Posts filed under ‘Corporate Accountability’
Version original en español más abajo después del artículo en inglés
Atentado al medio ambiente en Extremadura apoyado por el PSOE
Translated from Spanish by Martin Allen
On Friday 4th July 2008 the Plataforma Ciudadana Refinería No [PCRN, Citizens’ anti-refinery campaign] was represented by a notary at the Department of Industry, Energy and Environment of the Provincial Government of Extremadura in order to hand over the campaign’s objections to the oil refinery in Extremadura, promoted by the Group of “associates” of A. Gallardo and supported by Rodríguez Zapatero’s PSOE [Partido Socialista Obrero Español, the Spanish Socialist party]. These objections, addressed to the Ministries of Industry and of the Environment and to the Regional Government itself, consisted of some nine boxfuls of documents as well as documents on CD and seven bound volumes. And accompanying those documents, a first submission of 55,000 signatures against the project which the PCRN has collected in the district. A curious fact which can give an idea of the volume of the objections is that it took nine people to carry them through the premises of the Provincial Government.
Sources in the Provincial Government state that there is no precedent in the history of Extremadura of any project against which such voluminous and well-developed objections have been presented. (more…)
The article below is one example more of the need of Corporate accountability vs responsibility. Corporations have managed to use the concept of CSR for their own benefit, setting up ethical principles and not binding rules which have facilitated their access to communities in the local level and to influential actors in the international arena, which can legitimised these voluntary practices.
Scots investors accused of backing £400m mine that threatens remote Indian
Pressure building on companies to sell their shares in mine’s owner By Billy
THE FUTURE of a remote tribe in India could be under threat from a proposed
mining development indirectly funded by Scottish companies and the nation’s
universities. Mining giant Vedanta Resources plans to create an open-cast
bauxite mine in the mountainous east Indian state of Orissa, an area that is
home to the Dongria Kondh tribe.
Protesting tribesmen and Survival International – an organisation that
fights on behalf of those whose cultures and human rights are threatened by
the modern world – have launched a campaign against the FTSE 100 company and
Campaigners, including Oscar-winning actress Julie Christie, claim the mine
would end the tribe’s way of life by polluting streams, cutting down forests
and destroying a mountain that people hold sacred.
Vedanta vigorously disputes the allegations and says it has a strong focus
on meeting its environmental responsibilities and a proud record of helping
communities in countries where it operates.
Survival is targeting not only Vedanta, but its major shareholders,
including Coutts Bank, Standard Life, Barclays Bank, Abbey National and
HSBC, urging them to sell their stakes unless the firm abandons its plans.
The Norwegian government recently sold its stake in Vedanta as a result of
Scotland’s universities – including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St
Andrews – have money invested in Vedanta through the Universities
Superannuation Scheme (USS), which holds more than one million shares in the
company. The Dundee-based Alliance Trust and Martin Currie Investment
Management of Edinburgh also have funds invested in the company.
Check also Oxfam report Another Inconvenient Truth
and previous article Food security: below and to the left
24th June 2008
The current massive wave of investment in energy production based on
cultivating and industrial processing of vegetal materials like corn,
soy, palm oil, sugar cane, canola, etc, will neither solve the
climate crisis nor the energy crisis. It will also bring disastrous
social and environmental consequences. It creates a new and very
serious threat to food production by small farmers and to the
attainment of food sovereignty for the world population.
Over the last twenty years the neoliberal policies adopted globally
have failed to answer people’s basic needs. The FAO promises at the
1996 World Food Summit and the UN Millenium Development Goals to lift
people out of poverty have not been kept. Many more people are
suffering form hunger.
It is claimed that agrofuels will help fight climate change. In
reality, the opposite is true. The new extensive monoculture
plantations for the production of agrofuels are increasing greenhouse
gases through deforestation, drainage of wetlands, and dismantling
communal lands. If we take into account the whole cycle of
production, transformation, distribution of agrofuels, they do not
produce less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels, except in some
cases. Moreover, agrofuels will never be able to replace fossil
fuels. According to the latest estimates, they will only cover the
future rise in consumption from now until 2020. There is simply not
enough land in the world to generate all the fuel necessary for an
industrial society whose needs for transport of people and goods are
continually increasing. The promise of agrofuels creates the illusion
that we can continue to consume energy at an ever growing rate. The
only answer to the threat of climate change is to reduce energy use
worldwide, and to redirect international trade towards local markets.
