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Development banks have no business financing agribusiness

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On the eve of an annual gathering of public development banks in Rome, 280 groups from 70 countries have signed a letter slamming them for bankrolling the expansion of industrial agriculture, environmental destruction and corporate control of the food system. The signatories affirm only fully public and accountable funding mechanisms based on people’s actual needs can achieve real solutions to the global food crisis.

Over 450 Public Development Banks (PDBs) from around the world are gathering in Rome from 19 to 20 October 2021 for a second international summit, dubbed Finance in Common. During the first summit in Paris in 2020, over 80 civil-society organizations published a joint statement demanding that the PDBs stop funding agribusiness companies and projects that take land and natural resources away from local communities. This year, however, PDBs have made agriculture and agribusiness the priority of their second summit. This is of serious concern for the undersigned groups as PDBs have a long track-record of making investments in agriculture that benefit private interests and agribusiness corporations at the expense of farmers, herders, fishers, food workers and Indigenous Peoples, undermining their food sovereignty, ecosystems and human rights.

Our concerns

PDBs are public institutions established by national governments or multilateral agencies to finance government programs and private companies whose activities are said to contribute to the improvement of people’s lives in the places where they operate, particularly in the Global South. Many multilateral development banks, a significant sub-group of PDBs, also provide technical and policy advice to governments to change their laws and policies to attract foreign investment.

As public institutions, PDBs are bound to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and are supposed to be accountable to the public for their actions. Today, development banks collectively spend over US$2 trillion a year financing public and private companies to build roads, power plants, factory farms, agribusiness plantations and more in the name of “development” – an estimated US$1.4 trillion goes into the sole agriculture and food sector. Their financing of private companies, whether through debt or the purchase of shares, is supposed to be done for a profit, but much of their spending is backed and financed by the public – by people’s labor and taxes.

The number of PDBs and the funding they receive is growing.The reach of these banks is also growing as they are increasingly channeling public funds through private equity, “green finance” and other financial schemes to deliver the intended solutions instead of more traditional support to government programs or non-profit projects. Money from a development bank provides a sort of guarantee for companies expanding into so-called high-risk countries or industries. These guarantees enable companies to raise more funds from private lenders or other development banks, often at favorable rates. Development banks thus play a critical role in enabling multinational corporations to expand further into markets and territories around the world – from gold mines in Armenia, to controversial hydroelectric dams in Colombia, to disastrous natural gas projects in Mozambique – in ways they could not do otherwise.

Additionally, many multilateral development banks work to explicitly shape national level law and policy through their technical advice to governments and ranking systems such as the Enabling the Business of Agriculture of the World Bank. The policies they support in key sectors — including health, water, education, energy, food security and agriculture — tend to advance the role of big corporations and elites. And when affected local communities, including Indigenous Peoples and small farmers protest, they are often not heard or face reprisals. For example, in India, the World Bank advised the government to deregulate the agricultural marketing system, and when the government implemented this advice without consulting with farmers and their organisations, it led to massive protests.

Public Development Banks claim that they only invest in “sustainable” and “responsible” companies and that their involvement improves corporate behavior. But these banks have a heavy legacy of investing in companies involved in land grabbing, corruption, violence, environmental destruction and other severe human rights violations, from which they have escaped any meaningful accountability. The increasing reliance of development banks on offshore private equity funds and complex investment webs, including so called financial intermediaries, to channel their investments makes accountability even more evasive and enables a small and powerful financial elite to capture the benefits.

It is alarming that Public Development Banks are now taking on more of a coordinated and central role when it comes to food and agriculture. They are a part of the global financial architecture that is driving dispossession and ecological destruction, much of which is caused by agribusiness. Over the years, their investment in agriculture has almost exclusively gone to companies engaged in monoculture plantations, contract growing schemes, animal factory farms, sales of hybrid and genetically modified seeds and pesticides, and digital agriculture platforms dominated by Big Tech. They have shown zero interest in or capacity to invest in the farm, fisher and forest communities that currently produce the majority of the world’s food. Instead, they are bankrolling land grabbers and corporate agribusinesses and destroying local food systems.

Painful examples

Important examples of the pattern we see Public Development Banks engaging in:

  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank have provided generous financing to the agribusiness companies of some of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs, who control hundreds of thousands of hectares of land.

  • SOCFIN of Luxembourg and SIAT of Belgium, the two largest oil palm and rubber plantation owners in Africa, have received numerous financial loans from development banks, despite their subsidiaries being mired in land grabbing, corruption scandals and human rights violations.

  • Multiple development banks (including Swedfund, BIO, FMO and the DEG) financed the failed sugarcane plantation of Addax Bioenergy in Sierra Leone that has left a trail of devastation for local communities after the company’s exit.

