“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being…” – World Health Organization
The health tribunal used community testimony, scientific research and human rights organization’s knowledge to examine how the presence of Goldcorp’s mining operations have affected community residents. Over 600 people were in attendance from across Guatemala, as well as Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Canada, and the USA.
click on thumbnails below for larger view. you can use your arrow keys to move from photo to photo:
For more information about the Health Tribunal, see: http://healthtribunal.org
Read the final verdict
Here is a multimedia piece I made in San Miguel Ixtahuacan a few years ago outlining some of the struggles the community has been going through:
06.03.2012 – A large and diverse group of over a hundred people gathered outside the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) Convention today.
Leading the protests was a group of community representatives from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation. KI Councilors are rallying with hundreds of supporters while members of the remote Indigenous Nation mobilize on the ground to prevent mining exploration company Gods Lake Resources (GLR) from desecrating sacred burials on KI Homeland.
“We are mobilized to go to Sherman Lake to protect our land. I cannot allow our graves to be desecrated by a company that is hiring private security to trespass on our Homeland by force. That is no way to do business,” said Chief Morris.
On Sunday the Ontario government unilaterally withdrew 23,181 sq km of land in KI Homeland from mining exploration in response to KI’s longstanding decision to place a full moratorium on industry in KI’s Indigenous Homeland. However, the claims and leases at the heart of KI’s conflict with GLR are unaffected by ON’s move and the dispute over protection of burial sites and sacred landscape remains unresolved.
The MNDM has indicated that GLR intends to access the site this month, and refuses to answer whether GLR is on the land today. KI Chief Morris said in a Feb. 16 youtube video that his community was mobilizing and he feared that the situation would escalate. In a March 1 news release GLR indicated that they are looking to hire private security for their drill program – a potentially explosive move. A KI team is traveling to the Sherman Lake site today to conduct reconnaissance.
Kanawayandan D’aaki – Protecting Our Land
Below is a short video I made recently in collaboration with KI’s Lands and Environment Unit:
The PDAC protest also featured fashionistas from the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) who gathered to denounce and ridicule the Canadian mining sector outside of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention today. Walking down an impromptu catwalk in front of the Metro Toronto Convention Center, the protestors showcased “mining company must-haves” like a PR filter for everyday green-washing, cute pandas for controversial pipelines, and a 77 million dollar pacifier for Pacific Rim. The outfits satirized the superficial public relations stunts of the mining industry at home and abroad, while bringing attention to the community rights and basic human rights that are violated by these same companies.
This week, PDAC has been the target for many concerned groups including the Congolese-Canadians, the Ngapuhi Indigenous community from New Zealand, as well as KI. MISN supports communities directly impacted by Canada’s mining industry. “It’s time for Canadian legislation with teeth to hold Canadian corporations accountable locally and abroad and bring an end to weak voluntary regulation,” said Flynn, a member of Mining Injustice Solidarity Network.
Speeches from the protest (Unedited) Part 1/2
Speakers: Cecelia Begg – KI Councilor; Syed Hussan – Toronto KI Solidarity Group; Randy Nanokeesic – KI Counsilor; Syd Ryan – Ontario Federation of Labour;
Speeches from the protest (Unedited) Part 2/2
Speakers: Maryam Adrangi – Council of Canadians; Ramsey Hart – MiningWatch Canada; Steven Chapman – KI Lands & Environment Unit; Syed Hussan – Toronto KI Solidarity Group; Bob Lovelace – retired co-Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin; Richard Anderson – KI Lands & Environment Unit
Please contact me for high res images, audio, and video at:
For more information on KI, please contact:
David Sone: 647-386-1481
For more information on MISN, please contact:
Susana Caxaj: 416-839-8467
Photos from today:
I haven’t been doing a very good job at keeping this blog updated. I have several projects on the go right now, so I thought it would be a good idea to put together a review of everything I have been working on for the past few months. I am working on editing these projects into multimedia pieces, and it might be a little while before some of them are finished. But this will give you an idea of what to look out for in the coming months.
COP16 – Mexico
December 2010, I was working with the Indigenous Environmental Network as part of their media team at the United Nations Climate Summit in Cancun Mexico. So the beginning of 2011 was spent editing photos and video from the conference, and protests surrounding the conference.
Here is a selection of some of my photos from COP16:
Here is the video I put together covering the COP16, featuring members of the Indigenous Environmental Network delegation explaining why they came:
Mining Injustice Solidarity in Toronto
In the spring of 2011 I was involved in two international mining conferences in Toronto. The Mining Injustice Conference: Confronting Corporate Impunity, was organized by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and brought together front-line activists from impacted communities to share their experiences regarding the impacts of Canadian mining around the world.
The Ecumenical Conference on Mining brought together church leaders from around the world to discuss the impacts of Canadian mining on their communities. I am currently working on a video with KAIROS, addressing some of the topics discussed at the Ecumenical Conference on Mining, the video will be hopefully be released within the next month.
Here is aseries of large posters I made for both of these conferences:
Video of human rights protests outside Barrick Gold AGM:
South March Highlands
During the summer of 2011, I was invited to work on a project with Daniel Amikwabe Bernard, of the Algonquin Amikwabe Beaver Nation. Daniel has devoted his life to saving the South March Highlands in Ottawa from further desecration and development. The South March Highlands are sacred to the Algonquin people, but large parts of this urban forest is being torn down to make way for urban sprawl and housing developments. I am working on a short film about this forest and it’s historical and spiritual significance to the Algonquin people – featuring interviews with the late Grandfather William Commanda, Bob Lovelace, Paula Sherman, Mireille Lapointe, Nicole Lovelace, Robert Bateman, and Albert Dumont. I’m still in the early stages of editing this piece, but hope to have this one ready for spring 2012.
Here is a small selection of some of the photos from this project:
Oxfam Trailwalker 2011
Oxfam Trailwalker has evolved from a gruelling military exercise into a truly global movement that effects real change in the lives of millions of people living in abject poverty. It’s more than just a fitness challenge, Oxfam Trailwalker is a commitment to change the world, one step at a time. Teams of four commit to not only raising funds, but also hiking a gruelling 100km in 48 hours. The money raised from this fundraising event helps support Oxfam Canada’s initiatives all over the world. Specifically, Oxfam Canada is dedicated to supporting long-term development, advocacy, and emergency programs in 28 countries, and also provides emergency support during humanitarian crises.