Meanwhile, the social and ecological impacts of agrofuel development
will be devastating. Monoculture and industrial agriculture, whether
for agrofuel or any other production, are destroying land, forests,
water and biodiversity. They drive family farmers, men and women, off
their land. It is estimated that five million farmers have been
expelled from their land to create space for monocultures in
Indonesia; five million in Brazil, four million in Colombia…
Industrial agriculture generates much less employment than
sustainable family farming; this is an agriculture without farmers.
The current expansion of agrofuel production contributes to the
massive concentration of capital by landowners, large companies and
TNCs, provoking a real counter land reform throughout the world.
Moreover it contributes to increased speculation on food products and
Agrofuel production has already started to replace food production.
Its ongoing extension will drive even more small scale farmers and
indigenous peoples off their lands. Instead of dedicating land and
water to food production, these resources are being diverted to
produce energy in the form of diesel and ethanol. Today peasants and
small farmers, indigenous people, women and men, produce the huge
majority of the food consumed worldwide. If not prevented now,
agrofuels will occupy our lands and food will become even more scarce
Who would eat agrofuels?
A new alliance of some governments with automotive and chemical
companies, oil and agro-industry is promoting agrofuels with the sole
objective of making money. The fear of climate change and energy
crisis is used to develop agrofuel production in a manner that
maintains and strengthens an agro-industrial model. Knowing that
this model is, in itself, a major cause of climate change and an
intensive energy consumer, is no obstacle.
Technology and market control of the TNCs strengthen and increase
their hold over the agrarian sector. The family farmers whose food
production has been based on traditional seeds, are displaced, their
coexistence with biodiversity, their way of producing energy by human
and animal force are disrupted. Their way of life uses much less
energy per unit of food produced, and specially, fewer fossil fuels.
Agribusiness companies are aware that agrofuels produced on a large
scale are not economically viable. The race towards agrofuels is
made possible by the huge direct and indirect subsidies from
supporting governments and by speculation on the financial markets,
which is also causing food prices to rise.
The figures cited are alarming. Millions of hectares and billions of
dollars are mentioned: the government of India is contemplating
planting 14 million hectares with “jatrofa”, the Inter-American Bank
of Development says that Brazil has 120 million hectares ready for
agrofuel production and a business lobby suggests that there are 397
million hectares available in 15 African countries. This means a
level of expropriations without precedent.
While TNCs and investment funds increase their profits, a large part
of the world population does not have enough money to buy food.
Agrofuels are estimated to be responsible for 30% of the current food
When the TNCs are unable to find farmland for agrofuel production,
deforestation is forced on areas that are necessary for the
preservation of life on earth.
Thousands of farmers have no alternative but to accept to grow
agrofuels as they need an income to support themselves till the next
season. National and international agricultural policies imposed by
international financial institutions and TNCs have exacerbated the
dependence of developing countries, leading to food crisis, extreme
poverty, and hunger throughout the world. Therefore, those small
farmers are not guilty of making the wrong choice they are the
victims of the current system imposed on them.
Small farmers and agricultural workers, working in extremely harsh
conditions with damaging effects on their health, with very poor
income have no say in the way their production is used. Many are
working under contract farming with large agribusiness companies that
process, refine and sell the product. Therefore it is the companies
who decide to channel the produce to the fuel rather than to the food
market. The high food prices paid by the consumers are not reflected
in the small farmers’ income.
In response to energy crisis: small scale production and local
Small scale sustainable farming is essential to feed the world.
Sustainable family farming and food sovereignty consume up to 80 times
less energy than industrial agriculture.
Food sovereignty primarily involves the use of local resources for
food production, minimizing imports of raw materials as well as
transport. Likewise, the food produced is consumed locally so that
the end product does not travel far. It is not logical to eat, in
Europe, aspargus coming all the way from the Altiplano or fresh green
beans coming from Kenya.
Throughout the history of farming, villagers have obtained energy
from their farmland to meet their daily needs. Peasant families are
using coconut or sunflower oil, biogas, firewood, wind and water to
generate electricity for local use. Such methods are sustainable and
integrated into the food production cycle on the farmland.