  • The UK’s CDC Group and other European development banks (including BIO, DEG, FMO and Proparco) poured over $150 million into the now bankrupt Feronia Inc’s oil palm plantations in the DR Congo, despite long-standing conflicts with local communities over land and working conditions, allegations of corruption and serious human rights violations against villagers.

  • The United Nations’ Common Fund for Commodities invested in Agilis Partners, a US-owned company, which is involved in the violent eviction of thousands of villagers in Uganda for a large-scale grain farm.

  • Norfund and Finnfund own Green Resources, a Norwegian forestry company planting pine trees in Uganda on land taken from thousands of local farmers, with devastating effects on their livelihoods.

  • The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the African Development Bank invested in a railway and port infrastructure project to enable Mitsui of Japan and Vale of Brazil to export coal from their mining operations in northern Mozambique. The project, connected to the controversial ProSavana agribusiness project, has led to land grabbing, forced relocations, fatal accidents and the detention and torture of project opponents.

  • The China Development Bank financed the ecologically and socially disastrous Gibe III dam in Ethiopia. Designed for electricity generation and to irrigate large-scale sugar, cotton and palm oil plantations such as the gargantuan Kuraz Sugar Development Project, it has cut off the river flow that the indigenous people of the Lower Omo Valley relied on for flood retreat agriculture.

  • In Nicaragua, FMO and Finnfund financed MLR Forestal, a company managing cocoa and teak plantations, which is controlled by gold mining interests responsible for displacement of Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities and environmental degradation.

  • The International Finance Corporation and the Inter-American Development Bank Invest have recently approved loans to Pronaca, Ecuador’s 4th largest corporation, to expand intensive pig and poultry production despite opposition from international and Ecuadorian groups, including local indigenous communities whose water and lands have been polluted by the company’s expansive operations.

  • The Inter-American Development Bank Invest is considering a new $43 million loan for Marfrig Global Foods, the world’s 2nd largest beef company, under the guise of promoting “sustainable beef.” Numerous reports have found Marfrig’s supply chain directly linked to illegal deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado and human rights violations. The company has also faced corruption charges. A global campaign is now calling for PDBs to immediately divest from all industrial livestock operations.

We need better mechanisms to build food sovereignty

Governments and multilateral agencies are finally beginning to acknowledge that today’s global food system has failed to address hunger and is a key driver of multiple crises, from pandemics to biodiversity collapse to the climate emergency. But they are doing nothing to challenge the corporations who dominate the industrial food system and its model of production, trade and consumption. To the contrary, they are pushing for more corporate investment, more public private partnerships and more handouts to agribusiness.

This year’s summit of the development banks was deliberately chosen to follow on the heels of the UN Food Systems Summit. It was advertised as a global forum to find solutions to problems afflicting the global food system but was hijacked by corporate interests and became little more than a space for corporate greenwashing and showcasing industrial agriculture. The event was protested and boycotted by social movements and civil society, including through the Global People´s Summit and the Autonomous People´s response to the UN Food Systems Summit, as well as by academics from across the world.

The Finance in Common summit, with its focus on agriculture and agribusiness, will follow the same script. Financiers overseeing our public funds and mandates will gather with elites and corporate representatives to strategize on how to keep the money flowing into a model of food and agriculture that is leading to climate breakdown, increasing poverty and exacerbating all forms of malnutrition. Few if any representatives from the communities affected by the investments of the development banks, people who are on the frontlines trying to produce food for their communities, will be invited in or listened to. PDBs are not interested. They seek to fund agribusinesses, which produce commodities for trade and financial schemes for profits rather than food for nutrition.

Last year, a large coalition of civil-society organizations made a huge effort just to get the development banks to agree to commit to a human rights approach and community-led development. The result was only some limited language in the final declaration, which has not been translated into action.

We do not want any more of our public money, public mandates and public resources to be wasted on agribusiness companies that take land, natural resources and livelihoods away from local communities. Therefore:

We call for an immediate end to the financing of corporate agribusiness operations and speculative investments by public development banks.

We call for the creation of fully public and accountable funding mechanisms that support peoples’ efforts to build food sovereignty, realize the human right to food, protect and restore ecosystems, and address the climate emergency.

We call for the implementation of strong and effective mechanisms that provide communities with access to justice in case of adverse human rights impacts or social and environmental damages caused by PDB investments.