“The climate has changed. There is no water here, nothing. Our land is dying and so are we” Ngorbob elders.
Ngorbob is a small Masai village near Arusha, Tanzania. Ngorbob has been severely hit by drought in recent months. They have not seen rain for over a year, and as a result their farmlands and livestock are dying. Many of the residents of Ngorbob have already been forced to leave their ancestral home in search of water and work.
I am still working on editing this photoessay which will soon be published in Tanzania by the Norwegian Church Aid.
Mining In Tanzania
While I was in Tanzania I had the chance to continue the work I had started in 2008. I’m working now on updating the photoessay from 2008, which will hopefully be online in a couple of weeks, and will also be putting together a video on this. Here is a selection of some new images on mining in Tanzania:
Village Community Banking
“My life and family has changed, but the whole community has benefitted too because if you educate a woman – one lady – you are educating the whole community.” – Hadija, VICOBA member in Lushoto, Tanzania.
In Tanzania, Village Community Banking (VICOBA) provides a structure through which communities are able to organize themselves, provide skill-sharing, and capacity building in an effort to combat poverty. Inspired by Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, the idea behind VICOBA is the belief that poor people have the skills, capabilities and abilities to improve their own economic development and social welfare.
In a field that is increasingly becoming dominated by corporate models of development, these stories provide examples of alternative models that are based on the dignity and ingenuity of the people. These women-led initiatives empower communities to find local solutions to their own local problems. These often-untold stories of community role models transforming their own communities are at the heart of a stronger, more inclusive, healthier and more socially just model of international development.
This is another work in progress for me, putting together a photoessay which will be published in Tanzania by the Norwegian Church Aid, as well as producing a short film about VICOBA.
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) has governed and cared for their Indigenous homeland, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Aaki, since time before memory. In 2008, KI’s Chief and five community leaders were jailed for refusing to allow mining exploration which threatened KI’s water supply. The remote First Nation community succeeded in fighting off mining exploration by Platinex Inc. But now other companies are staking claims within KI territory. KI’s pristine waters, their sacred landscape, and the lake trout they rely upon are at risk. KI has a vision for the future of their lands and environment that benefits all life.
Here is a short film I made in collaboration with KI’s Lands & Environment Unit, Kanawayandan D’aaki: Protecting Our Land
Here is a selection of some of my photos from KI, featuring an aerial view of their expansive Indigenous homeland, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Aaki.
So that wraps up what I have been working on for the past few months. Most of these projects are still not completed yet, so I am working on multiple projects simultaneously which is why I’m taking so long with these. In the meantime I also have to spend some time updating this website. Apologies to those of you waiting patiently for these videos/photoessays, I’m getting there…
New Gold is a Canadian mining company operating gold and silver mines in the United States, Mexico, Australia. The company is also involved in projects and exploration in Canada and Chile. Shareholders were confronted by about 30 protestors at New Gold’s anual general meeting in Toronto. New Gold is accused of operating an illegal mine in Cerro San Pedro, Mexico. Also for its repeated and well documented human rights and environmental abuses in Mexico as well as violating indigenous self-determination at its joint venture project at Chile’s El Moro mine.
Click on thumbnails below for more photos:
For more information on campaigns to stop New Gold please visit:
Frente Amplio Opositor (Spanish/Español): http://faoantimsx.blogspot.com/
FAO Montreal (Inglés-Francés): http://faomontreal.wordpress.com/
Mining Watch Canada (Inglés-Francés): http://tinyurl.com/4ynk3qt
OCMAL (Spanish/Español) http://www.conflictosmineros.net/
Op-ed on caravan stop in Cerro San Pedro http://www.straight.com/article-362797/vancouver/andrea-hardendonahue-and-brent-patterson-caravan-cancun-climate-justice
SACRED FIRE BURNING AT QUEEN’S PARK FOR OTTAWA’S SOUTH MARCH HIGHLANDS
(Toronto) Daniel Amikwabe Bernard, Algonquin Firekeeper, kept a Sacred Fire burning at Queen’s Park from Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th February urging the province to halt tree-clearing and to promote understanding about Ottawa’s most important ecological and cultural heritage areas.
The South March Highlands are one of the most bio-diverse areas remaining in urban Canada, with more than 675 different species of life, including 240 species of wildlife and over 134 different types of nesting birds.
For the past year local citizens, environmentalists and First Nations groups representing over 14,000 people have mounted a vigorous campaign to save undeveloped lands in the 10,000-year-old, ecologically unique, South March Highlands. In the 1970s it was protected as a Natural Environmental Area but urban development has steadily eroded it until less than 1/3rd remains protected. Citizens have actively opposed development since 1981 because the South March Highlands is an old-growth forest having the densest bio-diversity in Ottawa and provides critical habitat for 20 species-at-risk.
In the latest assault on the forest, KNL Developments recently began clear-cutting trees for a subdivision in an area known locally as the Beaver Pond Forest, even though development depends on planned water diversions without Environmental Assessment and a questionable archaeological study.
On Wednesday, Daniel Amikwabe Bernard together with Danny Beaton, of the Mohawk Turtle Clan, started the Sacred Fire to burn as a beacon of hope within the provincial capital to promote understanding and to request support from the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, to issue a Ministerial Order to halt the clear-cutting, in light of the two independent archaeological reviews, and the discovery of potentially significant sites since the 2004 MTC approval.
In an unprecedented recognition of aboriginal religious practices by the Provincial Legislature, permission was granted to keep the Sacred Fire burning day and night. The Sacred Fire is an altar for prayer and visitors were invited to approach respectfully and spend time with the Firekeeper to learn more about the South March Highlands and to discuss our relationship with Mother Earth.
On Sunday, February 13th, the Sacred Fire went out at mid-day. A crowd of about a hundred people came out to the closing ceremonies to show their support.
[A note about these photos: traditional Algonquin teachings consider it deeply offensive to photograph the sacred fire itself. These photos were taken with the express permission of the fire-keeper and are intended to draw attention to the urgency of the situation in the South March Highlands.]
