Category Archives: Land Use and Conservation

Corporate Impunity: Strategies of struggle (Part I)

2016 was an important year in our continent’s struggle against corporate impunity: the first session of the Southern African Peoples Permanent Tribunal (PPT) took place in Swaziland. This Court, which was founded more than 30 years ago in Italy, is an independent body that examines situations of systemic human rights violations – especially in cases where existing legislation (both national and international) is not capable of safeguarding the rights of populations. Although it does not have the power to issue an obligatory sentence for the company (which, by the way, is very important and is one of the reasons we are working for – but let’s talk about it later on), the PPT is strategically very important: On the one hand, it allows victims to be heard and advised by a panel of experts from various areas and to establish partnerships; and on the other, it is a moment of complaint and visibility for the cases, and therefore, of exposure to infringing companies. And although in our country this criminal impunity is often seen as a synonym of cleverness and of the perpetrators degree of influence, on the international level things are not quite like that. Being labelled as a human rights violator is a matter of great concern to these corporations, and therefore it can lead to a change of attitude – not because their ethical principles and values are very important to them, but simply because a bad reputation affects the only thing that truly matters to corporations: their profits.

Ten cases from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique were presented in last year’s PPT, most of them related to the extractive industry. From our country, for the serious impacts that their activities have on the communities around them and for the noncompliance with the promises they made to those communities before settling in the region (to the point that one of them actually started its mining activities without resettling those living within the concession area – as we have denounced through various channels including this one), we took to the court VALE and JINDAL. A Panel of Jurors listened attentively to the communities’ grievances and to a contextualization made by invited experts, and then released its deliberations.

This year the process is repeated: in August, seven cases from the Southern Africa region will be presented by the affected communities themselves and by the civil society organizations who work with them. This time, the general theme of the cases is Land, Food and Agriculture. In addition to cases presented by Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mauritius – who will denounce large corporations such as Parmalat and Monsanto – this session of the PPT will also hear the denunciation of two Mozambican cases: the proposed Mphanda Nkuwa dam on the already strangled Zambezi River; and ProSavana, the Mozambican, Brazilian and Japanese governments’ triangular partnership program that aims to develop agribusiness in the Nacala Corridor. These two Mozambican cases have the same particularity: they are not yet implemented. However, and this is what made us chose these two cases for this year’s PPT (because, let’s face it, what we are not lacking in our country are examples of human rights violations by private initiatives), despite not being implemented yet, its impacts are not less significant.

In Mphanda Nkuwa, for example, local communities were visited for the first time in 2000 by representatives of the companies responsible for the construction of the dam. They ere warned that they could not build new houses in that region because they would not be compensated for them. Since then, these people live in total uncertainty and can no longer make any long-term plans, at the risk of losing their assets when they start construction. ProSavana, on the other hand, has been characterized by the secrecy, manipulation and misrepresentation of information with the aim of promoting a false idea that the project will promote agricultural development in the northern region of the country, while in fact it is an initiative that will serve to facilitate large scale encroachment of peasant lands. This program will also destroy the livelihoods of local populations and exacerbate their already grave poverty. There are already reports of manipulation and intimidation of leaders of local peasant organizations.

The mobilization of civil society (Mozambican, Japanese and Brazilian) in opposition to ProSavana was fundamental to halt to the initial plans of this program and postpone the conclusion of its Master Plan. The purpose of taking these two cases to the PPT is to bring together even more elements that may help stop these projects.

Spaces such as the PPT are also crucial for perceiving trends, identifying development models, and analyzing common practices of transnational corporations – as well as their strategies to escape responsibility. Thus, by moving these experiences to a more global scale, it is easy to see that these violations of fundamental human rights are not perpetrated by one or another transnational corporation in isolation. That is, these are not a couple of rotten apples in a sack full of beautiful apples. Rather, it is a generalized behavior that is enabled by an architecture of impunity, characteristic of our extractive capitalist development system. This architecture of impunity puts corporate rights above human rights, and makes way for an abundant number of examples of very lucrative corporate crimes.

The architecture of impunity consists of several elements and actors:

We have the economic power of corporations – on the basis of which these establish their relations with one another and with states – and of international financial institutions;

We have political power, which in turn is responsible for capturing policies and politicians that fail to regulate the collective interests of society to serve private interests;

Trade architecture, embodied by numerous trade and investment agreements, facilitates profit and allows corporations to file lawsuits against governments should they make decisions that affect their anticipated profits;

Legal power is represented by the financial capacity to hire and dispose of influential lawyers who defend corporations in endless processes, as well as by inadequate and insufficient legal instruments that regulate their actions; and finally

Social power, which is exercised in all spheres of our lives through the influence that corporations have in the media, academic spaces, civil society organizations, among others.

Discussing some of these elements and developing the cases that will be presented in the PPT next month, were the objectives that motivated the Workshop on the Architecture of Impunity, held in the context of the Southern Africa Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power. Since it is the affected communities themselves who present the cases to the Panel of Jurors in the PPT, this enabled them to get the support of several resource people, to appeal, discuss and deepen the specificities of their denunciations and also to identify common ground with the other cases.