Signatories:

Fundación Plurales – Argentina

Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN) – Argentina

Foro Ambiental Santiagueño – Argentina

Armenian Women For Health &Healthy Environment NGO /AWHHE/ – Armenia

Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance – Australia

SunGem – Australia

Welthaus Diözese Graz-Seckau – Austria

Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights – Austria

FIAN Austria – Austria

Oil Workers’ Rights Protection Organization Public Union – Azerbaijan

Initiative for Right View – Bangladesh

Right to Food South Asia – Bangladesh

IRV – Bangladesh

Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation [BAFLF] – Bangladesh

NGO “Ecohome” – Belarus

Eclosio – Belgium

AEFJN – Belgium

FIAN Belgium – Belgium

Entraide et Fraternité – Belgium

Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network (AEFJN) – Belgium

Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements – Belgium

Eurodad – Belgium

Friends of the Earth Europe – Belgium

Alianza Animalista La Paz – Bolivia

Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Inesc) – Brazil

Centro Ecologico – Brazil

FAOR Fórum da Amazônia Oriental – Brazil

Articulação Agro é Fogo – Brazil

Campanha Nacional de Combate e Prevenção ao Trabalho Escravo – Comissão Pastoral da Terra/CPT – Brazil

Clínica de Direitos Humanos da Amazônia -PPGD/UFPA – Brazil

Universidade Federal Fluminense IPsi – Brazil

Associação Brasileira de Reforma Agrária – Brazil

Rede Jubileu Sul Brasil – Brazil

Alternativas para pequena agricultura no Tocantins APATO – Brazil

CAPINA Cooperação e Apoio a Projetos de Inspiração Alternativa – Brazil

Marcha Mundial por Justiça Climática / Marcha Mundial do Clima – Brazil

MNCCD – Movimento Nacional Contra Corrupção e pela Democracia – Brazil

Marcha Mundial por Justiça Climática/Marcha Mundial do Clima – Brazil

Support Group for Indigenous Youth – Brazil

Comissão Pastoral da Terra -CPT – Brazil

Equitable Cambodia – Cambodia

Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community – Cambodia

Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE) – Cameroon

Synaparcam – Cameroon

APDDH -ASSISTANCE – Cameroon

Inter Pares – Canada

Vigilance OGM – Canada

National Farmers Union – Canada

SeedChange – Canada

Place de la Dignité – Canada

Corporación para la Protección y Desarrollo de Territorios Rurales- PRODETER – Colombia

Grupo Semillas – Colombia

Groupe de Recherche et de Plaidoyer sur les Industries Extractives (GRPIE) – Côte d’Ivoire

Réseau des Femmes Braves (REFEB) – Côte d’Ivoire

CLDA – Côte d’Ivoire

Counter Balance – Czech Republic

AfrosRD – Dominican Republic

Conseil Régional des Organisations Non gouvernementales de Développement – DR Congo

Construisons Ensemble le MONDE – DR Congo

Synergie Agir Contre la Faim et le Réchauffement Climatique , SACFRC. – DR Congo

COPACO-PRP – DR Congo

AICED – DR Congo

Réseaux d’informations et d’appui aux ONG en République Démocratique du Congo ( RIAO – RDC) – DR Congo

