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Mafias are using NAADS tractors to destroy forests-Environment Minister Anywar

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The State Minister for Environment Beatrice Atim Anywar has claimed that mafias are conniving with some big figures in National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) to destroy forests in Kayunga district.

While delivering her analysis report on how forests in Kayunga are being destroyed to grow sugarcanes on Wednesday, Anywar who is also the Kitgum Municipality Member of Parliament asked the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to intervene saying the perpetrators are under the protection of some big people in government.

The legislators also pinned some cabinet ministers and leaders of National Forestry Authority (NFA) for giving a way forward to some investors to cut down forests without her ministry’s approval.

Anywar further informed parliament that in her investigations, she found out that although the court had banned any activity going on in the forest in Kiwula, the rate at which it’s being cut down is overwhelming and by the time the court will pass its judgment, there will be no forest.

She explained that on the day she went to monitor the forest in question as it was suggested by parliament, she discovered that almost three quarters of it were cut down by a sugarcane company called ‘Modern Agric Infra ltd’. The destroyed part was full of sugar cane plantations.

Anywar added that when the perpetrators knew that she was coming, tractors that were used to cut down trees were hidden in the sugar cane plantations, prohibiting her to see them.

“Madam Speaker I had to go through a hustle to discover how the forest had been destroyed. The mafias, if I may say in quotes, have camped in this district! Almost all the people there, are compromised. So they didn’t want even Hon Nantaba to come with me to show me how they have cut down this forest.

“When I reached there, the tractors were taken into sugar cane plantations and they wanted to divert me to visit another place so that I don’t see these tractors but I insisted,” she said.

Adding to her voice, was the Kayunga Women legislator Aidah Nantaba who took this complaint to parliament told the House that the tractors destroying the said forest and other forests in Kayunga are owned by NAADS.

She also added that some untouchable figures in government and MPs coming from Kayunga district are the leaders in cutting down forests in her constituency. Nantaba added that even NFA has always kept silent while seeing the untouchables practicing deforestation.

“The tractors are for NAADS, a government institution that is supposed to protect the environment, madam Speaker this, why I want you to intervene. NFA, is also involved in this saga. I have always told cabinet minister who is involved to talk with the perpetrators but he has refused,” she said.

Source: Chimpreports

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Environment

UN seeks increased public finance to protect forests.

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UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres

Antonio Gutteres, the Secretary-General of the UN, made this call on Monday, May 2, 2022, at the opening of the 15th World Forestry Congress (WFC) in Seoul, South Korea.

The increase in the finance, he said, should include source-based payments and a dearth of environmental swaps to achieve a deforestation-free world.

Gutteres, who spoke through his Deputy, Amina Mohammed, also called for a budget and policy for forestry commitment among global communities.

He said it was unfortunate that about 4.7 billion hectares of forest were being lost annually to deforestation and environmental degradation in the last decade.

The UN chief called for concerted efforts toward achieving deforestation-free supply chains.

“Since the last congress in 2015, recognition of the critical role of forests of all types play in meeting the sustainable development goals and achieving the past agreements has gained much attention.

“The recent classical degradation on forest and land use has further underlined key transform to actions needed to save all forest and advance the 2030 agenda.

“This congress takes place right over the latest report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change.

“The panel warns that the world is dangerously close to irreversible topping point for forestry section, for the health of people, and for the planet,” he said.

According to him, this supports resilient livelihood, biodiversity consideration, sustainable economy and climate mitigation and adaptation.

“Forest remained under threat and in the last decade alone, the world has lost 4.7 billion hectares a year.

“We must specially recognise and act on the value of the forest hence the theme of the congress, ‘Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future with Forest.

“We need all stakeholders to come up with ideas and commitment that can be put into action,” he said.

Gutteres explained that forests could also be protected by expanding indigenous governance for forests in the perspectives of youth and women and using the latest scientific evidence and catchy head technology.

“I look forward to the outcome of this congress feeding into climate change and biodiversity negotiation and other policies.

“Together, I believe we can build a green, healthy and resilient future by realising the true value of the forest,” the UN scribe said.

In her remark, Princess Sasma Ali, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, canvassed a diversified approach to achieving success in building a green, healthy and resilient future with forest.

Ali is also Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Ali said that 30 per cent of the world’s forest had been cleared with another 20 per cent degraded.

She said it would require dedicated political will and the development of policy measures to reverse the tide.

The FAO ambassador also called for the mobilisation of funds in addition to engaging all stakeholders to achieve the target.

