Posted in News, Press Releases

Philip Morris Expose: Probe possible infiltration of Nigerian delegation to treaty talks

Philip Morris Expose: Probe possible infiltration of Nigerian delegation to treaty talks

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has demanded the Nigerian government institute a probe of members of the Nigerian delegation that attended the seventh session of the Conference of Parties (COP7) to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which held in Delhi in 2016 to establish their links with the tobacco industry.

ERA/FoEN made the call following a Reuters investigation released on Thursday (July 13, 2017) which revealed that Philip Morris International (PMI) has for years run a secret global campaign to undermine the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC). Tobacco industry lobbyists among government delegations at the treaty talks nearly marred debates with questionable suggestions.

The Reuters leak revealed among others, that PMI strategy of undermining tobacco control policies iincludes lobbying lawmakers, bureaucrats and other government officials; trying to move tobacco issues away from health departments and ; deploying third parties, including retail groups, to make its case and exert pressure on decision-makers. Another strategy is engaging the media on tobacco issues and generating public debate to influence decision-makers

In the report, Reuters exposed how a Nigerian delegate at the treaty talks asked that “tobacco epidemic” be removed from a draft proposal on liability for tobacco-related harm, a position that most countries found very shocking. Head of the Nigerian delegation, Professor Christiana Ukoli subsequently disassociated other Nigerian delegates from that statement.

The Reuters leaks which might be considered the largest on the tobacco industry, perused internal documents of PMI and showed details of the company’s operations, including clandestine corporate lobbying campaign.

In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN said: “we are not at all shocked at these grave activities of PMI because we have all along alerted that the company is in the business of stymieing the implementation of the life-saving WHO-FCTC provisions. The magnitude is what we never knew. This is very alarming”

ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “That PMI infiltrated multiple countries’ delegations to consciously derail the talks is very disturbing but to know that some Nigerian delegates may have been conscripted into this illicit plan is an eye-opener. It also reinforces our demand that the Nigerian government insulate the National Tobacco Control Act from tobacco industry interference”

Oluwafemi explained that the shocking details in the report puts in perspective a host of issues, including the controversial demand from certain quarters that the implementation of the NTC Act be moved from the Federal Ministry of Health to another agency of government.

“One of the documented strategies of PMI is to try to move tobacco issues away from health departments. That is exactly what the spurious Amendment Bill on the NTC Act is recommending in contravention of global practice. Now the picture is getting clearer”

The ERA/FoEN boss urged the Nigerian government to probe possible links between members of the delegation to the treaty talks with the tobacco industry, and also accord equal speed to fast-tracking regulations for implementing the NTC Act as is anticipated of the planned enforcement of nine provisions of the Act that do not require regulations.

“The federal government cannot be docile in the face of such evidence. Some public officials may be working hand-in-hand with PMI to thwart the implementation of tobacco control policies. If this is confirmed they and their partner PMI must be sanctioned. The Nigerian government must now institute the much-awaited probe of those behind the shameful display at the treaty talks”, Oluwafemi insisted.

Posted in Green Events, News, Press Releases

Morocco hosts Africa coordinating office on Desertification and Drought

Morocco hosts Africa coordinating office on Desertification and Droughtdrought

The Kingdom of Morocco will host the Africa Regional coordination Unit of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

This will provide the secretariat with vital support services that the Parties to the Convention need to effectively implement the Convention in Africa.

This was announced by Mr. Abdeladim Lhafi, Morocco’s High Commissioner for Water and Forests and the Fight against Desertification and Commissioner of the 22nd session of Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Conference (COP22), currently under way in Marrakesh.

“Africa is experiencing some of the severest droughts in the world that are increasing in frequency and spreading to new areas, and requires a strong Regional Coordination Unit. I am sure that with the help of the Moroccan Authorities, and by drawing on their knowledge and expertise in this subject, we will have a very effective Regional Coordination Unit,” said Ms. Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, when accepting the offer.

Mr. Lhafi said that “in response to the Executive Secretary’s invitation of May 2014 to African governments to submit proposals to host the regional coordination unit in conformity with the appropriate conditions and comparable to other regional coordination units, Morocco presented its offer during the 12th session of the [UNCCD] Conference of the Parties in October 2015 in Ankara. Morocco’s offer was also favorably received following informal consultations during the 15th session of the Committee for the Review of Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 15), which was held from 17-20 October 2016 in Nairobi.”
 