Latinoamérica Sustentable – Ecuador

Housing and Land Rights Network – Habitat International Coalition – Egypt

Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO) – Fiji

Internationale Situationniste – France

Pouvoir d’Agir – France

Europe solidaire sans frontières (ESSF) – France

Amis de la Terre France – France

Médias Sociaux pour un Autre Monde – France

ReAct Transnational – France

CCFD-Terre Solidaire – France

CADTM France – France

Coordination SUD – France

Движение Зеленных Грузии – Georgia

NGO “GAMARJOBA” – Georgia

StrongGogo – Georgia

FIAN Deutschland – Germany

Rettet den Regenwald – Germany

Angela Jost Translations – Germany

urgewald e.V. – Germany

Abibinsroma Foundation – Ghana

Alliance for Empowering Rural Communities – Ghana

Organización de Mujeres Tierra Viva – Guatemala

Campaña Guatemala sin hambre – Guatemala

PAPDA – Haïti

Centre de Recherche et d’Action pour le Developpement (CRAD) – Haiti

Ambiente, Desarrollo y Capacitación (ADC ) – Honduras

Rashtriya Raithu Seva Samithi – India

All India Union of Forest Working People AIUFWP – India

Centre for Financial Accountability – India

People First – India

Environics Trust – India

ToxicsWatch Alliance – India

Food Sovereignty Alliance – India

Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ) – Indonesia

kruha – Indonesia

Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI) – Indonesia

JPIC Kalimantan – Indonesia

تانيا جمعه /منظمه شؤون المراه والطفل – Iraq

ICW-CIF – Italy

PEAH – Policies for Equitable Access to Health – Italy

Focsiv Italian federation christian NGOs – Italy

Schola Campesina APS – Italy

Casa Congo- Italy

ReCommon – Italy

Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC) – Japan

Team OKADA – Japan

taneomamorukai – Japan

VoiceForAnimalsJapan – Japan

Keisen University – Japan

000 PAF NPO – Japan

Missionary Society of Saint Columban, Japan – Japan

Migrants around 60 – Japan

Mura-Machi Net (Network between Villages and Towns) – Japan

Japan Family Farmers Movement (Nouminren) – Japan

Pacific Asia Resorce Center(PARC) – Japan

A Quater Acre Farm-Jinendo – Japan

Friends of the Earth Japan – Japan

Alternative People’s Linkage in Asia (APLA) – Japan

Mekong Watch – Japan

Family Farming Platform Japan – Japan

Africa Japan Forum – Japan

ATTAC Kansai – Japan

ATTAC Japan – Japan

Association of Western Japan Agroecology (AWJA) – Japan

Mennovillage Naganuma – Japan

Phenix Center – Jordan

Mazingira Institute – Kenya

Dan Owala – Kenya

Jamaa Resource Initiatives – Kenya

Kenya Debt Abolition Network – Kenya

Haki Nawiri Afrika – Kenya

Euphrates Institute-Liberia – Liberia

Green Advocates International (Liberia) – Liberia

Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) – Liberia

Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD) – Liberia

Frères des Hommes – Luxembourg

SOS FAIM – Luxembourg

Collectif pour la défense des terres malgaches – TANY – Madagascar

Third World Network – Malaysia

Appui Solidaire pour le Développement de l’Aide au Développement – Mali

Réseau CADTM Afrique – Mali

Lalo – Mexico

Tosepanpajt A.C – Mexico

Maya sin Fronteras – Mexico

Centro de Educación en Apoyo a la Producción y al Medio Ambiente, A.C. – Mexico

Mujeres Libres COLEM AC – México

Grupo de Mujeres de San Cristóbal Las Casas AC – México

Colectivo Educación para la Paaz y los Derechos Humanos A.C. (CEPAZDH) – México

Red Nacional de Promotoras Rurales – México

Dinamismo Juvenil A.C – México

Cultura Ambiental en Expansión AC – México

Observatorio Universitario de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional del Estado de Guanajuato – México

Centro Interdisciplinario de Investigación y Desarrollo Alternativo U Yich Lu’um AC – México

The Hunger Project México – México

Americas Program/Americas.Org – México

Association Talassemtane pour l’Environnement et Développement (ATED) – Morocco

Espace de Solidarité et de Coopération de l’Oriental – Morocco

LVC Maroc – Morocco

EJNA – Morocco

NAFSN – Morocco

Fédération nationale du secteur agricole – Morocco

Association jeunes pour jeunes – Morocco

Plataforma Mocambicana da Mulher e Rapariga Cooperativistas/AMPCM – MOZAMBIQUE – Mozambique

Justica Ambiental – JA! – Mozambique

Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network (CEMSOJ) – Nepal

WILPF NL – Netherlands

Milieudefensie – Netherlands

Platform Aarde Boer Consument – Netherlands

Both ENDS – Netherlands

Foundation for the Conservation of the Earth,FOCONE – Nigeria

Lekeh Development Foundation (LEDEF) – Nigeria

Nigeria Coal Network – Nigeria

Spire – Norway

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum – Pakistan

Gaza Urban Agriculture Platform (GUPAP) – Palestine

Union of Agricultural Work Committees – Palestine

WomanHealth Philippines – Philippines

Agroecology X – Philippines

SEARICE – Philippines

Alter Trade Foundation for Food Sovereignty, Inc – Philippines

Association pour la défense des droits à l’eau et à l’assainissement – Sénégal

Biotech Services Sénégal – Sénégal

Association Sénégalaise des Amis de la Nature – Sénégal

Alliance Sénégalaise Contre la Faim et la Malnutrition – Sénégal

Association Sénégalaise des Amis de la Nature – Sénégal

Alliance Sénégalaise Contre la Faim et la Malnutrition – Sénégal

Green Scenery – Sierra Leone

Land for Life – Sierra Leone

JendaGbeni Centre for Social Change Communications – Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Land Alliance – Sierra Leone

African Centre for Biodiversity – South Africa

African Children Empowerment – South Africa

Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre – South Africa

Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers and Residents Association – South Africa

Consciously Organic – South Africa

Wana Johnson Learning Centre – South Africa

Aha Properties – South Africa

Sacred Earth & Storm School – South Africa

Earth Magic – South Africa

Oasis – South Africa

Envirosense – South Africa

Greenstuff – South Africa

WoMin African Alliance – South Africa

Seonae Eco Centre – South Africa

Eco Hope – South Africa

Kos en Fynbos – South Africa

Ghostwriter Grant – South Africa

Mariann Coordinating Committee – South Africa

Khanyisa Education and Development Trust – South Africa

LAMOSA – South Africa

Ferndale Food Forest and Worm Farm – South Africa

Mxumbu Youth Agricultural Coop – South Africa

PHA Food & Farming Campaign – South Africa

SOLdePAZ.Pachakuti – Spain

Amigos de la Tierra – Spain

Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores/AS – Spain

Salva la Selva – Spain

Loco Matrifoco – Spain

National Fisheries Solidarity(NAFSO) – Sri Lanka

Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) – Sri Lanka

Agr. Graduates Cooperatives Union – Sudan

FIAN Sweden – Sweden

FIAN Suisse – Switzerland

Bread for all – Switzerland

Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign Against Poverty – Tanzania

