Yellen pledges U.S. international cooperation, calls for global minimum tax


An article by David Lawder from Reuters (Reprinted by permission)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Monday that she is working with G20 countries to agree on a global corporate minimum tax rate and pledged that restoring U.S. multilateral leadership would strengthen the global economy and advance U.S. interests.

Reuters File Photo : U.S. Treasury Secretary-designate Janet Yellen in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

In a speech ahead of her first International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings as Treasury chief, Yellen signaled stronger U.S. engagement on issues from climate change to human rights to tax base erosion.

A global minimum tax proposed by the Biden administration could help to end a “thirty-year race to the bottom on corporate tax rates,” Yellen told an online event hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The proposal is a key pillar of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure spending plan, which calls for an increase in the U.S. corporate tax rate to 28% while eliminating some deductions associated with overseas profits.

Without a global minimum, the United States would again have higher rates than a number of other major economies, tax experts say, while the U.S. proposal could help jump-start negotiations for a tax deal among major economies.

World Bank President David Malpass said finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies on Wednesday would discuss global tax issues, including for digital services, adding that international attitudes were shifting away from continual tax reductions.

“Taxes matter to development, and it’s important that the world get it right,” Malpass told CNBC television.

Separately, a group of Democratic senators unveiled a legislative proposal to roll back parts of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 U.S. tax cuts.

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Question for this article:

Opposing tax havens and global exploitation: part of the culture of peace?

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Yellen also said she would use the IMF and World Bank meetings this week to advance discussions on climate change, improve vaccine access for poor countries and push countries to do more to support a strong global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will fare better if we work together and support each other,” Yellen said.

Her more cooperative approach marks a sharp contrast to the ‘America First’ approach of her Trump administration predecessor, Steven Mnuchin. She has backed a $650 billion increase in IMF monetary reserves that Mnuchin opposed last year, and said she will work with international institutions and partners on carbon emission reduction targets.

Mnuchin had routinely opposed any climate change references in G20 and other communiques issued from large multilateral gatherings.

Yellen also has dropped here a key Mnuchin demand from international tax negotiations – a provision that would allow large U.S. technology companies to opt out of any new rules on taxation of digital services.


The new Treasury chief said it was important to “end the pressures of tax competition” and make sure governments “have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenues in essential public goods and respond to crises, and that all citizens fairly share the burden of financing government.”

Separately, a U.S. Treasury official told reporters that it was important to have the world’s major economies on board with a global minimum tax to make it effective, but did not say how many countries were needed for this.

The official said the United States would use its own tax legislation to prevent companies from shifting profits or residency to tax haven countries and would encourage other major economies to do the same.

The Biden plan proposes a 21% minimum corporate tax rate, coupled with eliminating exemptions on income from countries that do not enact a minimum tax. The administration says the plan will discourage the shifting of jobs and profits overseas.

Yellen said in her remarks that while advanced economies had successfully supported their economies through the COVID-19 pandemic, it was too early to declare victory, and more support was needed for low income countries to gain access to vaccines.

Cameroon: A radio station for the protection of the Waza biosphere reserve


An article from L’UNESCO

The Waza biosphere, the oldest in Cameroon, is located in the Lake Chad basin, in the Far North region. It is classified as a forest reserve, wildlife reserve, national park and sanctuary. This special status justified its reclassification in 1979 to the rank of biosphere reserve, recognized by UNESCO.

With its 170,000 hectares in area, the Waza biosphere offers ideal conditions for offering quality ecotourism, in particular thanks to the numerous presence on site of elephants, giraffes, large colonies of different species of birds and felines, among which are lions. Unfortunately, the Waza biosphere is also considered a dangerous place because it is traversed by terrorist groups which constitute a threat to social cohesion.

The biosphere of Waza, this tourist wealth of Cameroon, has been damaged in recent years at the hands of its local communities, threatening its biological, hydraulic and cultural heritage. Despite a certain involvement of these same communities in the management of Waza, there is still a difficult compromise with regard to the direct needs of local residents and the requirements of sustainable management of this rich but fragile biodiversity.

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(Click here for the french version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

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Almost 30 years after the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity, the need to manage biodiversity resources in a sustainable manner appears to be a priority more than ever. In this regard, initiatives aimed at making the concept of sustainable management operational have multiplied.

It is within this framework that the UNESCO Regional Office for Central Africa supports the countries of the Lake Chad Basin (Cameroon, Niger, Central African Republic and Chad), to strengthen the resilience of communities in the face of security and climate challenges.