But the struggle to end corporate impunity is not only fought in the field of opinion sentences, nor is the important opinion of a panel of judges our only weapon to demand a different behavior from transnational corporations. Another battle is being waged to develop a legal instrument that will ultimately have the power to condemn and punish corporations – since the absence of such an instrument is currently one of the biggest gaps in international law. We are talking about the UN Intergovernmental Working Group, created in 2014 with the mandate to develop a binding treaty for transnational corporations on human rights issues, which will meet in October this year for its third session. At this time, transnational corporations simply have to follow voluntary standards and guiding principles that “advise” best practices on human rights issues. There is no doubt that this blind faith in corporate goodwill has had grave and irreparable consequences, both on people and on the planet. In next month’s article, we will look into this issue more carefully, getting deeper into the debate about the urgency of a legal mechanism that is accessible to any community affected by the operations of a transnational corporation. For now, we continue to look closely at next month’s PPT, certain that this will be another important moment regarding the convergence of struggles for a fairer, healthier and more common-good oriented world.

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When African Renewable Energy Was Hijacked

A few years ago, during the United Nations climate change negotiations in Paris in December 2015, 55 African leaders launched the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). It pledged to follow a people-centred approach to renewable energy development and energy access work across our continent. It talked about rights and equity, very important for our context and for justice. It talked about community ownership and distributed power for African people, in both senses of the word ‘power’. It demanded new and additional renewable energy for our people – no double counting of funds for other projects. It was an African-owned and African-led initiative.

JA! people participated in the AREI meetings in Paris in December 2015 and in Marrakesh in November 2016. Civil society was included into this process from the beginning. Could this become something we would be proud of as Africans? The AREI was a unique approach, in a continent marred by ever-increasing development of dirty energies like coal, oil, gas and big hydro, where it is commonplace to sacrifice our people, kill the local ecology, grab lands and destroy the climate at the same time. The AREI put in strong and important criteria in place to avoid these terrible impacts and said that projects would not support fossil fuels or nuclear.

The AREI really pledged to be different. And this pledge to go for a different, people-based approach is really important. It moves us away from a system fix approach to a system change approach, to change the base principles which drive how we think about energy for people.

In Paris, developed countries stepped forward with $10 billion in pledges to support this initiative. But would these countries really let this initiative survive? Or would money talk? The frightening answer came just over a year later, and by early March 2017, the AREI was already in danger.

The first attack came from the European Commission (EC), and the French government which had helped birth this initiative in the UN talks in their country. What did the attack look like? They came forward at the board meeting with a plan to fund 19 renewable energy projects with an investment of a whopping 4.8 billion. You can read the press release dated 4 March of the European Commission at this link – http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-442_en.htm. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The claim for 4.8 billion is false, they are providing a mere €300 million themselves and hoping to leverage the rest. Not just that, remember the AREI’s commitment for new and additional projects with strong criteria to prevent environmental injustices? Well, these proposed projects were already partly pre-existing ones, with all kinds of double-counting and dodgy accounting taking place on the financing. Some of the projects, like a geothermal project in Ethiopia, are from 2014, the year before the AREI initiative was even finalized. Worst of all, these projects are being rammed through without caring about criteria and impacts. Our colleagues discovered that at least 1 of these projects involves fossil fuels interests. We heard that 14 of these projects were just rubber-stamped through, while 5 of them were not even reviewed due to lack of time. The base principles of AREI were the first to be under attack. Even the vague notion of system change is threatening to the system.

 

African civil society began to hit back at this affront. By early April, JA! had joined over 180 African organizations who signed up to a letter demanding this hijack of the AREI be reversed. Last week at the UN negotiations in Bonn, on 18 May 2017, 111 international organizations outside of Africa released a letter supporting the African demands for the EC and France to stop the hijack of African renewable energy. A lot of media pick-up has happened around these letters.

The EC knows it is being watched and is now on the back-foot. Our European colleagues were invited to a meeting with them in Bonn last week, where they found out that the EC is seriously trying to do damage control. They are shocked by the media pick-up and are calling it a scandal. But they are not yet saying how they will do things differently. This meeting took place on 16 May 2017. Some mainstream system-fix type civil society people already wanted to stop the international letter since they said the EC is talking to us. Others said, no way, the EC and France need to be exposed and they made sure the letter was released 2 days later, before the Bonn talks closed. You can read the press release here- http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1102862873361&ca=c6022777-a64f-4bd8-b159-69ebbf8df668.

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

 

“Portucel unveils the largest plant nursery in Africa”

This was the title of one of the numerous news reports portraying the inauguration of the largest plant nursery in Africa … Truth be told, the biggest nursery of eucalyptus trees which will be used for monoculture plantations and will have many negative impacts. But, hey, let’s celebrate; after all we now have in Mozambique the largest something in Africa! A huge nursery of eucalyptus! Yuuupiii!!!

Interestingly, none of the articles that I was able to get my hands on made reference to our government’s commitment to exotic species plantations, nor to the huge and confessed pride that our current government feels for these new conquests, to the point that it’s the president himself who inaugurates it.