World Animal Protection – Thailand

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact – Thailand

PERMATIL – Timor-Leste

Afrique Eco 2100 – Togo

AJECC – Togo

ATGF – Tunisia

Forum Tunisien des Droits Economiques et Sociaux – Tunisia

Agora Association – Turkey

Uganda Land Rights Defenders – Uganda

Hopes for youth development Association – Uganda

Uganda Consortium on Corporate Accountability – Uganda

Centre for Citizens Conserving Environment &Management (CECIC) – Uganda

Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO)) – Uganda

Twerwaneho Listeners Club – Uganda

Alliance for Food Soverignity in Africa – Uganda

Global Justice Now – UK

Friends of the Earth International – UK

Compassion in World Farming – UK

Environmental Justice Foundation – UK

Fresh Eyes – UK

War on Want – UK

Friends of the Earth US – US

A Growing Culture – US

Center for Political Innovation – US

GMO/Toxin Free USA – US

Friends of the Earth US – US

Thousand Currents – US

Local Futures – US

National Family Farm Coalition – US

Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch – US

Bank Information Center – US

Seeding Sovereignty – US

Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights – Yemen

Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity – Zambia

Zambian Governance Foundation for Civil Society – Zambia

Urban Farming Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe

Centre for Alternative Development – Zimbabwe

FACHIG Trust – Zimbabwe

Red Latinoamericana por Justicia Económica y Social – Latindadd – América Latina

European Coordination Via Campesina – Europe

Arab Watch Coalition – Middle East and North Africa

FIAN International – International

International Alliance of Inhabitants – International

Society for International Development – International

ActionAid International – International

International Accountability Project – International

Habitat International Coalition – General Secretariat – International

CIDSE – International

ESCR-Net – International

World Rainforest Movement – International

Transnational Institute – International

GRAIN – International

Original Source: grian.org

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URGENT ALERT: Tanzanian Government Resorts to Cattle Seizures to Further Restrict Livelihoods of Maasai Pastoralists

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On December 1, 2022, we exposed how the Tanzanian government has made harsh cuts in vital public services, including health services and imposed strict livelihood restrictions, to force the Maasai out of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). Resettlement plans for the NCA residents are critically flawed and communities continue to courageously speak out against forced evictions. On January 16, 2023, The Guardian echoed this struggle in an article, “‘It’s becoming a war zone’: Tanzania’s Maasai speak out on ‘forced’ removals,”(link is external) that captured the harsh situation on the ground.

Today, we are sharing a concerning update as the government of Tanzania is further escalating the pressure on the Maasai by seizing their cattle. Once captured, the cattle are auctioned off and exported from the area, unless the owners manage to get it back by paying a ransom to the authorities.

Livestock is central to the Maasai culture and livelihoods. Losing cattle is therefore catastrophic for them. With this new tactic, the government’s goal is clearly to drive them away from their ancestral lands. This is happening in Loliondo — in and adjacent to the “Pololeti Game Reserve” — which was created during the government’s violent demarcation exercise in June 2022 and dedicated for trophy hunting by the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Otterlo Business Company (OBC). These seizures are now increasingly being practiced near other “protected” areas of the country. This update provides additional evidence of the Tanzanian government’s brutal campaign against the pastoralists.

In November and December 2022 alone, several massive seizures were carried out, including:

Loliondo, Ngorongoro District

  • November 26, 2022 — 60 cows of Sarkay Tiiyee from Malambo were seized at a water point, outside the illegally demarcated “Pololeti Game Reserve” area.
  • November 27, 2022 — Also in Malambo, 167 goats belonging to Kimani Taretoy Tiiyee were seized. The rangers demanded TSh 60,000 per goat and slaughtered 27 of them.
  • December 14, 2022 — An estimated 1,772 cattle belonging to the pastoralists of Ngorongoro District were sold at a public auction by court order on the grounds that they had no owners and were unclaimed property. The cattle owners were reportedly threatened with trespassing and robbery if they tried to reclaim their cattle.
  • December 17, 2022 — 600 sheep belonging to Malee Risando Lekitony were seized next to his boma. He had to pay TSh 2 million to get his sheep back.
  • December 19, 2022 — Over 300 cows belonging to four families were seized at Oloosek, Ololosokwan — an area within the newly created “Pololeti Game Reserve” in Loliondo. The demand to release the cattle was TSh 100,000 per head — a very high amount for the pastoralists. Given the fear of losing their cattle, the fine was eventually paid and cattle returned.
  • December 22, 2022 — Approximately 400 cows from Arash, belonging to herders from Sangok and Losekenja were seized in the “Pololeti Game Reserve.” On Christmas Eve, the livestock owners tried to inquire about the procedure to get the cattle back and found that all the cows had been sold.

