New threats to trade justice South facing: when development is a dirty word Carbon Capital: a yearâ€™s campaigning in pictures
The corporate scramble for Africa
Action Winter 2014 2
My first four months at WDM couldn’t have better demonstrated to me how vital the organisation remains. In November I went to Edinburgh to protest against attempts to ‘put a price on nature’ (see page 4). Some charities support this idea as a means of protecting the environment. WDM strongly opposes it, because we believe it is the first step towards financial markets taking over the global commons – those aspects of the world that cannot and should not be bought, traded or speculated on. In December I attended the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit. Back from the dead, the WTO played host to rich countries trying to force the global south to give up those policies they use to ensure the poorest are fed. ‘Leave it to the market’ they told India and Bolivia. We set back some of their proposals, but in 2014 the WTO will be one part of a massive trade offensive which will give big business more power than ever (page 12). As I write, our government is still trying to water down laws being thrashed out in Brussels to crack down on food speculation. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they say the market can regulate itself. Then there’s the big news issue: how energy corporations can continue to put their profits above the needs of people to heat their homes. This debate is a microcosm of the energy crisis globally. Well over one billion people in the world lack even basic access to electricity while British banks continue to fund unsustainable energy ‘development’ which does nothing for those people. The power of big business and big finance continues to grow, undermining democracy and fuelling inequality. Over the years, WDM has dented this power and halted the big business offensive. But it is needed now more than ever.
Nick Dearden Director
The World Development Movement (WDM) campaigns for a world without poverty and injustice. We work in solidarity with activists around the world to tackle the causes of poverty. We research and promote positive alternatives which put the rights of poor communities before the interests of big business. Our network of local groups keeps global justice on the agenda in towns and cities around the UK. World Development Movement: company no 2098198 World Development Movement Trust: registered charity no 1064066
is published three times a year by WDM, 66 Offley Road, London SW9 0LS t: 020 7820 4900 e: email@example.com w: www.wdm.org.uk Editor: James O’Nions Production: Ralph Allen Design: Howdy Printed on paper made from 100 per cent post-consumer waste Articles do not necessarily reflect agreed World Development Movement policy Get Action magazine delivered to your door three times a year by becoming a member. Go to: www.wdm.org.uk/support
Action Winter 2014 3
n a c i r f A f f o nds Ha : e r u t l agricu r u o y s e o d e r e Wh ? nd a st MP The UK government is supporting a corporate takeover of food systems in the global south at the expense of small farmers. As part of this, David Cameron has pledged £395m of UK aid to the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. Under this programme, in return for ‘investment’ from corporations like Unilever and Monsanto, African countries have to make policy changes that will make it easier for big business to control seed markets, introduce genetically modified seeds and accelerate land grabs. This will mean big profit for the corporations, but threatens the livelihoods and rights of Africa’s main food growers. To find out more, see pages 8-10. This spring, WDM will launch a new campaign to challenge the UK’s push for corporate control of global food systems through initiatives like the New Alliance and demand that the government supports food sovereignty. As part of our preparations, we need your help. We want to find out what MPs think about the corporate takeover of African agriculture. By finding out where MPs stand on this issue, we can be more effective at targeting decision makers for change when we launch the campaign.
Please write to your MP to express your concern about the UK government’s support for the corporate takeover of food systems in the global south and ask her or him the following questions: o you share my concern about the UK’s support for the G8’s New D Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which requires African governments to make policy changes that will benefit multinational corporations at the expense of the small-scale food producers who feed most of the continent? o you agree that UK aid money should be spent supporting food D producers in developing countries rather than multinational companies? re you involved in any organisations that focus on food, hunger A and farming in developing countries? You can find out who your MP is and email them via www.theyworkforyou.com If you’d rather write them a letter, you can send it to them at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Once they reply, please send the response to firstname.lastname@example.org or post a copy to: Dan Iles, World Development Movement, 66 Offley Road, London SW9 0LS.