It is imperative to design and adopt responsible attitudes to food
consumption and to adjust our way of eating, in the knowledge that the
industrial model of production and consumption is destructive, while
the peasant-based model of production uses responsible energy
Therefore, Via Campesina continues its struggle against the power of
large corporations and supporting political systems. The energy
crisis should not be seen as an isolated problem but as part of the
whole crisis of the current model of development where profit has
priority over people.
Instead, we support a people centered, small-scale diversified
agriculture with local markets and healthy livelihoods using less
energy and less dependent on external sources. Sustainable family
farmers fulfill the fundamental mission of agriculture: to feed
Via Campesina denounces:
+ The neoliberal model, international financial institutions and
transnational capital, directly responsible for the food and the
+ The irresponsible presentation of agrofuels as an answer to the
climate and energy crisis
+ The scandal of producing agrofuels in a world ravaged by hunger.
+ The passive attitude of many institutions faced with the serious
risk posed by the advent of agrofuels which implies that rural and
urban populations can neither produce nor consume food.
+ That these same institutions are in fact placing the economic
interests of TNCs above the food and nutritional needs of the very
people they are entrusted to represent and defend.
+ The insult of continuing to promote agrofuels in spite of the
negative energy balance in their production, processing, and
+ The neoliberal model, international financial institutions and
transnational capital, directly responsible for the food and the
Via Campesina demands:
The end of corporate driven, monoculture- based production of
agrofuels. As a first step, a five year international moratorium on
the production, trade and consumption of industrial agrofuels has to
be immediately declared.
An in-depth evaluation of social and environment cost of the agrofuel
boom and of profits made by TNCs in the processing and trade of the
The promotion and development of small scale production and local
consumption models and the rejection of consumerism
Explicit support from governments and institutions to the sustainable
peasant-based model of food production and distribution, with its
minimal use of energy, its capacity to create jobs, to respect
cultural and biological diversity and its positive effect on global
warming (fertile soils are the best way to capture CO2).
The reorientation of agricultural policies towards sustainable rural
communities and livelihoods based on food sovereignty and genuine
The promotion and development of responsible consumption models.
Let’s put out the fire of agrofuels and carry the flame of food
People’s Summit Linking Alternatives III Declaration (13-16 Mayo 2008 -Lima)
Environmentalists got access to Macchu Picchu for a controversial protest. As the heads of state of Europe and Latin America meet in Lima, Greenpeace asked for the end of biofuel production in the region.
Ecologistas acceden al Machu Pichu para singular protesta. En el marco del encuentro de mandatarios de Europa y América Latina [en Lima], Greenpeace pidió el cese de producción de biocombustibles en la región.
Fotografía por InfoBae. Mayo 2008.
Social, political and popular movements, workers, migrants, indigenous and campesino communities, women’s, youth and trade union movements from Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe, gathered in Lima for the People’s Summit, Linking Alternatives III, declare the following :
Cooperation and integration of our peoples is created by constructing a system in which economic, political, social, cultural and environmental rights of the majority are given priority and form the very substance of governmental policies. As a result we reject the project of Association Agreements proposed by the European Union and backed by diverse Latin American and Caribbean governments which only aim to deepen and perpetuate the current system of domination which has caused so much harm to our peoples.
The European Union strategy “Global Europe : Competing in the world” pushes for the deepening of policies of competition and economic growth, the implementation of multinational companies’ agenda and the entrenchment of neoliberal policies, all of which are incompatible with the discourse of climate change, poverty reduction and social cohesion. Despite trying to hide its true nature by including themes such as international aid and political dialogue, the core of the proposal is to open up capital, goods and services markets, to protect foreign investment and to reduce the state’s capacity to promote economic and social development. This has implications for both regions :
For Latin America and the Caribbean, this strategy reproduces the framework of Free Trade Agreements which the majority of countries in the region have signed with the United States and goes further than the WTO policies that we reject. European multinationals are responsible in large part for the indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources of these countries, displacing entire countries, devastating biodiversity, exhausting water sources, and impoverishing the workforce. Latin America has been a victim for many years of looting by multinational companies. Now as democratic advances stimulate some countries to seek their own development and integration paths in order to benefit peoples, other governments who continue with free trade recipes are involved in fragmenting the region and causing national and international confrontations.