Parts of the President’s opening speech was broadcast on television (STV nightly news on September 8th). I confess that it surprised me quite a lot to hear what the President thinks of the issues that have been raised regarding employment positions in Portucel, alleged cases of land grabbing and also about the motivations of the NGOs working with some communities in the area… Mr. President, I prefer to believe that the news piece was poorly edited, because certainty you could never speak of these issues as it was presented, surely, because a President of all Mozambicans as you are, Sir, would obviously never refer to these NGOs and people in such manner without ever having heard what they really think and why they think like that. The President asked Portucel workers if they were happy, or whether they preferred to continue in poverty without jobs, and said that those who work with them (referring to those NGOs) do not want to see the region develop, they want to keep them in poverty while they themselves “live well” … Oh Mr. President, who lives well??? Mr. President knows as well as we do that most people who work and live honestly do not live well, they merely survive, and some not even that! What is living well Mr. President? Is it to live in fear of expressing yourself openly and then be summoned to court and be accused of crimes against the state? And what about all the injustices we witness every day, are we not allowed to talk about them? Is living well being afraid of talking too much and then one day, while you are out for a walk, getting shot by a hitman following some faceless coward’s order? Or is living well, to live in apartments that look more like prisons than anything else, with burglar bars and locks, afraid of everything and everyone, due to the complete inefficiency of our police in protecting us? Or is living well having to wait for hours to be cared for in a hospital and when your turn finally comes the doctor is already so tired that he has no patience left for you? Or is it having to bribe teachers and principals of public schools to get a place for your child to study, and dream of a better life? Is this how we live well Mr. President? Who lives well Mr. President? Many of us live rather better than most, but living well requires a number of conditions that we lack …

You know as well as we do that those who live well are some of the members of your government, with their salaries and numerous subsidies at the expense of the same people who you now want to silence with a handful of precarious jobs. Those who live well are our members of parliament, who vote for more and more benefits for themselves, which the people contest but it goes forward anyway! And why Mr. President? Why do we continue to turn a blind eye to these injustices? Why do we accept that some have so much and others nothing? Why do the people have to settle for a job with low pay, often seasonal, while their representatives are entitled to the absurd benefits we all know about? Why are we perpetuating poverty in a country with so much wealth? One of our greatest assets is our land, where thousands of peasants produce food everyday. Land which we see being so lightly “lent” to the many, many investment projects, often against the will of the people… If Portucel jobs are so good, and life is now so much better thanks to Portucel’s arrival, maybe it would not be a bad idea to send there some of our many members of parliament for an internship there, paid of course, since we do not agree with any form of exploitation… Who knows, maybe then the President would realize that, after all, those jobs are not that good…

Mr. President, we are on the same side, we work for social and environmental justice, because we believe that together we can help build a country that we can all be proud of, where we can all live well and not just a few!

Mr. President, you posed questions to Portucel employees, but did you really expect people to answer honestly and tell you that the job is not safe, or that the salary is too low, or that they thought they were going to get more than 1500 Meticais ($32 according to current exchange rates!) in return for their farms, as they tell us (those pesky NGOs!). I find it hard to believe that someone would have the courage to, given the situation, say things were not good and instead say what they would actually prefer that… And you know why Mr. President? Because your question was not raised to be answered, your question was merely to convince others that all is well… and your considerations regarding the NGOs and the people who work with the communities were incorrect and unjust, and coming from you Mr. President, even more incorrect, because after all you are the President of all Mozambicans, including those that you criticized without ever knowing, those who you say live well and only want to delay the development of the region and maintain the communities in poverty. We are also part of those that you criticized, and I am sorry to tell you Mr. President, but you are misinformed.

A project so wonderful speaks for itself, surely does not need anyone to come defend it, as it has been happening with Portucel. A project so wonderful does not need any effort to discredit anybody because the facts speak for themselves!

If you want to hear the people, approach them humbly, be spontaneous, do not allow everything to be planned to the smallest detail, like who can talk and what can be talked about, complaints which we have heard, whether they are true or not, we cannot say, but we believe you have ways to find out Sir…

Long live democracy!

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Children from Portucel-affected communities. Photo credit: Justiça Ambiental

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One of Portucel’s monoculture exotic plantations. Photo credit: Justiça Ambiental

 

Children are the stars as JA Celebrates International Forests Day

As we had announced, this year our celebration of the Forests Day on 21 March was different, as it was dedicated to the children, not adults!!

21 de Marco - dia das florestas

It was a fun day with lots of playful activities and joy, with many opportunities to introduce and discuss with kids the importance of our forests, the importance of conserving these ecosystems and of the environment in general, always highlighting that people and communities are a part of it.

A boa disposicao do nosso pessoal

We were all touched by the happiness of the children!! And our staff & volunteers enjoyed too!!

The event took place at the Parque dos Professores (Teachers Park), starting at 10am until 4 pm, and was organized in partnership with the Livro Aberto (Open Book) Association and supported by the participation and dedication of AMOR (Mozambican Recycling Association), Kosmoz, Mr. Rafo Diaz, the boys from the orphanage Casa do Gaiato and several tireless volunteers.

Mesa Amor e o Vai e VemCasa do Gaiato no dia das Florestas

The objective of this initiative was to use fun activities to raise awareness among children, Mozambique’s future generation, about the importance of our forests, and the conservation of our environment in general.

The activities for children included:

1. Making Bracelets with re-used plastic water bottles and strips of bright capulana (much-loved traditional Mozambican cloth)

Pulseiras com garrafas plásticas e recortes de capulana

2. Drawing trees and decorating them using motifs from old magazines;

Desenhando árvores - recorte e colagem

Making snakes by re-using the cardboard tube of toilet rolls;

Drawing a beautiful forest on canvas, elements of which were painted by many different children throughout the day at their choice and in the end, it illustrated the immense biodiversity and creativity;

O inicio da nossa floresta A nosso floresta 1

Face painting, which did take some courage as none of our staff had any previous experience with this, but it also gave us the opportunity to test the creativity of our colleagues and volunteers;

Reiki 4

In addition to these activities, we had several colouring pages available for the younger children, all with environmental themes;

Uma das muitas criancas que estiveram conosco colorindo!!!

