Right wing members of the European Parliament accused of ‘culture war against nature’
by WWF, Guardian news
Right wing members of the European Parliament and industry lobbyists have been accused of whipping up “a culture war against nature” after the fisheries and agriculture committees voted against the EU’s biodiversity restoration law.
Last June, the European Commission revealed proposals for legally binding targets for member states to restore wildlife on land, in rivers and the sea. The nature restoration law was announced alongside separate legislation proposing a crackdown on chemical pesticides with the aim of reversing the catastrophic loss of wildlife on the continent.
But there is growing concern that the laws could be abandoned entirely amid opposition from agricultural, fishing and forestry lobbying groups, and some right wing member states. In May, the European parliament’s agriculture committee voted to reject the nature restoration legislation, and the fisheries committee followed suit on Wednesday.
The nature restoration law is a key part of the European green deal that is crucial to meeting international climate and biodiversity commitments. The commission vice-president Frans Timmermans said there would not be another proposal.
The law aims to reverse the decline of pollinating insects while restoring forests, marine areas and other ecosystems key to food production to improve Europe’s resilience to climatic shocks as the planet warms. It was a key part of the EU’s negotiating position at Cop15 in Montreal last year, where the world agreed to protect 30% of the planet for nature.
The centre-right European People’s party (EPP) has called for the nature restoration and pesticide proposals to be scrapped entirely. They voted against the nature proposals this week, provoking anger from NGOs.
Sabien Leemans, a senior biodiversity policy officer at WWF Europe, said: “With this rejection, the majority of MEPs in the agri committee are failing all citizens, including farmers. At times when Italy is devastated by flooding and Spain is experiencing severe droughts, this denial of what is happening in Europe is unacceptable.
“The science is clear that nature restoration will increase our resilience to such extreme weather events and support long-term food security. Meanwhile, the agri committee is rejecting the legal proposal to restore nature. It is a totally irresponsible attitude that puts everyone’s livelihoods at risk, first and foremost the ones of farmers.”
In an interview with the Guardian, the EU’s environment commissioner said rejecting the law would send a dangerous signal to the world and undermine climate and biodiversity targets.
Ariel Brunner, a regional director at BirdLife Europe, said: “Politicians are whipping up a culture war against nature, instead of facing up to reality. Without an urgent and massive nature restoration effort, we will simply not survive the climate and biodiversity crisis.
“Drought and floods will wipe out lives and livelihoods, with farmers and rural communities in the frontline. Without urban greening, many cities will become unlivable. The attempt to kill the restoration law is immoral and irresponsible.”
Next month, EU environment ministers will meet in Brussels to agree a common position on the proposals.
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/25/meps-accused-culture-war-against-nature-opposing-restoration-law-aoe http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/31/healing-nature-will-help-us-all-so-why-are-meps-fighting-the-crucial-new-restoration-law-aoe http://www.wwf.eu/?8455466/The-EU-Nature-Restoration-Law-knocks-on-the-Environment-Councils-door
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Civil Society Communique to G7 Countries in Hiroshima, Japan
by C7, WFP, Crisis Group, agencies
C7 Civil Society Communique to G7 Countries meeting in Hiroshima, Japan in May 2023
Design and Implement Sustainable Policies for Peace, Prosperity, and Transparency - Tomoko Watanabe, Hiroki Matsubara, Mariko Kinai for C7 group.
When G7 leaders meet in Hiroshima, the first city attacked by a nuclear weapon 78 years ago, they should be reminded of the unjustifiably costly price of confrontation, conflict and nuclear weapons and why investment in peacebuilding, conflict prevention, condemning nuclear weapon threats and strengthening the rule of law needs to be prioritised.
Choosing competition and ‘hard’ politics over collaboration, solidarity and dialogue is a dangerous path which is wasting our limited resources and capacity needed to address the interlinked problems facing the world.