In Europe, the Lisbon Treaty, one of the biggest threats to democracy, justice, peace and ecological balance, is currently being ratified by elites without consulting the population. We reject this Treaty as we have done before. This treaty reinforces a neoliberal Europe, increases militarisation, exclusion, inequality and commoditisation, as well as hardens repressive, security policies. This is reflected in growing precarious employment, a general attack on social rights, in particular on former labour conquests. At the same time, it is accelerating the construction of a “Fortress Europe,” which implies the closing of frontiers, violation of asylum rights, and the criminalisation of migrants and social movements, creating virtual and real walls which are no different from those constructed on the frontiers of North America.
The Association Agreements which the European Union has signed with Mexico and Chile have deepened inequalities and demonstrate what will happen to those who sign similar agreements in Central America, the Community of Andean Nations and MERCOSUR whose negotiations they want to resuscitate. For the Caribbean nations, these agreements, recently signed, will increase the vulnerability and dependence of these economies, whilst also breaking down the dynamic of sub-regional integration.
At a time in Lima when governments talk of social cohesion, climate change, and poverty reduction, it is important to remember that the principal cause of inequality, social polarisation, environmental degradation as well as discrimination, is the placing of the market above people’s rights and the granting of guarantees by complicit governments to corporations that eliminate the state’s capacity to define national development projects. Multinationals have double standards, benefiting themselves from the asymmetries that Association Agreements tend to reinforce. The discourse of International Aid and Political Dialogue is merely the sweetener to hide the real interests of these corporations.
In the face of the food crisis which is affecting many countries, we denounce the hypocrisy and policies of multilateral institutions (WTO, IMF, WB, IBD, EIB) who try to hide the real causes : the redirection of countries’ production towards exports, the loss of the State’s role in food regulation, the conversion of foods into a source of financial speculation, all of which are results of “free trade” policies. It is therefore unacceptable to propose more liberalisation and deregulation as a solution to the crisis. The massive production of agrofuels is also worsening the difficult living conditions for millions of people. We reject again this false solution to the energy and climate crisis.
Confronting this situation, the organisations which make up Linking Alternatives, reiterate that it is possible to create a different integration based on the free determination of peoples, respect for the environment, respect for human rights, and for the democratic processes led by some governments who are moving away from neoliberalism and looking for equal relations between peoples of the world. This will involve the strengthening of cooperation in all areas between peoples, the re-strengthening of solidarity, the end of all forms of discrimination, and the end of policies that violate a country’s sovereignty. As we have shown in the 2nd Permanent People’s Tribunal, we are asking for justice and reparations for the offences, harm and damage done by European companies, and the redefinition of relations with these companies in which they take responsibility for their social and environmental liabilities.
We salute the actions of nationalisation of strategic companies and natural resources for national development, resources which belong to the people not multinationals, such as for example the nationalisation of the Bolivian telecommunications company, ETI/ENTEL. We call on governments who promote progressive policies to join in with the process of transformation that we are pushing. We reject the defiant interventions of the US and the European Union against the sovereignty of the peoples. The European Union must take responsibility for the historic debt with the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular with indigenous peoples. We call attention to the dramatic situation in Haiti, result of decades of plunder, worsened by the current military occupation. Similarly we denounce the acquiescent European Union policies towards the Colombian government.
The only solution for the Latin American, Caribbean, and European peoples is to unite together in defence of wellbeing and strengthen resistance and mobilisation against neoliberal policies. We can inspire ourselves with the involvement of women, indigenous and campesino and other social forces, who via their massive presence in the Social Summit, have given an example of the combativeness and the elaboration of alternatives in search of progress based on harmony with nature, human rights and the elimination of all forms of discrimination.
We call on governments to respond effectively to the demands of peoples to construct another type of relationship between regions, based on overcoming a market model. We call on the population not to continue being tricked by authoritarian governments which try to criminalise just civil protest. We call on all peoples of Latin America, Caribbean and Europe to join the ever-growing number of organisations who are looking for a better world for everyone, and to be take on the challenges which today face humanity.
We ask all social and popular movements from both continents to start preparing for the next People’s Social Summit, Linking Alternatives IV, which will take place in Spain in 2010.
