The Big Con Report

The Big Con Report

On 9 june 2021, Friends of the Earth International launched a new joint report with Corporate Accountability and Global Forests Coalition. The report, entitled, “The Big Con: How Big Polluters are advancing a “net zero” climate agenda to delay, deceive, and deny,” comes following a year packed with record announcements of “net zero” pledges from corporations and governments, and builds on a growing body of research that calls the integrity of “net zero” as a political goal into serious question. As more and more “net zero” plans have been rolled out, the scientific, academic and activist communities have all raised grave concerns about the inability of these plans to achieve the commitments of the Paris Agreement and keep global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Read full report

 

 

KARPOWERSHIPS REFUSED ENVIRONMENTAL AUTHORISATION

KARPOWERSHIPS REFUSED ENVIRONMENTAL AUTHORISATION

On Thursday 23th June 2021 the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) made a decision to refuse all three Karpowership Environmental Authorisation (EA) applications for gas to power at the Ports of Richard’s Bay, Nqgura and Saldanha Bay.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 25 JUNE 2021

South Africa: Karpowership SA (Pty) Ltd is a Turkish company that received preferred bidder status in the Department of Mineral and Energy’s (DMRE’s) Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producers Program (RMIPPP), as announced by Minister Gwede Mantashe on 18th March 2021. The company applied for three environmental authorisations for the ports of Richard’s Bay (KwaZulu Natal), Nqgura (Eastern Cape) and Saldanha Bay (Western Cape). The commenting period for the Environmental Impact Assessments closed on 31st March. After consideration of shortcomings in the EIA process, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE)’s Chief Director of Integrated Environmental Authorisations, Mr Sabelo Malaza, issued letters for the refusal of all three Environmental Authorisations.

The decision followed warnings, comments and correspondence submitted by specialists, government authorities and civil society organisations. Several organisations including Richard’s Bay Clean Air Association (RBCAA), BirdLife South Africa, SANPARK, Oceans Not Oil (ONO), South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), Masifundise Development Trust, Green Connection, Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) and groundWork submitted comments to the EIA. Several irregularities and deficiencies were picked up by the organisations. 

Lawyer Angela Andrews representing Green Connection noted that important specialist studies including noise impact studies and their impacts on marine life and its subsequent impact on small scale fishers was excluded. Green connection submitted a Complaint’s letter dated 30th May 2021 (attached) requesting for the suspension of the EIA process for Saldhana Bay.  DFFE responded with a suspension letter dated 8th June 2021. Similar deficiencies were noted in the Richard’s Bay and Nqgura applications. Other issues included the inadequate public participation processes and significant new information and changes to the final EIA which were not made available to the public for comment before submission to the Department on 26th April 2021.  On 17th June 2021 groundWork, represented by Attorney Michelle Koyama of CER submitted a letter noting that the similarities in deficiencies that were identified for Saldanha also applied to the other Karpowership EIAs. The letter submitted reasons for the department to investigate these further and requested for the suspension of EIA processes for Richard’s Bay and Nqgura as well.

The Department issued a Media Statement on 24th June that it “has reached a decision on the three applications which were submitted in October 2020 by Karpowership (Pty) Ltd” that “after due consideration of all relevant information presented” that it had adequate information at its disposal to make an informed decision and to refuse the applications for the environmental authorisations.

 Various reasons were listed in the Departments letters for each of the Karpowership applications (attached), which are summarised by DFFE below:

Karpowerships responded with claims of a “misinformation campaign to derail the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE’s) strategic plan to end loadshedding and address South Africa’s  economic and energy crisis”. However, this is Karpowership’s public relations spin to divert attention from its own internal midemeanours including including witholding information about explosion incidents and the mishandling of critical information during the environmental impact assessment processes conducted by their appointed environmental consultants Triplo4. The environmental assessment practitioner (EAP) Hantie Plomp downplayed serious potential impacts, added new information to the EIA after the Public Participation Process had closed and ignored several specialist, environmental and government authorities’ warnings to fully investigate these impacts, conduct critical site specific studies and to specify implementable actions to mitigate impacts.

