Friends of the Earth finds the new global biodiversity framework “not fit for purpose”

Friends of the Earth finds the new global biodiversity framework “not fit for purpose”

Montreal – The new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) announced today fails to lay the groundwork for the transformational change needed to address the biodiversity crisis. The Chinese presidency adopted the text despite clear opposition from the Democratic Republic of Congo, ignoring a process the COP15 president himself had laid out.

Friends of the Earth International is deeply concerned about the way in which the GBF was adopted. The environmental federation warns that the corporate capture of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) blocked the pathways that lead to the system change needed to protect biodiversity. “The text does not stipulate any regulation on corporations and instead promotes greenwashing measures such as “Nature-Based Solutions”, which allow for offsetting for environmental destruction,” says Nele Marien, Forests & Biodiversity Coordinator.

The new GBF does not stop the destructive advance of agribusiness, the main driver of biodiversity loss. Instead, it promotes agribusiness through concepts such as “sustainable intensification” and “innovation”.

Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje, Food Sovereignty Program Coordinator for Friends of the Earth Africa and Deputy Director Environmental Rights Action says “Proper oversight of biotechnology developments is becoming harder and harder because of the rising influence of biotech/agribusiness lobbies, specifically Gates money. While the CBD had agreed on the need for a regular and broad mechanism for horizon scanning, assessment, and monitoring, those interests successfully cut down to only agreement on a one-time initial round, narrowed what was supposed to be broad, and gutted the references to biotech in the GBF to the point of meaninglessness – even cutting out references to Precaution. The underlying problem is private money buying influence over this convention- just as it has done in the UNFCCC and elsewhere.”

Hemantha Withanage, Friends of the Earth International’s Chair, says: “We welcome that the new framework to protect biodiversity does not mention “Nature Positive”, one of the proposed greenwashing measures that opened up new possibilities for offsetting biodiversity destruction, rather than halting it. However, the same ideas are still there implicitly. There are also problematic references to biodiversity offsets and credits.”

Fortunately, the text recognizes environmental defenders, and there is a recognition of indigenous and traditional territories. However, it is a pity that the document does not recognize them as a specific category for the fulfillment of the objective on protected areas.”

Friends of the Earth International will continue to work alongside local communities worldwide and Indigenous Peoples, who are building the system change we need to protect biodiversity.


In Montreal: SP & ENG: José Elosegui,, +598 98 846 967

ENG: Shaye Skiff,, +1 202 222 0723 FR & ENG: Caroline Prak, , Mariann Bassey Oruvwuje

COP27 outcome: Loss and damage fund established in historic first step, but other outcomes perilously weak

COP27 outcome: Loss and damage fund established in historic first step, but other outcomes perilously weak

PRESS RELEASE for immediate release – Sunday 20 November 2022, Sharm El-Sheikh

A historic breakthrough in deadlocked COP27 talks means a loss and damage fund to compensate developing countries for the irreversible impacts of climate change has been established, despite consistent efforts by the US and other developed countries to derail it. This fund was one of the key demands of developing countries, and it is a welcome first step that had seemed elusive. However, there is still plenty of scope for developed countries to wriggle out of their responsibilities, and other COP27 outcomes were extremely weak.

Sara Shaw, Friends of the Earth International, commented:

“It is a relief that the loss and damage fund has finally been established, after decades of struggle. But, right now, it is an empty fund, and we have a huge challenge ahead to ensure that developed countries contribute to it, in line with justice and equity. We must not see a repeat of the abysmal performance of rich countries failing to provide the already inadequate $100 billion a year promised over a decade ago.”

While the COP27 outcome includes a welcome nod to the need for a ‘clean and just transition to renewable energy’, there is nothing agreed in Sharm el-Sheikh that would actually deliver this, with finance for emissions cuts stalled and weak outcomes on mitigation. Disturbingly, there was no advance on the language agreed last year on phasing down coal, which will delight the fossil fuel industry.