WDM in action
Action Winter 2014 4
Food speculation regulation hangs on knife edge
South Lakes takes the fracking initiative In September members of South Lakeland WDM and South Lakes Action on Climate Change got in touch with the office to share some research they’d done into fracking, a controversial form of shale gas extraction. The research exposed revolving doors between finance companies, fracking companies and government ministers. We were able to turn this impressive piece of work into an interactive infographic similar to the ‘web of power’ that we launched at the beginning of the Carbon Capital campaign. We released it on Global Frackdown, a worldwide day of action to say no to fracking. It is a great campaign resource which we wouldn’t have been able to produce had WDM local activists not taken the initiative.
As we went to print, WDM staff and group members were continuing to lobby for tough limits on food speculation as part of the EU’s new Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). The legislation has reached its final stages, with representatives from the European parliament, commission and council of finance ministers holding a series of negotiations to try and agree on a final text. A proposed compromise on food speculation leaked in September looked set to address most of the main concerns we had about loopholes in the provisions. But subsequent lobbying by the UK government to weaken those proposals has caused set-backs, and a final decision on this issue has been postponed until the last session meeting of the negotiations, expected in early 2014.
You can see this new web of power and share it at www.wdm.org.uk/fracking-web-of-power
Friends of the Earth Europe
You can’t put a price on it A year and a half ago in Rio, at the twentieth anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit, the Natural Capital Declaration (NCD) was launched. The brainchild of the financial industry, the NCD signals a push towards putting a price on nature. This means opening the door to privatisation of the global commons, and bringing nature and the complex processes of ecosystems onto the financial markets. While some nature conservation charities are supporting the idea, civil society organisations from around the world, including WDM, are very much opposed to this financialisation of nature.
When the World Forum on Natural Capital was held in Edinburgh in November, Scottish activists including WDM were joined by others from Europe and beyond to oppose it. As well as protest stunts, a public meeting we organised attracted 100 people with the message that ‘nature is not for sale’.
Participants in a public meeting in Edinburgh oppose the World Forum on Natural Capital.
WDM in action
Action Winter 2014 5
Santas bring only coal for the world’s naughty bank WDM activists pile on the pressure.
Balthazar Serre au
In the last issue of Action we asked you to sign a postcard to add a lump of coal to the pile we wanted to deliver to HSBC. Along with an online version, we got an overwhelming response – so we had to recruit an army of Santas to deliver the coal just before Christmas. Unsurprisingly none of the branches we visited wanted to take delivery of 8,250 lumps of coal, but it helped pile the pressure on HSBC over its dirty investments. HSBC is the UK bank with the greatest investment in fossil fuel extraction, of which coal is the most polluting.
Where there’s a Will there’s a way
Taking inspiration from WDM’s food campaign, Leeds student Joel Millward-Hopkins recently attempted to create for himself the horror of being at the mercy of a volatile food market by gambling on his own food. For a week he tossed a coin before every meal - heads he ate, tails he didn’t. This a fantastic way of raising awareness about food speculation. Joel also asked people to sponsor him, thereby raising money for WDM’s campaign. Find out more at www.justgiving.com/Joel-MillwardHopkins and if you have your own ideas for fundraising then give us a call on 0800 328 2153 and speak to Debby. Joel Millward-Hopkins
Will Joel eat tonight? The coin decides!
The last year saw several generous legacies left to WDM. This income has allowed us to invest in some really important ways of boosting our impact as an organisation. In September, Maya Williams started as our regional organiser. For a year Maya will be helping us to better support our local groups in the north of England. Being based in Bradford rather than our London office will mean she can visit them more often, helping them to attract new members and develop effectively so they can ensure our network continues to pay a big role in winning our campaigns. With so much campaigning dependent on online communications and social networking, we’ve also brought in temporary extra capacity to ensure that WDM’s campaigns infrastructure matches the cutting edge technology that’s available. And we also commissioned and launched an accessible animation designed to introduce WDM to new audiences, especially online. You can watch the animation on our website at www.wdm.org.uk/about To find out more about leaving a gift to WDM in your Will, email email@example.com
global justice news
Action Winter 2014 6
World Trade Organisation back from the dead WTO
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) reached an agreement for the first time in a decade when it met in Bali, Indonesia, in December. But the deal was condemned by campaigners as being “in the interests of transnational corporations, not the world’s poor”. India led a group of developing countries in trying to prevent the abolition of agricultural subsidies that would affect India’s plans to improve food security in the country. It managed to get a small, temporary exemption, but no respite in the longer term. The Least Developed Countries package gave some trade preferences to the world’s poorest 48 countries to facilitate their exports, but it was still far from satisfactory. WDM director Nick Dearden, who was in Bali, said: “If the US and EU really wanted to tackle global poverty, they would have made the least developed countries package much stronger, as originally put forward in early negotiations, and promised to approve it regardless of what happened with the other packages.” Other elements of the deal further entrenched policies that benefit corporations from the global north. Pablo Solon, director of Focus on the Global South, said: “The Bali Package is a severely imbalanced text that benefits only the developed countries and their transnational corporations.” And while the agreement was not as ambitious as some proposed at the WTO in the past, it broke the ten-year logjam on global free trade deals and opened up the possibility of more in the future.