Despite these shortcomings, Karpowerships did not appoint a new environmental consultancy or specialists to conduct these studies or extend the consultation process to allow time for the public to comment. Instead,  they embarked on a massive public relations campaign in the past month to ‘consult’ with business groups and interested and affected parties within the affected areas. This happened after the EIA was submitted and public participation processes were finalised, so it did not fall within the regulatory requirements of the EIA process. Their post EIA consultations are therefore misleading the public and it is unclear why their funds were used for a public relations campaign rather than conducting a thorough environmental impact assessment.

The RMIPPP was supposed to fill a short-term gap in energy supply with Karpowership taking more than half of the allocated 2000MW allocation. Instead Karpowership will operate for 20 years, emitting collosal amount of GHG during its operation. With Karpowership environmental authorisation refused, it is unlikely to meet the financial closure for the RMIPPP deadline in July. An alternative plan for energy supply is needed and we hope that the DMRE is reviewing the RMIPPP which has been plagued with controversy, and relooking at additional renewable energy generated power in addressing both our energy requirements and the just transition to a socially inclusive low carbon economy.

RESOURCES:

  1. Comments to the EIA: Birdlife South Africa, SANPARK, groundWork, Green Connection, ONO, Masifundise, SDCEA etc
  2. Green Connection Letter dated 30 May 2021
  3. DFFE letter of suspension dated 8 June 2021
  4. CER-groundWork Letter dated 17 June 2021
  5. DFFE letters dated 23 June 2021
  6. DFFE Media Release 24 June 2021: https://www.environment.gov.za/mediarelease/karpowershipEIAdecision

QUOTATIONS

Michelle Koyama, CER:

“We are pleased with this decision, highlighting the importance of un-biased scientific information being available, not only for the decision-makers to make an informed decision, but particularly for communities which may be impacted – this is also what environmental legislation requires.  The Karpowerships at Richards Bay, Saldhana and Ngqura together would result in high climate impacts, with approximately 46 million tCO2e of greenhouse gas emissions over 20 years. These emissions can and must be avoided, as South Africa’s government is constitutionally obliged to implement measures to reduce emissions and tackle the climate crisis, in order to avoid its impacts like droughts, floods, crop and livestock failures (food insecurity), economic loss”.

Liz McDaid, Green Connection:

We are incredibly happy about this decision, which supports our views that the concerns of local affected communities should be properly taken into account and their issues properly studied. And we hope that the DFFE will, going forward, always make the effort to continue to check that all the relevant information is presented in EIAs – especially for those projects that will have a high impact – and hold consultants accountable for anything less.”

Sandy Camminga, RBCAA:

“ The RBCAA welcomes the decision made by DFFE. It sends a message to EAPs that the Public Participation Process is NOT a “tick-box” exercise,  and that a flawed process and deficient specialist studies will not be accepted.”

Dr Alistaire McInnes, BirdLife South Africa:

“BirdLife South Africa welcomes the decision by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. Algoa Bay and Saldanha Bay hold important populations of South Africa’s most threatened seabirds. The African Penguin has its largest population in Algoa Bay and development decisions that are likely to have negative impacts on their habitat here will have a direct bearing on the survival of this species and other marine top predators that utilise these waters. We are becoming increasingly concerned about marine noise pollution and the impacts that this will have on predator populations so the decision is most welcome.”

Sherelee Odayar, SDCEA:

SDCEA welcomes the decision made by the DFFE, considering that this particular development failed to inform surrounding communities and include them in the public participation process

knowing fully that they will be directly affected by Karpowership. We hope that this decision sets a precedence for more inclusive and transparent public consultation in South Africa. “

Naseegh Jaffer, Masifundise:

“Masifundise acknowledges the timely decision by the DFFE to deny the substandard EIAs for the three proposed Karpowerships around South Africa. This largely results from an acknowledgement that the public participation processes were flawed and unsatisfactory. This is a great victory for fishing communities, who have strongly opposed this development on the grounds that prolonged presence of these monstrosities on our ocean shores will negatively impact on fish and marine life. Thus impacting on the sustainability of their livelihood. It shows that small fishing communities can take on big companies who want to exploit our oceans. South Africa needs to focus on renewable and clean power supplies rather than investing in environmentally damaging energy sources that jeopardize the health of the ocean and ocean resources for fishers’ lives and livelihoods.”

Janet Solomon, Oceans Not Oil:

“ Oceans Not Oil affiliates are pleased that the DFFE have taken the significant sound pollution of the projects into consideration. What is worryingly absent from the department’s decision is a review of the carbon footprint of the project, in any form, but especially in terms of the South Africa’s GHG emission reduction needed urgently.”