The Convention

The Convention has five regional implementation annexes that provide a coordinated regional approach both in tackling desertification and drought effectively and in mobilizing all the relevant stakeholders to take actions to implement the Convention.

The Convention’s other regional coordination units are based in Thailand, for the Asia region, Chile, for the Latin America and Caribbean region, Turkey, for the Northern Mediterranean region, and in Germany, for the Central and Eastern European countries.

About the UNCCDunccd
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement on land issues. The Convention works, with partners, to promote good land stewardship. Its 195 Parties aim to combat desertification, mitigate drought and achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN). By achieving LDN, we will secure the health and productivity of the land, mitigate the effects of drought and make people and ecosystems more resilient to climate change.

 

UNCCD

 

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More than 224,000 call on UNFCCC to kick big polluters out of climate policy

KICK POLLUTERS

Corporate Accountability International and more than 224,000 organisations and  people have called on the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),  in the final days of the Bonn Climate Change Conference,to protect the treaty and climate policy making from the undue influence of the globe’s biggest polluters.

The call comes as record droughts and rainfall as well as relentless heat waves claim lives around the globe and some of the world’s biggest polluters attempt to co-opt the treaty process and influence negotiating outcomes and a few months before the Paris meeting.

The call signals a global rejection of corporate capture of climate change policy making.

The meeting in Bonn is one of the last formal meetings of the Parties before the next full Conference of the Parties to the treaty in Paris—largely regarded as a make-or-break moment for the agreement.

Industry interference

 “Why would you let the professional arsonist join the volunteer fire department?” said Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of 350.org, “These are the guys who want to keep the problem going, not solve it.”

From aggressive lobbying of national governments to bankrolling of international meetings, the fossil fuel industry interferes at all levels.

Industry co-optation of treaty meetings has been a growing problem and a primary obstacle to progress. At the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Warsaw, corporations with a direct conflict of interest in the treaty’s success not only sponsored the talks, they were given preferential access to delegates.

In May, it was revealed that COP 21 in Paris may be yet another “Corporate COP” with the announcement of EDF and Suez Environment as lead sponsors.

Suez Environment, infamous for its dealings in water privatization, is partially owned by ENGIE, formerly GDF Suez, which profits from fracking operations around the world, putting it at direct odds with the advancement of the treaty. ENGIE and EDF’s coal operations contribute to nearly 50% of France’s emissions.

The Petitioners say the cozy relationship between polluters and the UNFCCC has become increasingly institutionalized.  The Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), a joint project of the incoming and outgoing COP presidents, the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the UNFCCC Secretariat, encourages direct engagement with non-state actors—primarily identified as sub-national governments and corporations—as stakeholders in the policy making process.

“The fossil fuel industry is not a partner in the solution—it is the driver of the crisis. Giving big polluters a seat at the table glosses over the glaring conflict of interest fossil fuel corporations have in a real solution to climate change,” said John Stewart, deputy campaign director at Corporate Accountability International.

According to John, “Inviting gas, oil and coal corporations to shape climate policy is akin to looking to Big Tobacco to shape public health policy.”

The Petition

“We call on you to take immediate action to protect COP 21 and all future negotiations from the influence of big polluters. Given the fossil fuel industry’s years of interference intended to block progress, push false solutions, and continue the disastrous status quo, the time has come to stop treating big polluters as legitimate “stakeholders” and to remove them from climate policy making.”kick polluters 3

Today, we are facing the prospect of the destruction of life as we know it and irreversible damage to our planet due to climate change. Scientists are telling us with ever more urgency that we must act quickly to stop extracting fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the world’s largest polluters have prevented progress on bold climate action for far too long.”  The petition said.

The petitioners called on the Parties to the UNFCCC to protect the UN climate talks and climate policy making around the world from the influence of big polluters.

According to them, “The world is looking to the next round of negotiations – in Paris this December – for decisive action on climate. This is a pivotal moment to create real solutions. We need a strong outcome from the Paris talks in order to seize the momentum of a growing global movement, and to urge leaders to take bolder action to address the climate crisis.”

They claimed that the fossil fuel industry and other transnational corporations that have a vested interest in stopping progress continue to delay, weaken, and block climate policy at every level.

“From the World Coal Association hosting a summit on “clean coal” around COP 19 to Shell aggressively lobbying in the European Union for weak renewable energy goals while promoting gas – these big polluters are peddling false solutions to protect their profits while driving the climate crisis closer to the brink.” They insisted.

A decade ago, the international community took on another behemoth industry – Big Tobacco – and created a precedent-setting treaty mechanism that removed the tobacco industry from public health policy. This can happen again here.

Corporate Accountability International will deliver this message and the list of signatures at the climate talks in Bonn, Germany, the first week of June. They will do another delivery by the end of COP 21 in Paris this December.

To view the petition, go to www.KickBigPollutersOut.com


Posted in Press Releases

African Environmental Group commits to Halting extractive activities

A conference and Annual General Meeting of a civil society Network, Oilwatch Africa, has ended in Togo with a renewed commitment by the group to stand firmly with communities across the continent and globally in their struggles for environments devoid of the impunities of fossil extracting activities.

http://www.voiceofnigeria.org/africa/african-environmental-group-commits-to-halting-extractive-activities.html

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Fossil Fuel Dependence Fuels Corruption : Oilwatch

OIL WATCH AFRICA

Members of Oilwatch Africa network at a conference on Tuesday, in Lome, Togo, resolved that urgent actions must be taken to save the African continent from being wholly degraded, grabbed and burnt.

Oilwatch Africa declared that global distortions brought about by excessive consumption of fossil fuels and the externalisation of costs to parts of the world that consume less energy and fossil fuels lock in unacceptable injustices must be urgently and openly addressed.

It said that the world must wake up to the fact that at least 80% of known reserves of fossil fuels must be left unburned.

This, Oilwatch said should be the core of climate negotiations if the Planet is not to be burnt on the altar of profiteers who do not care about future generations and other species on the planet.

False solutions

It called on African governments to reject false solutions to global warming including those pushed though REDD, geo engineering and other strategies that are threatening to elevate the currently intolerable levels of land grabbing to that of a whole continent grab.

According to oil watch, floods, droughts and expanding desertification on the continent are all fed by the world’s continual addiction to fossil fuels.

 “Obnoxious activities such as pollution and gas flaring which alarmingly continue in the oil fields of Nigeria, Angola, Algeria and elsewhere must be stopped and energy needs be met with abundant renewable alternatives.”  It said.

Oilwatch called on the new government in Nigeria to implement the almost 4 year-old UNEP Report on Ogoni environment and give the people a chance to enjoy a healthy environment.

Africa and Climate impact

Africa is one of the most exposed regions of the world to climate change impacts, with temperature rise at least 50% above global averages.

The meeting declared that Global action to tackle this cannot be based on voluntary independently nationally determined contributions (INDCs) being pursued at the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Food sovereignty and nutrition

The group declared that” with uncontaminated lands and adequate support for local agricultural production, Africa can feed Africans and levels of nutrition can be maintained without resort to commercially and politically driven genetic engineering of our staple crops for enhanced vitamin levels”

It insisted that nutrition cannot be manufactured in laboratories and demanded access to land and security of land tenure for women.

Oilwatch Africa called for stoppage of fossil exploration and other expansion activities on the continent, demanded an audit of already accumulated impacts and full restitution for harm suffered.

Members of Oilwatch Africa network considered the implications of the world’s stubborn dependence on fossil fuels on climate, food sovereignty, nutrition and well-
being in Africa.EDITED LOME

Impact of extractive activities

Participants at the conference shared experiences on impacts of extractive activities on their communities and countries.

The conference particularly examined the environmental and socio-economic impacts of oil, gas and coal extraction. The impacts on food production, water pollution and deforestation were discussed as well as the growing trend of land grabbing on the continent.

Oilwatch Africa frowns at the trend where corporate interests and international groupings, such as the G7 and the like, “aims at polluting our biodiversity, grabbing our lands, water and seeds, are being promoted under the banners of Africans being hungry, now being malnourished, stunted and going blind.”

The group described as unacceptable “ploys to destroy our agriculture, subvert our economies, re-colonize the continent and subjugate our peoples”

Fossil fuel dependence

The conference noted that the current level of consumption of fossil fuels was in denial of the demand not to burn 80% of known fossil fuel reserves without raising global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and triggering catastrophic climate change.

According to the conference, “fossil fuel dependence fuels corruption, engenders conflicts and distorts the value base of communities”

Oilwatch Africa members regretted that the false dreams that African countries can build their economies on the extractivist path has unfortunately been bought by African governments.

It said that the rise of new fossil fuel reserves being found and extracted across the continent, has led to lack of respect for pristine areas of high cultural and world heritage value.

The conference noted the serious impact on agriculture by the pollution of lands, salinization of fresh waters and the destruction of fisheries as inimical to the continent’s economy and overall wellbeing and described it as “an extension of the colonial route that saw Africa merely as a source of raw materials and strapped colonial and neo-colonial governments on the treadmill of cash cropping and mineral extraction for export”.

Posted in Press Releases

Restore the Environment: Build Well-Being- HOMEF

HOMEF

When future generations look back on our actions today, it is likely that they will evaluate harshly our irresponsible relationship with natural resources. Unfortunately, we will not be granted the excuse of ignorance.

Despite access to so much information about the consequences of our consumption patterns, we still consume resources at a rate that is destructive to the planet and the people in it.  says Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).

Today, the world’s population is climbing quickly away from 7 million, and Nigeria’s 170 million people are pursuing this number unrestrained.

Every year, the United Nations sets aside the 5th of June as World Environment Day (WED), to create a tornado of awareness across the world on environmental issues. For each WED, a specific theme is chosen and stakeholders in over 100 countries create a network of positive environmental actions. WED is the vehicle that pools together tiny drops of environmental action to form a mighty ocean to drive environmental policies, campaigns and changes throughout the planet.  The theme for WED 2015 is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.”

The sharp and concise theme is not trivial because beneath the simplicity lies a very important note of caution; we have only one planet and it is our
minimum responsibility to curtail our culture of consumption.

This year’s World Environment Day theme could not have been better chosen
concerning the state of planet today. We cannot ignore the fact that the well-being of humanity, the environment and economies ultimately depend on ways we manage the planet’s resources.

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) believes that currently dominant
humankind’s view of the gifts of nature is at the root of many of the
crises confronting the world today, including economic, climate, food and
social disruptions. Conflicts continue to rage because of misguided
economic ideologies and of power struggles for dominance and for selfish
appropriating the abundant but finite gifts of nature.

“Until we see what we term natural resources as actually the gifts of
Nature that require a stewardship relationship we will continue on the
destructive and obviously unsustainable path,” says Nnimmo Bassey,
Director of HOMEF.                                                              NNIMMO

Today we call to mind also that the United Nations has declared 2015 the Year of the Soil.  The soil is indeed the base of culture and life generally. Our attitude to the soil contributes immensely to our well-being. Degraded soils support degraded lives. Thus when citizens are forced to live in degraded soils and environments their right to life and well-being is heavily degraded. We only have to think of the pollutions in the Niger Delta, the lagoons of Lagos, abandoned tin mines of Jos and the deadly mining wastes of Zamfara to see the enormity of the problems.”

The thinking that Nature can only be appreciated when she is given monetary value, or when transformed for utility, is a way of thinking that has diminished cooperation and solidarity and has rather built systems of competition, destruction and marginalisation of the powerless. The Earth is a living entity and not an inanimate mineral to be used, abused and damaged.

Our contribution to an alternative view is documented in our publication, Re-Source Democracy (available at http://www.homef.org/sites/default/files/pubs/resource-democracy.pdf ).

On this day, HOMEF calls for concerted efforts by the new government in Nigeria to tackle the restoration of our environment as a crucial way of building well-being as well as a new vision of citizenship. A safe environment will help to put Nigerians back to work and kindle the spirit of innovation, solidarity, care, respect and dignity of labour. As we celebrate the World Environment Day, let’s pause and show some care for
the Earth and for one another.

Posted in Press Releases

GEF launches Program to Develop,manage cities sustainability

gef

11 countries, 23 pilot cities and an investment of USD 150 million in GEF grants plus USD 1.5 billion in additional financing from other sources: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) today approved a new global program to address the challenge of a rapidly urbanizing world and the subsequent pressure on cities.