WTO officials end the Bali conference in self-congratulatory mood.
Costa Rican Conservation Network
Mining company sues Costa Rica for rejecting plans A Canadian mining company is suing the Costa Rican government for $1 billion because Costa Rica rejected its plans for an open-cast gold mine in pristine rainforest. Calgary-based Infinito Gold is using the terms of the Canada-Costa Rica ‘bilateral investment treaty’ to sue the country for ‘lost income’. Polls have shown that more than 75 per cent of the Costa Rican population rejects the proposed Crucitas mine. Some of the largest protest marches in Costa Rica’s history have demanded the full enforcement of a countrywide prohibition on open-cast mining, as well as reparations from Infinito for unlawful environmental damage and the Canadian company’s prompt departure from the country. On three occasions, from 2010 to 2013, the Supreme Court of Costa Rica denied
permission to Infinito to proceed with its project. Instead of accepting this defeat, Infinito lawyers will now seek up to $1 billion from Costa Rica through secretive investment arbitration at the much-criticised International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) at the World Bank in Washington DC. Bilateral investment treaties became increasingly common in the last decade as the way to advance the ‘free trade’ agenda. But as corporate lawsuits have proliferated, some countries have started to question or even cancel them, as Bolivia did with its treaty with the US in 2012.
global justice news
Action Winter 2014 7
Africans join global march against Monsanto
The Philippines was thrown into the spotlight at the UN climate summit in Warsaw in November after the biggest typhoon ever to make landfall hit the country. Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands of people and left many more in remote areas of the country without food or shelter and in need of medical attention. Philippines chief climate negotiator Yeb Saño took the unusual step of starting a protest fast “until we see a meaningful outcome here in Warsaw. We mean specific reference to certain items on the agenda here including … an international mechanism for losses and damages as a result of climate change.” Meanwhile Gerry Arances of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice told Democracy Now that they were bringing the demands of “the whole Filipino nation” when they insisted that developed countries cut their emissions and pay their ‘climate debt’ to developing countries. Yet despite emotional calls for action, the conference finished without any significant agreement. Halfway through, civil society organisations staged a massive walkout in protest at the lack of
Biotech giant Monsanto became the focus of anti-GM anger for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide in October as they joined the March against Monsanto. While North America was the centre of the protests, a growing food sovereignty movement in Africa also mobilised people. The march in Accra was organised by Food Sovereignty Ghana, which described the GM project as an attempt to “make us surrender our agriculture to the control and the monopoly of giant multinational corporations”. In fact, while the US protests tended to focus more on contentious health concerns over GM foods, opposition in the global south has highlighted issues of corporate control of seeds, farmer debt and the failure of GM to boost yields beyond the first few years of use.
Typhoon-devastated Philippines calls for climate justice at UN summit
Yeb Sano interviewed at UN climate summit.
progress. This included even moderate groups such as WWF. The Polish government enlisted 12 corporate partners, including fossil fuel companies, car manufacturers and airlines, to help run the UN summit and granted corporate lobbyists exclusive access to negotiators. The partial deal that was done commits countries only to publishing their own plans to cut emissions by early 2015, ahead of another meeting in Paris later that year. The other agreement was the implementation of REDD+, a market mechanism that is supposed to help keep forests standing but which has been condemned by indigenous peoples’ groups and environmental justice organisations.