Judy Bell, Frack-Free SA:

“I think it is a wake-up call for the Environmental Assessment industry – they have to do more to represent the environment (which includes people) in their work and not just do a tick-box exercise.  There are consequences.”

Avena Jacklin, groundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa):

“Environmental Assessment Practitioners need to act independently and ensure that proper process is followed, that impacts are assessed adequately and that people’s democracy and rights to an equitable and effective participation are not violated.”

 

Mozambican journalists’ lives are on the line in Cabo Delgado

Mozambican journalists’ lives are on the line in Cabo Delgado

The AU has stood by as Mozambique aggressively represses journalists covering the violence in the north.

On April 7, 2020, Ibrahimo Abu Mbaruco, a reporter for the Palma Community Radio in Mozambique’s northernmost province Cabo Delgado, left work for home at about 6pm and shortly after texted a colleague to say he was “surrounded by soldiers”. He has not been heard from since.

For years, Mbaruco has been covering the violence in Cabo Delgado, where armed groups have been terrorising civilians since 2017. The violence has left hundreds dead and forced more than 565,000 people to flee their homes and villages.

Sadly, Mbaruco’s story is not an anomaly. Many local journalists reporting on the violence, and its links to Cabo Delgado’s $50bn multinational liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, have been subjected to random arrests, unlawful detentions, torture and assaults by Mozambique’s military and police since 2018. Just a month before Mbaruco’s encounter with “soldiers”, another local journalist, Roberto Abdala, had disappeared in the same region.

The international community did not pay much attention to the plight of journalists in Mozambique until the government targeted a Western journalist working in the country. On February 16, British journalist Tom Bowker, who has been covering the violence in Cabo Delgado as the editor of Maputo-based news website Zitamar, announced on social media he has been expelled from Mozambique, and banned from entering the country for 10 years “for political reasons”.

The Mozambique government argued Bowker was expelled merely due to “legal discrepancies” around Zitamar’s status and denied his assertion that he has been targeted because of his journalism. Nevertheless, Bowker’s ordeal made headlines across the world and brought some much-needed attention to the abundant human rights and press freedom violations in the region.

Media persecution is not new to Mozambique. November 2020 marked the 20th anniversary of journalist Carlos Cardoso’s assassination over his investigation of a major financial scandal involving several influential names including the son of then-President Joaquim Chissano. However, the attacks on journalists and attempts to intimidate them into silence gained an unprecedented pace in recent years. Since 2015, Mozambique has dropped 19 places on Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) Press Freedom Index.

The Mozambican constitution has provisions for freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the right to information, aimed at protecting journalists and citizens from state persecution. But Cabo Delgado’s natural resources are precious to those in power, and they are willing to ignore their constitutional duty to protect press freedom to continue benefitting from the region.

Not only transnational fossil fuel giants, private banking institutions and foreign security firms, but also many Mozambican elites hold stakes in the province’s lucrative gas industry. This means anyone raising inconvenient truths and asking questions about the possible links between the industry and the ongoing violence is a threat to their interests.

Journalists can only safely report on the region if they agree to tow the government’s line – that the violence is a simple case of “foreign Islamist terrorists” trying to gain a foothold in Mozambique. The truth, of course, is not that simple.

Since the discovery of a vast quantity of natural gas off the coast of Cabo Delgado in 2010, transnational energy giants all but took over the province. Thus far, more than 550 families have been displaced from their lands and fishing grounds to make way for the Afungi LNG Park which will house onshore support facilities for industry players in Africa’s three biggest LNG projects – Mozambique LNG led by Total, Coral LNG led by Eni, and ExxonMobil and Rovuma LNG led by ExxonMobil.

The locals were initially promised jobs in the LNG industry, but these promises by the state and the energy companies did not materialise. As a result, those who have been displaced and lost their livelihoods because of the construction project grew angry and frustrated. They have been forced to watch international corporations and foreigners benefit from the lands they once called home as they struggled to make a living. Moreover, the Mozambican government neglected them and focussed, instead, on pleasing the foreign investors. All this stirred anti-government sentiment in local communities and created a breeding ground for extremism.