Versión en español
Declaración de la Cumbre de los Pueblos Enlazando Alternativas 3 (13-16 Mayo 2008 -Lima)
Las organizaciones sociales, políticas y populares, de trabajadores y trabajadoras, de migrantes, las comunidades indígenas y campesinas, el movimiento de mujeres, de jóvenes y sindical de América Latina, el Caribe y Europa, reunidos en Lima durante la Cumbre de los Pueblos, Enlazando Alternativas III, declaramos :
La cooperación y la integración de nuestros pueblos pasan en primer lugar por la construcción de un sistema en el cual los derechos económicos, políticos, sociales, culturales y ambientales de las mayorías sean prioridad y razón de ser de las políticas gubernamentales. Por lo mismo, rechazamos el proyecto de Acuerdos de Asociación propuesto por la Unión Europea y avalado por diversos gobiernos latinoamericanos y caribeños que solo buscan profundizar y perpetuar el actual sistema de dominación que tanto daño a hecho a nuestros pueblos.
La estrategia de la Unión Europea “Europa Global : Competir en el mundo”, supone la profundización de las políticas de competitividad y crecimiento económico que buscan implementar la agenda de sus transnacionales y profundizar las políticas neoliberales, incompatibles con el discurso sobre el cambio climático, la reducción de la pobreza y la cohesión social. A pesar de que se pretende velar su naturaleza incorporando temas de cooperación y diálogo político, la esencia de la propuesta es abrir los mercados de capitales, bienes y servicios, proteger la inversión extranjera y reducir la capacidad del Estado de promover el desarrollo económico y social. Esto tiene implicaciones en ambas regiones :
Para América Latina y el Caribe, esta estrategia reproduce el esquema de los Tratados de Libre Comercio que han suscrito la mayoría de países de la región con Estados Unidos y van más allá de las políticas de la OMC que rechazamos. Los recursos naturales de estos países están siendo explotados indiscriminadamente, desplazando a comunidades enteras, devastando la biodiversidad, agotando las fuentes hídricas, y pauperizando a la mano de obra, y en ello tienen mucha responsabilidad las multinacionales europeas. América Latina ha sido víctima secular del saqueo de las transnacionales y, ahora, cuando avances democráticos estimulan la búsqueda de caminos propios de desarrollo en diversos países y de formas de integración al servicio de los pueblos, varios gobiernos que siguen las recetas del libre comercio estimulan la fragmentación de la región, los enfrentamientos nacionales y las contradicciones entre ellos.
En Europa una de las grandes amenazas para la democracia, la justicia, la paz y el equilibrio ecológico, es el Tratado de Lisboa, que está siendo ratificado por las élites sin consultar a la población y que rechazamos como ya lo hicimos en el pasado. Este tratado refuerza una Europa neoliberal, aumenta la militarización, la exclusión, las desigualdades y la mercantilización, así como endurece las políticas securitarias-represivas. Ello se refleja en un aumento de la precariedad, un ataque generalizado a todos los derechos sociales, en particular a las conquistas laborales. Al mismo tiempo, se acelera la construcción de la “Europa Fortaleza”, lo que implica cerrar las fronteras, violando el derecho de asilo y criminalizando los migrantes y los movimientos sociales, creando muros virtuales o reales, que no se diferencian con los que construyen en la frontera al Norte de América.
Los Acuerdos de Asociación que ha firmado la Unión Europea con México y Chile han profundizado las desigualdades y muestran el camino que seguirán quienes firmen estos Acuerdos en Centro América, la Comunidad Andina de Naciones y el MERCOSUR cuyas negociaciones se quiere resucitar. Para los países del Caribe, estos Acuerdos, recientemente firmados, aumentarán la vulnerabilidad y dependencia de sus economías, al mismo tiempo que fracturan la dinámica de integración subregional.
En el momento en que en Lima los gobiernos hablan de cohesión social, cambio climático y reducción de la pobreza, conviene recordar que la principal causa de desigualdad, polarización social, degradación ambiental y discriminaciones, es la primacía del mercado por sobre los derechos de las personas y el otorgamiento de todas las garantías a las corporaciones que eliminan la capacidad estatal de definir proyectos nacionales de desarrollo con la complicidad de los gobiernos. Las transnacionales actúan bajo un doble rasero apoyándose en las asimetrías que los Acuerdos de Asociación tienden a reforzar. En consecuencia, el discurso sobre Cooperación y Diálogo Político es la carnada que esconde el anzuelo de los intereses de esas corporaciones.