UNESCO, through the BIOPALT project, is supporting the establishment of a community radio station in the Waza biosphere. To ensure the success of this support, the BIOPALT project team made an exchange visit and experience sharing with the local team, which focused on the potential positive impacts of the local radio tool within from the community. In addition, UNESCO is considering other support actions, in particular the restructuring of the building to house the radio but also training, the acquisition of radio equipment and their installation.

In this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, radio appears more than ever essential in the dynamics of mobilization and support of beneficiaries around local initiatives. It also facilitates the creation of favorable conditions for dialogue between communities and improves the dissemination of useful information to residents, in order to promote the culture of peace and contribute to civic education.

The radio is expected to support, in addition, policies and measures to combat poverty and the search for solutions for lasting peace, particularly in the park and areas prey to Boko-Haram attacks in the region.

The BIOPALT initiative, financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), places particular emphasis on the transmission of knowledge and the sharing of experiences in order to encourage the neighboring populations to adopt and enhance the practices of sustainable development to preserve the biosphere reserve and improve the socio-economic well-being of local communities.

In Central Africa, Villages Join an Experiment To Save the World’s Second-Largest Rainforest


An article from the Pulitzer Center

NKALA, Congo —  Amid a dawn chorus of crickets, mosquitoes and the “jee-ow!” of the great blue turaco, the forest canopy began to shake as a screech rang out.

Peering up through his binoculars, Nioka Monsiu spotted a pair of young bonobos tumbling in the treetops under the eye of their mother.

“Before, these species were menaced and hunted to near extinction,” he said. “But we protect them here in our forest.”

The population of Nkala is approximately 300. Image by Peter Yeung/The Los Angeles Times. Congo, 2020.

That protection is part of an experiment unfolding here in the Congo Basin: giving power to the people in an attempt to preserve the world’s second-largest rainforest.

Deforestation rates have accelerated over the last decade, raising fears that the Congo Basin could one day suffer the fate of the Amazon rainforest, which has been devastated by logging and slash-and-burn agriculture.

The research initiative Global Forest Watch found that since 2010, nearly 11 million acres of primary forest — the oldest, densest and most ecologically significant kind — have been lost in the Congo Basin to logging, agriculture, mining and oil drilling. That’s roughly triple what was lost in the previous decade.

Experts say that if nothing is done, the more than 400 million remaining acres — which stretch across six countries in Central Africa — will disappear by the end of the century.

There is time to head off disaster. The Democratic Republic of Congo has become the focal point of conservation efforts, because nearly 60% of the forest falls within its borders.

In early 2016, the government passed a law setting aside an estimated 185 million acres of forest — it did not specify how much is primary forest — to distribute to individual villages, with the expectation that local ownership leads to sustainable management.

“We believe that strengthening the rights of forest communities will be an effective way of both protecting rainforests and fighting poverty,” said Fifi Likunde Mboyo, who heads the program at Congo’s Ministry of Environment.

So far, 70 communities  have been allocated a total of 3.5 million acres. The 300 people of Nkala, where Monsiu lives, received 12,000 acres in late 2018.

The village sits 150 miles northeast of the capital, Kinshasa; reaching it requires driving for three days on unforgiving dirt roads or taking a narrow, wooden boat up the Congo River. For the people there, trapping wildlife in the forest has long been a way of life.

“Our grandparents used to live off hunting and fishing, but they did it too much, and they left us with almost nothing,” said Kinzoma Gaspard, the village chief.

In recent decades, outsiders have played a greater role in exploiting the region’s natural resources.

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Question for this article:

What is the relation between the environment and peace

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“Foreign logging companies used to come with the permission of the government, but without our permission, and yet cut down our forests,” said Paulin Ebabu, a village elder.

Under the community forest program, a local conservation group and the regional government helped the village decide how to divide its land between protected areas — where the forest can regenerate, and wildlife goes untouched — and development areas, where small-scale agriculture and hunting are permitted. The concession is managed by 11 elected villagers.

The bonobos are a big part of the plan. Last year, 30 tourists each paid $100 for up-close, guided encounters with the endangered great apes. The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled efforts to draw more visitors.

Monsiu, 28, is one of a dozen trackers. Trained by the World Wildlife Fund, the trackers follow the bonobos every day to monitor their health and behavior, as well as keeping tabs on their location, in order to hike in with tourists for visits. Each tracker earns $150 a month, a good income in a country where 72% of people live on less than $1.90 a day. For now, the WWF pays most of the salaries, but the hope is to eventually draw enough tourists to make the project self-sustaining.

Another part of the forest has been set aside to grow arrowroot trees. Women use the leaves to make mats, which they sell in nearby towns through a newly formed cooperative.

