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‘We cannot drink oil’: campaigners condemn east African pipeline project.

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Patrick Pouyanné of Total; Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan, and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda after signing agreements for the controversial pipeline. Photograph: Courtesy of Total – Uganda

Activists say the ‘heart of Africa’ line shipping crude from Uganda to Tanzania is unnecessary and poses a huge environmental risk

Activists have accused French and Chinese oil firms of ignoring huge environmental risks after the signing of accords on the controversial construction of a £2.5bn oil pipeline.

Uganda, Tanzania and the oil companies Total and CNOOC signed three key agreements on Sunday that pave the way for construction to start on the planned east African crude oil pipeline (EACOP). But on Tuesday a letter signed by 38 civil society organisations across both east African countries said the parties had failed to address environmental concerns over the pipeline and had steamrollered over court and parliamentary processes.

Work is expected to begin this year on what would be the world’s longest electrically heated pipeline, which will move crude oil from fields near Lake Albert in western Uganda 900 miles to Tanzania’s Indian Ocean seaport of Tanga. Uganda’s crude oil is highly viscous, so it must be heated to be kept liquid enough to flow.

Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, and his Tanzanian counterpart, Samia Suluhu Hassan, witnessed the signing of agreements between shareholders, host governments, and on tariff and transport between EACOP and the Lake Albert oil shippers.

Uganda discovered reserves of crude near Lake Albert on its border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2006, and the landlocked country wants a pipeline to transport oil to international markets.

“These agreements open the way for the commencement of the Lake Albert development project,” Total said in a statement on Monday. “The main engineering, procurement and construction contracts will be awarded shortly, and construction will start. First oil export is planned in early 2025.”

The oil will come from two projects – the Tilenga project, operated by Total, and the Kingfisher project, operated by CNOOC, which together are expected to produce up to 230,000 barrels a day. Government geologists estimate total reserves at 6bn barrels.

However, Diana Nabiruma, of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), told the Guardian: “It is concerning that major agreements are being signed and the companies are being given the go-ahead to award contracts and start developing the Lake Albert oil project.

“The oil projects pose major environmental risks. Resources, some shared with countries such as the DRC, Tanzania and Kenya, including Lake Albert as well as Lake Victoria and rivers, are at risk of oil pollution,” she said

A globe at Uganda’s Murchison Falls national park. Activists fear the 900-mile pipeline poses risks to water resources and fisheries. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty

“The resources support the fisheries, tourism and other economic activities. They are also important for food and water security. They therefore must be conserved.”

The #StopEACOP alliance campaign condemned the decision to build the pipeline, which it says will displace 12,000 families and would be a huge environmental risk at a time of climate emergency, when the world needs to move away from fossil fuels.

Vanessa Nakate, founder of the Rise Up climate movement in Uganda, said: “There is no reason for Total to engage in oil exploration and the construction of the east Africa crude oil pipeline because this means fuelling the destruction of the planet and worsening the already existing climate disasters in the most affected areas.

“There is no future in the fossil fuel industry and we cannot drink oil. We demand Total to rise up for the people and the planet,” she said.

Lucie Pinson, of Reclaim Finance, which works to decarbonise the financial system, added: “We call on banks to publicly commit to stay clear of the project and investors to vote against Total’s climate strategy and the renewal of the mandate of its CEO Patrick Pouyanné at the group’s AGM in May.”

Last week, more than 260 African and international organisations sent an open letter to 25 commercial banks urging them not to finance the construction of the EACOP.

David Pred, of Inclusive Development International, which supports communities to defend their rights against harmful corporate projects, said: “The oil companies are trying to dress up the investment decision signing ceremony, but fortunately this climate-destroying project is far from a done deal.

The country has yet to see anything of the oil bonanza that seemed near when deposits of crude were discovered in 2006. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty

“Total is also taking into the highest consideration the sensitive environmental context and social stakes of these onshore projects. Our commitment is to implement these projects in an exemplary and fully transparent manner.”

CNOOC has been approached for comment.