We had a message board which was also a success; many children left their messages each on small cardboard leaves, which together made the tree;

A nossa árvore das mensagens

In addition to the activities that JA and Livro Aberto had organized we also had activities from important partners, who clearly contributed for a rich programme for the day, such as AMOR and Kosmoz.

AMOR is promoting recycling in Mozambique and was present with their great mood, inviting children to learn how to build fun toys from recycled material, such as the “Vai e vem” (literally ‘come & go’ – a toy) with recycled plastic bottles, which was a huge hit with the kids whilst at the same time their volunteers were talking about important environmental concepts.

Amor - ensinando com amor

The Kosmoz (Holistic Platform for Integral Human Development) was well represented, bringing elements of physical and mental well-being of communities.

Demosntração da energia vital- chi da natureza aplicado as artes marciais - kosmoz Demosntração da energia vital- chi da natureza aplicado as artes marciais 2

They had a very rich program that included dances, reiki, yoga exercises in group, educational games with emphasis to nutrition, massage parlour only for children (although the adults really wanted it too!), demonstration of aero yoga and hip hop dance, demonstration of theatre games, demonstration of a chess match, among other activities. The therapists from Kosmoz were present during most of the day providing advice and appointments for children and parents also.

Meditacao em grupo 2 - Kosmoz

We cannot forget the story telling moment in which Mr. Rafo Diaz charmed our children with his magical storytelling talent! Thank you very much Rafo!

Rafo Diaz - Encantando com as suas histórias

We are immensely grateful for the commitment and dedication of our new partners Livro Aberto Association, Amor and Kosmoz, because they believed in the cause and helped us make this day a day to remember!

Meditacao em grupo - Kosmoz

This day was a great example of Mozambican organisations working together for children of all socio-economic backgrounds, who rarely if ever have a chance to come together.

(All photos by Justiça Ambiental)

UNAC’s 3rd International Conference about Land

Another International Conference about Land, organized by the National Peasants Union (União Nacional de Camposeses, UNAC), took place in early October in the Telecommunications of Mozambique (Telecomunicações de Moçambique, TDM) conference centre. It was a privilege to hear the peasants testimonies, concerns and appeals… most of which, unfortunately, remain unresolved and unanswered. The main issues addressed were:

  • Land conflicts that are getting worse all over the country. Farmers who find themselves competing with megaprojects, like plantations, for land that rightfully belongs to them;
  • The lack of market and of product flow paths, which sometimes leads to rotten goods;
  • Unfair competition with imported products from South Africa and Swaziland. Although most of the products from our farmers are organic, consumers end up choosing the cheapest and “nice-looking” products in detriment of local goods;
  • Community Consultation misguided and biased, often involving only community representatives and not the community as a whole, which allows leaders to be misled or even bribed, in exchange for personal benefits and at the expense of the welfare of the whole community;
  • The lack of incentives and of a specific policy for the preservation of local seeds and local knowledge, pushing farmers to purchase improved seeds that lead to having low production results;
  • Prosavana, because it is being imposed and because it is a top to bottom program which endangers the land and livelihood of peasants, clearly embracing agro-businesses;
  • Other issues raised were the lack of subsidized agricultural credit, lack of extension workers, ..

The problems are many, the feeling of abandonment is widespread and the fear of questioning and complaining is permanent. How can we be facing this scenario in a country that does not tire of glorifying itself over its excellent and progressive land law, and where over 80% of the population depend on agriculture?

9oct2014- P1160665

Nothing about us without us! (Photo credit: JA!)

Another much discussed matter were the seeds: the qualities of local seeds vs the qualities of improved and genetically modified seeds that we thought we were not allowed in Mozambique, but which the Ministry Of Agriculture (Ministério da Agricultura, MINAG) is clearly keen to introduce. In fact, there are already experimental fields. In his presentation, the representative of MINAG praised widely the benefits of clearly questionable genetically modified organisms, and even said we cannot have an aversion to new technologies. The concerns of farmers are ignored, the concerns of non-governmental organizations are ignored – that is when they are not also accused of having outside interests – and there is plenty of evidence that shows us that by adhering to all forms of greedy development, based on the extraction of all types of natural resources and on the commodification of nature, the government is mortgaging the future of the country. The examples of large and serious impacts of new agro businesses programs like Prosavana, which are done with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are numerous, but still, those in charge insist on not accepting them, and insist on following the path of profit at the expense of people and the environment.

The conviction of the representative of MINAG on benefits of GMO’s, and the fact that he did not mention a single negative point, showed the pathway that the government chose to follow on this matter, despite the clear objections of the peasants who were present, despite the positioning of UNAC and several other civil society organizations. The way sensitive issues such as GMOs are approached is daunting, with only the “positives” being taken into account and no negative aspect being even mentioned. The peasants clearly said they want their native seeds, because the improved seeds do not germinate, because they do not want to pay for seeds every sowing season, because they do not want to become dependent on large agro business companies. But the government representatives said they were not prepared to discuss that issue at the forum, they had only been asked to present their work.

Although very briefly, the Nacala Corridor Strategic Economic Development Plan (Plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento Económico do Corredor de Nacala, PEDEC), which the presenter defined as a set of strategies for economic development of the Nacala corridor, and safeguarding social and environmental aspects, was also presented at the conference. How this plan safeguards the social and environmental aspects of the area, remains a mystery among many other details of this immense and greedy program. Several issues remained “in the air”, as most of those present were totally in the dark regarding this program. The presenter had little or nothing to say when faced with questions, but assured that the 400 page study gives proper details and addresses concerns. The representative of GAZEDA, also responsible for the presentation of this program, stated that the PEDEC does not include Prosavana, that they are separate programs.