Note: In June 2022, following the violent government demarcation exercise in Loliondo, we previously reported that an elderly man, Mbirias Oleng’iyo, went missing. In the latest update, Mr. Oleng’iyo has still not been found and his family continues to search for him. It is alleged that he was arrested by the police.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

  • Continued drought and restrictions on grazing areas cattle can access within the NCA have caused the deaths of hundreds of cattle, driving pastoralists further into poverty.

Tarangire National Park

  • December 17-24, 2022 — an estimated 3,083 cattle belonging to herders living in Simanjiro District in Manyara Region were seized for allegedly entering Tarangire National Park and sold at an auction. A media story on the event is available here.(link is external) Sources on the ground report the cattle were not in the park when they were seized.

Ruaha National Park

The government’s use of cattle seizures to force pastoralists into poverty and drive them from their lands as seen in Loliondo is now being repeated in areas surrounding and within the Ruaha National Park. For instance:

  • November 22, 2022 — Ruaha National Park conservation rangers seized 172 cattle in Mbarali District, Mbeya Region, belonging to Kideka Dabda. Even though Mr. Dabda showed up and the Mbarali District Court issued an injunction stating that the cattle should not be auctioned off, the cattle were still sold.
  • Just a few days later on November 25, 2022, the Minister of Lands, Dr. Angelina Mabula, at a public rally in Ubaruku in the Mbarali District, announced that villagers in 48 villages and townships in the district “encroaching” the Ruaha National Park must leave the park immediately.
  • December 2, 2022 — 93 cattle from Madundasi Village (located south of Ruaha National Park) were auctioned off with the permission of the Mbarali District Court.

Due to the ongoing violation of human rights, Tanzania CSOs released a statement(link is external) on December 20, 2022, condemning the cattle seizures. Local CSOs are calling for an immediate end to “military exercises carried out by the conservation rangers to unjustly arrest the herders and confiscate their livestock because those actions perpetuate poverty and cause suffering for innocent citizens.” CSOs are asking for the government to compensate the pastoralists “whose livestock have been auctioned fraudulently, as the livestock is the primary support for the economy and the family’s food security.”

Original Source: Oakland Institute

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La Via Campesina Call to Action for the 27th UN Climate COP

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Year after year, one UN Climate Conference of the Parties (COP) after another, the global climate crisis only worsens. Caused in great part by agribusiness and the destructive capitalist system it fuels, today’s crisis is a direct result of an economic system that exploits every form of life without recognizing any limits to nature. Mother Earth’s intricate systems and life-sustaining cycles are broken, with the devastating Covid19 pandemic, and the inaccessibility of health care for many, demonstrating just how cruel capitalism can be when it comes to inflicting the pain, suffering and loss, caused by the destruction of nature. Be it in Pakistan, Palestine or Puerto Rico – to name just a few – the once distant threat of “climate change” now comes in wave after wave of “catastrophic weather events” making climate-fueled tragedies an all-too-frequent part of people’s daily lives.  From droughts to floods, through wildfires and hurricanes, these extreme manifestations have threatened and even destroyed people’s lives and food sovereignty, who are calling for real solutions to limit global warming to 1.5°C. As if that weren’t enough, wars, occupations and sanctions are dished out by the power-hungry with little regard for the UN-recognized rights to Food, Health, Peace and Self-Determination, much less the now universal human right to a “clean, healthy and sustainable environment” (UN General Assembly, 2022). In addition, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI, 2022) reported that the climate vulnerable and extremes underline rising numbers of hungry people, poverty and inequality.

At the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its annual Climate COPs, transnational corporations (TNCs) use their control over most national governments and multilateral institutions to commodify the crisis, deny fossil fuel capitalism has anything to do with it, and limit any real possibility of transformative change. Though the corporate food system is responsible for more than 50% of all greenhouse gasses (GHGs), the Bayer-Monsanto’s of the world offer nothing more than profit-hungry proposals packaged into shameful “net zero” schemes. Instead of a very real, urgent and necessary reduction in emissions – whose main responsibility lies with the elites of historic emitters such as the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia – corporate false solutions provide a free pass to the dominant colonial core while leading a global assault on rural communities, livelihoods and territories. So-called “nature-based solutions” (NBS) such as REDD and REDD+, “soil carbon for offsetting” and other market-based trading schemes, and the corporate takeover of agriculture through patenting, “digitalization”, “sustainable intensification” and “climate-smart(ation)” are all big wins for agribusiness but terrible losses for peasants, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, forest dwellers and others on the frontlines of the global climate crisis. And when the great hoax of “net zero” fails to calm the climate, transnational corporations promise extremely high-risk geoengineering will somehow save the day (or at least their profit margins). This has been the norm at Climate COP after Climate COP, and the 27th Annual Conference of the Parties (COP27) is unlikely to be any different.