(Click on thumbnails for larger view)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhSU5heJl5o (cultural and natural heritage video)
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2011-01-13-SMH-1-SMH_Overview_v16.pdf (SMH Overview presentation)
Letters of Support (e.g. First Nations leaders, Grandfather William Commanda, David Suzuki Foundation, MP Gordon O’Connor,
MPP Norm Sterling) may be downloaded from http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/
Dr. McGhee’s comments on the Archaeological Study http://www.renaud.ca/public/Archaeology/2010-08-06-
www.ottawasgreatforest.com (website for the Stewardship Plan to protect the SMH)
www.southmarchhighlands.ca (website for the Coalition to Protect the SMH)
On Sunday Oct. 17th, activists from Environmental Justice Toronto and the Indigenous Environmental Network came to Yonge and Dundas Square, in the heart of downtown Toronto, to invite people passing by to ask them why they protest the tar sands giga-project and start a conversation. This action was done in solidarity with BC First Nations and the No Pipelines No Tanks Day of Action in BC.
“The tar sands has been called ‘the most destructive project on earth’ and its expansion is devastating the regional environment, including contaminating Canada’s precious water supply, endangering wildlife, threatening First Nations’ health and preventing Canada from meeting it’s climate commitments.”
“The explosive growth of tar sands projects comes at a huge cost, damaging land, air, water, forests, and the climate. Tar sands extraction and processing is one of the greatest social and ecological injustices of our time.”
“The world stands at an energy crossroads. As cheap, plentiful conventional oil becomes a luxury of the past, we now face a choice: to set a course for a more sustainable energy future of clean, renewable fuels, or to develop ever-dirtier sources of transportation fuel — at an even greater cost to our health and environment.”
“Our energy future is now — and all it requires is investing in affordable, available clean and renewable sources today that will move us beyond oil and dirty fuels that imperil our planet and our health.”
“Downstream communities have experienced polluted water, water reductions in rivers and aquifers, declines in wildlife populations such as moose and muskrat, and significant declines in fish populations. The tar sands are destroying the traditional livelihood of First Nations in the northern Alberta watershed.”
“The tar sands operations are the largest source of projected new greenhouse gas pollution in Canada. This is the number one reason Alberta and Canada’s emissions are rising instead of falling.”
“If the tar sands continue to operate as predicted, there is no hope of Canada meeting its international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as outlined in the Kyoto Protocol.”
“Between 2 and 4 barrels of water are required to produce each barrel of oil extracted from the sands. At least 90% of the fresh water used in oil sand extraction winds up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing on them and dying. These tailings ponds already span more than 170 square kilometers and can be seen from space”
“A 2008 Environmental Defense report estimated that 11 million liters of contaminated water are seeping from the tailings ponds into the environment on a daily basis.”
“Tar sands development is the single largest contributer to the increase in climate change in Canada, as it accounts for 40 million tons of CO2 emissions per year, and means that thousands of hectares of ancient Boreal Forest are clear-cut and destroyed.”
“By 2011 it is expected that the tar sands will emit 80 million tons of CO2 emissions. And these numbers only take into account the production of oil from the tar sands. Once tar sands oil is burned as fuel, it creates further emissions.”
“Tar sands are transforming Canada’s boreal forests and wetlands into fuel for Americas gas tank and war machine. Canadian and US citizens are getting little benefit and suffering huge environmental costs.”
“Described by the United Nations Environment Program as one of the world’s top ‘environmental hot spots,’ tar sands projects will eventually transform a boreal forest the size of Florida into a toxic industrial sacrificial zone.”
As Enbridge held its investors meeting in First Canadian Place, Environmental Justice Toronto entered the building and released a banner attached to helium balloons that read “Enbridge Invests in Oil Addiction.” The banner was visible through the glass front of the building, where activists held up another banner saying “Community Resistance is the Cure.”
On the outside, activists were chanting and handing out flyers which were made by the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, in British Columbia, who are resisting Enbridge’s proposed $5 billion Gateway pipeline project. The Gateway project would move oil from the tar sands in northern Alberta to Kitimat, BC.
Enbridge has a long history of pipeline spills and other accidents, including a 1 million gallon spill of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, one of the largest spills in US history. According to the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council’s flyer, “the Gateway Pipeline risks damage to 785 watercourses, wildlife habitat and fragile salmon fisheries. The project route also crosses the territories of over 20 First Nations in BC.”
The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and other First Nations communities along the route are proposing “a community-lead process based on the minimum international standard of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent as ratified by the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People in 2007.”
The Environmental Justice Toronto activists were calling on investors to support these reasonable proposals and demand a full disclosure of environmental and legal risks associated with construction of the Enbridge Gateway pipeline.
(click on thumbnails below to view images of the action, use arrow keys on keyboard to navigate through images)
- Dunham, Quebec, Canada – August 7-23, 2010 -
Community members of Dunham, Quebec, joined forces with supporters from across Quebec, Canada, and North America, to hold a Climate Action Camp to strengthen the campaign against the Trailbreaker Project. The the proposed pumping station in Dunham is part of Enbridge’s Trailbreaker Pipeline Project which is intended to carry oil from the Alberta Tar Sands to the United States’ Eastern Seaboard.
According to community members, the proposed pumping station threatens the health, water, environment, and lands of the people of Dunham and the region. The company, and government backers, behind this proposed pumping station are ignoring community wishes and concerns, including demands for an independent environmental assessment. The community has never consented to the project.
On Saturday, June 5, 2010, human rights and community organizations mobilized to join an emergency Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) Day of Action called by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).
In Toronto, protesters condemned the fatal attacks by Israel on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip.
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
Palestine House Community Centre
Canadian Arab Federation
Toronto Coalition to Stop the War
Canadian Peace Alliance
Mining (in)justice: at home and abroad is a conference on the Canadian mining industry (including Tar Sands) set to take place in Toronto on the weekend of May 7-9, 2010. It will feature leaders in movements against Canadian mining companies both within and outside of Canada and provide space for growing our own movements in alliance with communities impacted by this industry.
WHAT: Conference on the Canadian Mining Industry
WHERE: Earth Sciences Building, University of Toronto
WHEN: May 7-9, 2010
WHO: Impacted communities are coming from all over the world and within Canada. Hear speakers from Honduras, Guatemala, Carrier Sekani First Nation, Papua New Guinea, El Salvador, Ardoch Algonquin, Northern Ontario, Fort Chipewan, Mexico and more! Clayton Thomas Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network is MCing the event!
All our welcome, and the event is free!
This is a follow-up conference to last year’s mining conference, which brought over 20 front line defenders to share their stories and strategize solutions to ending corporate impunity and strengthening the struggles against destructive mining projects around the world.
