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Posts Tagged ‘Development’

At the Crossroads for Global Chemical Safety

September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

By Baskut Tuncak

Baskut Tuncak, Staff Attorney

Next week, negotiators from over 150 countries and other stakeholders will convene in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the future of global chemicals management.  These critical negotiations come at decisive juncture for the Strategic Approach to Chemicals Management (SAICM), with only eight years left on its ambitious mandate to ensure sound chemicals management—eight years in which developing regions face rapidly increasing risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals.  A recent report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Chemicals Outlook (GCO), highlights the global nature of the chemicals industry and chemical safety.  The GCO highlights three factors responsible for increasing the vulnerability of people living in developing economies to chemical exposure. Read more…

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Rio+20 Outcome: The Anthropocene Challenge

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment

By Marcos Orellana, Rio de Janeiro (originally posted 22 June 2012)

Marcos, Alyssa and Andrea, part of CIEL’s delegation

On June 20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) officially started in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The Conference opened with a documentary, Welcome to the Anthropocene, which was introduced by the UN’s Secretary-General.  The documentary visually portrays the alteration in Earth’s natural cycles induced by human activities.
Welcome to the Anthropocene echoes the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) 5th edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5), published on June 6, 2012.  The report concludes that the “scientific evidence shows that Earth systems are being pushed towards their biophysical limits.” Also it “cautions that if humanity does not urgently change its ways, several critical thresholds may be exceeded, beyond which abrupt and generally irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet could occur.” Read more…

It’s time to admit there is no future in fossils.

December 5, 2011 2 comments

By Niranjali Amerasinghe

Niranjali Amerasinghe, Staff Attorney

Following the UN climate talks in Durban can be a tedious business. Even for a conference junkie like me.  There are times when the discussions get so mired in petty political bargaining that it’s hard to keep the bigger picture in mind.  People seem to forget why they’re actually there: to find a solution to the biggest environmental threat ever faced by humanity.  This involves making significant changes to the status quo, like transitioning away from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy.  There is no way we will limit global warming to 1.5oC degrees Celsius (a level above which impacts from climate change are expected to be radically more extreme) if governments continue to pander to the special interests of the fossil fuels industry. Read more…

What’s at stake at Durban? We are.

November 23, 2011 1 comment

By Kristen Hite, Interim Director, Climate Change Program

In recent years we’ve seen global predictions on climate change becoming increasingly dire.  In recent weeks it’s gone from bad to worse:  The International Energy Association, often criticized for how its future projections of energy production rely too heavily on fossil fuels and nuclear energy just issued a report that says our current energy patterns will lead us to a global rise in temperature of 4 degrees Celsius or worse, leading to “irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change.”  This comes on the heels of a new analysis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which tells us that impacts are worse than expected and that climate change is increasingly responsible for natural disaster damages to the tune of billions of dollars annually.  Put simply: we can’t avoid climate impacts—we’re already experiencing them and they are getting worse.  But we can avoid locking in an unsustainable future that guarantees widespread destruction to communities and ecosystems across the globe—that is, if diplomats representing 190+ countries agree on how to act. Read more…

Breaking the global paralysis on endocrine disruptors

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

By Baskut Tuncak

Over the past two decades, the urgent need for global action on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) has become undeniable.   A little-known global agreement—SAICM—might provide the best opportunity for global action to prevent further health and environmental harm from EDCs.

Read more…

MESSAGE TO OBAMA: FREE AMERICA from the tyranny of oil

August 26, 2011 Leave a comment

After six days and 322 arrests (and counting), the Tar Sands Action is in full effect.  This two-week long protest is being staged on the sidewalk in front of the White House in Washington, DC, plainly visible to government employees, diplomats and tourists alike.  Concerned citizens have travelled from all 50 states and Canada to send a direct message to President Obama and the U.S. State Department:  Stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries.  The tar sands extraction process requires massive amounts of energy and water, and results in about three times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as conventional oil.  In his Washington Post op-ed, Bill McKibben provides more information on the pipeline and its environmental impacts, and describes why this act of civil disobedience is so critical.  Read more…

Columbian IP Agreement continues to Raise Human Rights Concerns

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment

FlagDuring Columbia’s periodic review by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, specifically the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, several recommendations were made relating to intellectual property (IP) rights. 

The official UN report can be found here and CIEL’s publications relating to Trade Agreements and IP can be accessed here.

With respect to Access to Medicines, examining the US-Columbia Free Trade Agreement, the Committee noted that: 

The Committee is also concerned that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between the State party and the United States contains provisions on intellectual property that may result in increase of prices of medicines and negatively impact on the enjoyment of the right to health, in particular of those with low income (arts. 1, 12).

…In this regard, the Committee recommends that the State party consider revising the intellectual property provisions of the Free Trade Agreement signed with the United States, in order to ensure protection against the increase of the price of medicines, in particular for those with low income.  (para. 10)

With respect to development projects, including those that would be under the ambit of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, the Committee noted:

The Committee recommends that the State party take concrete measures to review the processes concerning infrastructure, development and mining projects and fully implement decisions of the Constitutional Court in this regard. The Committee also recommends that the State party review the Presidential Directive 001 and the draft bill elaborated by the Working Party on Prior Consultation of the Ministry of the Interior. The Committee further recommends that the State party adopt legislation in consultation with and the participation of indigenous and afro-colombian people, that clearly establishes the right to free, prior and informed consent in conformity with ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, as well as the relevant decisions of the Constitutional Court.  (para. 9)

On Biofuels, the committee notes that:

The Committee is concerned that the policy encouraging agro-exporting goods, such as agro-fuels, may deprive peasants from cultivating their lands. The Committee is also concerned about the unequal distribution of lands owned by a minority of the population, as well as about the absence of a genuine agrarian reform, as recommended in the previous concluding observations of the Committee (art. 11).

The Committee recommends that the State party develop agricultural policies which prioritize the production of food; implement programs that protect national food production with incentives for small producers; and ensure the restitution of lands taken from indigenous and afro-colombian peoples, as well as peasant communities.   (para. 22)

Regarding Access to Knowledge and Education:

The Committee recommends that the State party take immediate measures to ensure access of all children without discrimination, to free and compulsory primary education.  (para. 29)

In addition to these recommendations by the Committee, on GMOs the Seeds Group presented its report on Genetically Modified Organisms and the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Columbia.  The report states: 

The policies and practices of the Colombian State concerning genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have violated, and threaten to continue violating, the rights of indigenous peoples in Colombia, including their rights to self-determination, prior consultation, participation, property, culture, food, heath, and a healthy environment.

In 2005, the Colombian State issued a decree that regulates the approval of GMOs. Though indigenous peoples will be affected by the release of genetically modified (GM) seeds, they were not consulted before the approval of this decree; nor does the decree provide for any consultation during the approval process for each seed. Under this decree, the processes by which certain GM seeds have been approved have violated the Colombian State’s obligation to apply the precautionary principle, and have not taken into account scientific studies that have demonstrated the threat that GM seeds pose to native seeds, human health, and the environment.

The next periodic report of Columbia is due to be submitted by July 2015.