New vision for trade On 26 November, a European alliance of over 50 civil society organisations, including WDM, launched the Alternative Trade Mandate. This is a positive manifesto about the EU trade policy we do want our governments to support, instead of the free trade policies they have been pursuing. “The current trade and investment regime, imposed by the EU and the WTO, isn’t working” said Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian parliament who went to Brussels to support the launch of the Alternative Trade Mandate. “Prising markets open for global agribusiness is wiping out small farmers and is a major cause of hunger. The deregulation of financial services through free trade agreements impedes tough regulation of the financial sector, paving the way for the next disastrous financial crisis. We need to break away from this corporate-driven agenda.” The Alternative Trade Mandate will form the basis of an EU-wide campaign to make trade and investment work for people and the environment. It will first focus on the European elections next May, asking parliamentary candidates to pledge their support. www.alternativetrademandate.org
Romanian peasants take on Chevron Small-scale farmers in Romania gave Chevron pause in October when they temporarily halted the oil multinational’s attempts to drill for shale gas in Pungesti in the east of the country. Around 3,500 inhabitants of eight villages surrounded the drilling site where the controversial process of ‘fracking’ was due to take place and refused to move until Chevron backed down. Romania is estimated to have 1.5 billion cubic meters of shale gas reserves that the government has been granting permission for companies to extract for the last decade. Yet much of the gas is located underneath water resources, peasants’ farmland and communal pasture. The Pungesti struggle was widely reported in the Romanian media, sparking renewed organising against
fracking around the country. However, in December the Romanian paramilitary police moved in to shut down the protest camp, with allegations of brutality made by villagers. A Chevron spokesperson said it was “committed to working with local communities to explain the benefits of natural gas”.
The G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is encouraging multinationals to ‘invest’ in African agriculture. Heidi Chow explains why WDM will be campaigning against it
Action Winter 2014 8
The colonial ‘scramble for Africa’ came at the end of the nineteenth century as the continent became the final frontier of ‘unclaimed’ territories. European powers carved up the continent and guaranteed for themselves access to raw materials and cheap labour to feed the industrial revolution back home. Colonialists justified their actions as philanthropic, claiming that Africans needed ‘civilising’ and that the land they took over was unused. However, in reality Africans were robbed of their land, lost control of their resources and millions died from forced labour.
Colonialism in a new guise Unfortunately, colonial instincts and tactics are not confined to history. Big business continues with its insatiable pursuit of market share, searching desperately for new untapped markets and eyeing up Africa, once more, as its prize. At the 2012 G8 summit at Camp David, the ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’ was launched. The initiative is a new private sector investment platform for multinational corporations seeking to expand into the agricultural markets in Africa. The leaders of the G8 countries announced this apparently philanthropic scheme with the stated aim of raising 50 million people out of poverty in ten years. But scratch the surface and addressing hunger is merely a guise for a corporate takeover of African agriculture, brokered by rich country governments. The New Alliance identifies opportunities for multinational companies to invest in African countries with support from G8 countries including £395 million from the UK aid budget. So far ten African countries have signed up to the scheme: Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Benin, Malawi, Nigeria and Senegal. In return for agricultural ‘investment’ from multinationals like Unilever, Monsanto and Cargill, these countries have to make changes to their seed, land and farming laws with far-reaching consequences for small-scale farmers, who currently feed 70 per cent of the continent’s population.
Action Winter 2014 9
Damaging conditions These mandatory policy changes prioritise corporate profits over the right to food and control of resources for local communities. Changes in national seed laws will mean that African farmers face the prospect of losing their freedom to save seeds – the traditional farming practice by which seeds from one harvest are saved to plant the following year. The production, distribution and sale of seeds will become more concentrated in the hands of a small number of multinational companies. This will force small-scale farmers to purchase expensive seeds each year. Able to choose from only a small number of varieties, including genetically modified seeds, this will accelerate the loss of seed diversity, which is vital for adapting to climate change. Beatrice Katsigazi from the Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers Forum, Uganda says: “Women farmers have few resources and do not want seed that we can plant for one season only or seed that is owned by companies. We believe in our own seeds that we can access from our own collections or from our farmer networks, free of charge.”
