By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame
YAOUNDE, 23 May 2012 – Cameroon is inviting foreign companies to expand lucrative palm plantations, pitting the country’s need for economic development against environmentalists who foresee the loss of important forests.
Since 2009 this West African country has witnessed a sharp rise in interest from companies seeking vast expanses of land for industrial palm plantations in response to increasing global demand for palm oil.
Six foreign-owned companies are currently trying to secure over 1 million hectares (about 2.5 million acres) of land for the production of palm oil in the country’s forested southern zone, according to a coalition of environmental organisations.
Jean Kuete, who until December 2011 was Cameroon’s minister of agriculture, told journalists last October that palm production is integral to the government’s plans for growth, employment and poverty reduction.
“The industrial production of palm oil is a national priority and the many investors in this sector are welcomed,” the minister said.
According to information from the agriculture ministry, there is particular interest in land on the flanks of West Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Fako, where conditions are good for growing palms, as well as the cheap land stretching through the Southwest and Littoral regions of Cameroon.
For the complete article, please see AlertNet.
Source: UN News
7 December 2011 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Italian energy company Enel announced today a new partnership to combat hunger and malnutrition while also reducing carbon emissions through the use of ‘green’ stoves and solar panels.
The €8 million agreement was unveiled at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, where Enel pledged its commitment to support WFP’s humanitarian and environmental protection programmes such as the Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy in Humanitarian Settings (SAFE), which provides schools, community centres and poor households with high-efficiency cooking stoves to cook food rations distributed by WFP.
SAFE also protects women against violence during firewood collection and helps combat deforestation and carbon emissions by using less fuel.
WFP has already distributed 140,000 stoves in Sudan, Uganda, Sri Lanka and Haiti. Through the new partnership, Enel and WFP will develop a business model to generate carbon emission reduction credits by analyzing the use of ‘green’ stoves.
Enel will also install solar panels to cut greenhouse gas emissions at UN humanitarian response sites used to store and handle emergency supplies in Italy, Panama, the United Arab Emirates and Ghana.
In addition, Enel Cuore, an independent, non-profit organization within the Enel Group, will support WFP’s activities in Latin America where the group is present.
The partnership is the result of a framework agreement for cooperation was signed in June 2011 by WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran and Enel chief executive officer Fulvio Conti.
Source: Amnesty International
9 November 2011 - Shell must commit to pay an initial US$1 billion to begin the clean-up of pollution caused by oil spills in the Niger Delta, Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) said today.
A new report by the two groups released today, The true tragedy: delays and failures in tackling oil spills in the Niger Delta looks at the ongoing devastation caused by two major oil spills which took place at Bodo, Ogoniland, in 2008, and which have never been cleaned up.
The UN Environment Programme recently found that oil pollution over many years had resulted in such devastation that it would take more than 25 years for Ogoniland to recover. The UN recommended setting up an Environmental Restoration Fund with an initial amount of US$1 billion, with further funding to follow.
“Shell’s failure to promptly stop and clean up oil spills in Bodo has devastated the lives of tens of thousands of people. Bodo is a disaster that should not have happened, yet it is one that due to Shell’s inaction continues to this day. It is time this multi-billion dollar company owns up, cleans up and pays up,” said Aster van Kregten Amnesty International’s researcher for Nigeria.
In 2008, two consecutive spills, caused by faults in a pipeline, resulted in thousands of barrels of oil polluting the land and creek surrounding Bodo, a town of some 69,000 people. Both spills continued for weeks before they were stopped. No proper clean up has ever taken place.
“The situation in Bodo is symptomatic of the wider situation in the Niger Delta oil industry. The authorities simply do not control the oil companies. Shell and other oil companies have the freedom to act – or fail to act - without fear of sanction. An independent, robust and well-resourced regulator is long overdue, otherwise even more people will continue to suffer at the hands of the oil companies,” said Patrick Naagbanton, CEHRD’s Coordiantor.
Shell, which recently reported profits of US$ 7.2bn for July-September, initially offered the Bodo community just 50 bags of rice, beans, sugar and tomatoes as relief for the disaster.
Ongoing damage to fisheries and farmland has resulted in food shortages and higher prices in Bodo. Residents told Amnesty International and CEHRD how they struggle to make a living and have serious health concerns. Alternative jobs are not easy to find. Many young people have been forced to look for work in Port Harcourt, the state capital, 50km away.
One fisherman from Bodo, said: ‘Before the spill, life was easy. The people could live from the catch of fish… After the spill, everything was destroyed.’
When Amnesty International asked Shell to comment on the failures at Bodo, the company stated that, as the Bodo spill spills were subject to legal proceedings in the UK, it was unable to respond as directly. Shell said that efforts to address the issues at Bodo are hampered by ongoing sabotage in the area, something strongly challenged by Amnesty International and CEHRD.
“Shell frequently says that most oil spills are caused by sabotage,” said Aster van Kregten, “This claim has been strongly disputed by the communities and NGOs who point out that the process of collecting data on oil spills is flawed. Even at Bodo, where it is accepted the spills are Shell’s fault, the company appears to be using sabotage as an excuse for its failures to comply with Nigerian law and regulations – which require the company to promptly clean up and pay compensation. This is a completely untenable position.”
“The facts here are simple,” adds Patrick Naagbanton. “Two spills, both of them the company’s fault, both left to flow for weeks before being stopped, neither cleaned up although three years have passed. There can be no excuses. By any standard, this is a corporate failure.”
For the complete article, please see Amnesty International.
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