This year, we are expanding the conference into a 3 day event, providing more space for participants to meet each other, form alliances, and plan actions to foster a movement in solidarity with impacted communities.
for more information and to find out how to get involved! solidarityresponse.net, e-mail:email@example.com
Confirmed speakers for 2010 include:
ROBERT LOVELACE: For nearly 25 years Bob has remained a steadfast and determined representative for the Algonquin communities of Ardoch, Sharbot Lake. He has stood strong with many allies and friends in defence of the wild rice stands near Ardoch Algonquin land. Lovelace is most well-known outside the Ardoch Algonquin community for his stand against uranium mining, for which he was incarcerated in 2008 with no objection from the Province of Ontario at the time.
CLAIRE LEHAN: Lehan is a legislative Assistant to MPP John McKay. She had worked on the creation of Bill C300 since its inception.
DIANE WIGGINS: Post Colborne resident and community organizer for the Coalition Against Contamination. Wiggins is currently involved in a lawsuit againt INCO due to nickel contamination.
CHRIS REID: Lawyer of the Ardoch Algonquin and KI Nations
JETHRO TULIN: Jethro has been organizing within and outside the Barrick’s Porgera mine since its inception (then owned by Placer Dome. In 1989, he registered Porgera’s first mine workers union and became its first secretary.Years later, Tulin returned to Porgera to find the situation worse and thus founded the Akali Tange Association (ATA), a human rights organization documenting abuses at the Porgera mine in Papa New Guinea – – a mine owned by Toronto’s Barrick Gold.
ENRIQUE RIVERA SIERRA: Rivera is a lawyer and activist working with FAO (Frente Amplio Opositor), a broad environmental and community coalition working to defend Cerro de San Pedro, including historically and culturally significant sites, from contamination and destruction by Canadian company New Gold. Rivera Sierra is currently in Canada claiming political asylum after being allegedly harassed and threatened by mining employees.
ULISES GARCIA: Organized the local referendum against Manhattan Resources which managed to expel a powerful global mining company. He is the founder of a grassroots organization called Tropico Seco, which focuses on the promotion of peaceful resistance and the holding of community and municipal referendums in Latin America concerning development initiatives.
THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS: The council works to promote progressive policies on fair trade, clean water, energy security, public health care, and other issues of social and economic concern to Canadians. The council has been active in building awareness about problems with the Canadian Fisheries Act which has allowed metal mining companies to apply for federal and provincial approval to use bodies of fresh water as tailings ponds for mining waste.
KAREN SPRING : Karen is from Ontario, Canada. With Rights Action since early 2009, she lives and works in Honduras and Guatemala.
CARLOS AMADOR: Carlos is a teacher and community leader in El Porvenir, 15 kilometers from Goldcorp’s open-pit, cyanide-leaching gold mine – the “San Martin” mine. Since 2000, Carlos has been educating and organizing local communities in the Siria Valley, and working to resist and demand justice for the health and environmental harms and human rights violations caused by Goldcorp’s mine.
JAVIER de LEON: Javier is a Mayan Mam community leader from the village of Maquivil, municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, department of San Marcos. From his small home, he looks across at Goldcorp’s ever expanding open-pit, cyanide-leaching gold mine – the “Marlin” mine. Since 2004, Javier has been educating and organizing Mayan Mam communities and working to resist and demand justice for the health and environmental harms and human rights violations caused by Goldcorp’s mine.
CLEVE HIGGINS: Cleve is working with the McGill research group for the Investigation of Canadian mining in Latin America (MICLA) and has focused on the institutional investment in Canadian gold mining companies. On May 10th he’ll be staking a mining claim on Mount Royal, and then heading to southern Mexico to make connections with the growing opposition to Canadian mining in that part of the continent.
NELY RIVERA DE SILVA: de Silva works with CEICOM, the Centre for Research on Investment and Commerce, an organization that does research and advocacy on the impacts of mining investment in El Salvador. At this time, Nely is deeply involved community organizing to prevent the second Goldcorp mine in Guatemala, that of Cerro Blanco, which is on the Guatemala/El Salvador border and threatens access to water and the contamination of water and the eco-system on both sides of the border.
STEVEN SCHNOOR: For several years, Schnoor has been working on the issue of Canadian mining companies operating in Central America — an interest that began in January 2005/ Film work includes “Desalojo (Eviction)” and “All That Glitters Isn’t Gold: A Story of Exploitation and Resistance.” Steven is presently working on a larger documentary looking at the broader implications of mining in the surrounding regions.
MIKE MERCREDI: Mike works for the Athabasca Chipewyan FN (ACFN) in their IRC department as a GIS technical specialist. He is a Traditional Environment Knowledge (TEK) and Traditional Land Use Occupations (TLUO) facilitator. He will speak on the frontline struggles in Fort Chipewyan including a plague of tar sands related cancer.
ENRICO ESGUERRA: Rick Esguerra taught International Development and Political Science at the University of the Philippines, and was involved in popular education for labour and peasant organizations before coming to Canada in 1990. Since then he has been involved in social justice, human rights and international solidarity work as a member of the Philippine Solidarity Network and the Philippine Network for Justice and Peace (PNJP). In September 2006, he made a presentation for PNJP on Canadian Mining Practices in the Philippines at the Toronto Roundtable on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Sector, hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
TIM GROVES: is a Toronto-based investigative researcher and reporter. He has been sharing his skills with a variety of activist and community groups since 2003.
MALCOM ROGGE: is a filmmaker and writer based in Toronto. His debut feature documentary film, Under Rich Earth had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and has received widespread critical acclaim. Rogge has also worked for human rights and environmental organizations in Canada and Ecuador, and he is on the editorial board of a national magazine devoted to politics and social justice.
ALLAN LISSNER: is an independent photojournalist based in Toronto, Canada. Allan’s ongoing project, “Someone Else’s Treasure”, examines the social and environmental impacts of the global mining industry on indigenous communities around the world. Allan has done work with many organizations including Amnesty International, Oxfam Canada, Make Poverty History, Norwegian Church Aid,the Ontario Council for International Cooperation, and the United Nations Development Program.