There are 51 multinationals involved in the New Alliance including Monsanto, Cargill, Nestle and UK companies Unilever, SABMiller and Diageo. Countries signed up to the New Alliance will also have to change land laws, making it easier for companies to identify suitable land and simplifying the procedures for acquiring it. This will open the doors for more land grabbing and speed up the takeover of land by foreign investors. Numerous studies have shown that large-scale land acquisitions and leases
destroy livelihoods, dispossess local communities and severely reduce access to food for local communities. These changes are hugely damaging as they will enshrine in national law conditions that will benefit multinational corporations at the expense of smallholder farmers. These conditions could also exacerbate hunger as companies tend to focus on growing cash crops, animal feed and biofuels for export to foreign markets. So it’s no surprise that last year 200 African farmers’ movements and civil society groups issued a statement rejecting schemes like the New Alliance and branding them a “new wave of colonialism” intended to secure profits and royalty flows out of Africa. African groups are under no illusion about the real agenda behind these schemes – as they say in the statement: “Opening markets and creating space for multinationals to secure profits lie at the heart of the G8 interventions....with the large multinational seed, fertiliser and agrochemical companies setting the agenda.”
Action Winter 2014 10 Olivier Asselin
Food sovereignty was developed by the international peasants’ federation, La Via Campesina, almost 20 years ago and since then there has been a growing global movement calling for food sovereignty. WDM has been supporting this movement in the last few years and our new campaign presents a crucial opportunity to stand in solidarity with our global allies to fight for a just and sustainable food system.
See page 3 for how you can help us prepare for the launch of the campaign.
New WDM campaign Unfortunately, the New Alliance is not unique but is one of a wave of initiatives geared to increasing corporate control of Africa’s food system. The details may differ, and they all have benevolent-sounding names like ‘Grow Africa’ and ‘Agricultural Growth Corridors’, but they share a common agenda: increasing corporate control of agriculture in Africa for the benefit of multinationals. This corporate model of agriculture strips away the rights of African famers to their land and seeds and contravenes their right to grow food for their own communities.
The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania covers 7.5 million hectares of land, stretching from the Zambian border to Dar es Salaam on the coast. In solidarity with small farmers and civil society in Africa, WDM will be launching a new campaign this spring to challenge this corporate takeover of African agriculture through initiatives like the New Alliance. Alongside African campaigners, farmers’ groups and global allies, WDM will be demanding an end to these schemes and calling for policies that support food sovereignty – an alternative vision of a food system based on treating food as a right, rather than a commodity to be exploited for profit.
What’s an ‘agricultural growth corridor’? ‘Agricultural growth corridors’ are schemes that facilitate the conversion of African land for industrial agriculture and build infrastructure to support this. This could include building roads to lead to the ports to facilitate the export of food crops and the import of inputs like chemical fertilisers. In some cases land is expropriated following claims that it is ‘abandoned’. In the Nacala Corridor in Mozambique for instance, the proposal is to make 14 million hectares of land available to Brazilian agribusiness to grow soy and maize. Mozambique’s National Peasants’ Union says much of the earmarked land is used by small-scale farmers practising shifting agriculture appropriate to the terrain. A recent report by the government of Tanzania, which has its own corridor, noted the following concerns from local communities: L oss of local food production as cash crops displace staple crops for local communities. L ack of security over land tenure and little power to negotiate effectively. E nvironmental degradation and biodiversity loss due to intensive agriculture and use of chemical fertilisers. T he views of women are under-represented and their needs often not considered, despite the majority of farmers being women. E ndemic corruption and a lack of transparency and accountability.
Action Winter 2014 11
Carbon Capital: the story so far For the last year WDM has been campaigning to end UK financial sector’s addiction to carbon emissions. April
We joined the protes ts at Anglo American’s AGM alo ngside Julio Gomez from Co lombia.
July A different kind of carbon bubbles, this time at the AGM of the London Stock Exchange.
March We launched the campaign with a ‘carbon bubbles’ bar outside Black Rock.
August Solidarity actions against coal power in South Africa and the Cerrejón mine in Colombia where villagers at La Roche are threatened with eviction. We also handed in your postcards on mandatory carbon reporting to the Department of Business.
May Carbon bubbles again at the HSBC AGM.