In the end, the reports and testimonies of current land conflicts were played down by one of the representatives of the government who said that the Law of the Land is quite clear and that there is no room for debate. If there are land conflicts they should be resolved with the Law of the Land. According to the same individual, there should be no doubt regarding this, so we asked him why then do these conflicts remain unresolved until today… the worst blind is the one who does not want to see.

The 3rd International Conference about Land confirmed the total lack of alignment between what farmers want and how they want to develop, and what the government wants economic development for Mozambique to be: designed at the highest level with its cooperation partners rather than with Mozambicans, and based on programs already implemented in other parts of the world, which benefit countries like Japan, a major player in both the PEDEC and Prosavana.

Any organization that seeks to question and wishes to obtain better understanding of these programs is labeled by some members of the government as “serving foreign interests”. It is hilarious to hear these comments from people who are implementing programs that are completely imported, and are against development… all to avoid having to answer difficult questions that have been consistently placed…

One of the questions that many farmers have posed during this conference was: “Ultimately, who does this government serve?”… No one dared to answer!

Tear-drop in the Indian Ocean: JA! in Sri Lanka

In early October, Justiça Ambiental participated in the International Conference on The Role of Communities in Environmental Decision-Making. It was held in a beautiful forest resort in Kandy, in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Kandy was the capital of the last kingdom in Sri Lanka. It fell to the British as late as 1815, after fighting off the Portuguese and Dutch colonisers for 300 years.

This was the pre-conference, which is always held before the Friends of the Earth International Biannual General Meeting (BGM). The pre-conference gives a chance for FoE member groups to meet and interact with communities from the local country that is hosting the BGM.

 

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JA staff along with over a hundred people from Friends of the Earth International. Photo credit: Victor Barro, FoEI

 

The pre-conference is based on the clear understanding that listening to the voices of local communities is the most vital part in environment and development decision-making. It is based on principles of environmental democracy, free prior and informed consent and management and ownership of resources in the hands of local communities.

JA’s Programs Officer presented at the session on ‘Infrastructure Development and Community Rights’. He talked about the struggles that Mozambican communities are facing because of the onslaught of mega-projects that are destroying community lives and livelihoods. JA staff also chaired the session on environmental decision-making for urban communities. Changes in urban settings are usually very rapid compared to rural environment. Poor communities are often displaced more than once. When they are displaced from their lands and forests, they usually become merely a labour source in urban centres and lose their traditions and rights. It was wonderful to interact with Sri Lankan communities, many of whom are facing very similar situations to those in Mozambique.

 

In the evening, we were treated to a cultural night, including traditional Kandyan dancers. It was nice to see how dance is such a crucial part of all ancient cultures and there are some similar themes across continents. The Kandyan dancers used some masks and themes that are reminiscent of those used in the northern Mozambican communities.

 

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Kanyan dancers. Photo credit: Daniel Ribeiro

 

The wonderful keynote address that night was delivered by Justice C.G. Weeramanthri. He is a Sri Lankan lawyer who served as a Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, from 1991 to 2000. Winner of the Right Livelihood Award in 2007, Justice Weeramanthri talked about the need for an ombudsman for future generations. “Nobody owns even one inch of land,” he said. He reminded us of the Native American tradition to consider the next 7 generations in our environmental decision-making.

Unfortunately the government of Mozambique and most other countries across the world at this moment are doing exactly the opposite. At least the Sri Lankan government seems to work a bit with local civil society, while here in Mozambique the government is usually working hard to undermine or weaken civil society.

After this inspiring speech, FoE Sri Lanka presented Environmental and Social Justice Awards to 13 icons of Sri Lanka. The list included an indigenous Vedda person who plays a leadership role in the indigenous rights, a Buddhist monk who has been instrumental in saving the Nilgala forest, a recently-deceased elder from the youth revolution of the 1970s who founded the Movement for Land and Agriculture Reforms and others.

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These monks were among those honoured with the environmental awards. Photo credit: Daniel Ribeiro

We felt honoured and humbled to be in the presence of these amazing individuals and movement leaders who have played an important role in the civil society of Sri Lanka.

CAN WE STOP OUR ELEPHANTS’ SLAUGHTER?

In an article we wrote on our Newsletter in June last year,  about the sad reports we were getting regarding a second extinction of the rhino in Mozambique (since they had been eradicated from our territory in the past and then reintroduced), we mentioned the possibility of extinction in our territory of yet another species, the elephant.

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Studies published at the time adverted that 4 to 5 elephants were being killed a day, most of them in our national parks, and warned that if urgent measures were not taken to change the course of things, elephants in Mozambique would be extinct in five years time. Statements of both international scientists and national park guards corroborated these allegations. A small documentary in one of the national television channels, with shocking footage of dead elephants and carcases, was also broadcasted at the time.

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But, as always in our country, a year as gone by and nothing has been done. In fact, the situation worsened and despite all the warnings by the civil society and the media, our elephants keep getting slaughtered. The competent authorities, whose duty is to act, are not acting. They do not even comment on the issue so that they do not have to explain how they are (not) tackling it. Maybe they are hoping that it will solve itself… And if it depends on them, so it will be: in four years time (five was last year) we will have no elephants left, and therefore, no problems to address. The way we see it, this is the only thing that can be going through their minds, otherwise, why are they not acting upon something so serious?