Supposedly “Africa’s COP”, this year’s Climate COP is set to take place at the elitist and artificial enclave that is Egypt’s Sharm el Sheikh. Far removed from the African and Arab People’s steadfast struggles for self-determination, COP27 is leaving very little room for organized communities to speak truth to corporate power. For this reason, among others, many of our sister organizations of the Africa Climate Justice Collective (ACJC) organized the African People’s Counter COP demanding real solutions rooted in climate justice, a prioritization of people and the planet, and an end to corporate control of the UNFCCC. These demands are in line with our hard-fought UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP):“States shall take all necessary measures to ensure that non-State actors that they are in a position to regulate, such as private individuals and organizations, and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, respect and strengthen the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas..(and)…take appropriate measures to ensure that peasants and other people working in rural areas enjoy, without discrimination, a safe, clean and healthy environment”.

It is precisely because of this context that La Vía Campesina will be at COP27. Delegates from member organizations will make their voices, traditions, experiences and solutions heard. We will continue to promote, practice and uplift Food Sovereignty as the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods and the right to define our food and agricultural systems. We will explain once again that peasants through agroecological practices and territories cultivate more than 70% of the food produced worldwide on less than 30% of the arable lands available. We will emphasize that Agroecology is a sustainable path forward based on centuries of experience and accumulated real evidence – it is a  science, a social movement and a lifestyle practised by millions around the world through meaningful work, cooperation, strategy and organization. We will amplify and share UNDROP, an international legal instrument that we helped to create and that defends people’s rights over their territories, seeds, waters, forests and that promotes a more sustainable way of being and living. We will stand in Solidarity with all who struggle for collective rights and reiterate the need for “common but differentiated responsibilities” among States – including a vibrant Green Climate Fund free of any International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank (WB) influence, void of all neo-liberal impositions that serve only to further exploit people and the planet, and fully financed through climate reparations for the colonial legacies of the past and present. We stand in solidarity with and support those in the Climate Justice Movement demanding climate just reparations, not simple “climate finance”. Finally, we will be in COP27 continuing to expand our arms and shoulders building solidarity, action and common strategy with grassroots organizations, alliances and social movements from around the world fighting for climate and social justice.

While most national governments and multilateral institutions offer capitalist solutions that systematically fail to address the climate crisis,  we, the organized voice of over 200 million peasants, landless workers, indigenous people, pastoralists, fishers, migrant, farmworkers, small and medium-size farmers, rural women, peasant youth and gender-diverse persons of La Via Campesina, in convergence with a diversity of movements for Climate Justice, reiterate here and now our real solutions: FOOD SOVEREIGNTY COOLS THE PLANET ! We will build it with agroecology and peasants’ rights to ensure a Just Transition rooted in people’s power, ecological and social well being, and solidarity at the local, regional and international context. Together, in struggle, we will win!

Original Source: La Via Campesina

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#COP27: HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES URGE PARTIES TO INCREASE RECOGNITION AND PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND LAND DEFENDERS.

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Environmental and land defenders play a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change, yet they’re often subjected to violence, harassment, intimidation, and criminalization for speaking out against land dispossession and climate abuses. Today, the climate justice and human rights organizations EarthRights International, Global Witness, Natural Justice, Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA), CIVICUS, and the International Land Coalition released a set of recommendations for policymakers attending the upcoming COP27 climate conference in Egypt, calling on them to take meaningful steps to protect those on the frontlines of the climate crisis and to enable diverse, safe, and effective participation of civil society observers during COPs.

Recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warn that the world has an ever-narrowing window to avoid climate catastrophe. Meanwhile, Indigenous and frontline communities bear the brunt of the world’s climate change impacts and are increasingly threatened for speaking out against environmental abuses. Most of these threats relate to land conflicts involving climate-damaging industries – from deforestation by agribusinesses to mining, yet corporate accountability for such harms is lacking. Civil society and Indigenous peoples have also been raising concerns for years about access, participation, and freedom of assembly at UNFCCC meetings. COP27 in Egypt raises additional challenges because of the context of closed civic space in Egypt.

“States have been unable to offer environmental and land defenders the adequate level of protection and guarantees they need to safely exercise their role. Either it is apathy or incapacity, or the intervention of large power schemes, corruption, or organized crime, but States do not advance as needed in the defense of defenders’ rights. A higher recognition and incorporation by UNFCCC and COP27 of the role of defenders in facing the climate crisis is crucial to move States towards stronger protection schemes,” said Silvana Baldovino, SPDA’s Biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples Program Director.

According to Global Witness, on average, one land and environmental defender has been killed every two days since 2012. Civil society experts have also reported an uptick in efforts to criminalize defenders, enact legislation to prevent freedom of assembly, and deter activists with punitive lawsuits such as strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPPs). In September, EarthRights identified 134 cases in the past ten years in the U.S. in which the fossil fuel industry has used SLAPPs and related tactics against its critics.