“My grandparents did it too,” said Hortense Wasa-Nziabo, a 21-year-old artisan. “It’s our heritage, and now it’s what nourishes us.”

Nkala has also diversified its crops, adding peanuts, corn and pineapples to its plantations in an effort to improve nutrition and protect the food supply from droughts and uneven rains. The WWF helped build a mill to turn cassava, a hearty root vegetable, into flour.

Villagers speak with pride about the changes and say their living standards are rising, though the project is still in its early stages and remains highly dependent on investment by outside groups.

The fate of the rainforest matters not only for villages like Nkala but for the world’s climate. Forests are major carbon sinks, and only the Amazon stores more than the Congo Basin.

Environmentalists view local ownership and management as a small but significant part of the solution to saving the rainforest.

“If the blueprint can be applied across the country, a huge source of deforestation would be eliminated,” said Innocent Leti, regional coordinator for Mbou-Mon-Tour, a Congolese nonprofit that helped Nkala develop its land-use plans.

But whether that can be achieved is a big question mark. The vast majority of the land set aside for villages has yet to be allocated. Many remote communities don’t know about the law, and even if they do, navigating the legalities to obtain concessions requires close technical support from provincial officials and outside organizations.

“We don’t have the capacity to help everyone,” said Inoussa Njumboket, a program officer for WWF in Congo who has worked in Nkala and the surrounding villages since 2010. “What value does that land have if the community doesn’t have the basic resources to take advantage of it?”

Even in Nkala, which is widely touted as a success, there have been problems. Unemployed villagers have been found hunting in protected territory, and there have been disputes among communities over resources.

“Women from other villages have been coming to our stream and taking our fish,” said Mafi Esefa, who collects wood and cassava leaves from the forest near Nkala to sell in other villages.

Still, her overall assessment is positive.

“The system works well,” she said. “It’s allowed me to become a businesswoman. It’s given me freedom.”

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center.

Emails Reveal: U.S. Officials Sided With Agrochemical Giant Bayer to Overturn Mexico’s Glyphosate Ban


An article by Kenny Stancilde from Ecowatch

While Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has given farmers in the country a 2024 deadline to stop using glyphosate, The Guardian reported  Tuesday that agrochemical company Bayer, industry lobbyist CropLife America, and U.S. officials have been pressuring Mexico’s government to drop its proposed ban on the carcinogenic pesticide.

The corporate and U.S.-backed attempt to coerce Mexico into maintaining its glyphosate imports past 2024 has unfolded, as journalist Carey Gillam detailed in the newspaper, “over the last 18 months, a period in which Bayer was negotiating an $11 billion settlement of legal claims brought by people in the U.S. who say they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to exposure” to glyphosate-based products, such as Roundup.

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Question for this article:
Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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Roundup, one of the world’s mostly widely-used herbicides, was created by Monsanto which was acquired by Bayer in 2018.

According to The Guardian, which obtained internal documents via a Freedom of Information Act request by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), “The pressure on
Mexico is similar to actions  Bayer and chemical industry lobbyists took to kill a glyphosate ban planned by Thailand in 2019. Thailand officials had also cited concerns for public health in seeking to ban the weed killer, but reversed course after U.S. threats about trade disruption.”

In addition to instructing Mexico’s farmers to stop using glyphosate by 2024, the López Obrador administration on Dec. 31, 2020 issued a “final decree” calling for “a phase-out  of the planting and consumption of genetically engineered corn, which farmers often spray with glyphosate, a practice that often leaves residues of the pesticide in finished food products,” the news outlet noted.

The Mexican government has characterized  the restrictions as an effort to improve the nation’s “food security and sovereignty” and to protect its wealth of biological as well as cultural diversity and farming communities.

Mexico’s promotion of human and environmental health, however, “has triggered fear in the United States for the health of agricultural exports, especially Bayer’s glyphosate products,” Gillam wrote.

Colombia: Impulse Travel – Sustainable tourism committed to Peace


An article from Caracol Radio (translation by CPNN)

Impulse Travel, a sustainable tourism company that has been working in the industry for 10 years, was a winner in the category of “Peace, Social Justice and Solid Institutions” in the SDGs Global Startup Competition, a competition of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Since the signing of the Peace Agreement, this company has focused on peace-building.  They have worked with different post-conflict populations for peace, productivity and sustainability processes, adding them to their value chain and giving them a share of the tourism market.

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(Click here for the Spanish version)

Questions related to this article:
How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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“We see these communities as partners, as a social enterprise that are part of the Value chain.  We work with social leaders who are leaders for changes in a community that are productive, cultural, gastronomic (…) we seek these social transformation projects and adapt them to our business ”, says Rodrigo Atuesta, CEO of Impulse Travel.