Babawale Obayanju, Friends of the Earth Africa, added:

“The fact that the outcome only talks about ‘phasedown of unabated coal power’ is a disaster for Africa and for the climate. Oil and gas must be also be phased out, swiftly and fairly. One small word, ‘unabated’, creates a huge loophole, opening the door to new fossil-based hydrogen and carbon capture and storage projects, which will allow emissions to continue. We don’t need more gas extraction in Africa, devastating our communities for the benefit of rich countries and corporations. What we needed from COP27 was agreement to a rapid, equitable phase out of all fossil fuels.”

Last year, COP26 reached agreement on global carbon markets after years of wrangling, despite strong opposition from environmental and social justice groups. At COP27, there were alarming and rushed attempts to insert geoengineering and nature based offsets into carbon market arrangements. This has now been delayed by two years. The final decision has stripped out references to human rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights and labour rights.

Hemantha Withanage, chair of Friends of the Earth International, said from Sri Lanka:

“The decision on carbon markets is deeply worrying. Whilst COP27 has temporarily delayed moves to put geoengineering, dangerous and untested technologies, and so-called nature-based solutions into carbon offset markets, we know these threats will rear their heads again. Carbon markets give cover for continued emissions by polluters, grabbing of land, forests and water from vulnerable communities, and violations of peoples’ rights.”

COP27 took place in a context of state repression of Egyptian activists and journalists. On this, Sara Shaw concluded:

“While the talks are over and we leave Egypt, we do not forget the prisoners of conscience who remain. Civil society will continue to put pressure on our governments and show solidarity, as there is no climate justice without human rights.”

Spokespeople and media contacts

Sara Shaw, Climate Justice & Energy coordinator, Friends of the Earth International
sara[at], WhatsApp/Signal +44 79 7400 8270, @climatemouse, speaks English, Spanish

dipti bhatnagar, Climate justice & energy coordinator, Friends of the Earth International
dipti[at], Whatsapp/Signal +258 84 035 6599, @diptimoz, speaks English, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi

Other spokespeople are available for comment in different languages. To arrange interviews, contact: Madeleine Race, madeleine[at], @foeint, speaks English, Spanish, French.

Image:  by babawale obayanju, Friends of the Earth Africa 

Slow progress at COP27 as loss and damage fund hangs in the balance

Slow progress at COP27 as loss and damage fund hangs in the balance

PRESS RELEASE – Friday 18 November 2022, Sharm El-Sheikh (Egypt) – for immediate release

Taking place under the shadow of Egypt’s oppressive regime, COP27 has seen the US play a deeply obstructive role yet again, blocking the demands of developing countries at every turn. Indigenous Peoples and frontline communities are already suffering from increasingly extreme weather, causing massive economic losses and cultural erasure. Developing countries continue to fight to establish a fund to pay for for this irreversible Loss and Damage.

Meanwhile, rich countries are positioning themselves as the saviours of the 1.5°C threshold, blaming larger developing countries for lack of climate action. This, despite their own decades of inaction, flagrant disregard for their own historical responsibility, ongoing climate pollution, and previous reluctance to even agree to the 1.5°C threshold that climate justice activists and developing countries demanded for many years.

Sara Shaw (Friends of the Earth International) commented:

“The story developed countries will spin in the coming days is that larger developing countries, like China and India, are to blame for any lack of progress in Sharm-el Sheikh. This is not the story of what has happened here. Developed countries, especially the US, are cynically shifting the blame away from their own lack of action on emissions reductions to countries that are less historically responsible for climate change. They are trying to erase equity and historic responsibility.”

“The same rich countries have also failed to put the already inadequate $100 billion per year they owe on the table, and continue to muddy the finance waters by pushing carbon markets, private finance, loans and philanthropy, while the demand is for new and additional grant-based public finance and repayment of the climate debt.”