Unfortunately, we did not expect different. After all, this invariable incapability to take urgent measures that are necessary to solve serious environmental problems, whether on behalf of our elephants, forests or the environment in general, is a trademark of our government.

When we have no natural resource whatsoever (animals, forests or rivers), then we will not have the need to protect them, and consequently, we will not have any environmental problem. Correct? No? So why are we not acting?

Can someone please explain it?

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About this subject, in August of this year, an elucidative new study about the illegal ivory market global spreading was launched. This study, titled Out of Africa: Mapping the Global Trade in Illicit Elephant Ivory, by Varun Vira, Thomas Ewing, and Jackson Miller, adds even more ashes to the fire by revealing some shocking recent data of the worlds counterfeit of this product.

The study states that the period between 2009 and 2013 was the worst in history since ivory trade was banned, and that in 2013 alone, over 50 tons of ivory were apprehended. Despite being hard to estimate the correct number of elephants that were killed to produce this kind of quantity, we know that at least 20.000 elephants are killed annually and that its world population is dropping, possibly on its way to extinction.

To make things worst, for example in China, ivory price has risen from USD $5/Kg in 1989 to USD $2.100/Kg in 2014. By itself, this stimulates an absurd increase in ivory traffic and converts what was “only” an environmental problem, into a case of organized crime with Africa as its focal point and countries like Mozambique, fragile due to its weak wildlife monitoring, as its main targets.

Given the seriousness of the situation and the feeble or nonexistent action of many of our governments, citizens from over 100 cities of the world gathered and organized a global march on the 4th of October, to protest against the present indiscriminate slaughter and to demand that serious measures are taken before it is too late.

But time does not stop and while we are writing this article, the clock keeps ticking in Mozambique and elephants keep getting slaughtered in our parks. Asking WHY and getting upset with what is not being done is not enough anymore. It is time to act, to move into action, to make use of our rights and duties as wise and caring citizens. Our government negligence and lack of attitude in these matters is a direct reflection of our apathy as a society in demanding that they be solved. And if our love for mother earth is not a strong enough motive to compel us, we should be reminded that there are many African nations that have long realized that their biodiversity is an enormous wealth, and among them, countries like South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya, for example, have huge tourism incomes thanks to their clever management of those resources. By allowing the extinction of species in our territory, we are allowing those who perpetrate it to make us all poorer.

Out of the five year estimate for the extinction of elephants in Mozambique, we have now four left and nothing has been done. But as the proverb says, “together we are strong”. We believe that the majority of Mozambicans is aware of the importance of preserving our biodiversity, our natural wealth and we ask all of you to unite under this banner and demand of our goverment swift, practical and effective measures to save the elephants. Lets act to stop this reckless and merciless slaughter.

A luta continua, this time around for elephants and rhinos.

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‘Israel has decided to be a racist apartheid state and not a democracy’

Once again the full murderous force of Israel’s military machine is unleashed against defenceless Palestinians in Gaza, while world leaders just watch the genocide of a nation in real time and do nothing.  When I started writing this article the death toll was well above 100 Palestinians (over half women and children) and zero Israeli civilian casualties or even major injuries, despite extensive coverage by western media of the deadly rocket attacks from Gaza. Sadly by the time I had finished writing the article the Palestinian death toll had gone over 1000 and by the time you read this it would have probably more than doubled. As Israeli Professor, Ilan Pappé says, “Israel, in 2014, made a decision that it prefers to be a racist apartheid state and not a democracy.”

Israel’s aggression violates the UN Charter and fundamental international laws and principles, but this is not new and past commissions have found numerous war atrocities and violations carried out by Israel during past attacks that have not resulted in any concrete actions by the UN or our world leaders. The international reaction to this latest crisis confirms that neither law nor justice dominate the diplomacy of leading western states and the UN, but geopolitical alignments.

One just needs a quick look at the history of the conflict to confirm this bias and lack of action in the face of undeniable facts. The UN has defined Israel’s occupation as illegal and numerous UN resolutions have demanded the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the occupied territories. UN resolution 3379 from 1975 even went on to declare Israeli Zionism ideology as a form of racism, stating “the racist regime in occupied Palestine and the racist regime in Zimbabwe and South Africa have a common imperialist origin, forming a whole and having the same racist structure and being organically linked in their policy aimed at repression of the dignity and integrity of the human being.” Desmond Tutu, Ronnie Kasrils, and other ANC members that fought against apartheid, clearly see the parallels and define the Israeli occupation of Palestine as a form of apartheid. Yet the world denounced and ended apartheid in one place, but is allowing the other to continue. Even when Nelson Mandela stated that “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.

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Photo: Grabbing of Palestinian land by Israel

Numerous leaders and public figures have spoken out in support of Palestine, from Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire, Betty Williams and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, to civil society groups around the world representing millions of people, such as Friends of the Earth, La Via Campesina, and many more. This criticism is not new, during the early days of the creation of Israel numerous influential individuals, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein, raised concerns and criticism. Today even celebrities that are not known to be political have voiced their support of the Palestinian cause, such as footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. For anyone that doesn’t have the time to look into the details or considers the history too complicated, there is an easier way to decide on which side you should belong, simply look at the people you admire, your moral leaders.