Working with cities allows us to attack the drivers of environmental degradation in an integrated way: This program will demonstrate how innovation and high impact investments can contribute to a sustainable management of cities”, said Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson.

This ambitious five-year endeavor is a partnership of the GEF, governments at all levels together with a number of UN agencies, the World Bank and regional development banks. The goal is to promote an approach to urban sustainability that is guided by evidence based, multi-dimensional, and broadly inclusive planning processes that balance economic, social, and environmental resource considerations.

In Mexico, the project will support three medium sized cities (Campeche, La Paz, and Xalapa) that have already developed sustainability action plans based on an analysis data from 117 different indicators and further analytics carried out as part of the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) by the Interamerican Development Bank IADB. In addition to a USD 15 million grant from the GEF this project in Mexico is expected to generate substantial additional financing from other partners.

“This initiative represents a positive step for the GEF since it allows for a more integrated Approach for interventions that goes beyond what traditional multilateral environmental agencies have been doing. It is backed up by a strong analysis of the situation of cities and I am confident that it will contribute to a better life for people living in these cities,” said Carlos Delgado, GEF Council member representing Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela.

For Campeche, the main priority is modernizing the city’s water and wastewater systems in order to reduce contamination of the Campeche Bay area and increase the quality of the waters, thereby promoting the re-population of the ocean and improving the overall attractiveness of the city. In La Paz, where four aging fuel oil power plants produce a significant amount of pollution, fuel-switching to solar power has been identified as a priority, in addition to securing long term access to potable water. Finally in Xalapa, where transport is responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, the main priority is to promote more efficient and environmentally-friendly motorized and non-motorized mobility. In each case, the new program will help promote further increase the scope and depth of sustainability planning, while also promoting investments to implement plans, in addition to sharing lessons with other cities around the country. The project is estimated to avoid 4 million tons of CO2 in 20 years.

Since over half of Mexico’s population resides in medium-sized cities like the three targeted by the GEF program, it is expected that the lessons drawn from planning and investment activities supported by the program will have good potential for replication across the country as a whole.

In Latin America the program includes also Paraguay and Peru with one pilot city each and Brazil with two pilot cities. And at a global level the projects are being tied together on a global coordination and knowledge sharing platform to guarantee the biggest synergistic effect possible.

Background:

This program is one of three new Integrated Approach Pilot programs just approved this week by the GEF council in Washington DC.

The GEF serves as financial mechanism for several multilateral environmental agreements — including biodiversity, climate change, desertification, ozone depletion and mercury, among others- each having set ambitious targets to address multiple facets of global environmental degradation. Strong calls are being made to promote complementarity in addressing problems that are cross-cutting in nature, seeking to deliver more effective and scaled-up investment packages that benefit developing countries. The GEF is uniquely positioned among multilateral financial mechanisms for its ability to integrate funding lines and reinforce the multiple objectives required to promote transformational change. Recognizing the need to increase the impact of its investments given the environmental issues facing the planet, the GEF has refreshed its global strategy to guide funding over the next four years. The strategy now puts a strong focus on tackling the drivers of environmental degradation, which is critical to slow and eventually reverse environmental trends.

A select number of integrated investments will seek to produce multiple environmental benefits by working with a broad range of organizations and sectors, including government agencies, businesses and NGOs. This new and more integrated approach is being added to existing GEF funding modalities to strengthen its capacity to respond to priorities identified by multiple conventions and stakeholders. The GEF-6 integrated approaches include pilot investments in programs addressing:

– Global Commodities

– Sustainable Cities

– Food Security in Sub- Saharan Africa

These will test delivery of a more integrated approach to address time-bound global environment challenges whose resolution are closely aligned with targets and goals of the multilateral environmental agreements which the GEF serves as a financial mechanism

About the Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility is a partnership for international cooperation where 183 countries work together with international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector, to address global environmental issues. Since 1991, the GEF has provided $13.5 billion in grants and leveraged $65 billion in co-financing for 3,900 projects in more than 165 developing countries. For 24years, developed and developing countries alike have provided these funds to support activities related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, and chemicals and waste in the context of development projects and programs.