The battles over language that are raging at COP27 around whether all fossil fuels or just coal are named in the decision text, translate to devastating realities for communities living near fossil fuel and other extractive projects. To curb runaway climate change, we need a rapid and equitable transition away from oil, gas and coal, starting with the developed countries who built their economies on these dirty energies. But the push for the word ‘unabated’ as a qualifier for fossil fuels in the text opens the door to huge loopholes like carbon capture and storage, and fossil-based hydrogen, which will allow emissions to continue.

Rita Uwaka, Friends of the Earth Nigeria, said:

“Africa does not need more fossil fuels, especially not gas. Oil has devastated my country, Nigeria. Gas exploitation in Mozambique is displacing communities and stoking conflict. Africa needs a COP27 outcome that calls for rapid, equitable phase out of all fossil fuels, not just coal.”

This year, there have been efforts to push false solutions in negotiations on carbon markets. Hemantha Withanage, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, added:

“Thankfully COP27 has delayed moves to put geoengineering, dangerous and untested technologies, and nature-based solutions into carbon offset markets. We remain highly concerned that these will come back next year, giving cover for continued emissions, grabbing of land, forests and water from vulnerable communities, and violations of peoples’ rights. We must be vigilant, and we will keep fighting for human rights and climate action based on equity and justice.”

Friends of the Earth International expect to make a final comment once the talks have concluded.



Press conferences

On Friday 18 November, Friends of the Earth International hosted a press conference, with closing analysis from spokespeople from the US, India, Colombia, Malaysia and the UK. Watch the livestream here

Quotes on Twitter here

Spokespeople and media contacts

Sara Shaw, Climate Justice & Energy coordinator, Friends of the Earth International

// // Whatsapp/Signal +44 79 7400 8270 // @climatemouse // in Egypt // speaks English, Spanish

To arrange interviews, contact:

Madeleine Race // // Whatsapp/Signal +31 645 198 654 // @foeint

Don’t let Africa burn!

Don’t let Africa burn!

A Friends of the Earth Africa position paper on gas exploitation in Africa.

Ahead of COP27, this position paper highlights the damaging impacts of the climate crisis which are already experienced by communities across Africa, and the world. As world leaders and negotiators meet for another round of UN climate talks, the impacts of global warming are becoming more frequent and extreme. The African continent is historically the least polluting, but worst hit. It is warming the fastest among the other continents and has the fewest resources to adapt.

African peoples say “Don’t let Africa burn!”

The paper focuses on the latest push for African gas for export to Europe, which will further incinerate Africa, as scientific reports and analysis have pointed out. Gas is not a clean fuel, or a transition fuel. Gas is not needed for development. Gas has never been a sustainable energy model, owing to the havoc it has wreaked on many developing countries and its contribution to global CO2 emissions.

 Calls for a just transition to renewables

Friends of the Earth Africa bring clear demands in “Don’t let Africa burn!”, and call alternatives to exploiting for gas on the continent. They call on world governments to adopt their plan to achieve 100% renewable energy in Africa by 2050. This vision for system change and technical plan shows that it is not only urgent but entirely possible to reduce emissions, transform the energy system and support a just recovery on the continent.

“Don’t let Africa burn” clearly states that energy should not be developed solely for profit, but to ensure the dignity of all peoples and reduce energy poverty so as to catalyse sustainable societies. At COP27 in Egypt, and beyong, African governments must work with the people and remove all obstacles that may retard progress and/or detract from attaining this goal.

The full report

The report  is also available in French and Portuguese

FoEA Resolution on Industrial Plantation Companies and Protection of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Against Human and Environmental Rights Violations in Africa.

FoEA Resolution on Industrial Plantation Companies and Protection of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Against Human and Environmental Rights Violations in Africa.

At the 73rd Ordinary Session of the Africa Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) holding from October 20th to November 9th, 2022 at The Gambia.

Reaffirming that the UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution in July 2022, declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a universal human right.

Recalling the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights mandate to promote and protect  human and peoples rights in Africa.Under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (African Charter), recognises the rights of forest dependent peoples and local communities impacted by largescale agrocommodities expansion.