October The Scandalous Edinburgh walking tour brought our campaign to Scotland’s financial district. We also joined an international month of action against dirty energy beginning on 11 October, including our speaker tour with speakers from Colombia and Indonesia.
November Our innovative Indonesia-centred web documentary is released and shared widely on social media.
WDM relea sed during a st a short film made aff visit to com affected by coal minin munities g in Indon esia.
October Sam Crawley
Local WDM groups organised stunts outside branches of HSBC to highlight the bank’s dirty investments.
pt to deliver antas attem S f o our am te r Ou u’ve added to yo al co e th l to HSBC al ail actions. cards and em pile via post
Action Winter 2014 12
Trading away democracy and public services A new impetus following the World Trade Organisation meeting in December and ambitious new free trade deals elsewhere mean 2014 will be an important year to campaign for trade justice, writes Polly Jones
An activist protests a proposed India-EU free trade agreement.
Action Winter 2014 13
Trade deals affect many aspects of our lives, whether we live in the UK or in the global south. There are trade deals about food, water, shelter, energy, health, education, land, transport, communications and knowledge. 2014 is an important year for trade because new trade deals are being negotiated which would take trade into many more areas. These deals are shrouded in secrecy and are the most aggressively neoliberal of any to date.
A new EU-US trade deal The deal that has had the most publicity in the UK is that between the EU and the USA, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). TTIP aims to align trading practices in the EU and USA, improve competition between EU and US corporations and create more jobs from new trading opportunities. There is growing evidence to suggest that TTIP’s impact on growth and job creation is exaggerated. And of greater concern is that TTIP is designed to make profit from reducing hard won regulation to protect the environment, health and safety and livelihoods. Public services, including education and health, are vulnerable to increased privatisation through TTIP. Financial regulation to protect society from reckless financial institutions could also be removed as a ‘barrier to trade’. This could reverse the victory that WDM campaigners look set to secure on food speculation and prevent the regulation we are currently calling for on investments in fossil fuel extraction. Just in case citizens and governments realise retrospectively how bad TTIP is, it is likely to include rules to maintain the status quo by allowing corporations to sue governments that implement policy changes that could adversely affect their profits. Known as investment treaties, these have already been used by utility companies to sue Argentina for over a billion dollars for freezing energy bills; and by a Canadian company to sue El Salvador for £620 million ($1 billion) for refusing permission to dig a gold mine (see page 6).
Trade in the global south While TTIP is the trade deal you are most likely to have heard about, our allies in the global south are more concerned about the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) on their democracy, public services and environment. The TPP negotiations began in 2008 between 12 countries in North America, Latin America, Australasia and Asia. Although it is yet to be finalised, TPP is a particularly aggressive free trade agreement. It targets intellectual property, public services and government procurement in the same way as other trade agreements. But it goes further by committing countries to liberalising all services, unless they are specifically excluded. It is not easy to carefully define services with the purpose of excluding them. It is impossible to protect future services which have not yet been developed. In 2012, 47 countries (27 of them in the EU) began negotiating to liberalise and deregulate services as part of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). Services is a broad category and includes many public services, such as health, education, water and sanitation, as well as others like finance
India FDI Wat protest the FT ch stage a meeting to prioritise the A, which would companies ov rights of transnational er local people ’s.
and banking, transport, retail, construction, energy, communications and insurance. TISA seeks to give foreign corporations access to domestic markets and restrict national, regional and local governments’ ability to regulate in the public interest. Like TTIP, TISA is likely to include investment rules to allow corporations to sue governments that implement policy changes in the future that could adversely affect their profits.
One size fits all Much of the rhetoric around trade deals focuses on their fairness and the role they play in levelling the field for all corporations to compete. However, trade agreements are better understood as tools for creating free markets, a key component of neoliberal economics. These are markets where corporations can profit, free from obstacles such as regulation to protect local jobs, companies and services; regulation to protect health, safety and the environment; publicly provided goods and services; and shared public goods, such as common land and knowledge. Many governments, especially in the global south, and civil society groups around the world have opposed the neoliberal trade model. They argue that it benefits corporations and rich countries and does not reduce inequality or poverty.