Here in Mozambique, Samora Machel was a strong supporter of the Palestinian peoples’ struggles, and Yasser Arafat was a close ally and even attended Samora’s funeral. In Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda was an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian struggle. Many more moral leaders have already done the homework for you. If we claim to be people that are guided by justice and morals it’s now time for us to show solidarity towards the Palestinian people and their struggle.

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Photo: Friends of the Earth International solidarity mission to Palestine, October 2013

I was part of Friends of the Earth International’s latest solidarity mission to Palestine at the end of last year. Even though we were invited by Palestinians, they do not have the authority to invite us into their own country. Instead we had to get an Israeli visa. On arrival the first question asked by Israeli authorities is whether you plan on visiting the West Bank. If you answer yes you most likely will not be allowed entry at all. So we had to enter Palestine ‘unofficially’.

Heavy army presence is evident everywhere, there are road blocks and check points at the entrances to all cities in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers check everyone who passes, always and independent of the prevailing political tensions. This control has prevented over 11 million Palestinian refugees from returning home, even though they are entitled under the Geneva Convention on Refugees to return, which Israel continues to deny. Based on current borders only 17.7% of Palestine (all in the cities) is under Palestinian control, while the rest is controlled by the Israeli army. However, even in the areas under Palestinian control have numerous restrictions imposed by the Israeli army.

The Israeli occupation doesn´t stop with the control of land and movement, but an attack on all the fundamentals of human rights such as water, heath, education, childhood, labour, culture, etc. It is a total structured suppression of a nation to the point where it is a process of colonisation and ethnic cleansing.

During our visit, we realised that given the desert type of environment, water is a very valuable and vital resource for existence. All Palestinian water resources are under the complete control of the Israeli army, which regularly destroy Palestinian bore-holes and block construction of new ones. They impose inhumane water restrictions on Palestinians, while allowing excessive and unstainable use by Israeli settlers. The double standards and water grab by Israelis are impossible to hide. At present Isreali settlers consume daily almost 400 litres per person (more than double of London’s average use) and have swimming pools, exotic gardens and extensive agricultural lands with water-intensive crops that should never be planted in the desert. Meanwhile Palestinians don’t even come close to receiving the World Health Organisation’s daily recommended 100 litres per person and many survive on a little as 10 litres per day.

Water is just one of the fundamental pillars of life that is consistently being used by Israel to break the Palestinian nation and spirit, but it’s the same story for all sectors.

In health, Israel sends its waste to get dumped in Palestine and all high-polluting industries that were in Israel in the 1970s and were ordered by Courts to close due to risks to human health, were instead moved right next to Palestinian cities, like the Geshuri factories near Tulkarem. Israel is very aware of the health risks because, even today, if the wind starts blowing towards Israel, these factories have to halt production. But Palestinians have to just endure the toxins and cancer rates have increased significantly in the area.

The more time we spent in Palestine the more facts and details are continually exposed about the inhumane, unjust, illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel. We heard numerous accounts that the Israeli military arrests Palestinian children as young as 5 years old, a high number of whom are subjected to physical and verbal abuse and are threatened with sexual assault and death to themselves or their families. This abuse is confirmed by UN reports which also add that, in the last decade, over 7000 children are have been arrested and tortured.

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Palestinian children in a village where water & electricity access has been harmed by Israel (Daniel Ribeiro)

Everywhere we went, we saw the Israeli military abuse. In Zbeidat the military blocked the construction of a water and sewage system. Jobet Adeeb near Bethlehem has no electricity or water sewage system, and is barred from installing solar panels, electrical wiring, borehole or almost any structure that would improve the standard of living but the nearby Israeli settlement has all the modern luxuries and services. We visited a village that has been completely demolished, even though Israeli courts have recognised the rights to the land. Many more Palestinians that we met talked about the constant demolition notices they receive, that sometime are carried out immediately while others stay hanging over the family’s head for over a year, never knowing when the military would come to demolish their home. But just like in Gaza today, they know it will happen that one day they arrive home to a pile of rubble.

These experiences are all too common and regular that anyone that want to know the truth has to just spend some time in Palestine. I could carryon for pages and pages of the injustices and abuse by Israel. The evidence is clear. I often hear today’s younger generation asking our elders how did they let it happen – slavery, apartheid in South Africa, 2 World Wars, genocides and many other atrocities. I am sure that our children and grandchildren will ask us the same question. How and why did you allow the Palestinian genocide to happen? And in truth we have no excuses. As the saying goes: all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

There are easy ways that all of us can help, such as supporting the Boycott, Disinvest and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The campaign is non-violent and is inspired by the civil rights movement against segregation in the US and by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. It is based on three basic pillars or principles:

  • Ending occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Apartheid Wall;
  • Recognising the fundamental rights and full equality of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel;
  • Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

All these demands have a basis in UN resolutions on Palestine and they are simply requesting implementation of international law. They are basic rights and first steps in the struggle for justice. I call on all of us to join.

 

REDD Alert

JA & NRAN Film Screening

Recently, JA and the No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN) held an event on REDD. The event was to commemorate the Week of Action Against False Solutions which was within the Reclaim Power: Global Month of Action on Energy. The Month of Action ended on Monday, with the opening day of COP19 in Warsaw, Poland, where once again world leaders will get together to postpone urgent action on climate and ignore the fact that we’re hurtling towards climate disaster.