But Nabiruma accused the two east African governments of racing to sign deals before their citizens had been told how any risks would be “avoided, minimised or mitigated”.

Robert Kasande, permanent secretary at Uganda’s ministry of energy and mineral development, said: “We are very mindful of the environment that we work in. It’s a very sensitive ecosystem. So we have put everything that we need to do in place.”

He said the project was being conducted in accordance with the Equator principles – a risk-management framework adopted by financial institutions for assessing and managing environmental and social risk in projects.

“This is a big project for us as a country,” Kasande said. “These resources that are going to be coming into the country are going to be a huge boost to this economy.”

Original Source: The Guardian.com

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Call to Sever Ties with Tanzanian Government Over Latest Human Rights Abuses Against the Maasai

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Armed police forces arrive to begin demarcation process in Loliondo.

Open Letter from the Oakland Institute and Survival International to UNESCO WHC & IUCN

To: Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Director UNESCO World Heritage

CC: Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director General

Tim Badman, Director, IUCN World Heritage Program
Muhammad Juma, Chief of Africa Unit, UNESCO World Heritage
ICOMOS Secretariat

Subject: Call to Sever Ties with Tanzanian Government Over Latest Human Rights Abuses Against the Maasai

Dear Director Lazare Eloundou Assomo,

We are writing in light of the latest violence unleashed on the Maasai communities living in the Loliondo division of Ngorongoro district by the Tanzanian security forces. On June 8, 2022, the Tanzanian government initiated the demarcation of 1,500 km2 of land that it intends to turn into a game reserve, which would trigger mass evictions of Maasai living in legally registered villages within Loliondo. This action has led to widespread violence against the Maasai by security forces, which has left at least 31 people wounded by live ammunition and other injuries while one police officer was allegedly killed by an arrow. A total of twenty-three citizens (including 9 ward councilors) have been arraigned before the Resident Magistrate’s Court of Arusha and charged with the murder of the policeman.

Injured Maasai, including high numbers of women and children, have fled to Kenya to seek medical treatment and the government continues to crack down on those who are attempting to share information regarding the violence. Despite this resistance from local communities living on this land, Prime Minister Majaliwa announced the demarcation exercise had been completed.

This latest travesty is a continuation of past efforts to evict Maasai from their ancestral lands in Loliondo for safari tourism and trophy hunting. The United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Otterlo Business Company (OBC) — which runs hunting excursions for the country’s royal family and their guests — will reportedly control commercial hunting in the area despite the company’s past involvement in several violent evictions of the Maasai, including in 2017, burning of homes, and the killing of thousands of rare animals in the area.

There has been extensive condemnation of this violence and forced evictions of the Maasai by numerous organizations and coalitions. On June 13, 2022, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights strongly condemned(link is external) the violence and urged the government to halt the eviction and open an independent investigation. On June 14, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues expressed(link is external) “its profound concern” over the ongoing evictions” and called “on the government of Tanzania to comply with the provisions recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and other relevant international human rights instruments, and ensure the right of the Maasai to participate in decision-making, considering that their land in Loliondo for safari tourism, trophy hunting and “conservation” will affect their lives and territory.”

On June 15, nine United Nations Special Rapporteurs called(link is external) on the Tanzanian government to “immediately halt plans for relocation of the people living in Loliondo and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and begin consultations with the Maasai Indigenous Peoples, including direct contact with the Ngorongoro Pastoral Council, to jointly define current challenges to environmental conservation and best avenues to resolve them, while maintaining a human rights-based approach to conservation.” Finally, on June 19, IUCN issued a statement(link is external) on the human rights violations in Loliondo, sharing that it was “deeply concerned.”

Given these developments are occurring alongside the threat of eviction faced by tens of thousands of Indigenous residents of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the government’s shocking display of violence against its own citizens and patently false denial of responsibility cannot be ignored. We have previously written to your office warning of plans to evict Maasai from the NCA and the inadequacy of relocation sites. These latest rights violations in Loliondo demonstrate that the government does not hesitate to resort to violence, in violation of its national and international obligations, towards the realization of its plans.

The government’s blatant disregard for Indigenous lives and international human rights law calls for immediate and decisive action from the UNESCO WHC and IUCN. Continued inaction on your part makes you complicit. The UNESCO WHC has failed to ensure respect for the rights of Indigenous residents. Therefore, Ngorongoro should be delisted as a World Heritage Site and all ties between the UNESCO WHC and IUCN with the government should be immediately severed.

Sincerely,

Anuradha Mittal
Executive Director
The Oakland Institute

Fiore Longo
Director, France & Spain
Survival International

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Unrecognised wealth of customary land.

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Photo Credit: Farmlandgrab.org

Papua New Guinea’s Constitution is unique as it gives the people rights to be custodians over their land, 95% of which is still under customary control.  For thousands of years, over 800 cultures have allowed our land to sustain every generation till the idea of registering customary land was introduced from outside our shores and clouded the real value and importance of that land.

Foreign investors and donor governments have influenced government and policy think tanks to orchestrate the mainstream mindset of most Papua New Guineans to falsely believe that registering land will relieve poverty and unlock development constraints.

This mindset has crucified customary land by opening a door to different land-grabbing schemes that poorly benefit our society.

From Special Agriculture Business Leases to Incorporated Land Groups created to facilitate logging and mineral extraction and now special economic zones, all these schemes critically ignore the real values of customary land.

The SABL scheme disposed community rights to 5 million hectares of customary land.  Of the 15 million hectares of customary land designated for agricultural purposes, 8 million have been taken by logging. Now, huge land portions are being designated for SEZ schemes.

The government keeps on coming up with policies and new ideas aimed at ‘unlocking’ customary land under the pretense they will improve the economy but have any of these schemes benefited the custodians of land?

Widespread human rights abuses have been reported by both international and national human rights observers on land and forest across PNG, but little is done because these land grab schemes are legally endorsed.

When will be the time when policies and ideas are centered on helping the population in rural areas to utilize their land for themselves and not hand it over to foreigners to exploit for their own profit?

Why should the people register land in return for false promises of money and improved infrastructure when they can be upskilled to utilize their land to increase their incomes in a sustainable and long-lasting manner? Why can’t the government and policymakers create policies that utilize the rural population to untap the huge potential of their land?

The way forward to improve the lives of people in PNG is NOT to alienate their rights to land and destroy the way of life that is attached to this relationship. At the heart of development and economic policy must be the needs and self-determination of local people. Any development policies that see dispossession of land as a necessary and unavoidable process are fundamentally opposed to the rights of the people and the preservation of our unique culture.

Studies into rural livelihoods over the past decade show that customary land is highly productive, but its output and impact is neither measured properly nor publicly recognized.

Papua New Guinea’s real mainstream economy is small-scale farming as  ACTNOW documented in 2017:

“If a rural family had to buy at regional markets what comes from their gardens, they would have to spend up to 20,000 Kina per year. That gives us an idea of the real value of subsistence output (what we produce to feed ourselves). The value of domestic informal or market trading, including garden produce, is almost the same again, another K20,000 a year.

One million rural families could therefore be producing K40 billion in real value per year. That dwarves the annual combined output of gold (1.7bn), gas (1.69bn), petroleum (1.63bn), copper (0.75bn), logging (0.8bn), and palm oil (0.47bn) which totals just K7 billion.”

Another example of this untapped value can be seen in the recent comments by the Fresh Produce Development Agency on the value of the horticulture sector. It is already a K3 billion a year industry but is trapped by a lack of skills, training, government support, and clear guidelines to untap this green mine.

Customary land is the most valuable asset available to most Papua New Guineans but its role and importance is often misunderstood or misrepresented, particularly by outsiders.

All of the government’s so-called ‘land reforms’ and development policies will continue to amount to nothing while they fail to recognize and support the potential of the custodians of the land to protect it and use it for maximum gain.

Having a government that fails to recognize this is a failure to the people.