“Accordingly, there is no to engage all stakeholders more importantly indigenous people, and local communities’ members.

“They possess the knowledge, and the custody of this ecosystem coupled with scientific experts who can monitor the system,” she said.

Qu Dongyu, Director-General, FAO, acknowledged some progress in reforestation, particularly in Asia including countries like South Korea, Japan and India.

Dongyu said the congress was an opportunity to make further commitment toward achieving the 2030 deforestation-free world in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

By Usman Aliyu

Source: Enviro News Nigeria

 

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Environment

Uganda oil project casts shadow over Total’s eco-friendly image.

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Total plans to drill for oil in Murchison Falls national park in north-western Uganda.

French energy firm plans to drill in national park and build 900-mile pipeline in sensitive environments.

The French oil and gas company TotalEnergies has worked to cultivate a green reputation with climate goals and plans to ramp up renewable power, but a massive east African oil project is casting a shadow over that messaging campaign.

Total plans to drill for oil in a richly biodiverse national park in Uganda and build a 900-mile pipeline, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which will flow through sensitive environments to a port in Tanzania for export.

Burning that oil could release the equivalent of 34m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year into the atmosphere, according to opponents of the project, who point out scientists have said the world needs to drastically decrease, not increase, emissions.

Total, France’s second largest company by revenue, rebranded in May 2021, renaming itself TotalEnergies and adopting a rainbow-themed logo. But its work in east Africa has become a rallying point for protesters, including during large climate marches in France last month.

A placard at a Paris climate protest showing Vladimir Putin and the TotalEnergies CEO, Patrick Pouyanné
A placard at a Paris climate protest showing Vladimir Putin and the TotalEnergies CEO, Patrick Pouyanné. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

The project has also turned off investors. More than half of the banks that have historically financed Total have ruled out backing the project, a symbol of the difficulty oil and gas companies face as they try to thread the needle of appearing concerned about the climate crisis while continuing to extract fossil fuels. At least five insurers have also ruled out support.

“TotalEnergies used to be our favourite company in the sector”, said Dennis van der Putten, who works in responsible investing at the Dutch asset management company Actiam. “It’s with pain in our heart that we decided to exclude them. But we had to do it, from our sustainability point of view.”

The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, said it “does not support the financing of oil projects in Africa”.

The criticisms of Total are increasingly isolating the French government and its president, Emmanuel Macron, who has repeatedly committed to get out of fossil fuels but has backed EACOP.

While France does not contribute financially to the project, it does provide diplomatic support. In a letter sent in early 2021 to Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, Macron described EACOP as a “major opportunity” for the two countries to “expand their cooperation”.

The Élysée Palace and the French ecology minister, Barbara Pompili, declined to comment for this story.

Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile, set among the trees of the national park
Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile, set among the trees of the national park. Photograph: Guenter Guni/Getty Images/iStockphoto

While Total has argued its project is “being carried out without the involvement of the French government”, a recent report from three environment and watchdog NGOs suggests Total has long employed “revolving door tactics” – hiring former senior civil servants and politicians, or seeing its own employees leave to work for the government.

The planning for the project has already stirred controversy over how people will be compensated for their land, leading to allegations of human rights violations and grabbing the attention of at least one member of parliament, Matthieu Orphelin, who wrote a letter to the French government highlighting what he described as the “proven violations of human rights and the environment”.

Adrin Tugume
‘No power to stop it’: optimism turns to frustration over east Africa pipeline
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Developers first discovered Uganda’s promising oilfields in the early 2000s. The British company Tullow Oil saw success in test wells in 2006. By 2020, Tullow Oil had sold its stakes in the area to Total and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

Total acquired the Tilenga fields within the Murchison Falls national park. The area includes a wetland site that is home to diverse species of birds. It also provides habitat to giraffes, elephants, giant pangolins, spotted hyenas, lions, chimpanzees, buffaloes, hippos, hartebeests, waterbucks, warthogs, oribis, Uganda kobs and grey duikers.

Elephants gather in the ecologically valuable wetlands of Murchison Falls national park
Elephants gather in the ecologically valuable wetlands of Murchison Falls national park. Photograph: Nicholas Bamulanzeki/Floodlight

The Tilenga fields consist of more than 400 wells, with an estimated production of 190,000 barrels of oil a day. CNOOC will drill to the south, producing about 40,000 barrels a day, and both companies will send their oil through the EACOP pipeline.