In addition, Lizeth Riaño, leader of strategy and impact product, sees in sustainable tourism “an opportunity to convince travelers that their tourism contributes to these communities by generating income for the territories. We see it as an opportunity and a challenge, to convince Colombians to get to know these regions and invest in them ”

The company recognizes that these are not experiences for everyone, since most visitors from abroad come for the first time and may be very clear about the type of experiences they want to live. ” The most important thing is to find the audience that vibrates with the same frequency as us, ” continues Atuesta.

This year, after a 2020 pandemic, Impulse Travel is working in a branch dedicated to finding these initiatives in communities in the process of social transformation, and giving them comprehensive support in addition to the tourism dimension.  It’s a great challenge to understand how initiatives work and to link them directly to the market. 

The African Continental Free Trade Area as a contribution to the culture of peace


A synthesis by CPNN based on recent articles in The Africa Report (based in Paris), This Day Live (Nigeria), The Herald (Zimbabwe), The Independent Online (South Africa), Euractiv (Belgium), Southern Times (Namibia), and the United Nations News Service quoted here in CPNN

In March 2018, African countries signed a landmark trade agreement, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), committing the countries to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, progressively liberalise trade in services, and address a host of other non-tariff barrier.” Following a summit of AfCFTA in December 2020, the agreement began operation on January 1, 2021.

Forty-four African countries signed an agreement establishing the AfCFTA in Kigali. (Xinhua/Gabriel Dusabe) Credit:CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/1803221658

This may become an important contribution to the culture of peace. According to The Africa Report , “The AfCFTA, if well implemented, would no doubt transform conflicts across the continent by reducing the incentives for participating in conflicts, via the creation of jobs.”

Addressing the recent AU Summit of Heads of State and Government, incoming President Tshisekedi said his priorities would be tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and fostering peace and security on the continent.

The agreement has the potential to promote women’s equality in Africa. In remarks to the AU Summit, outgoing President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that AfCFTA should ensure financial inclusion of women for the trade pact to deliver sustainable and meaningful development. As cited by the Southern Times, President Ramaphosa said state parties would report annually on progress made in strengthening women’s participation in continental trade matters. “This includes tailor made financial products for women with reliable means to save, access, transfer and borrow money,” he expounded. “As the AU, we should also develop a decade action plan to help member states develop key flagship activities towards women’s economic empowerment.” He called for a “women-led Peace Forum to be attended by Heads of State and Government and to implement decisions of the Peace and Security Council to institutionalise the office of the special envoy on women, peace and security.”

According to the World Bank, as quoted in This Day Live, the . . . agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. “The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures.

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Question for this article:

Can the African Union help bring a culture of peace to Africa?

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“The scope of AfCFTA is large. The agreement will reduce tariffs among member countries and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regu­latory measures such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade. Full implementation of AfCFTA would reshape markets and economies across the region and boost output in the services, manufacturing and natural resources sectors.

This will be a major change because at the present time as indicated by According to The Africa Report, intra-African trade accounts for only 18% of overall trade across the continent.

In a related development, the newly-elected head of the World Trade Organization is an African woman, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. As indicated by The Herald (Zimbabwe), “For strategic reasons, the appointment could not have come at a better time for Africa . . . With an anticipated economic boon following the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the continent stands in a better position to lobby for an increase in its world trade share because it can now do so as one single unit and get a sizeable share.”

According to This Day Live, “The rubrics, goals and objectives of the AfCTA aren’t incompatible in anyway with those of the WTO, and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala could help pilot it towards more support for the continent. That could be in offering technical help, trade analysis and policy expertise, turning the dream of free trade across Africa into reality. In addition, she will possess the moral capacity to pressure African political leaders to design and implement sensible trade policies that support growth.”

AfCTA is a major component of Agenda 2063, the 50-year master plan established by the African Union. As described in the Southern Times, the Agenda also includes “the construction of an integrated high speed rail network connecting African capitals; the formulation of an African commodities strategy that unlocks the value of our resources, and creates value chains based on local value addition; and the realisation of an African passport for promotion of free movement of people across our continent. Other flagship programmes are development of 43,200MW Grand Inga Dam; a single African air transport market; and establishment of African financial institutions such as the African Investment Bank, Pan-African Stock Exchange, the African Monetary Fund and the African Central Bank.”