The Mozambican army’s actions in the region exacerbated the problem. It has been used by the state to protect the interests of the gas industry in Cabo Delgado and has committed human rights abuses in the process. In its 2021 World Report, Human Rights Watch said the state’s security forces have been implicated in grave human rights violations during “counterterrorism operations” in Cabo Delgado, “including arbitrary arrests, abductions, torture of detainees, excessive force against unarmed civilians, intimidation and extrajudicial executions”.

These abuses, however, have not been covered widely by the international media and local journalists faced severe intimidation attempts whenever they tried to expose the links between the gas industry, the state, the military and the ongoing violence in the province.

A March 2020 report by journalist Matias Guente published in Canal de Moçambique, a newspaper critical of the state, for example, alleged that Anadarko, the now non-existent US company that led the Mozambique LNG project before Total, had paid the government to deploy more soldiers to the area to protect its interests. Guente also alleged that this money did not go into the state coffers as it should have, but was deposited into the personal bank account of the then minister of defence, Atanásio Salvador Ntumuke.

The government, as expected, reacted to the report with fury. In June 2020, Guente, alongside Canal de Moçambique’s executive director, Fernando Veloso, were charged with “violation of state secrecy” and “conspiracy against the state” for publishing the article. In August, the newspaper’s offices were petrol-bombed. Canal de Moçambique had faced this intimidation before – another of its journalists who regularly reported on state corruption, Ericino de Salema, was kidnapped in March 2018 in Maputo, beaten and left unconscious on the side of a road.

Today, people in Cabo Delgado are suffering not only because of the massive LNG projects on their lands and armed groups attacking them, but also because of their government’s apparent decision to prioritise private interests over their wellbeing. The relentless oppression of the media is sending them a clear message: Anyone who attempts to tell what is happening in Cabo Delgado to the outside world will be punished. As a result, many of them are now too scared to speak out, even anonymously, to human rights organisations.

The efforts by the state and the gas industry to hide what is happening in Cabo Delgado from the world has not been fully successful. Some crucial information has managed to come out in the open through social media. In September 2020, videos and pictures emerged showing torture and other ill-treatment of civilians by Mozambican soldiers and armed fighters in Cabo Delgado. Also in September, a video showed men in army uniform beating and summarily executing a naked woman. The Mozambique military called the video footage “shocking and disturbing” in an official statement, but did not confirm or deny that the men in the video were soldiers. Later, rather than working to bring those responsible for these atrocities to justice, the state carried out arbitrary arrests of civilians that it suspected of sharing these images and videos.

The majority of incidents of media oppression in Mozambique have been extrajudicial. But with no other states, or international bodies such as the African Union (AU) calling it out, the government is acting with impunity.

Not a single leader in the region or around the world, for example, issued a statement in January 2019 when Amade Abubacar and Germano Adriano, journalists from Nacedje Community Radio in Cabo Delgado, were arbitrarily arrested over their coverage of the violent attacks in the region and accused of “inciting the public using electronic media”. Both journalists were held for three months without facing any official charges. Amnesty International said Abubacar, who was critically ill during his detention, has been subjected to ill-treatment, “including denial of food, family visits and medical treatment”.

The world leaders and international bodies also did not say or do anything after journalists Ibrahimo Abu Mbaruco and Roberto Abdala disappeared last year. They also had no comment when Mateus Guente and many others like him were targeted for their journalism.

Just last month, AU Chairperson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa gave a speech at the launch of the Digital Platform for Safety of Journalists in Africa and said: “We look to this digital platform to contribute to an enabling environment for the media to operate in AU member states through respect for the rights of journalists and media workers and an end to impunity for crimes against journalists.”

But as Ramaphosa and other leaders of the AU remain silent about the ongoing oppression of the media in Mozambique, such pledges to “end impunity for crimes against journalists in Africa” ring hollow. By continuing their friendly relations with Mozambique and investing in its gas industry, the AU leaders are enabling, normalising and even rewarding the state’s violent oppression of the media. Their silence makes it possible for extrajudicial disappearances, assaults and imprisonment to take place. At best, they are hypocrites. At worst, they are complicit in tyranny.

African Peoples Tribunal Carpets Transnationals Operating in Africa

African Peoples Tribunal Carpets Transnationals Operating in Africa

…Demand UN binding treaty on business operations.