Critics say the drilling and pipeline threaten biodiversity and jeopardise the water sources for the Nile River. Activists have also accused project developers of human rights violations. They say compensation has been late or insufficient and opponents have been intimidated and arrested. Their accounts have been relayed by UN special rapporteurs, although the UN high commissioner for human rights has not yet assessed the project, Total noted in a response for this story while condemning threats against peaceful protesters.

The project puts a significant dent in Total’s pro-climate claims. Total argues its east Africa work would have a far more limited climate impact than the 34m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually that opponents suggest. But that is because Total does not count the emissions that occur when its oil is burned. It takes responsibility only for the emissions of its own operations, which it estimates at about 23m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the project, about four decades.

Total has in recent years adopted a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, even though its chief executive, Patrick Pouyanné, in 2020 mocked competitors who promised the same. Pouyanné in a recent interview argued that if Total abandoned its oil projects, another company would just take its place.

Reclaim Finance, an NGO, calculated that Total, the biggest European oil and gas developer, is planning a 33% increase in production by 2030 compared with current levels.

Just weeks ago, three environment groups filed a lawsuit against Total for “misleading” the public about its climate goals while it is making moves to expand production in Uganda, Mozambique and the Arctic, the groups said.

A tour boat approaching Murchison Falls, a popular destination for tourists in Uganda
A tour boat approaching Murchison Falls, a popular destination for tourists in Uganda. Photograph: RZAF/Alamy

“People are entitled to know whether the companies competing for their business are fuelling or fighting climate change”, said Johnny White, a lawyer with the legal charity ClientEarth.

Chastened by a pushback against climate pollution, companies around the globe are increasingly looking to distance themselves from fossil fuels. That is what first drew the ethical investors at Actiam to Total.

“Our view was that Total was leading more in terms of climate action and renewables and that it was ahead compared to US and other European companies. We thought they had a credible energy transition strategy,” said Greta Fearman, a responsible investing expert for the firm.

But the EACOP project “rang some alarm bells”, she said.

One US engineer Actiam consulted, Bill Powers, warned that the project could pollute critical clean water supplies.

“There will be spills,” Powers said. You can’t avoid that, and that’s not really an accusation but an engineering reality.”

Powers said he was particularly worried about Total’s plans for an estimated 230,000 metric tonnes of hazardous waste of cuttings and drilling muds, which are loaded with heavy metals and other toxic substances.

In other projects, including in the North Sea, Total has drilled an injection well to send the waste back deep underground. But in Uganda it will have contractors transport it to landfills several dozen kilometres away, generating thousands of truck trips.

“Total presents that as a good thing, as jobs for Ugandans. That’s what I call putting lipstick on a pig. In reality, this waste might even never reach a secure landfill,” Powers said.

Total did not directly address the likelihood of spills or the concerns about waste disposal, but pointed to independent assessments that it says ensure the project is “implemented in accordance with best social and environmental practices”.

Total argues it is taking steps to produce a “net positive impact” on biodiversity, including by “reducing human pressure” on the park by offering drilling as an alternative economic activity to tourism.

In autumn 2021, Total proposed a global partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature to help reduce its impacts on biodiversity. But the Swiss-based NGO said it has not reached an agreement with the company yet and consultations are continuing.

Fearman said Total has acknowledged the project will have an environmental impact “but their position is that if you lose biodiversity somewhere, just compensate elsewhere, by supporting conservation programs in other parts of Africa”.

As Total comes under scrutiny by banks and investors for its east Africa work, the Dutch organisation BankTrack has pointed out that it has not disclosed who will provide the $3bn (£2.3bn) project loan required.

Shareholders have approved the EACOP project, but Total said its financing is “still being arranged with interested international financial institutions”.

“[It’s] no wonder this project is struggling to find financiers unscrupulous and reckless enough to back it,” Banktrack’s spokesperson, Ryan Brightwell, said.

Original Source: The Guardian

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Corporate Accountability

Signs of harmful projects with financing from development institutions are spotted in Uganda…

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By Witness Radio Team.

The growth of a country is discerned by great leaders and innovators who see opportunities out of darkness and transform their areas from nothing to success. Those are great leaders whose interest is to see the developments in their countries and the well-being of their citizens.

Every single day, countries all over the world receive investors that acquire loans, grants, and donations to implement mega projects that are seemingly expected to develop host countries. countries and investors borrowing the money Often, countries and investors portray how these projects improve the livelihood of the browbeaten, au contraire, they have left many broken families, poor-dirty homesteads, and shattered dreams.