For our REDD event, we gathered together in the Museum of Natural History in Maputo with a small but spirited group. Samuel Mondlane moderated the meeting. JA’s Director, Anabela Lemos introduced the debate around REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), calling it a false solution for the climate crisis.

We showed a few films criticising carbon trading, offsetting and REDD, calling them dangerous distractions that were avoiding the real solutions from being applied to stop catastrophic climate change, such as reducing fossil fuel use.

After the films, we opened up for a discussion on what people had seen in the films. This discussion is very important, because, in Mozambique, the debate of whether or not REDD is good for the country, had not taken place. It was only assumed that since money was coming in, Mozambique should take it, without any discussion of the dangers and perverse incentives behind it. See below our flyer for the event.

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JA had sparked these discussions a few months ago, with the REDD workshop that we held in Maputo in August 2013. We were able to bring some key international people to Maputo, and facilitate their connections and information-sharing with Mozambican community people and NGOs.

The international key people that came together for the meeting were:

  • Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
  • Nnimmo Bassey, Environmental Rights Action & Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nigeria
  • Isaac Rojas, Coordinator, Forests & Biodiversity program, Friends of the Earth International
  • Winnie Overbeek, World Rainforest Movement
  • Cassandra Smithies, fierce anti-REDDs activist from the US
  • Blessing Karumbidza, Timberwatch, South Africa
  • Odey Oyama, Rainforest Resource and Development Centre, Cross River state, Nigeria
  • Jonas Aparecido, Landless Peoples’ Movement and community person, Brazil
  • Augusto Juncal, Landless Peoples’ Movement & Via Campesina Brazil
  • Diwirgui Anastacio Martinez Jimenez, community person from Kuna tribe, Panama
  • Makoma Lekalakala, earthlife Africa Johannesburg
  • Blessol Wambui, The Rules, Nairobi
  • Khadija Sharife, Center for Civil Society, South Africa
  • Abdullah Vawda, Forum of African Investigative Reporters, South Africa

It was also very important for JA to invite community people and farmers. We managed to bring farmers from 8 out of 10 provinces of Mozambique, including Niassa, Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambezia, Tete, Sofala, Gaza, and Maputo. There were multiple community people from some of these provinces. JA’s close partner, União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC, National Farmers Union) allied with this process and sent many of their community members.

This was important because we felt it was crucial to open up a dialogue not just with people in Maputo, but people in the provinces who will be directly confronted and affected by REDD or REDD-type projects. The involvement of community people in decision-making is crucial to good governance structures and justice. We also invited NGOs and government people from Maputo, so that there could be a good, healthy discussion, which had not happened before.

The 1st day of the workshop – lots of information sharing and debate

The first day of the workshop provided a lot of information on REDD. Isaac and Winnie introduced REDD. Tom gave an emotive presentation about REDD in North America. Cassandra spoke about the opposition to REDD in many parts of Latin America, and explained the connections between the California Climate Change Bill trying to offset emissions by pushing REDD in Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil. Diwirgui and Jonas talked about the REDD opposition in their communities.

After this global perspective, we then starting talking about REDD in Africa. Odey of Nigeria and Blessing of South Africa provided perspectives of fierce REDD opposition in their contexts. The final case was presented by Boaventura of Via Campesina Mozambique, talking about a problematic REDD project right here in the country.

Main themes from the 1st day

The first day’s presentations and discussions were incredibly rich and detailed. We heard about climate change and what it means for our people. It increases droughts and floods; it increases temperatures especially here in Africa. It affects our lands, water and, more importantly, the farmers. Climate change impacts rivers and rain and weather patterns, that’s how it affects farmers. The crops start to fail, the land starts to get drier and more barren.

We heard from Tom about the links between dirty energy burning in the northern countries and these REDD projects in the south. We heard that those who created the climate problem to begin with, are continuing to make it worse. They are continuing to burn dirtier forms of coal, oil and gas, such as the tar sands.

Then they come to the southern countries, trying to ‘offset’ their emissions from burning the dirty energy. As JA Director Anabela Lemos explained, the carbon credits come from the Kyoto Protocol, it is abstract, and it doesn’t exist. So they come to the southern countries to ‘offset’ their emissions. In Africa, Asia, Latin America, where we still have forests left, they engage in large land grabs under the excuse that they will save the forests. We heard from Blessing regarding REDD in Tanzania. We heard from Odey regarding REDD in Nigeria and from Diwirgui about the struggle of the Kuna people against REDD in Panama. The story is the same everywhere in the world.

We heard some strong phrases about REDD and land grab and what it’s doing to this continent of Africa. We heard the phrase ‘green-grabbing’. We also heard the phrase ‘second colonialism’. Many countries in the south went through colonialism. They want the land, the resources under our land, and this is why people are calling it a ‘second colonialism’. Will we fight it again or not? We also heard the phrase ‘green masks’ that the big international conservation organisations are wearing and pretending as if REDD can save the forests. In reality, REDD is about buying the forests, cutting them down and turning them into plantations which are just green deserts.

The 2nd day of the workshop

For the 2nd day, we heard from Jonas and from Manito Lopes, a community member from Zambezia province, Mozambique, about community forest management providing much better options than REDD to safeguard forests.

The REDD workshop was a huge success. We had great participation from international, Mozambican community members as well as Maputo-based NGOs. We raised awareness about the very real dangers of REDD. We together released a Maputo Declaration on REDD, available here.

The 3rd day’s meeting was a closed NRAN strategy meeting. JA is committed to continuing the No REDD struggles in Mozambique, Africa and beyond.

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