“All over the world, Indigenous peoples, environmental activists, and other land and environmental defenders are working to address climate change and biodiversity loss,” said Shruti Suresh, Strategy Lead – Land and Environmental Defenders Campaign for Global Witness. “Yet they are under attack themselves facing violence, criminalization, and harassment, perpetuated by repressive governments and companies prioritizing profit over human and environmental rights. We urgently need to promote corporate and government accountability in defending the defenders and enable their participation in climate decision-making.”

These trends contradict recent international multilateral environmental agreements such as the Escazu Agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean, which came into force in 2021, and the Aarhus Convention in Europe, which recognize the role of environmental defenders in building a just transition and the need to protect them from further harm.

“The Escazu Agreement was the first treaty in the world to include specific obligations for the recognition and protection of environmental defenders,” said Natalia Gomez, EarthRights Climate Change Policy Advisor. “However, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change climate negotiations, there is very little recognition of the central role that environmental and human rights defenders play in the global response to the climate crisis. The upcoming COP27 is a historic opportunity for parties to enhance climate action by advancing the recognition and protection of environmental defenders. We cannot achieve climate justice without protecting those at the frontlines of the crisis.”

While reprisals against activists occur worldwide, experts who helped author the analysis agree that parts of Africa are particularly dangerous for environmental and human rights defenders.

“Environmental defenders in Africa have increasingly become the subject of reprisals linked to the increasing appetite for fossil fuels, unsustainable development projects, and conservation initiatives across the region,” said Eva Maria Okoth, Senior Program Officer for Natural Justice. According to Natural Justice’s 2021 report on the African Environmental Defenders Emergency Fund, the majority of environmental defenders who were supported by the Fund received multiple threats, including death threats, threats of being arrested, and/or threats of being attacked. The report further established that eviction is the second most prominent threat faced by applicants. Other common risks documented around the world include physical attacks, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP suits), judicial harassment, and emotional and sexual violence.”

Environmental and Land defenders in Africa face a myriad of challenges in their efforts to demand climate action, characterized by violence, repression, harassment, and criminalization,” added Audace Kubwimana, Africa Regional Coordinator of the International Land Coalition. “As the climate crisis deteriorates, so does the violence against those protecting our land and environment. Silencing dissenting movements endangers the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable populations and dampens the significant role played by defenders in the context of the climate crisis.”

“Environmental, land, and Indigenous rights defenders in Africa are among the communities that are most vulnerable to violence and harassment at the hands of their States. Such impunity continues unabated in many countries, including Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa. States must ensure that environmental, land, and Indigenous defenders suffer no reprisals for legitimate activities to defend the rights of their communities,” said Dr. Paul Mulindwa, Civicus’ Advocacy and Campaigns Lead for Africa.

“The reprisals faced by land and environmental defenders in the global south, coupled with the increasing threats of climate-induced loss and damage, is an egregious violation of their fundamental human rights and untimely their right to self-determination. It is paramount that defenders, Indigenous peoples, and frontline communities are protected, and their rights expanded and safeguarded from the preparators of reprisals and climate criminals who persistently put profit before people and the environment,” concluded Katherine Robinson, Head of Campaigns, Natural Justice.

Recommendations for Parties at COP27: 

  • Parties must recognize the link between the climate crisis and the growing violence and repression against land and environmental defenders and take meaningful steps to protect the role of defenders in promoting ambition and enhancing climate action.
  • Ensure a strong and effective Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) action plan by including the following activities:
    • Hold an ACE Dialogue on Environmental Human rights defenders, including Indigenous peoples and frontline communities, to identify the obstacles that defenders face when trying to exercise their rights to access information, public participation, and education.
    • Identify gaps preventing environmental defenders to exercise access to information and participation in climate action through consultation with Indigenous peoples and frontline communities, relevant UN offices, relevant civil society groups, and other key stakeholders.
    • Provide targeted recommendations for parties, inter-government bodies, and other relevant key stakeholders to take action to increase protection for defenders and enable them to exercise their rights to participate and contribute to decision-making related to climate and environmental matters.
  • Ensure that human rights experts, Indigenous peoples, environmental and human rights defenders, and representatives of frontline communities can participate in the technical dialogue and roundtables of the Global Stocktake and facilitate and lead some of the discussions.
  • Address the situation of environmental and land defenders during the Global Stocktake Technical Dialogue and roundtables. The outcomes of the Global Stocktake should offer specific guidance on how parties should increase their ambition to fulfill their human rights obligations. This should include guidelines to protect the rights of land and environmental defenders and guarantee their access to information, public participation, and consultation.
  • Governments wishing to host COPs should enable the exercise of rights of freedom of association and peaceful assembly and guarantee safe participation by civil society and Indigenous representatives during COPs.

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Source: Earth Rights

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