A new report released today highlights how forest dependent communities in Cross River State, south-east Nigeria, are losing rights and livelihoods, as their forests are being locked down by the government, which seeks cash through a United Nations backed ‘carbon trading’ scheme, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).
The report, ‘_Seeing REDD: Communities, Forests and Carbon trading in Nigeria_‘, by Nigerian organisation, Social Action, was presented today in Lima, Peru at an event at the People’s Summit on Climate Change, which coincides with the 20th Conference of Parties (COP20) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in the Peruvian capital city.
The report shows how the implementation of the REDD+ mechanism is having a devastating effect on the economies of affected communities around the Cross River forests. With neither adequate consultation nor alternative livelihood options, community members, who have depended on the forests
for generations, are now being victimised by government agents following a ban imposed on economic and cultural activities in the delineated forests. Thus, REDD+ has restricted access to forests where indigenous communities gather food, medicine and energy. Local nutrition and livelihoods are seriously threatened and the attendant scarcity of food products caused by government’s actions have led to increase in the prices of basic food products. Ironically, higher wood prices, occasioned by REDD+, is encouraging illegal logging in the forests.
The report shows how communities are grappling with being implicated in the false solutions to the problem of climate change. While community members suffer the negative effects of climate change which they did not create, they are, through schemes like REDD, liable to being criminalised in the process of enforcing carbon market policies.
“The reduction of emissions from fossil fuels should be the main goal. But measures like REDD+ are diversionary market schemes which are driven
by those who cannot see beyond profits”, according to Isaac ‘Asume’ Osuoka, Director of Social Action. “Communities that depend on the forests are at risk of human rights violations, as authorities could now see them as impediments to maintaining the carbon marketing potentials of forests. Unfortunately, there is no corresponding mitigation of climate change, as we are seeing.”
With REDD+, greenhouse gas polluting countries and companies in the developed world could pay for schemes that promise to reduce deforestation in the developing countries. Thus, developing countries, especially African countries having vast expanse of tropical forests, become ‘sinks’ for greenhouse gases, most of which are emitted from developed countries.
“This is a new form of colonialism”, according to Nnimmo Bassey,Coordinator of Health of the Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF). “REDD+ is subjugating African communities and driving new land grabs akin to the colonisation of the continent.”
With the ongoing UN climate conference seeking agreements for global action including the implementation of REDD+ mechanism, citizens groups at the People’s Summit are demanding people-oriented measures that will actually curtail climate change worldwide.
Other speakers at the event included Ruth Nyambura of the African Biodiversity Network, Kenya, Tom Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network, USA and Cassandra Smithies, a researcher/campaigner on climate justice.
The report is available at Seeing REDD
NDCBP Releases Citizens’ Report on State and Local Government Budgets in the Niger Delta
The Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform (NDCBP) is a coalition of civil society organizations in the Niger Delta working to ensure transparency, accountability and citizens’ participation in State and Local Government budget processes. In the last six years, NDCBP has worked with other civil society organizations, the media and communities in conducting budget monitoring, budget analyses and budget advocacy with primary emphasis on the Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers states. The Platform’s findings have been widely published in the previous annual reports ‘Carry Go’, ‘Beyond Amnesty’, ‘Spend and Borrow’ and ‘Counting the Votes’ and ‘Wasted Billions’. We are pleased to share with you the latest in that series, ‘Pardoning Impunity: Citizens Report on State and Local Government Budget in the Niger Delta’.
Pardoning Impunity begins with an interesting discussion on the challenges facing Nigeria and especially the Niger Delta in the past year. Topical issues such as the Petroleum Industry Bill, the state of federal institutions like the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Ministry of the Niger Delta; and corruption in the oil and gas industry, are elaborately examined. The report also presents analyses of the budgets of the focal states, examining how the governments’ income and expenditure have kept trend with the avowed policy directions of the states. Particularly, the interest has been on how much emphasis the governments place on the education, health and food sufficiency sectors in relation to what is required to meet the challenges of those sectors.
The report gives an assessment of the economic downturns witnessed in Nigeria in 2013 following the passage of the Appropriation of that year, with a major focus on an in-depth analysis of the 2013 budgets implemented in five states of the Niger Delta region, namely: Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo. The states were selected based on the criteria of being oil-producing States and the biggest receivers of the 13 percent derivation fund allocated to oil-bearing states in Nigeria.