Considering the report of the working group on the rights of indigenous communities in Africa, adopted by the Commission in 2003 at its 28th Ordinary Session, and which among others recognises that protection of communal rights to land is fundamental for the survival of indigenous communities in Africa.

Reaffirming multiple global agreements and commitments from African states to address climate change and halt deforestation and biodiversity loss. And stressing the urgency with which all have to act if we are to prevent societies from the grave impacts of climate and biodiversity crisis, amidst social environmental and gender injustices in Africa with records of devastating impacts of largescale monoculture plantation expansion on women.

Acknowledging that industrial plantation expansion by agrocommodities companies is the single biggest contributor to deforestation and biodiversity loss in Africa, with deforestation the second biggest contributor to climate catastrophe after oil and gas exploration activities in the continent.

Observing that in 2020, 331 defenders were killed across 25 countries around the world with  at least 227 of them  EHRDs who were either murdered, brutalised or silenced with agrocommodities sector-one of the most dangerous sectors for Environmental Human Rights Defenders, EHRDs, in Africa.

Further observing that millions of Africans experience adverse impacts by industrial monoculture plantations, consisting of crops such as oil palm, timber trees. Pollution of soil and water with chemicals and waste, the destruction of water sources, deforestation, erosion are just some of the environmental impacts. Whereas plantations are also structurally connected to human rights violations including harassment and violence – specifically against women and environmental human rights defenders, land rights violations and labour rights violations.

Friends of the Earth Africa (FoEA) through the NGO Forum, hereby calls on the African Commission to:

  1. Have its institutions, such as the working group on extractive industries, environment and human rights, conduct a research to address the adverse impacts of largescale monoculture plantations in Africa, including country visits to heavily impacted countries and communities.
  2. Ensure that the perpetrators of deforestation and related human rights violations, including transnational companies and their financiers, are held accountable for their inputs and do not continue their practices in/with impunity.
  3. Provide assistance to authorities to implement a moratorium on the expansion of landbased concessions for monoculture plantations that lead to deforestation, biodiversity loss and related human rights violations.
  4. Support authorities to install programmes that promote agroecology and family farming a community based agriculture devoid of chemical use and community forest management methods, including providing access to finance for smallholders.
  5. Halt the criminalization and harassment of Environmental Human Rights defenders including Women Environmental rights defenders and provide access to justice for defenders and affected indigenous people and local communities.
  6. Respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to land including women’s access and ownership rights to land in Africa and protect and restore the environment.
  7. Ensure that the ACHPRs considers the annual conduct of human rights and environmental audits within member states.
  8. Encourage African government and the African Union to engage proactively in the process towards a strong and effective UN Binding Treaty on transnational corporations and human rights, in order to stop corporate impunity and hold corporations accountable including agrocommodities companies for their environmental and human rights violations in Africa.


Tackling the global food crisis through system change

Tackling the global food crisis through system change

We are in the midst of the third major food crisis in 15 years. This is no accident. It is the result of an  unjust global food system that prioritises profits over peoples’ rights, lives and the environment.  Worldwide hunger, malnutrition and rising food prices are a result of an unsustainable economic  system. The answer can only be system change, towards a food system based on agroecology and  food sovereignty.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia brought the food crisis to the headlines, with prices of wheat shooting up 70%. The FAO predicted a possible additional 13 million people pushed into hunger.  Yet, prices were rising even before any supply gaps, pushed up by food trader speculation and  profiteering in financial markets. The panic in global food markets, caused by the conflict between  the world’s largest producers of wheat and chemical fertiliser, has exposed the huge fragility of a  global food system. Today, at least 20 countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for half of their  wheat imports. In Eastern Africa, wheat has become a staple food, despite not being grown in the  region. 84% is imported, mainly from Russia and Ukraine.

A fragile food system built on neoliberal doctrine

The current industrial food system is a driver of multiple crises: climate, food, environmental and  public health crises. Global production chains are also highly vulnerable to these shocks. Supplied  by an industrial model of food production, they rely heavily on fossil fuels and chemical inputs, and  are dominated by a handful of corporations. This means that food prices track rising energy prices,  while intensive food production contributes to carbon emissions and environmental destruction.

