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Migration causing water shortages in Nepal

As frequent floods force people to migrate from Nepal’s mountainous regions, putting pressure on water resources, hydrologists call for China to set up joint early warning systems along shared rivers. Nepal is one of the world’s most water-rich nations, with over 6,000 rivers and huge hydropower potential. But it is also one of the world’s most disaster-prone regions...
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Global change: Put people at the centre of global risk management

An individual focus is needed to assess interconnected threats and build resilience worldwide, urge Jan Willem Erisman and colleagues. Globalization is changing the nature of risk. Natural and social systems — from climate to energy, food, water and economies — are tightly coupled. Abrupt changes in one have a domino effect on others...
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Quote of the Month

“Small island states have a perennial struggle on their hands to survive intense cyclonic wind and storm surges driven by warming rising seas. Disaster risk is undermining the capacity of many countries to make the capital investment and social expenditures necessary to develop sustainably”. - Margareta Wahlström, Head of UNISDR, Launch of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, New York, 04 March 2015.
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ECC Newsletter Edition 1/2015

We have published the first edition of the Environment, Conflict, and Cooperation Newsletter in 2015. Read how foreign policy makers can use opportunities for green job creation to promote ambitious climate action, about linkages between climate change and fragility in Africa, or how climate change exacerbates conflicts between mining and herding in Mongolia.
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Articles

Assassinations in the Amazon – Setbacks in the Struggle to End Deforestation

The struggle to save the Amazon rainforest received some major setbacks in recent months. A series of murders of rainforest activists have shaken Brazil. Moreover, lawmakers are contemplating relaxing laws protecting the rainforest.

Things were looking up in the Amazon region. Between 2004 and 2010 the deforestation rate declined by 70 percent. Quality seals, such as that of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), certified wood from legal, sustainable forestry. But now, land speculation and deforestation are on the rise again, partly due to higher food prices. Those who oppose illegal logging activities put their lives at risk. Many activists have been murdered in recent months. The death of the activist Da Silva in the state of Pará in the eastern Amazon Basin attracted widespread attention because he predicted his murder in an interview a few months earlier.

Brazilian politicians are debating relaxing forest protection laws. Under certain conditions, an amnesty would be granted for illegal logging. This would favour companies engaged in illegal activities as well as small farm holders involved in land speculation. The deforestation rate shot up after the draft bill for the new legislation was passed by the lower house of parliament. Approval by the Senate, however, is still required. President Dilma Rousseff has already threatened her veto if the law passes, one reason why the bill is still in negotiation. For instance, a clause that 80 percent of the forest cover must be maintained on small land holdings now likely will not be revoked.

At the international level, too, problems are emerging. Illegal logging was systematically taking place under the WWF certification scheme due to its lack of transparency and accountability. Some companies were also guilty of human rights abuses. The international community must act quickly to establish clarity in the matter and also accelerate negotiations for international compensation payments so the indigenous population is provided a viable alternative to illegal logging.

The Brazilian government must act to curb crimes associated with deforestation instead of seeking to relax protective legal provisions. In doing so, it would both protect the rainforest and strengthen the rule of law.  (Stephan Wolters)

More information on the series of murders and the planned amendment to the law is available here and at http://www.wwf.org.uk/news_feed.cfm?5222/Brazils_Forest_Law_debate_heats_up

More information on the assassinations is available here.

For more information on the WWF scandal see http://www.globalwitness.org/Panderingtotheloggerspress

Published in: ECC-Newsletter, 4/2011