Frente a la crisis alimentaria que afecta a decenas de países, denunciamos la hipocresía y las políticas de las instituciones multilaterales (OMC, FMI, BM, BID, BEI) que pretenden esconder sus verdaderas causas : direccionamiento de la producción de los países a la exportación, pérdida del papel del Estado en la regulación alimentaria y conversión de los alimentos en fuente de especulación financiera, todo ello como resultado de las políticas de “libre comercio”. Por lo mismo, es inadmisible que se proponga, como salida a la crisis, más liberalización y desprotección. La producción masiva de agrocombustibles agrava las ya difíciles condiciones de vida de millones de habitantes. Rechazamos una vez más esta pretendida salida a la crisis energética y climática.
Ante esta situación, las organizaciones que hacemos parte de Enlazando Alternativas, reiteramos que es posible una integración distinta basada en la libre determinación de los pueblos, el respeto al medio ambiente, a los derechos humanos y a los procesos democráticos emprendido por aquellos gobiernos que se alejan del neoliberalismo y buscan para sus pueblos relaciones de igualdad con todos los países del mundo. Esto supone el fortalecimiento de la cooperación en todos los ámbitos entre los pueblos, el reforzamiento de la solidaridad, el fin de toda forma de discriminaciones y la superación de prácticas violatorias de la soberanía de los países. Como ha mostrado la II Sesión del Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos, exigimos justicia y la reparación de los agravios, daños y perjuicios, provocados por las empresas europeas, y el replanteamiento de las relaciones con estas empresas, de tal forma que asuman los pasivos sociales y ambientales en que incurren.
Saludamos las acciones de nacionalización de empresas estratégicas para el desarrollo nacional y los recursos naturales, que pertenecen a los pueblos, no a las transnacionales, como por ejemplo la de la empresa boliviana de telecomunicaciones ETI/ENTEL. Llamamos a los gobiernos que promuevan políticas progresistas a sumarse al proceso de transformación que impulsamos. Rechazamos las desafiantes intervenciones de EE.UU. y la Unión Europea contra la soberanía de los pueblos. La Unión Europea debe asumir su deuda histórica con los pueblos de América Latina y el Caribe, en particular con los pueblos originarios. Llamamos la atención sobre la dramática situación de Haití, resultado de décadas de expoliación, agravada por la actual ocupación militar. Así mismo denunciamos la política complaciente de la Unión Europea con el gobierno de Colombia.
La única salida de los pueblos latinoamericanos, caribeños y europeos es unirse en torno a la defensa de su bienestar y fortalecer la resistencia y movilización contra las políticas neoliberales. Ella debe nutrirse de los aportes de mujeres, pueblos originarios, campesinos y demás fuerza sociales que, con su presencia masiva en la Cumbre Social, han dado ejemplo de combatividad y de elaboración de alternativas en búsqueda de un progreso sustentado en la armonía con la naturaleza, los derechos humanos y la eliminación de todas las formas de discriminación.
Exigimos a los gobiernos atender efectivamente las demandas de los pueblos por construir otro tipo de relaciones entre las regiones, basadas en la superación del modelo de mercado. Hacemos un llamado a la población a no dejarse engañar más por gobiernos autoritarios que pretenden criminalizar la justa protesta civil. Instamos a los habitantes de América Latina, el Caribe y Europa a sumarse a la fuerza cada vez mayor de organizaciones que buscan un mundo mejor para todos, y así estar a la altura de los desafíos que hoy enfrenta la humanidad.
Invitamos a todas las organizaciones sociales y populares de ambos Continentes a preparar desde ahora la próxima Cumbre Social de los Pueblos, Enlazando Alternativas IV, que tendrá cita en el Estado Español en el año 2010.
Friends of the Earth International
May 19, 2008
NEW REPORT: European Banks Financing Damaging Agrofuels in Latin America
/Friends of the Earth International urges banks to stop fuelling harmful
agrofuel boom /
BRUSSELS (Belgium) / MONTEVIDEO (Uruguay), 19 May 2008 – Many major
European banks are funding the rapid expansion of agrofuel production in
Latin America, leading to large scale deforestation, increasing human
right abuses and threatening food sovereignty, according to a new report
released today. 