China and the European Union, major trading partners with Africa, have welcomed the AfCTA. The new Ambassador-designate of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, as quoted by Independent Online, stated, among other things, that the AfCTA can contribute to peace and to sustainable development. “China and Africa fought side by side against imperialism, colonialism and apartheid, and the yearning for peace has long been in the blood of the Chinese and African people. The AU Agenda 2063 emphasises that Africa shall realise peace and security, and Africa’s road to modernization is bound to be one of peaceful development.” “The AU Agenda 2063 advocates building a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, which speaks volumes about Africa’s pursuit of harmony between man and nature in its modernization process.”

In a new report adopted on 28 January, as quoted by Euractiv, the European Union called for “long-term EU financial and technical support for African countries to boost climate adaptation; EU support for African regional integration to help reduce dependence on foreign imports; and for the EU to support the new African continental free trade area which was launched in January.”

New UNEP synthesis provides blueprint to urgently solve planetary emergencies and secure humanity’s future


A press release from the United Nations Environmental Program

The world can transform its relationship with nature and tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises together to secure a sustainable future and prevent future pandemics, according to a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that offers a comprehensive blueprint for addressing our triple planetary emergency.

Launch of report

The report, Making Peace with Nature, lays out the gravity of these three environmental crises by drawing on global assessments, including those from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, as well as UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook report, the UNEP International Resource Panel, and new findings on the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19.

The authors assess the links between multiple environmental and development challenges, and explain how advances in science and bold policymaking can open a pathway towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and a carbon neutral world by 2050 while bending the curve on biodiversity loss and curbing pollution and waste. Taking that path means innovation and investment only in activities that protect both people and nature. Success will include restored ecosystems and healthier lives as well as a stable climate.

“By bringing together the latest scientific evidence showing the impacts and threats of the climate emergency, the biodiversity crisis and the pollution that kills millions of people every year, [this report] makes clear that our war on nature has left the planet broken,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in the report’s Foreword. “But it also guides us to a safer place by providing a peace plan and a post-war rebuilding programme.

“By transforming how we view nature, we can recognize its true value. By reflecting this value in policies, plans and economic systems, we can channel investments into activities that restore nature and are rewarded for it,” he added. “By recognizing nature as an indispensable ally, we can unleash human ingenuity in the service of sustainability and secure our own health and well-being alongside that of the planet.”

Amid a wave of investment to re-energize economies hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the blueprint communicates the opportunity and urgency for ambitious and immediate action. It also lays out the roles that everyone – from governments and businesses to communities and individuals – can and must play. 2021 is especially crucial, with upcoming climate and biodiversity convention meetings – NFCCC COP 26 and CBD COP 15 – where governments must come up with synergistic and ambitious targets to safeguard the planet by almost halving greenhouse gas emissions in this decade, and by conserving and restoring biodiversity.

Tackling three planetary threats together

Economic growth has brought uneven gains in prosperity to a fast-growing global population, leaving 1.3 billion people poor, while tripling the extraction of natural resources to damaging levels and creating a planetary emergency. Despite a temporary decline in emissions due to the pandemic, Earth is heading for at least 3°C of global warming this century; more than 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species are at substantially increased risk of extinction; and diseases caused by pollution are currently killing some 9 million people prematurely every year. Environmental degradation is impeding progress towards ending poverty and hunger, reducing inequalities and promoting sustainable economic growth, work for all and peaceful and inclusive societies.

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Question for this article:
Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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The report shows how this trio of environmental emergencies interact and have common causes, and thus can only be effectively addressed together. Subsidies on fossil fuels, for instance, and prices that leave out environmental costs, are driving the wasteful production and consumption of energy and natural resources that are behind all three problems.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, said the report highlighted the importance of changing mindsets and values, and finding political and technical solutions that measure up to the Earth’s environmental crises.

“In showing how the health of people and nature are intertwined, the COVID-19 crisis has underlined the need for a step-change in how we view and value nature. By reflecting that value in decision-making – whether we are talking about economic policy or personal choices – we can bring about a rapid and lasting shift toward sustainability for both people and the environment,” she said. “‘Green recovery’ plans for pandemic-hit economies are an unmissable opportunity to accelerate the transformation.”

Released ahead of the fifth UN Environment Assembly, the report presents a strong case for why and how urgent action should be taken to protect and restore the planet and its climate in a holistic way.

It presents examples of what transformative change can look like, and how it can create prosperity, employment and greater equality. Far-reaching change involves recasting how we value and invest in nature, integrating that value into policies and decisions at all levels, overhauling subsidies and other elements of economic and financial systems, and fostering innovation in sustainable technologies and business models. Massive private investment in electric mobility and alternative fuels show how whole industries recognize the potential gains from shifting quickly.