The African Peoples Tribunal organised in Lagos by Friends of the Earth Africa (FoEA) ended on Friday November 27, 2020, with a call on governments of 10 African countries to urgently ensure that the human rights of freedom of speech, expression, and association of citizens and persons who brought cases of abuses before the tribunal are respected and protected.

The three-day event which started on November 25 witnessed testimonies on cases of human rights violations and environmental degradation connected with monoculture tree plantation expansion from ten countries across Africa was attended by affected communities and civil society. Among the accused companies are Socfin, Green Resources AS, Golden Veroleum Liberia (controlled by Golden Agri-Resources), SIAT SA, OLAM and PZ Wilmar.

The Tribunal received and reviewed ten (10) cases from ten (10) countries. The companies found wanting are SOCAPALM (Cameroon), SIAT (Cote D’Ivoire), GOPDC – SIAT (Ghana), OLAM (Gabon), SOCFIN (Sierra Leone), and Golden Veroleum Limited, GVL (Liberia). Others are Green Resources (Mozambique), Okomu Oil Palm PLC, PZ Wilmar, Green Resources, and Wilmar, Green Resources

In all of the ten cases, international financiers, including development banks, private banks, investment funds and pension funds from all corners of the world, are found to be controlling and financing controversial rubber, palm oil and timber plantation companies.

The jurors who heard the cases are Nnimmo Bassey, director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) from Nigeria, Ikal Angelei from Kenya who won the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa and is involved in campaigns against dams, and Prof. Alfred Apau Oteng-Yeboah – a Professor of Botany at the University of Ghana.  Makoma Lekalakala, a South African activist and Executive Director of Earthlife Africa who has long been active in social movements tackling issues from gender and women’s rights, social, economic, and environmental justice issues was also one of the jurors.

On landgrabs perpetrated by the companies, the jurors concluded that in all the cases there was connivance between governments and transnational corporations to grab community lands. They cited Ministry of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency (of Ghana) which they alleged, allowed the complete destruction and conversion of 13 villages into an oil palm plantation. Destroyed along with the communities were schools, markets, churches, and other social facilities.

They noted that in Cote d’Ivoire, government took community land, abandoned it after some years and then returned to hand the land over to a transnational corporation without recourse to the communities who had reclaimed their land. In the case of Sierra Leone, government leased land from the community and handed the land over to the transnational corporation, SOCFIN, on the same day.

On Violation of Rights, they said there is general reign of systemic oppression and use of state security forces against the affected peoples, in all cases brought before the APT. Cases of threats, denial of labour rights and the right to protest, arrests, imprisonments and murders were heard.

The APT heard cases of labour exploitation with a high level of casualization of labour. In the case of Wilmar (Nigeria) they said evidence showed that the company pays workers less than $2 for 12 hours work.

Inhuman and discriminatory work and housing conditions were recorded in most of the cases (Cameroon, Nigeria). It was also revealed that workers, including pregnant women, are ferried on tractors to work locations, with accidents and deaths recorded. Injured workers are sacked without compensation and others are sacked for speaking up at public hearings thus sending chilling signals to workers and organisers.

On Socio-Economic Dislocations they said that the grabbing and conversion of community lands into plantations directly deprive communities of fertile lands. Companies make false claims of using degraded and non-forested lands while they grab fertile lands and forests and valuable water sources that the communities depend on, they insisted.

“In Gabon, when the corporation (OLAM) designates forests and territories as having High Carbon Value (HCV), they effectively cut the communities off the use of such forests or resources. In this manner, community forests including sacred ones are now valued as carbon sinks for carbon credits in false climate marketization.”

The APT also received disturbing reports of industrial tree plantations building ditches as deep as 16 metres (50 feet) and with a width of 13 metres (40 feet) in the case of Wilmar (Nigeria) around the plantations. These ditches pose danger to humans and to wildlife, but significantly block communities from having access to their farms, to forests, to fishing and water sources and forces them to only use roads policed by these companies. Community members are required to obtain passes (visas) to gain entry to their communities and only within certain time slots (Gabon).

“These ditches or moats have damaged water bodies that communities depend on (as in the case of Gabon) thereby exposing them to avoidable stresses. Heavy burdens are placed on the women as the struggle for water, fishing and fuel woods”.