TENZIN LOBSANG WANGKHANG: Wangkhang is the National Director of Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) Canada, a grassroots non-profit advocacy group based out of Toronto. Students for a Free Tibet Canada is part of the SFT International network which works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence from illegal Chinese occupation. Through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action, they campaign for Tibetans’ fundamental right to political freedom. SFT’s role is to empower and train youth as leaders in the worldwide movement for social justice. One of SFT Canada’s key campaigns is targeting Canadian mining companies that have lead to recent foreign gold rush into Tibet.
FELICIANO ORELLANA: is a representative of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Franciscan Family, in the Department of Jutiapa in eastern Guatemala. Employed by Goldcorp subsidiary Entre Mares in 1998 as one of the first employee, he later got hired in 2008 and suffered an almost Fatal accident on the job, for which he received no compensation. Now Feliciano is an active leader in his community and wants to share his experience on Goldcorp Human Rights Violations and the communities’ opposition to the Cerro Blanco Mine, Goldcorp’ second large mine in Guatemala.
DR. CONSTANCIO ‘CHANDU’ CLAVER: a native of Bontoc, Mountain Province in the northern Philippines, is currently the Chairperson of BAYAN Canada. A surgeon by training and a physician by practice, Dr. Claver has been a doctor of the masses for decades, being the Executive Director of the former Community Health and Education Concerns for Kalinga-Apayao. Formerly the Vice-Chair of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance, and chairperson of Bayan Muna in Kalinga, Dr. Claver is known as a staunch advocate of human rights, peace and justice. In July 2006, Dr. Claver, his wife Alyce, and their daughter were targets of a political assassination attempt, which his wife did not survive. Dr. Claver recently won his claim for political refugee status; he and his daughters now live in Canada.
Indigenous representatives from Papua New Guinea and Chile traveled to Canada this week to speak at Barrick Gold’s annual shareholders meeting.
“Barrick has made it impossible for us to live on our traditional land. It is contaminated, unhealthy, we have no land left to grow our food and we are constantly targeted by the mine security,” explained Mark Ekepa, the chairman of the Porgera Landowners Association. “We want to be resettled as a community, but Barrick refuses to negotiate with us.”
More info on Barrick Gold: http://www.protestbarrick.net/article.php?id=590
To speak to Indigenous representatives contact Sakura Saunders: 647-838-8455, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 7, 2010, Toronto – On World Health Day, members of Grassy Narrows First Nation lead a march of over 250 people to the seat of the Provincial Government at Queen’s Park. The Grassy Narrows People have travelled 1,800 km to deliver their demands for restitution for mercury poisoning whose health effects in the community are worse now than when Ontario first banned fishing in their river 40 years ago, according to a newly translated study by Japanese mercury expert Dr. Harada. The Provincial government has compounded the impacts of mercury on the community’s health, culture, and economy by permitting decades of unwanted clear-cut logging, and mining activity on their territory.
More info: freegrassy.org
April 1st, 2010, Rainforest Action Network Toronto naming Royal Bank of Canada the Fossil Fool of the Year 2010, for being the leading financier of the Tar Sands oil projects.
Music: Kevin MacLeod
Someone Else’s Treasure is an ongoing multimedia project which brings to light some of the experiences of indigenous communities around the world that have been impacted by the global mining industry – including communities in the Philippines, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Chile, Canada, and Guatemala.
This multimedia piece focuses on communities in San Marcos, Guatemala, living next to the Canadian-owned Marlin Mine. The first two songs are by Grupo Kotzic, who are from San Marcos, singing about the peoples’ resistance to the mine. The third song is a live recording from inside the Church of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, where community members were singing a song they wrote about their experiences with the mine.
In an effort to better understand the true cost of an industry that shapes the world around all of us, the focus of Someone Else’s Treasure is on the externalized – the men, women, and children, that have been left out of the equations and are therefore forced to pay the price for someone else’s treasure.
Now available in Spanish: La Riqueza de Otros – Guatemala
Read the photo essay for more information:
Over 170 people gathered outside the Royal Bank of Canada’s Annual General Meeting on March 3rd to protest the bank’s leading role in funding the Alberta tar sands. People concerned with the impact of tar sands projects on First Nations, water quality and the climate came from all over the country to tell RBC to “stop bankrolling the tar sands.”
Inside the shareholder meeting, First Nations Chiefs and community representatives from four different Nations demanded RBC phase out of its Tar Sands financing and to recognize the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent for Indigenous communities.
Chief Al Lameman of Beaver Lake First Nation, Vice Chief Terry Teegee or the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Hereditary Chief Warner Naziel of the Wet’suwe’ten First Nation, and Gitz Crazyboy of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation addressed RBC CEO Gordon Nixon directly about the way tar sands extraction projects have jeopardized their health and their rights.
“RBC’s significant financial relationship with companies pursuing tar sands development activities within our traditional territory and without consent warrants close attention,” said Chief Al Lameman of Beaver Lake First Nation, “RBC should update their policies to include a recognition of Free, Prior and Informed Consent for Indigenous communities; this globally recognized concept was adopted by TD Bank Financial Group in 2007 and is endorsed by indigenous communities across the political spectrum.”
“I pleaded with the board of directors,” said Hereditary Chief Warner Naziel of the Wet’suwe’ten First Nation about his experience inside the RBC shareholder meeting, “I pleaded with the president, with the CEO and the shareholders to seriously consider looking at exactly what the RBC is doing. And it’s an important message; pay attention to what’s happening with the investments and the lending circles that are created from the RBC – it’s destroying our planet! It’s destroying our planet’s ability to sustain us as human beings. And it will continue to do that. I fear that, if we continue allowing banks like RBC to continue what they’re doing, climate change is going to reach its tipping-point, if it hasn’t already.”
“We completely oppose the entire scope of the whole dig-up project,” said Hereditary Chief Warner Naziel of the Wet’suwe’ten First Nation, “we’re not just opposed to the tar sands, we’re opposed to the proposed tanker traffic on the coast, we’re opposed to pipelines, and we’re opposed to the proposed CN transportation of dirty oil from the tar sands to the coast of BC.”
“People in my community are getting sick, people are dying,” said Gitz Crazyboy from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, “we can’t drink the water, we used to about 10-15 years ago right out of the Athabasca River, no body wants to do that anymore … too many people are dying.”
“People in my community are getting pissed off,” continued Gitz Crazyboy, “we’re getting tired, we’re getting angry, we’re losing faith in the world around us. All of you people here have a responsibility as Canadian citizens, as human beings even, to try to help us out, for our voice to be heard, we haven’t been heard in the last 400 years!”
