FoEA seeks ECOWAS intervention to end exploitation by Multinational plantation farmers of community peoples
Friends of the Earth Africa (FoEAfrica) on Saturday 18th June 2022called on the ECOWAS Parliamentto intervene in the exploitative activities and human rights violations by multinational plantation farmers on local farmers and community peoples in West Africa and across the African continent.
Making this presentation on behalf of FoEAto the 2022 1st ordinary ECOWAS parliament session that was held in Abuja, was Rita Uwaka, Forest and Biodiversity Programme coordinator for FoEA and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria.
“Our struggle against the corporate takeover of our forest and land for industrial plantation expansion by corporations is not a fight against development but a struggle to prevent further human rights violations, environmental damage, biodiversity and livelihoods loss; as well as promote the development of millions of indigenous peoples and local communities, with a focus on women and youths, who depend on forests and farmlands for their day-to-day well-being).
In 2020 Lagos Nigeria, Friends of the Earth Africa organized the First African Peoples Tribunal on Industrial Plantations on Industrial Plantations. The Tribunal recognized how deforestation and the rush for African land for large-scale agro-commodities expansion is causing systemic oppression, and human rights violations with devastating impacts on indigenous peoples and local communities, including women who depend on forest and land for their daily survival.
Apart from exposing the adverse social, environmental, and gender impacts of agribusinesses on African communities. It also highlighted the role of some Governments in promoting the private interests of corporations over the public interest in Africa. Ten cases across ten organizations from ten countries across East Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, and West Africa. The ten countries were Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Almost two years after the first African Peoples Tribunal, we still witness land grabbing and violations associated with the activities of industrial plantation companies in West Africa and community territories across the continent. Breaches like the militarization of communities that play host to these companies especially those who farm oil, the use of slap suits to silence the voice of environmental human rights defenders, intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders, pollution of surface and underground water bodies as a result of the over-reliance of these companies on agro-toxins, more cases of labour exploitation and workers’ rights violations, accident and death of workers including pregnant women that were transported in open trucks to their workplaces in these plantations.
We, therefore, use this medium to seek the intervention of this house to end the nefarious actions of these multinational companies in West African communities and make the following recommendation:
1. Support Economic Partnership Agreements that respect the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples in Africa and protect and restore the environment.
2. Build policies and finance that promote people-powered solutions like Community Forest Management & Agroecology, which are built on peoples sovereignty and participation in decision making.
3. Reject false solutions such as voluntary certification schemes and nature-based solutions for the climate crisis, that commodity nature greenwashes bad practices, license forest destruction, and violate human rights.
4. Halt the criminalization and harassment of environmental human rights defenders and provide access to justice for defenders and affected local communities.
5. Support policies that install a moratorium on expanding monoculture industrial plantations.
6. Redirect investments from large-scale agro-commodities expansion in Africa by shifting government and private finance, research, and technical support towards community-based forest management and agroecology.
7. Stop trade deals that empower companies to influence legislation through special rights and provisions at the detriment of the public interest.
8. Work with foreign governments and institutions to halt the international trade and finance of forest and ecosystem risk commodities, including the recent European Commission anti-deforestation proposal.
9. Promote access to justice with a strong UN Binding Treaty for business and human rights.
10. Protect women’s rights and access to land.
11. Ensure to have a periodic forest dialogue with forested countries on policy intervention they can take to halt deforestation and land grabbing for large-scale plantation expansion in Africa, especially within the ECOWAS member states.
For information, kindly contact
Forest and Biodiversity Programme coordinator
Friends of the Earth Africa and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria