the Kyoto Protocol died a slow, painful death around 2012 with no new binding global agreement to replace it. Reason seems to have retreated and it feels we are further away from a solution than we were even 10 years ago.

Today for every 100 research papers published on climate change, 99 support the reality of climate change. Don’t be surprised if the last one which doesn’t support the reality is funded by the fossil fuel industry. The problem is that decisions are not based on facts, but political and corporate interests. However, civil society can be a major thorn in the side of these narrow corporate interests; hence defining a narrative to their interests becomes an important part of continued corporate control of our spaces and government.

The public relations type approach that corporates use to develop their narratives is not fine-tuned to facts but rather to peoples’ interests and emotions. It is based on charm, slickness, catchy messages and charisma, and therefor very effective. In contrast the factual science-based approach to develop a narrative is far more restrictive as it needs to be based on data, on falsifiable hypotheses and complex details that are regularly revised, changed and fine-tuned as new research and data are constantly being discovered. This isn’t a good path for igniting mass interest. Add the fact that corporations control most of the media sources, or have the funds to spread their toxic untrue narrative to an endless degree. We can start to understand why we are failing.

In the case of the climate change narrative a further dose of distraction, intentional misinterpretation, suppression of facts, dubious think tanks, pseudo-experts, and more, have even further distorted the odds. For those who are interested in more details can read an interesting book titled “Merchants of Doubt” or watch the documentary of the same name. This book reveals the history of corporate public relations efforts to cast doubt, confusion and skepticism around genuine scientific research if that research goes against their self-interest.

merchants of doubt book

Merchants of Doubt book

The interesting thing that one notices when reading the book is how similar has been the doubt-generating approach to diverse topics and issues from DDT pesticides to ozone depleting CFC´s, from acid rain to the flame-retardants industry. All used the corporate narratives to create doubt and skepticism on the existence of a problem, leading to major delays is solving these issues. The first step to solving any problem is agreeing that there is a problem. If the problem is ignored for long enough, then the solution of what it will take to stop this crisis, can well be ignored. The case that really stands out in the book is that of tobacco industry. The strategies used today for casting doubt on climate change were so similar to the strategies for fudging the health impacts of tobacco. There is even an overlap of the actual pseudo-experts involved. If you can sell big tobacco´s narrative, you can sell any narrative.

Also the reason why tobacco is an important case study is because they wrote the book on using public relations to keep the reality and consequences well hidden. An infamous 1969 tobacco executive memo explained it best by saying “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

The science was clear already in 1950 with numerous studies showing the link between cancer and tobacco. By the end of the 1950s, even the tobacco´s own research had concluded that their product was addictive and caused cancer. In the light of this the tobacco industry realized that denying the harms of smoking would not be enough or effective as a sales strategy. Instead it was important to insist that there were “two sides” to the story and to use the transient and changing nature of science in their favour. It got heavily involved in funding opposing research and partnering with research institutions, and even created some such as the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC). At least the link with the TIRC was clear, most of the funding was not made known it came from the tobacco industry so to seem independent. Some of the research was heavily base, but some was genuine and good, such as the link between genetics and cancer, but the use of the research was to create alternative hypothesis to better develop doubt.

They developed a diverse and intense advertising campaigns becoming the biggest advertisers in sports and other sectors. They used influential professions such as getting doctors to support the use of tobacco or at least to claim that they smoked. It is technically not a lie, but one can see the problem from miles away. They sponsor celebrities, and sell lifestyles. They were among the first to link up with Hollywood for product placement in movies. The 80´s superman movies had Superman and even Lois Lane (confident girlfriend) smoke for the first time in the franchise and throughout the movies there were Malboro adverts.

All this allowed the tobacco industry to avoid regulation, legislation, liaibility, etc, but more sadly it allow the continued delay to solving the problem and must always keep in mind that when one says delays it mean much more than time, it often mean loss of life.

Climate change has followed the same strategy and the fossil fuel industries and others have been successfully delaying action and capturing our global spaces such as the UNFCCC to the point where even thought the last IPCC report on climate change highlighted the severe and shocking state of our climate and called for drastic action, we still do not expect much of the Paris COP, which is where we met to get some form of international agreement. We have the facts, we know what needs to be done, but our leaders do not want to do it….and the general public in the critical countries like the USA are “doubtful” of the true causes of climate change. Many still doubt  if climate change really exists or not. It may seem like a joke to us, but it is true in many parts of USA. It also help to deny climate change when accepting it means changing some of the excesses of consumption that has become part and parcel of the American way of life and a path that many of our elites have adopted and even elaborated on.

IMG_2046

Stop global warming! Roads sign in Muscat, Oman, September 2009

Now this may seem like a global issue with big players outside the reality of Mozambique, but many of these tricks and strategies are being used day-by-day with us, with Mozambique´s civil society. Its was used when dealing with the illegal logging, the gas, the coal and much more. It is currently happening with Prosavana, one of the largest land grabs in Africa, were civil society has identified numerous fatal flaws and have asked for a halt to the project. The government has done numerous fancy looking documents showing the benefits. It has done a master plan with all the correct language of sustainability, equity, community empowerment, gender sensitivity, etc…They know what to say and they know that what they say and what they do doesn´t have to be the same. Once the project has started its almost impossible to stop, so they just need to say the right thing until the ball gets rolling.

DSC_4544

Coal mining dust in Tete province, Mozambique

Hence, the government has shown a willingness to sit down and discuss. “Let’s not be extreme, they say. “Let’s not halt the project, but find a solution to improve this Prosavana program, work together, etc. It places civil society in a situation where if we say no it makes us look stubborn and feeds the notions of being extreme. The truth is that while we sit down and discuss, chat and work together the project continues. Word stay words and nothing changes in reality. We increase the credibility of the project as they can claim civil society participations. We have been there and have done that too many times.

Let me put it in a simpler way. If I served you a fish that was rotten, you would not accept it and send it back. My reaction should be to say sorry and getting something new, but instead of me throwing it out I say let us talk about it, let us fix the problem. Well I can put salt and piri-piri to help improve the taste and a lot of garlic to improve the smell. Let us not be extreme and compromise. Would you now eat the rotten fish? Didn’t think so. Hence we should find ways ourselves having to discuss projects and issues that are fundamentaly flawed and which affect so many people so deeply. It because the fish is only a few meticais so we can throw it out, but these projects and issues are millions of dollars and that is enough to buy over morality.

The later the change occurs the less impact it has and the slower the results. Do not forget that these issues are linked to peoples’ lives. In the case of climate change one must not forget when we discuss this limit or that limit, we are basically discussing if a few million people can die or many millions can die, that how sever the situation is if we delay action or do too little too late. Do not let the powers at be take us on these endless roundabouts while they continue to impact peoples’ lives.

 

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