According to Bloomberg, since 2007, RBC has backed $16.9 billion in loans to companies operating in the tar sands and has earned more than $132 million in underwriting fees. As a result, RBC has enabled the production of the world’s dirtiest oil.
Oil extraction from the tar sands generates three times the CO2 emissions as conventionally extracted oil, and will soon make Canada the biggest contributer to global warming.
Mining oil from tar sands requires churning up huge tracts of ancient boreal forest and polluting clean water with so much poisonous chemicals that the resulting waste ponds can be seen from outer space.
The health impacts to Alberta’s First Nation communities are severe, with cancer rates up in some communities as much as 400 times its usual frequency. In addition, communities living near oil refineries face increased air and water pollution from tar sands oil, which contains 11 times more sulfur and nickel and five times more lead than conventional oil.
For more information on RBC and the tar sands, visit: Rainforest Action Network Toronto
Video of the protest coming soon…
Tar Sands protest outside Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the COP15 Climate Conference.
The protest was led by the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Speakers: Mother & daughter Susan and Eriel Deranger from the Athabasca Chipewan First Nation, just downriver from the Tar Sands oil projects in Alberta, Canada.
Nearly a hundred people gathered outside the Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, to demand climate justice for indigenous communities that are being impacted by the tar sands.
Besides these photos, I also video recorded the speeches made by the speakers at the protest. Some of the speakers included Francois Paulette of Fort Smith First Nation, Naomi Kline Canadian author of “No Logo” and “The Shock Doctrine”, Eriel Deranger of Rainforest Action Network, Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, and others. I will get the videos posted as soon as I can.
I’ve been working on a project for a while now that I haven’t shown anyone just yet because it’s nowhere close to being ready, I haven’t even decided on a title yet. But in light of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent statement at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, claiming that Canada has no history of colonialism, I want to give you a little sneak peak.
I don’t want to say too much about the project just yet since this is still a work in progress, which is why I’m not including any captions but I think the images alone tell a compelling story about Canada’s colonial history. Many of the following images were taken in museums and historic churches where the displays, paintings, stain-glass windows, etc. all paint an interesting picture of the history of Canada. These images are shown alongside photos of current events showing how that history continues to resonate with First Nations communities in Canada.
Toronto, ON – May 26, 2009 – Forget Ironman. Forget the Amazing Race. Meet Oxfam Trailwalker, the world’s toughest team challenge. Making its North American debut in Ontario
the weekend of July 24th – 26th, 2009, Trailwalker is considered one of the most demanding outdoor physical challenges on Earth.
Starting at the historic Fort Willow Depot in Springwater, Ontario, teams of four hiked 100 challenging kilometers along the Ganaraska Trail System, ending at Wasaga Beach on the
shore of beautiful Georgian Bay. But that’s not all – each team had to cross the finish line – together – all under a 48 hour deadline.
Originating in Hong Kong in the 1980s as a training exercise of the elite military unit, the Queen’s Gurkhas, Oxfam Trailwalker has gained international recognition and now takes place
in Hong Kong, Australia, England, Japan, New Zealand, Belgium and for the first time this year, events are scheduled in The Netherlands, Ireland and Canada.
Recommending that teams not rest or sleep for more than 3 to 4 hours at a time, participants were given a maximum of 48 hours to complete the challenge. As well as requiring the utmost from each team member physically, each team also committed to raise a minimum of $2,500, in support of Oxfam’s community development and humanitarian relief efforts worldwide.
“Trailwalker is a one-of-a-kind event,” said Nicole Salmon, Director of Development at Oxfam Canada. “It offers people an incredibly satisfying personal achievement and is a great experience to share with friends and family, while helping those most in need.”
Trailwalker also offers unique personal growth and training opportunities for Canadian athletes and competitors, such as curlers Craig Savill and Brent Laing. As 2007 World Champions, Savill and Laing are currently in training for the National Trials in Edmonton, competing for the chance to represent Canada at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. “Trailwalker is the perfect training exercise for our team,” says Savill. “It gives us the opportunity to improve our athletic endurance and at the same time reinforces our ability to work as a team – supporting and relying on one another.”
Hundreds of Canadian volunteers registered to support the event and help meet Oxfam’s goal of aiding in the lives of women, men and children living in poverty around the world. Globally, Oxfam Trailwalker is a positive force for change. The Trailwalker Hong Kong event currently sells out with almost 4,000 participants per year. “As the inaugural North American stop for Trailwalker, Canadians can be thrilled to join the prestigious ranks of host locations across the globe,” says Salmon. “While Canadians have a keen competitive edge, we are also kind and generous by nature. Trailwalker is the perfect opportunity for participants to achieve personal development while demonstrating compassion and support for those most in need.”
About Oxfam Trailwalker
Oxfam Trailwalker began in 1981 in Hong Kong, and has since grown into one of the world’s leading sporting challenges. In just over 20 years, Oxfam Trailwalker has become a major international fundraising event held in over eight countries. Since its inception, the event has raised millions of dollars internationally with thousands of people competing each year.
About Oxfam Canada
Oxfam Canada fights poverty and injustice in developing countries with a strong commitment to women’s rights and equality between women and men. Oxfam Canada is a member of Oxfam International, a federation of thirteen autonomous non-governmental organizations. Together, Oxfam works to tackle the root causes of poverty, social injustice and inequality. Founded in 1963, Oxfam Canada supports community programs that develop leadership, self-reliance and active citizenship.
See more of my photos from Oxfam Trailwalker Canada here
find out more about Oxfam Canada
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) organized a die-in outside two Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branches to protest the bank’s involvement in the tar sands. The following text is from a press release put out by RAN:
Group Stages Mock Death Outside RBC Branches in Protest of Bank’s Involvement in Dirty Oil
Feigned Collapses Represent Real Impacts of Tar Sands Destruction and Water Pollution of First Nations Throughout Athabasca Delta
Toronto - Customers visiting RBC’s newly opened downtown banking centre today were met with the sight of motionless bodies strewn along the pavement in front of the bank entrance. The bodies were those of approximately 15 Rainforest Action Network (RAN) activists who, in protest against RBC’s continued financing of Alberta tar sands production, feigned death after symbolically drinking contaminated tar sands water.