The report – released by Friends of the Earth Europe amid global worries
about the increasing impacts of rising food prices – calls for an end to
investments by European banks in harmful agrofuel projects. 
Agrofuels have been blamed as a major factor driving up food prices.
According to the UN and the World Bank, 100 million more people are
currently facing severe hunger due to higher prices for basic foods. 
Bolivia se opone a la protección excesiva de los inversores
PRESS RELEASE. Solo versión en español aquí
863 CITIZEN GROUPS CALL ON WORLD BANK PRESIDENT
TO RESPECT BOLIVIA’S WITHDRAWAL FROM ARBITRATION COURT
European Telecom International case against Bolivia should be blocked. Independent review needed on investor-state arbitration, human rights, and global poverty
Contact in Washington, DC:
Sarah Anderson, Institute for Policy Studies: 202 234 9382 x 227, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(January 15, 2008) More than 800 citizens groups from 59 countries on every continent presented a petition on Tuesday, January 15 to World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick, expressing concerns about the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), whose Administrative Council Mr. Zoellick chairs.
Last May, the government of Bolivia became the first country in the world to withdraw from ICSID, citing the court’s record of favoring narrow corporate interests over the public good. That court is now refusing to respect the Bolivian government’s actions and allowing a case brought by a European telecommunications company to proceed.
The global petition reflects growing concerns around the world about a system of investor rights that undermines democracy and human rights. Many of the signatory groups first became aware of these problems through the notorious Bechtel v Bolivia case. In 2001, a subsidiary of Bechtel sued South America’s poorest country over a failed water privatization project. After five years of intense public pressure, the company dropped the case in 2006.
As noted in the petition, Bolivia is just one of several governments that are challenging the excessive investor protections in free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties. ICSID is the most widely used mechanism for enforcing these rules.
Although the Bolivian government followed proper procedures in withdrawing from ICSID, a tribunal is scheduled to be formed soon to hear a case brought by Euro Telecom International (ETI), a company incorporated in the Netherlands whose owners include Telecom Italia and the Spanish Telefónica. ETI owns 50% of ENTEL, which provides more than 60% of Bolivia’s telephone services.
The petitioners include 863 labor, environmental, religious, consumer, small farmer, human rights, women’s, development, and peace organizations from five continents. The Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington, DC-based research organization, was the initial drafter of the petition.
For complete copies of the citizen’s petition in:
For a detailed background report on the investor-state dispute system, see the IPS report Challenging Corporate Investor Rule: http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/070430-challengingcorporateinvestorrule.pdf
Director, Global Economy Program
Institute for Policy Studies
Tel: 202 234-9382 x227
Institute for Policy Studies
1112 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Camisea II: el camino erróneo hacia la soberanía energética de Peru
Translated from Spanish by Martin Allen
Version en español al final del artículo en inglés.
*Acción Ciudadana Camisea (Camisea Citizens’ Action) regrets the decision of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to approve the loan for continuation of Camisea.*
December 2007 – Despite the protests of Acción Ciudadana Camisea*, the College of Engineers of Peru and other institutions of civil society, on Wednesday 19th December the IDB approved a loan of US$400 million for the project of exporting liquefied natural gas to the Consorcio Perú LNG [made up of U.S.-based Hunt Oil, South Korea’s SK Corporation, Repsol YPF of Spain and Japan’s Marubeni Corporation].
Last week a Peruvian delegation travelled to Washington for talks with IDB executives, asking for the decision on the loan to be delayed pending adequate evaluation of possible environmental and socio-cultural damage involved in the project, emphasising the correction of the mistakes in Camisea I before the start of the second phase. The delegates were Alberto Barandiaran of Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR – Law, Environment and Natural Resources), Walter Kategari, head of the Consejo Machiguenga del Río Urubamba (Comaru), Carlos Hererra Descalzi, president of the College of Engineers of Peru and former Minister of Energy and Mines, and Congresswoman Gloria Ramos of Unión por el Peru (UPP).
In the past few days the liquefied natural gas project has also been questioned by various organisations of civil society and the media, since it puts Peru’s energy security in jeopardy. Particular attention has been paid to the report by Glenn Jenkins, a Harvard economist specialising in Economics and Development, who states that of all possible uses of the gas, exporting it would be the least profitable for Peru.