The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime presents a podcast series called ‘Faces of Assassination’ to bear witness to the victims of organized crime. Liliana Jauregui, senior expert environmental justice at IUCN NL, shares her expertise in the episode of October 22, which discusses the role of environmental defenders, why they are being targeted, what is being done right now to combat it, and what can be done to make further change going forward.
Communities, activists and civil society organizations (CSOs) in Uganda and the DRC are resisting oil and gas activities in sensitive areas. These vital ecosystems provide a habitat for wildlife and livelihoods for local communities. Through building a strong movement, the CSOs hope to stop oil exploration and initiate a just energy transition.
Over the last couple of decades, many governments have formalized the forest rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, with the expectation that this would contribute to both conservation and sustainable development. With forest tenure reforms underway, this is a good time to reflect on the experiences so far: Have these reforms led to the desired outcomes? And, what are the conditions for success?
With around 4.3 million hectares of lowland tropical forest, Liberia is the most forested country in West Africa. Liberia’s forestry sector contributes significantly to the national economy. Moreover, about one-third of the population lives in forested areas, many of whom depend on forests for their livelihoods. The government has developed a legal framework, which recognises customary rights of local communities to access and manage forests. Crucial in this has been the Community Rights Law of 2009.
At the beginning of this century the Government of Uganda established oil palm plantations on the island of Kalangala, in Lake Victoria. This caused many problems to local communities. In the case of new oil palm plantations to be set up in Buvuma, the question is whether these negative impacts can be avoided.
Over the last couple of decades, governments all over the world introduced forest tenure reforms. A key element of these reforms is to grant forest rights to local communities and indigenous peoples, which is expected to contribute to local development objectives as well as conservation. So far, however, the outcomes have been mixed.
Earlier this year, three communities in the Tshopo province of DR Congo received forest concession titles. The government and NGOs believe that these will help decrease deforestation and poverty, but researchers have casted doubts whether these expectations are realistic. Alphonse Maindo, Director of Tropenbos DRC, is cautiously optimistic.
Could a local civil society organisation confront one of the largest oil companies in the world? Alone? Unlikely. Through partnerships? Maybe. Our local partner in Uganda worked with other civil society organisations to organize dialogues with oil companies regarding the impacts and risks of oil activities on people and the environment.
ING has been ignoring abuses in the palm oil sector for years. The Dutch National Contact Point for the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) today declared a complaint from three Friends of the Earth groups (Milieudefensie (Netherlands), SDI (Liberia) and WALHI (Indonesia)) against Dutch bank ING admissible.