The authors point out that ending environmental decline in all its forms is essential to advancing many of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular poverty alleviation, food and water security and good health for all. An example is how intensifying agriculture and fishing in sustainable ways, allied with changes in diets and lower food waste, can help end global hunger and poverty and improve nutrition and health while sparing more land and ocean for nature.

Reinforcing the call for action, the report stresses the need for stakeholders at all levels of society to be involved in decision-making, and identifies dozens of key actions that governments, businesses, communities and individuals can and should undertake in order to bring about a sustainable world.

For instance:

* Governments can include natural capital in measures of economic performance, put a price on carbon and shift trillions of dollars in subsidies from fossil fuels, non-sustainable agriculture and transportation towards low-carbon and nature-friendly solutions

* International organizations can promote One Health approaches and ambitious international targets for biodiversity, such as expanded and improved protected area networks

* Financial organizations can stop lending for fossil fuels and develop innovative finance for biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture.

* Businesses can adopt the principles of the circular economy to minimize resource use and waste and commit to maintaining transparent and deforestation-free supply chains

* Non-government organizations can build networks of stakeholders to ensure their full participation in decisions about sustainable use of land and marine resources

* Scientific organizations can pioneer technologies and policies to reduce carbon emissions, increase resource efficiency and lift the resilience of cities, industries, communities and ecosystems

* Individuals can reconsider their relationship with nature, learn about sustainability and change their habits to reduce their use of resources, cut waste of food, water and energy, and adopt healthier diets

A sustainable future also means learning from the COVID-19 crisis to reduce the threat of pandemic diseases. The report underlines how ecosystem degradation heightens the risk of pathogens making the jump from animals to humans, and the importance of a ‘One Health’ approach that considers human, animal and planetary health together.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

India: Activist Disha Ravi, 22, Arrested Over Toolkit, Faces Conspiracy Charge


An article from NDTV

A 22-year-old climate activist from Bengaluru, Disha Ravi, was the first person to be arrested by the Delhi Police in the case involving “Toolkit” tweeted earlier this month by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg to show support for protesting farmers. The police — which earlier said “Toolkit” was a Khalistani conspiracy — have accused her of being a key conspirator in the document’s formulation and dissemination and alleged that she is trying to revive a Khalistani group.

Video about Disha Ravi arrest

“I did not make Toolkit. We wanted to support the farmers. I edited two lines on February 3,” Disha Ravi told the Delhi court where she was produced earlier on Sunday. She wasn’t accompanied by any lawyer and spoke in the court for herself. The court has sent her to police custody for five days for further questioning. Several opposition parties and activists have condemned the arrest.

Here are the Top 10 points in this big story:

* “Disha Ravi is an Editor of the Toolkit Google Doc & key conspirator in document’s formulation & dissemination,” the Delhi Police tweeted, adding that she started a WhatsApp Group and collaborated to make the Toolkit doc. “In this process, they all collaborated with pro Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian State,” the police tweeted.

* “She was the one who shared the Toolkit Doc with Greta Thunberg. Later, she asked Greta to remove the main Doc after its incriminating details accidentally got into public domain. This is many times more than the 2 lines editing that she claims,” another tweet by the Delhi Police read.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Questions related to this article:
Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

What is the relation between movements for food sovereignty and the global movement for a culture of peace?

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

* “Completely atrocious! This is unwarranted harassment and intimidation. I express my full solidarity with Disha Ravi,” tweeted Congress’s Jairam Ramesh.

* “Some serious charges applied against a 21 year old for sharing a ‘dangerous’ toolkit. As per BJP our nation is so weak that a written document about farmer agitation shared by an international celebrity will lead to its ‘breakup’ The nation is much stronger than this toolkit, BJP,” tweeted Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi.

* “Modi regime thinks by arresting a grand daughter of farmers, under Sedition, it can weaken the farmers’ struggles. In fact, it will awaken the youth of the country and strengthen the struggles for democracy, tweeted CPM’s Sitaram Yechury.

* “The question is when will those people be arrested who continue to issue a literal ‘toolkit’ to break the national and social unity of India morning and evening, giving rise to hatred and division among the masses,” Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav posted in Hindi.

* The 22-year-old is a graduate of Mount Carmel College, one of Bengaluru’s top women’s colleges. The Delhi Police, which arrested Disha Ravi on Saturday evening, claimed she is influenced by terrorists like Gurpatwant Singh Pannu and Khalistani groups like Poetic Justice. Thousands of others are involved in the conspiracy and further investigation into the matter is in progress, the police said.

* According to the Delhi police, incidents similar to what was stated in the toolkit took place on the Republic Day, The police also claims that the Toolkit was made by M O Dhaliwal of Poetic Justice Foundation, which is a Khalistani organization. The Delhi Police called the toolkit a part of conspiracy against the Government of India and filed a case of sedition against its creators.