Leading all other Canadian banks, over the past four years RBC has provided $8.9 billion in financial support to companies operating in the tar sands. The tar sands, which are devastating the regional environment, contaminating water sources, undermining local First Nation’s people’s health and preventing Canada from meeting its climate commitments, have become a source of global shame for Canada. RAN is asking RBC to cease financing tar sands production and instead, provide financing for the production of renewable energy.
“RBC, as Canada’s largest bank, is positioned to lead the country towards a future of energy sustainability and environmental stewardship,” says RAN activist Kimia Ghomeshi. “Instead, RBC has chosen to become the ‘ATM’ for companies seeking financing for dirty tar sands production. I think RBC’s customers would like to know what their bank is doing with the money in their savings and chequing accounts.”
Tar sands projects, which extract and process bitumen, a type of crude oil, have become the leading cause of CO2 emissions growth in Canada. A water intensive process, production has resulted in the creation of over 130 km2 of toxic tailing ponds, which are now estimated to leak 11 million litres of polluted water into the Athabasca watershed daily. Downstream from the tar sands, a Government of Alberta health study has confirmed that First Nations’ communities are now experiencing elevated levels of rare cancers.
The protesters emphasized that RBC’s support of tar sands production is not consistent with its public commitments to leadership in the areas of corporate environmental sustainability and water conservation. As Melina Laboucan-Massimo, who is a member of the Lubicon Cree Nation, asked at the recent RBC annual shareholders meeting, “If RBC is serious about supporting clean water, why are they financing projects that are contaminating the lakes and rivers around my community?”
RBC’s “Create” PR campaign touts RBC’s environmental credentials. In one TV ad publicizing the RBC ‘s Blue Water Project, we are asked to:
“Think of all the water in the world … oceans, rivers, lakes. It may seem like a lot but only a small fraction is fresh water, and there’s only so much to go around, which is why it is so important to protect it.”
In a November 2008 speech to an environmental group, CEO Gordon Nixon proclaimed that “water is the problem of the ages” and that “life depends on water. It’s high time we remembered that.”
Yet, in contrast to the $3 million in donations under the Blue Water Project in 2008, RBC in the same year financed an estimated minimum of $641 million with oil and gas companies operating in the Alberta tar sands. An estimate of RBC’s total fossil fuel financing based on public records shows over $50 billion financed across all business lines in 2007 (see: www.climatefriendlybanking.org) And since 2002, RBC has directly invested over $63 billion in tar sands companies such as Encana, Suncor, and Canadian Natural Resources.
According to industry information, toxic lakes in the tar sands stretching over 50 km leak over 11 million litres a day of contaminated water into the environment. First Nations downstream are growing increasingly concerned about water quality and elevated cancer levels and have sued the Province of Alberta over adverse environmental impacts. Tar sands are also Canada’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas pollution. (more at: www.ran.org/tarsands)
For more information:
Today’s pictures of the day are of two of the many oil refineries in Sarnia, Ontario, taken during the Tri-city Tar Sands Youth Tour, organized by the Polaris Institute and the Sierra Youth Coalition. I’ll be posting more from that tour and more over the next few days.
Solidarity protests were held in Toronto and Montreal in Canada, in Melbourne, Canberra and Newcastle in Australia, as well as in Bankok, Thailand, and Mexico City, Mexico, as part of the Global Day of Action Against Open-Pit Mining. These protests targeted Canadian Embassies, specific mining companies’ offices, as well as the Toronto Stock Exchange, to show their solidarity with communities around the world that have been impacted by Canadian mining projects.
The following images are from the protest outside the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the text is from the information handouts that participants were handing out to passers by:
“The Canadian economy funds projects to the shame of each Canadian. There are no human rights requirements to be listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The Canadian government supports these companies even as human rights workers are killed and communities poisioned. Canada is getting a bad name from these widespread human and environmental catastrophes.”
Some of the cases the protesters highlighted from around the world included:
“Political killings of left-leaning activists, clergy and journalists in the Philippines have been escalating steadily under the Presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and have been linked to open criticism of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The human-rights group Karapatan estimates that over one thousand activists have been killed since Macapagal-Arroyo came to power in 2001. Nearly all of the cases remain unresolved.”
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
“Eight Canadian mining companies have been called to account for commercial activities that have contributed to conflict in the war-torn country. It is estimated that 3-5 million people have died in the Congo in recent years due to the war. Moreover, Canadian companies have been implicated in providing logistical support to the Congolese Armed Forces.”
“The largest single mining investment in Burma, Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., is a company registered in the Yukon to take advantage of Canada’s generous tax breaks for foreign exploration and development. Neither the mining industry itself, the Canadian stock exchanges, nor the laws governing corporations in Canada, currently provide any safeguards against the impacts of irresponsible mining on communities and the environment in conflict-torn countries like Burma. Reports from people in the area indicate severe environmental damage and the use of forced labour in building roads to the mine.”
The Canadian junior mining company Copper Mesa is currently facing litigation for perpetuating human rights abuses by hiring paramilitary to intimidate local farmers and indigenous peoples who opposed mineral exploration of their lands. The TSX is also named in the suit and is currently being sued for $3 billion for allowing Copper Mesa to raise funds on the exchange despite prior knowledge of Copper Mesa’s human rights violations in Ecuador.
“Canada is the only nation to support the recent coup by Honduras military. President Zelaya had proposed nationalizing mineral resources in his country, a position extremely unpopular with Canadian mining interests in the country. The Canadian company Goldcorp, has been linked to human rights abuses and ecological destruction in the country. Goldcorp has received nearly one billion dollars from Canadian Pension Plan subsidies. ”
Papua New Guinea
“Allegations of rapes, beatings and killings of community members by Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) security forces have been prevalent for at least a decade. In April, 2009 security forces burned the 300 houses of local indigenous peoples to the ground – these villagers have claimed these lands as traditional territory and were not consulted properly about mining development. Moreover, The PJV mine empties millions of tons of tailings directly into the nearby 800 km-long river system. Norway’s Government Pension Fund has dropped its shares in Canada’s Barrick Gold as a result of Barrick’s waste disposal practices at Porgera.”
“Mining in Canada has faced increased resistance from communities in Canada, particularity from First Peoples who have witnessed the destruction of their lands and culture with mining development. In particular, tar sands developments have created the largest ecological disaster on earth.”
Meanwhile in Mexico City, activists are marking the first Global Day of Action Against Open-Pit mining with a 36-hour sit-in outside the Canadian Embassy building in Mexico City.