Uganda is one of those countries, whose citizens have paid a price for reckless or unsupervised and profit-led international investment. In a bid to implement its industrial policy, the country has welcomed both foreign and local investors with interests in the fields of extraction, industrial agriculture, carbon credit tree plantation, mining, infrastructural projects, and many others.

It has received billions of dollars from different financiers including commercial banks, Pension Funds, and International Development Finance Banks or institutions, among others. For instance, the World Bank has invested more than 20 Billion Dollars since 1963 and currently

Every project comes with its own chilling story. More often their stories are unheard by the World. Witness Radio – Uganda surveyed some projects in Uganda. This study revealed agony, illegal evictions, abject poverty, environmental degradation, and loss of life among others, as some of the consequences suffered by the would-be beneficiaries of these international funded projects across the country.

In the capital of Uganda, Kampala, over 1750 families were forcefully evicted from a city suburb, Naguru, for Naguru- Nakawa housing estates.  11 years down the road the project that was highly hyped is to take off on the grabbed land. Pleas from the victims of the eviction to regain their land have all fallen on deaf ears.

About 80km away from Kampala is the island district of Kalangala surrounded by the World’s second-largest lake, Victoria, and known for palm growing. When the palm-oil project was introduced to residents they were given the impression that it would improve their livelihoods and create job opportunities.  Instead, it has dumped thousands into poverty after their land was grabbed by BIDCO, a Wilmer international-funded project. People lost land and now work on plantations as casual laborers. The neighboring communities are accusing BIDCO workers of sexual and gender-based violence.

In the South-Western District of Kiryandongo, multinational companies including Agilis Partners Limited, Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, and Great Seasons SMC Limited with funding from The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom, and Common Fund for Commodities among other financiers are forcefully evicting more than 35,000 people. The eviction has been on since 2017.

Workers that worked on a World Bank Project in Soroti, in the far east of the country, are accused of sexually harassing minors. Several young girls were defiled and left pregnant. Despite the government being aware of this none of the pedophiles have been brought to book, the World Bank-funded project in the Eastern Town of Soroti left several underage girls defiled and impregnated.

In late 2020, residents of Kawaala zone II woke up to the hail of armed men and graders evicting and destroying their properties to implement a multimillion-dollar project funded by the World Bank. The project is being implemented by the Kampala Capital city Authority (KCCA) on behalf of the government of Uganda.

The above-listed and other projects, on the other hand, continue to perpetuate violence and judicial harassment against leaders of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and community land and environmental rights defenders because of their work that resists illegal evictions and destruction of the environment among others.

Although project implementers such as government entities accuse local communities of occupying land targeted for projects illegally, in most cases victim communities have rights over these pieces of land because their settlement on the same land can be traced to have happened generations ago.

No matter how people are negatively impacted being by these harmful projects, financiers continue to release more money to the government and investors. The banks aim at profit margins other than the livelihoods of the people. In Bulebi village, Mbazi parish, Mpunge Sub County in Mukono district, Akon’s futuristic city is about to lead to the eviction of over 1000 residents whose entire lives have been built on their land.

In April last year, American rapper Aliaune Damala Badara well known for his stage name AKON visited Uganda in search of land for constructing the city. On the same business trip, he met President Museveni Yoweri Kaguta and expressed his interest in building a futuristic city with its currency. The president ordered the Ministry of Lands, housing, and urban development to look out for free land for his city.

However, on 7th Jan 2022, the Uganda Land Commission showed the Minister for Lands, Housing, and Urban Development “Hon Judith Nabakooba” land that was proposed for the Akon city. According to the Uganda land commission, the land is Freehold Volume 53 Folio 9 measuring I square mile.

This has sparked outrage amongst the affected as they were never consulted or consented to allow the project in their community. According to community members that Witness Radio interviewed, they said they heard the distressing news of Akon city through the Media.

The community said no official from the ministry has ever approached them about their land giveaway. “Our country is full of land evictions and evictors begin in that way. There has been no official coming on the ground to officially inform us about the project and neither have we heard any official communication of compensation.” Obori said.

Residing in the attractive village surrounded by freshwaters, the community asserts this has been the source of livelihood and advised the government to get alternative land for the City.

Controversies surrounding the land giveaway and ownership of the area still exist. A section of residents have protested and vowed not to surrender their land for the City. They claim to have acquired freehold titles from the Mukono lands board.

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