As the climate crisis intensifies, extreme weather events like the droughts, floods and heatwaves  experienced in the Horn of Africa, Pakistan and Europe this year become more frequent. This  pushes vulnerable people further in to poverty and hunger, whilst affecting small-scale producers’  ability to feed their communities in the future. Ongoing conflicts, wars and occupations are among  the main drivers of global hunger. Often these conflicts are over resource extraction or land, which  are made worse by climate change.

Moreover, years of neoliberal doctrine and policies (structural adjustment, conditional loans,  financial sector deregulation and free trade agreements) has pushed many previously food self sufficient countries into dependency on imports. Escalating conditional debt for countries in the  Global South, like Sri Lanka, has stripped them of the ability to provide public funding to cope with  rising food prices, health costs, energy poverty or climate impacts.

Hunger and food crisis are a structural shame

Hunger was widespread even before the Russia-Ukraine conflict began. According to the FAO,  between 702 and 828 million people were affected by hunger in 2021. In 2020, over 2 billion did not  have adequate access to food. The Covid-19 pandemic pushed 150 million more into hunger.

These persistent and shocking levels of hunger expose structural problems in the industrial food  system. The issue is not inadequate food production, but a blind obsession with productivity, profits and global markets as the way to supply food, rather than a focus on realising the Right to Food,  and peoples’ rights more widely.

Agribusiness controls the market 

World over, we are seeing structural poverty, low wages and sharpening inequality. The  agribusiness industry is dominated by a handful of companies, with enormous influence over  markets, research and policy. The “big four” grain traders – Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill  and Louis Dreyfus – reported their highest ever profits in 2021. The overall wealth of food  corporations and billionaires grew by 45% in 2021/22, to $382 billion. Transnational corporations  have turned food into a financial commodity, with which they speculate and enrich themselves  without measure.

Meanwhile, small-scale producers face increasing repression and threats to their livelihoods.  Agribusinesses are using the food crisis to lobby for more subsidies and rip up existing regulations.  Under the cover of ‘crisis response’, they can grab land and resources from peasants, indigenous  peoples and family farmers, for monoculture tree plantations or intensive farms, for example.  Yet, this ‘Peasant Food Web’ provides the food for more than 70% of the world’s people. They  produce in a more sustainable manner, using less than 25% of the world’s resources (land, water,  fuels).

Our call for system change towards food sovereignty 

The answer to the global food crisis is not to deepen free markets, or to produce more intensively.  We need a shift in focus, away from profits and economic growth, towards the Right to Food.

People around the world are already working towards this transformation – from urban gardens in  Malaysia to native seed networks in Uruguay. In places like Togo, El Salvador, and the Philippines,  local agroecological food systems and short supply chains proved resilient and innovative during the  COVID 19 pandemic.  A radical transformation of our food system towards food sovereignty is possible. It requires  adequate public policies to reduce dependency on food imports and boost domestic food systems,  especially in the Global South. This means ensuring social and economic justice, via debt  cancellation, stopping free trade agreements and unfair investment deals. It means dismantling  corporate power.

It also requires investment in public institutions and policies to support the Right to Food and  agroecology, whilst guaranteeing peoples’ rights to control their territories – land, water and seeds.  This means valuing local knowledge and markets, and nurturing social relations founded on justice  and solidarity. It involves tackling the overlapping oppressions that operate in the food system –  patriarchy, racism, colonialism and class – and recognising the fundamental role of women in food  production. Ultimately, it means supporting those who feed the world in a way that protects  biodiversity, lowers emissions and counters destructive industrial agriculture.

The answer to the global food crisis is system change.

“This article appeared on Friends of the Earth International’s website and has been published here with permission.” Photo: “A farmer in Mozambique. Photo by Amelia Collins, Friends of the Earth International”.