Original Source: farmlandgrab.org

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La Via Campesina calls on States to exit the WTO and to create a new framework based on food sovereignty

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La Via Campesina, the global peasant movement representing the voices of more than 200 million small-scale peasants from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, has been mobilizing all week against the WTO. The food crisis that is currently hitting the world is further proof that free trade – far from bringing about food security – is making people starve.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has once again failed to offer a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security purposes. For more than eight years, rich countries have been blocking concrete proposals from African and Asian members of the G33 in this regard.

Jeongyeol Kim, from the Korean Women Peasant’s Association and an International Coordination Committee (ICC) member of La Via Campesina, points out that:

“Free Trade Fuels Hunger. After 27 years under the rule of the WTO, this conclusion is clear. It is time to keep agriculture out of all Free Trade Agreements. The pandemic, and the shock and disruptions induced by war have made it clear that we need a local and national food governance system based on people, not agribusinesses. A system that is built on principles of solidarity and cooperation rather than competition, coercion, and geopolitical agendas.”

Burry Tunkara, from the Gambian Organization of Small-scale Farmers, Fishermen and Foresters and one of the main youth leaders of La Via Campesina, echoes the same sentiment in this testimony:

“The WTO only defends the rich and their commercial interests. It is a tool of neo-colonialism. It only serves the interests of multinationals to find new markets and cheaper labour. It’s time to stop that!”

The socio-economic agenda of the poorest and low-income countries is not a priority for the WTO. The proof: its inability to provide a safeguard mechanism against the “dumping” of rich countries and its approach to fisheries subsidies to the detriment of small-scale fisherfolk. There is no point in trying to reform an institution built to favour the business interests of a handful of multinational corporations.

Perla Álvarez from Paraguay, and member of the Latin American Coordination of La Via Campesina (CLOC) stated that a systemic change is urgent and necessary:

“The global food crisis is our moment of reckoning. There is no place for a ‘business as usual’ approach here. We are presenting short-term and long-term proposals that can radically shift the way in which trade affects farming communities around the world.”

Today, June 15, from Geneva, while the WTO Ministerial Conference has once again betrayed the expectations of the populations that have been most affected by the food crisis, we, La Via Campesina, share our proposals;

La Via Campesina calls on all national governments to rebuild public stocks and to support the creation of food reserves at the community level with local products from agroecological practices. LVC also called on all governments to put in place the anti-dumping legislation necessary to prevent exporters from destroying local markets.

Yudhvir Singh of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, one of the unions that spearheaded the historic mobilization of Indian peasants in 2021, shared his country’s experience with public food stocks:

“Peasants need strong public policies, such as minimum prices and public stock, to continue to make a decent living by producing food. The WTO’s attacks against our model of market regulation are extremely dangerous. The G33 must continue to resist and build based on the aspirations and hopes of small-scale producers.”

La Via Campesina has called for an immediate suspension of all existing WTO rules that prevent countries from developing public food stocks and regulating market and prices. Governments should have the right to use self-selected internal criteria to protect and promote their food sovereignty. Each country should be able to develop its own agricultural and food policy and protect the interests of its peasants, without harming other countries. The use of agricultural products for agro-fuels should be prohibited. La Via Campesina has also called for a halt in speculation.

“Agrarian Reform is necessary to build food sovereignty,” added Zainal Arifin Fuat of Serikat Petani Indonesia and member of LVC’s International Coordination Committee. “Governments must put an end to grabbing water, seeds and land by transnational corporations and ensure small-scale producers fair rights over common resources.”

We, La Via Campesina, insist that within the framework of the pandemic and the global supply crisis, governments should prioritize local markets.

Morgan Ody, peasant in Brittany, France, and general coordinator of La Via Campesina, stated on behalf of the global peasant movement:

“The World Trade Organization is a failed project. Our global peasant movement calls on all States, especially those in the South, to leave the WTO immediately. We must create a new international framework for agriculture and trade based on food sovereignty. Only then can we defend the interests of small-scale food producers.”

Source: viacampesina.org

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