What is the alternative? The WTO and free trade agreements, such as TTIP, TISA and the TPP, are failing people and the planet. They must be replaced with a system that disciplines corporations and provides countries with the policy space to pursue a positive agenda for sustainable development, public services, job creation, food sovereignty, access to affordable medicines and global financial stability. Tens of thousands of UK citizens have campaigned to expose the dangers of trade agreements, such as the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in 2000 and the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) in 1998. Together we stopped the MAI negotiations and protected some public services from the WTO’s GATS. It is time for local and national community organisations, environmental campaigners and trade unions to campaign together to do it again on TTIP, TISA and the TPP. The UK government and others are trading away public goods and services, the authority of governments and regulation designed to protect people and the planet in exchange for corporate profits. Read more at www.wdm.org.uk/trade
Action Winter 2014 14
Where development is a dirty word
For poor communities in South-East Asia, ‘development’ has come to mean dispossession and devastation says Dorothy Grace Guerrero
Ten years ago, Lee Kyung-hae, a Korean farmer and member of the global peasants’ movement La Via Campesina, took his own life outside the World Trade Organisation meeting in Cancun, Mexico, with the cry “WTO kills farmers!” His suicide prompted waves of protests in Asia against the advance of free trade. Ten years on, this agenda is still being negotiated, most recently in Bali, Indonesia, as the Doha development package of the WTO. Whether or not they even know that the WTO exists, poor communities the world over do know the reality of Lee Kyunghae’s words from their daily lives. Like many other policies bearing the term ‘development’ which are pursued by big business and agreed and implemented by governments, the development round offers no development to the poor. Indeed, ‘developing’ countries are learning through bitter experience that the current trade regime actually kills home-grown industries and prevents them from protecting food security, jobs and the livelihoods of their people.
‘Development’ means large-scale projects like hydro-dams, Special Economic Zones, shopping malls and extractive industries. South-East Asia is currently planning on launching a unified economic community. The ASEAN Economic Community, which will take full effect in 2015, is being framed as a regional ‘development’ project by the governments and the elite of the ten countries that are negotiating it. In the name of development, trade and investment agreements are being signed to enable transnational corporations to operate with more ease across borders. Big corporations from the more ‘developed’ countries in the bloc are getting more and more access to the lands, waters, forests and other natural resources in the countries classified as ‘least developed’, without minding the impacts on the local economy and environment.
Unsurprisingly, for many of those communities which have organised for their rights in this context, the term ‘development’ has a bitter taste. It has become associated with their long and painful struggle against the policies imposed on their governments by international institutions like the World Bank. It means large-scale projects like hydro-power dams that flood their lands to provide electricity for Special Economic Zones, which make cheap consumer products for the markets of the global north or shopping malls for rich tourists. It means extractive industries that strip mountains of minerals and destroy forests. It means agribusiness getting contracts for land use of up to ninety years while rural communities are pushed out. In today’s era of limited planetary capacity, the negotiations between states under the UN climate change negotiations are becoming a debate between countries about whose development should be controlled and whose development should be allowed to continue. In the face of increasing, and increasingly destructive, super storms being experienced worldwide, poorer countries are arguing that they are being left to die so that people in the ‘developed world’ can continue their lifestyles and corporations can continue to amass huge profits. An out-of-season typhoon that hit the islands located in the middle part of the Philippines in November was by far the strongest storm that ever hit land since records began. It left thousands dead and more injured, devastated the land, and destroyed infrastructure and property. It will certainly not be the last of its kind. Indeed, such storms will become more frequent as the planet continues to warm. This too is a consequence of our pursuit of development. Dorothy Grace Guerrero is the co-ordinator of the climate and environmental justice programme of Focus on the Global South, based in Bangkok. Find out more at www.focusweb.org
Action Winter 2014 15
Make 2014 your year of activism WDM has a whole series of events planned in the year ahead to enable supporters to get involved in the movement for economic justice. Whether you’re a longstanding member or new to WDM and campaigning, there’s plenty to get your teeth into.
e Life before Debt conferenc ent vem mo t on building a deb today organised by Jubilee . Debt Campaign and others . London
Week commencing 28 April Join Tanzanian agronomist Janet Maro and other speakers for the public launch of our agribusiness campaign in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
(exact dates to be confirmed) Economic Justice Project activist festival, bringing together people working on a the global and the local in ue. ven London
19-23 August European Summer Un iversity organised by the Atta c network. Université Paris Diderot, Paris. Explo re a huge range of economic jus tice issues and meet likem inded people from across Eu rope.