“The sit-in is a nonviolent protest to demand that the Canadian government intervene in the case of New Gold’s Cerro de San Pedro mine”, said FAO member Juan Carlos Ruiz Guadalajara. “The mine is still operating despite having lost its environmental permit in a recent court ruling. We are reminding the embassy that we will continue to raise our voices against corruption, human rights abuses and environmental destruction”.
Learn More from Organizations in Support:
photojournalist Alex Felipe
Timuay Anoy and the Subanon indigenous communities, Philippines
Simultaneous rallies are being organized in several cities around to world for July 22nd to raise awareness about mining issues as part of a global day of action against mining.
The following call-out from the community of Cerro de San Pedro calling for the Global Day of Action Against Open-Pit Mining:
The methods and technology used in open-pit mining operations causes the destruction and exhaustion of the planet’s ecosystems. Removing forest cover, destroying soils, contaminating both running water and underground reservoirs, dividing communities, bribing officials, threatening, blackmailing, and violating human rights are all common practice for open-pit mining projects around the world.
In contrast with its self-proclaimed ‘environmental awareness’, Canada is the global leader in open-pit mining. Canadian-based transnational corporations (TNCs) control 51% of global mining capital and Mexico in particular had a big role to play in Canada’s rise to become the world mining champion.
The neoliberal policies implemented in Mexico since the mid-1980s, codified and consolidated by the creation of NAFTA, were of great importance for Canadian mining companies. The erosion of labour rights aside, it is the repression of environmental movements, increasing militarization and autocracy, and the forced eviction of entire communities that have allowed for the establishment and survival of mining projects.
As of 2007, the Mexican government has granted 438 mining concessions, most of them going to Canadian companies. In the state of Chiapas alone, 72 projects cover 727,435ha of land (slightly larger than the Palestinian Occupied Territories). Half of this territory is now owned by two Canadian companies: Linear Gold and the Frontier Development Group. The territory passed into private ownership without the knowledge, let alone consent, of the communities located there, most of whom are peasants and indigenous people. The same is happening in the states of Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Sonora, Oaxaca, and Coahuila.
A similar fate awaits much of the world. Canadian mining companies are at work in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Brasil, Panama, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Philippines, Surinam, Ghana, Congo, Tanzania, Sudan, Zambia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the United States, and Canada itself!
*It is for these reasons that we call for a Global Day of Action Against Open-pit Mining on July 22nd. Given Canada’s leading role in the global mining industry, we call for peaceful demonstrations in front of Canadian embassies across the world in order to show our condemnation of these mining projects that only leave behind desolation, poverty, and death for our people while enriching the few.*
Peaceful rallies are now being planned in response to their calls in Toronto, Montreal, London, Mexico, Australia, the Philippines, and more.
Wednesday 22, 2009
130 King Street West (outside the Toronto Stock Exchange)
For more on the harmful effects of the global mining industry see:
Oxfam’s recent report, Suffering the Science – Climate Change, People and Poverty, argues that the effects of climate change pose the greatest threat to humanity. The following are a few excerpts from the report, illustrated with some of my photos:
The report combines the latest scientific observations on climate change, and evidence from Oxfam’s work in almost 100 countries around the world.
“Women living in poverty, who already face a daily struggle to survive, are being hit the hardest,” – Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada.
A survey of top climate scientists, also published by Oxfam, said poor people living in low-lying coastal areas, island atolls and mega deltas and farmers are most at risk from climate change because of flooding and prolonged drought. The scientists named South Asia and Africa as climate change hotspots.
More people on the planet depend on rice than on any other crop. Rice plants react very quickly to temperature change: they show a 10% drop in yield for every 1ºC rise in minimum temperature. In parts of the Philippines, farmers have had to stop growing rice completely during the droughts caused by the ‘El Nino’ years, and river delta and coastal rice production has already suffered badly accross South-East Asia because of storms that overwhelm sea defences and salt-water intrusion into paddy fields.
An Asian Development Bank report warns that rice production in the Philippines could drop by 50-70 per cent as early as 2020.
Crops are only one part of the food story. Fish stocks are also endangered by climate change — threatening the loss of a significant source of protein and income for the 2.6billion people who get 20 per cent of their protein from fish. In many countries, dependence on fish consumption increases with poverty. In addition, 500 million people in developing countries depend — directly or indirectly — on fisheries for their livelihoods.
Both wild and farmed fish are threatened by a whole range of climate-driven problems — from raised sea levels and floods that damage fish farms on coasts and in river areas, to the increasin acidification of the oceans as a result of GHG emissions. A recent study suggests that 90 per cent of the food resources of the ‘coral triangle’ of the western Pacific will be gone by 2050, potentially affecting 150million people.
In the last few months, several bodies including the Commonwealth countries’ health ministers have concluded that climate change is the greatest threat to health globally this century. The poorest and hottest countries will suffer the most. The loss of healthy life years as a result of global environmental change is predicted to be 500 times greater amongst poor African populations than amongst European populations. Climate change-driven alterations in patterns of disease and illness are already occurring globally, and 99 per cent of the casualties of climate change now are in developing countries.
Rapid urbanization — which can be spurred by climatic factors as people seek new livelihoods in cities — brings disease with it. Urban sprawls often lack health infrastructure, and migrant workers may not be able to afford care and medicine. Some of the worst health statistics emanate from cities.
Small increases in temperatures hit human beings hard. None of us, no matter how well acclimatised, can do heavy work effectively above 35ºC or so. A couple of degrees higher than that, and our bodies soon get exhausted. Once core body temperature passes 38ºC, heat stress may set in. The body tries to cool down by sweating; dehydration may follow. People’s work rate slows. Ultimately, production and incomes decline.
“Working under the open sky during summer has become nearly impossible in the past four years or so — for farmers and their cattle alike.” — Mir Ahmed, Bangladeshi farmer.
Finding and transporting clean water is a central occupation in the working day of many people in developing countries, especially women. When a community is short of food, or suffering an outbreak of desease, there are immediate ways in which they can be helped. However, scarcity of water is a much greater problem. According to the UN Development Programme, over one billion people lack access to safe water today, and that number can only increase.
2009 is one of the most important years in human history. In Copenhagen in December, politicians will meet at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Climate Change Convention. This meeting will decide whether we face a future on a hot glowering planet, or whether we set a course for climate safety for everyone.
see the full report for more information and references.