The use of harmful chemicals, including those made with glyphosate (a carcinogen) in the plantations have caused damage to soils, water sources and the health of both communities and workers who are often not provided with personal protection equipment (PPE).

The cases confirmed a lack of acceptable environmental impact assessments as well as a lack of social impact assessments.

The replacement of rich biodiversity of forest with foreign exotic trees have dramatically damaged the local environments. Although the FAO recognises industrial exotic tree plantations (including those with genetically engineered trees) as forests, communities reject such classifications.

They recommended among others, that governments in the relevant countries should immediately set up a mechanism to review existing arrangements with plantation corporations, openly and transparently engage with communities and revert wrongfully acquired lands and forests to the communities. They also stressed that governments should uphold and protect the dignity of communities and adequately sanction corporations that violate human rights or destroy the environment in their territories.

They also want governments to actively and constructively engage in the current negotiations for the elaboration of a UN Legally Binding Instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and ensure this becomes a meaningful instrument to stop corporate impunity.

APT: FoEA Africa Remarks

APT: FoEA Africa Remarks

Distinguished guest, Esteemed Jury, Participants in the 1st APT, both virtually and in person, Media representatives (local and international), Comrades from FOEA and FOEI, Ladies and gentlemen.

It is our unique pleasure to welcome you to this APT, the first of its kind, but certainly, not the last. Indeed, we are grateful for your participation.

Globally, there is documented evidence that Commercial Agricultural expansion is one of the major drivers of deforestation and biodiversity loss. This is a fact.

It is also a fact that increasing expansion in plantations is likely to result in accelerating environmental degradation in the global context. Surprisingly little attention has been given to the actual impacts of global expansions in palm plantations, Eucalyptus plantations, rubber and other agro-commodities. In fact, corporate lobbyists have made every effort to greenwash these impacts by taking advantage of initiatives such REDD+, RSPO other certification schemes.

There exist cases where such investment exacerbates existing conflicts and create new ones leading to the killing of environmental and human right defenders. Research shows that, about 200 environmental and human right defender killings were reported in 2016 alone, and 207 were reported in 2017. The majority of these incidents were directly linked to contestations over landgrabbing and agro-industrial expansion projects.

We also know that, African governments have agreed to certification schemes alongside other regional policy frameworks, like the ACFTA, which are growth strategies based on aggressive exploitation of Africa’s natural resources. This, clearly, reflects high political endorsements of resource extraction in Africa as a development trajectory despite the evidence that this path will inevitably undermine local community livelihoods and basic human rights across the continent.

Today, there is documented evidence that Aggressive landgrabbing and deforestation is already causing a new wave of oppression and colonialization, with devastating impacts on local communities, especially women across African countries. We know this to be uniquely true.

Therefore, the unique purpose of our coming together in this first APT is to address this regional problem. For the next three days, we will be hearing more about the stark evidence and cases human right abuses, landgrabbing and deforestation led by plantation expansionists across the African Continent.

The intention and the expectation is that this tribunal will serve as a space to give visibility to human rights violations, to investigate and expose human rights abuses connected to profit-driven landgrabbing and deforestation in Africa.

We expect this tribunal to evolve into a regional MODEL to expose the social, gender and environmental impacts of industrial agribusinesses on African communities

We also expect this tribunal to become a regional Template to visibilise at the regional level, the struggles of local communities who are directly in the path of industrial agribusinesses in Africa, to present and testify to cases of human rights violations led by industrial plantation corporations in Africa, and to strengthen national and regional advocacy efforts of CSOs/communities against industrial plantations in Africa.

Distinguished guest, Esteemed Jury, Comrades,

In the context of plantation expansions in Africa, FOEA believes that there is a lot of work to be done. And we believe today we are laying the foundations for that work to begin.

FOEA believes that it’s time to solidify our Comradery and speak with one voice for human rights, gender rights and vulnerable communities in Africa. We believe the APT is setting up template for such collective action.

It is our hope , that this tribunal will soon become an accepted MODEL for regional advocacy, a regional template providing a voice to the voiceless, a platform for speaking truth to power in the times when corporate power and corporate impunity are on the rise in Africa. 

With that I will say, we will like to call on all CSOs, national and regional allies as well as CBOs to seize the opportunity made available through this APT to sow the seeds of change, to expose the corporate capture of our Governments. Let us seize this opportunity to, promote national and regional commitment to the UN Binding Treaty,

Let us seize this opportunity, to support the fight for biodiversity conservation, gender rights, water rights, for basic human rights, and to promote sustainable alternatives over destructive big-business models in Africa.