* On February 3, Greta Thunberg had tweeted the “toolkit” to show support for the farmers’ protest against the Centre’s farm laws that has been in progress at the borders of Delhi since November 26.  She later deleted the tweet, posting an updated one.

* The Delhi Police had asked Google and some social media platforms for help with the investigation. The police had sought email ids, URLs and social media accounts related to the creators of “toolkit”. Later, the Centre asked Twitter to remove 1,178 accounts, which it said were spreading misinformation and provocative content on the farmers’ agitation.

With 10-Point Declaration, Global Coalition of Top Energy Experts Says: ‘100% Renewables Is Possible’


An article from Common Dreams (reprinted according to provisions of Creative Commons)

Setting out to rebut defeatist and cynical claims that transitioning the entire global energy system to 100% renewables by 2035 is infeasible, a group of dozens of leading scientists from around the world unveiled a joint declaration Tuesday arguing that such a transformation of the fossil fuel-dependent status quo is not only necessary to avert climate disaster but eminently achievable.

Video of Declaration

What’s required, argue the 46 signatories  of the new 10-point declaration  (pdf), is sufficient political will, international coordination, and concrete action on a massive scale to institute a total “re-design of the global energy system.”

“We have lost too much time in our efforts to address global warming and the seven million air pollution deaths that occur each year, by not focusing enough on useful solutions,” said Mark Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University.

“Fortunately, low-cost 100% clean, renewable energy solutions do exist to solve these problems, as found by over a dozen independent research groups,” added Jacobson, one of the seven original signers of the declaration. “The solutions will not only save consumers money, but also create jobs and provide energy and more international security, while substantially reducing air pollution and climate damage from energy. Policymakers around the world are strongly urged to ensure we implement these solutions over the next 10-15 years.”

The year 2035 has been described by some scientists as the “deadline for climate action” at which humanity “could cross a point of no return” if governments fail to drastically reduce global carbon emissions in the years prior.

The scientists’ new declaration, characterized as a concise summary of decades of findings from some of the world’s leading energy researchers, argues that a “transformation to 100% [renewable energy] can occur faster than current expectations: the power sector can transform by 2030 and the other sectors soon thereafter.”

In addition to helping the world avert catastrophic warming, the researchers argue that such a transformation would also “stimulate investments of trillions of dollars and create millions more jobs than lost worldwide” while providing “sustainable energy security for future generations.”

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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The full 10-point declaration states:

1. Numerous studies have investigated 100% renewable energy (RE) systems in regions, countries, and worldwide, and they have found that it works, not only for providing electricity, but also for providing all energy.

2. A transformation to 100% RE can occur faster than current expectations: the power sector can transform by 2030 and the other sectors soon thereafter. With political will, a transformation of the global energy sector by 2030-35 appears to be possible!

3. Electricity in a 100% RE system will cost less than in our current energy system; the total energy cost of a 100% RE system will be lower than the cost of conventional energy, even if we exclude social costs.

4. The total social cost (energy, environmental, climate, and health cost) of a 100% RE system will be drastically lower than of business as usual. The sooner we achieve  a 100% RE system, the faster these savings will be realized!

5. A 100% RE system can supply regions, countries, and the world reliably (24-7) with energy at low cost.

6. A massive re-design of the global energy system will be needed, including increasing energy efficiency on all levels.

7. Solar and wind will be the key pillars of energy supply, plus flexibility in many forms, especially storage, sector coupling, demand response management, large- and small-scale grid integration.

8. The studies agree that electricity will take a massively increasing share (about 80-95%) of the global energy supply. Electrification will result in a superabundance of cheap clean, renewable energy, increasing prosperity for all humanity.

9. All our studies show that creating the new 100% RE system will benefit the world economy. It will stimulate investments of trillions of dollars and create millions more jobs than lost worldwide. Superabundant clean, renewable energy will create wealth and provide a boost for every sector of the global economy.

10 . Such a rapid transformation is necessary to stop the 7 million human deaths that occur annually today worldwide from air pollution, to slow the growing damage due to global warming and thus avoid the climate catastrophe, and to provide sustainable energy security for future generations.

Stressing the viability of the kinds of transitions that will be necessary to achieve 100% renewable energy across the globe by 2035, the coalition’s website points out that

To date, 11 countries have reached or exceeded 100% renewable electricity; 12 countries have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2030; 49 countries have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2050; 14 U.S. states and territories have passed laws or executive orders to reach up to 100% renewable electricity by between 2030 and 2050; over 300 cities worldwide have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by no later than 2050; and over 280 international businesses have committed to 100% renewables across their global operations.