13-14 September WDM local groups and activists’ conference (including the AGM). Locati on and venue to be confirmed.
2013 in numbers People get involved with WDM in a huge number of ways. Here are some of the excellent contributions made by WDM members and supporters in 2013: • 8,250 people took our coal pile action, making it our most successful online action ever – and altogether 40,000 campaign actions were taken via our website in just one year • 1,967 of you donated to one or more of our appeals, raising over £95,000 for our campaigns • 1,285 of you shared your views on WDM by completing our supporter survey, making sure we keep getting better and better • 424 of you decided to start donating with a Direct Debit, which is a huge help to us in planning for the future • You got 120 letters into your local newspapers to spread the word about our campaigns • Clean energy supplier Ecotricity donated £4,120 to WDM when 185 of you switched to Ecotricity’s renewable energy contracts
• More than 140,000 people visited our website – that’s 20,000 more than last year • 69 of you told us you have left a gift to WDM in your Will, helping us to continue fighting for a fairer world long into the future • 10 of you did sponsored events, from trekking to cycling challenges, and raised an excellent £3,152 for WDM • Over 8,000 of you receive Action magazine to keep up to date with our campaigns and stories of resistance from around the world Whether you take action, send us funds, come to our events or spread the word, every supporter is crucial to ensuring continued success in our campaigns. So, however you get involved, thank you for being a part of WDM.
Celebrate and give Last September, WDM supporter Jerry Conway told his friends and family that he didn’t need birthday presents. Instead he suggested that they make a donation to WDM – and raised over £200. As Jerry told us, it was also “an opportunity to let my friends know what valuable work you are doing in campaigning for poorer nations and supporting them against unethical corporations”. A big thank you to Jerry. If you are interested in asking for donations instead of gifts at your birthday, wedding, anniversary or retirement, then email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Angela on 020 7820 4900 for advice on how best to go about it.
Ola Adeyemo In November we heard the sad news that Ola Adeyemo had passed away. Ola volunteered for WDM for over 20 years until 2008, by which time he was well into his eighties. He was a spritely presence around the office, keeping everyone topped up with tea and entertained with his poetic oratory. We know that his contribution to WDM’s work meant a lot to him and we’d like to pay tribute to his commitment and send his family our condolences.
Choose clean energy Energy company Ecotricity now gets 100 per cent of the electricity it supplies from renewable sources, and its gas is guaranteed fracking-free. Switching your energy supply to Ecotricity won’t cost you more and, if you quote ‘WDM’, we’ll get a donation of up to £60 from Ecotricity. If you’re interested in switching, visit www.ecotricity.co.uk/ wdm or call free on 08000 302 302.
Footpaths to global justice Plan a summer to remember in 2014 with one of our stunning Scottish sponsored treks. A great way to raise money for WDM’s work tackling the root causes of poverty while having a truly unforgettable experience. Our choice of walks offers you the chance to soak up Scotland’s stunning scenery without the stress of organising the trip.
Walk the West Highland Way 17-22 May Trek from the outskirts of Scotland’s largest city to the foot of its highest mountain via the shores of its largest freshwater loch on this 95 mile walk.
See the Great Glens 23-27 August From Inverness to the shadow of Ben Nevis, this 73 mile walk offers a diversity of bird and wildlife unrivalled in the UK.
Stand on the roof of Britain 12-14 September Take a weekend out to climb Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. A clear day from the summit brings simply awe-inspiring views.
For more information on any of these events please call 020 7820 4900, visit www.wdm.org.uk/sponsored-events or simply return the tear-off slip below.
Please send me more information on: The West Highland Way The Great Glen Way Ben Nevis challenge Name Address Telephone
Please return your completed slip to Freepost RRBA-HAEG-YUHJ, WDM, 66 Offley Road, London, SW2 2JL. Thank you.
Published on Feb 21, 2014