The report also presents in factual and pictorial details, findings of NDCBP field monitors who in December 2013, visited project sites in the five focal states to carry out firsthand assessment of randomly selected capital projects in the areas of education, health and food sufficiency allocated funds in the 2013 budgets of the states.
Pardoning Impunity is aimed at revealing some crucial reasons why development still eludes the Niger Delta states, while highlighting the harsh reality of the region when juxtaposed with the huge revenue allocations disbursed to it. Widespread poverty, restiveness and an acute dearth of infrastructure, remain the order of the day, in spite of the monthly accruals.
The overall aim of the report is to emphasize the need for state policies and revenues to significantly influence the attainment of sustainable development and all-round wealth creation in the region.
An electronic version of ‘Pardoning Impunity: Citizens Report on State and Local Government Budget in the Niger Delta’. is available here
Written by Lillian Akhigbe, Communications Officer, Social Action
As the global environmental justice movement commemorates the state execution of writer and activist, Ken Saro Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni environmental and social justice campaigners who were killed on November 10, 1995, the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) has today released a new report,STILL POLLUTED: Monitoring Government and Shell’s Response to UNEP’s Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland. The report is a product of two years monitoring of the effort of the Nigerian government and oil companies to address the remediation of the environmentally-devastated Ogoniland through the implementation of the concrete recommendations in the report by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
The report by Social Action reveals that the response of the Nigerian government has fallen far short of expectations, in view of its responsibility to safeguard the environment, as enshrined in Section 20 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
“Everything on the ground in Ogoniland points to complete irresponsibility on the part of the Nigerian government”, according to Dr. Isaac Osuoka, Executive Director of Social Action. “The government set up the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) under the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, a complicit party in the pollution of Ogoniland. The agency was not backed by legislation nor provided with the required funding. Government must get serious and commence real actions to clean up Ogoniland, which should serve as a template for replication in the clean-up of other hydrocarbon-polluted communities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta”, he added.
According to Social Action’s report, neither the agency nor the government have done anything worthwhile to restore the Ogoni environment, three years after the UNEP report was released. Even emergency measures such as the provision of alternative sources of drinking water have not been taken seriously by the government. Ogoni community members continue to drink from badly contaminated water wells and bathe in badly polluted streams.
Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni 8, were part of a Movement against the continuous oil pollution by Shell and neglect by the Nigerian government. Community protests ultimately led to the exit of Shell from Ogoniland in 1993. Two years thereafter, Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni 8 were executed by the State during the military administration of the late Gen. Sani Abacha. But Shell was never able to return to Ogoniland despite several attempts made, as Ogoni people, inspired by the patriotism of their hero, Ken Saro Wiwa, resisted through popular protests, every move made by Shell to resume oil activities in Ogoniland.
However, Shell’s oil pipelines through which crude oil is conveyed from the region to the Port for export to other countries, still remain in Ogoniland till date. Oil spills from these pipelines occur regularly and the environment has suffered decades of environmental degradation.
The federal government of Nigeria in 2008 invited UNEP to carry out an assessment of the pollution in Ogoniland. UNEP released its report on Ogoni environment on August 4, 2011. The UNEP Report contained major revelations and recommendations needed to be attended to by clean-up and environmental remediation exercises.
An electronic version of Social Action’s STILL POLLUTED: Monitoring Government and Shell’s Response to UNEP’s Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland is available here
OGONI CLEAN UP CAMPAIGN BANNER BY OGONI SOLIDARITY FORUM (OSF), SOCIAL ACTION AND OILWATCH AFRICA ON DISPLAY AT THE EVENT ON JANUARY 4, 2013, BORI-OGONI
As the world marked January 4, the United Nation’s World Indigenous People’s Day, thousands of persons from divers walks of life including friends, Visitors Environmentalists, Rights Activists etc joined the Ogonis in Bori, the traditional headquarters of the Ogoni people to mark the day locally adopted as “Ogoni Day” by the Ogoni ethnic Nationality in Nigeria on January 4, 2013 to mark its 20th anniversary