“The transformation to 100% renewables is possible,” the scientists said, “and will be coming much faster than the general expectation.”

13 Years Is Too Long for Victims of Shell’s Oil Spills in Nigeria to Wait for Justice


An article by Donald Pols from Common Dreams (reprinted according to provisions of Creative Commons)

Justice has finally prevailed for the people of the oil-soaked Niger Delta. On Friday 29th January, after a thirteen year struggle for redress for lives ruined by oil spills, three Nigerian farmers, supported by Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands, beat one of the world’s most powerful transnational corporations, Shell, in court in the Netherlands. Across Nigeria’s southern Delta region, people who have never heard of the Court of Appeal in the Hague celebrated with victory parties. But no victim should have to wait thirteen years for justice. Better laws are needed now to give victims quicker and more effective ways to win remedy.

Donald Pols (R), director of Dutch environmental organization Milieudefensie, and Channa Samkalden (L), lawyer for Milieudefensie, react following the court ruling.  (Photo: Remko de Waal / ANP / AFP via Getty Images)

The discovery of oil in the Niger Delta has brought untold suffering to its people. Shell was there from the start in the 1950s—and with it came oil spills and pollution. The repeated failure of oil companies and the Nigerian government to clean up the pollution has left hundreds of thousands of Ogoni people with serious health problems – breathing toxic fumes, drinking poisoned water, farming contaminated soil, unable to earn a living. Life expectancy is ten years shorter than the rest of Nigeria.

Chief Barizaa Dooh was a successful businessman in the lush, thriving village of Goi—he had a bakery, fertile farmland, and several deep-sea fishing canoes – until two major oil spills from Shell’s poorly maintained pipeline struck in 2003 and 2004. The village was virtually wiped out, the land contaminated, the fish died off, and Dooh was left with almost nothing. Shell denied any responsibility. So Dooh bravely joined with three other farmers from nearby villages and Friends of the Earth to sue Shell in its home country, the Netherlands. Dooh did not live to see the verdict that ordered Shell to take responsibility for wrecking his village. But his son, Eric, who stepped into his place as plaintiff, said, “finally there is hope, some justice for the Nigerian people suffering the consequences of Shell’s oil.”

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Question for this article:
Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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This is a significant ruling. It is the first time any survivors of Shell’s pollution have won justice and compensation in the home country of the oil giant. It will have Shell HQ reconsidering what it thought it could get away with in Nigeria. Crucially, the court ruled that both Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary have breached their duty of care. Shell did not do all that was necessary to prevent damage from leaks. Shell has a duty to intervene in the behaviour of its subsidiary: it can no longer pass the buck and hide behind a complicated veil of sub-entities and service companies. Best of all, the ruling means that any Dutch company failing to adhere to human rights and environmental regulations overseas now risks being taken to court, held accountable, and fined.

For my brilliant colleagues in Nigeria who have worked tirelessly with communities in the Delta, this judgement brings hope to the entire region. It can help the people of the Delta rewrite their bloody history, living up to the promise of environmental resistance martyr Ken Saro-Wiwa. With thousands more oil leaks across the Niger Delta, victims now have a pathway to justice and redress.

But what took so long? The truth is that our lawyers had to spend a majority of those thirteen years debating procedures with the court and jumping hurdles with Shell. Years were frittered away trying to access Shell’s key documents, trying to prove that Shell HQ bore responsibility for its subsidiary, and that the case should be heard in the Dutch courts. Years in which the Nigerian plaintiffs were sitting in front of a judge rather than enjoying lives with their families.

It shouldn’t require a marathon effort by Friends of the Earth for just four farmers to win compensation from Shell in its home country. This should have been a relatively clear-cut case. This is why we need better laws to hold European companies like Shell liable for what happens in their name overseas. A duty of care to ensure companies are actively preventing harm throughout their supply chains; transparency to see what they’re doing; and parent company liability, to cut through the complicated web of buck-passing. It must be made easy for all people affected by human rights abuses and environmental damage by European companies overseas to access justice in Europe: if you can’t take them to court, they’re not accountable. 

Right now, the EU is debating establishing European-wide legislation for so-called ‘corporate due diligence’. It could be the most powerful tool yet to ensure European companies are liable for their actions abroad. This case has beaten a path through the undergrowth for victims of corporate crimes. Now we need strong laws to make this avenue easier to access. To make holding companies like Shell legally accountable the norm, not the exception. Only then can we hope to deter these abuses in the first place.

Donald Pols is director of Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands  and chair of Friends of the Earth Europe). Follow him on Twitter: @DonaldPols