Once again, we are grateful to have you. We are grateful to our distinguished Panel of Jurists, who have agreed to sit on this APT. We are grateful to our community members.  And we look forward to a very fruitful APT.

Thank you very much!

African Peoples Tribunal to Dismantle Power of industrial Plantation Corporations, Building People Power

African Peoples Tribunal to Dismantle Power of industrial Plantation Corporations, Building People Power

MEDIA ADVISORY

Friends of the Earth Africa

 November 23, 2020

 African Peoples Tribunal to Dismantle Power of industrial Plantation Corporations, Building People Power

 LAGOS, NIGERIA, November 23, 2020 – Friends of the Earth Africa through its Forest & Biodiversity Program organises the First session of the African Peoples Tribunal from 25-27th November 2020 in Lagos Nigeria. Affected communities and civil society will bring testimonies on cases of human rights violations and environmental degradation connected with monoculture tree plantations expansion from ten countries across Africa.

The tribunal’s legitimacy is based on the principle of recognising human rights under natural, national, and international law, and reclaiming and restoring the rights of impacted peoples whose rights have been violated with impunity.

Rita Uwaka, coordinator of the African Friends of the Earth Forest and Biodiversity program says “Aggressive land-grabbing and deforestation for expansion of industrial tree plantations are causing a new wave of oppression and colonization in Africa, with devastating impacts on people, including differentiated and aggravated consequences for women.” Kwami Kpondzo, Human Rights Defenders focal point for Friends of the Earth Africa continues to explain that “In the face of ongoing social, environmental and gender injustice in Africa, defending people’s rights is crucial to dismantling corporate power and challenging the capitalist neoliberal model of industrial plantation expansion.”

In all of the ten cases, international financiers, including development banks, private banks, investment funds and pension funds from all corners of the world, are found to be controlling and financing the controversial rubber, palm oil and timber plantation companies. Amongst the accused companies are Socfin, Green Resources AS, Golden Veroleum Liberia (controlled by Golden Agri-Resources), SIAT SA, OLAM and PZ Wilmar.

Five eminent jurors will be interrogating the case presenters and provide a verdict on day three of the Tribunal.  They include Nnimmo Bassey, director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) from Nigeria, Ikal Angelei from Kenya who won the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa and is involved in campaigns against dams, and Prof. Alfred Apau Oteng-Yeboah – a Professor of Botany at the University of Ghana.  The other two are Professor Hamudi Ismail Majamba, an Associate Professor of Law specialising in Natural Resources and Environmental Law and advocate of the High Court of Tanzania, and Ms. Makoma Lekalakala, a South African activist and Executive Director of Earthlife Africa who has long been active in social movements tackling issues from gender and women’s rights, social, economic, and environmental justice issues.

Friends of the Earth Africa is advancing the call for industrial plantation companies to stop their harmful activities across the whole continent. Friends of the Earth Africa urges public and private decision makers to work with civil society and communities to bolster the transition to community based agro-ecology and forest management land-use.

According to the network, the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities including access to and control of their own commons and livelihoods must be respected and protected.

Friends of the Earth Africa will continue to fight alongside indigenous peoples and local communities affected by transnational corporation operations to stop any attempts to expand industrial tree plantations and dismantle corporate power across African region.

 FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 Please read a summary briefer and ten case studies here: http://africanpeoplestribunal.org/documents/

 You are invited to join an online press conference on November 27, 2020. Please contact Philip Jakpor: +234 803 725 6939 or jakporphilip@gmail.com for the details

CONTACTS IN LAGOS:

Philip Jakpor: Director of Programmes, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa: +234 803 725 6939 or jakporphilip@gmail.com

Rita Uwaka: FoEA Forests & Biodiversity Program Coordinator: +234 803 455 3503 or riouwaka@gmail.com

OR IN LOME

Ekue Assem, Friends of the Earth Africa Communication Coordinator : +228 93 84 19 30 or darius.assem@gmail.com ;

Kwami Kpondzo, Friends of the Earth Africa Membership Development Team/HRD Focal point : +228 98 22 14 57 or kwadodzi@gmail.com