Humanity stands on the precipice of multiple, multi-layered, protracted and intersecting crises with potentially catastrophic consequences exacerbated by social and economic inequalities and disparities, unsustainable economic growth and development, waste of resources, climate change, conflict and recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, ongoing and often forgotten conflicts, proxy wars, disinformation campaigns and the war that followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, have set the world on the perilous path of polarisation and geopolitical confrontation.
The state of polycrises has exposed the fragile global health system, unequal access to public goods, broken food system, gender inequalities, suffocating debt, and ill-equipped global institutions.
All of this jeopardises the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, slows down our collective progress in delivering on the Paris agreement agenda and more importantly – disproportionately affects the world’s poorest and most marginalised.
None of this can be solved unilaterally or by one section of society alone. And, the traditional western-centric approach will not solve any of this either.
We are concerned about the emerging regional alliances and new minilateralism which may undermine efforts to address global challenges through an equitable multilateral approach.
Instead, the G7 has the tremendous responsibility to embrace multilateralism and international law, refuse double-standards, be guided by global solidarity and justice, lead and support reforms of global financial institutions repurposing them as inclusive, effective, transparent and well-resourced multilateral instruments fit for 21st century needs and challenges, uphold the principles of democracy and human rights, and condemn racism, and encourage meaningful participation of youth in decision-making.
It’s time for urgent and bold action and to be accountable to the affected people across the world. This is why the Hiroshima Summit must be ‘AAA’ rated – 'Ambition, Action, Accountability' thus demonstrating fulfilment of the responsibilities attached to the privileges of global political and economic powers.
According to the most recent IPCC report, we are literally running out of time to prevent catastrophic consequences due to global warming, therefore G7 countries representing about a third of global GDP and producing 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions have both responsibility and opportunity to show bold leadership spearheading transition to green and sustainable economies and lifestyles achieving net zero goals and respecting planetary boundaries, which includes reduction of consumption especially in the Global North and recognition of limits of growth as per neoliberal capitalist model.
Also, in the name of fairness and justice, G7 countries should support low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in their transition to green and sustainable economies providing generous concessional climate finance both for loss and damage, and adaptation.
G7 countries should demonstrate moral courage and political will to choose solidarity and justice over competition and recognise their historic responsibility to mobilise all possible resources and capacity addressing the root causes of unsustainable global economic system thus reducing the need for humanitarian assistance, establishing ‘responsible and sustainable business’ as the new normal, minimising reliance on fossil fuels, fixing global food and health systems, reducing conflict and respecting legally binding obligations for nuclear disarmament.
The current global economic slowdown, inflation and the cost-of-living crisis hits the poorest, the weakest, and the vulnerable hardest. The rise of inequalities, between and within countries, as well as the loss of hope in a better future, challenges trust and social cohesion, the foundations of democratic societies, including in the G7.
Investments in universal social protection is urgently needed to protect people from crises, mitigate the impact of shocks and foster a just transition to carbon neutral economy that reduces inequalities. Universal social protection is key to guarantee fundamental human rights. A Global Fund for Social Protection can become a unique tool to construct safety nets and strengthen social protection systems in many vulnerable circumstances.
The C7 represents the public conscience, public concern, and public advocacy to develop a world which works for people and the planet. Civil society acting in public interest is one of the key stakeholders without which we will not be able to address global challenges effectively and sustainably, therefore the C7 calls on the G7 to utilise their global influence and voice in protecting human rights, democratic governance and civic space, maintaining open societies, and defending freedom of speech both at home and internationally.
In addition, the C7 affirms that in this context prioritisation of the needs of vulnerable populations, women and girls, children, youth, persons with disabilities, and the elderly is critical.
As the C7, we are committed to use the Hiroshima Summit and the G7 platform to demonstrate CSO’s distinctive role in holding governments to account and offering solutions to speed up progress towards to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda and climate commitments for a fair, sustainable, and equitable development for all.
This C7 Communique reflects the joint position of over 700 civil society representatives from 72 countries involved in six Working Groups: Nuclear Disarmament; Climate and Environmental Justice; Economic Justice and Transformation; Global Health; Humanitarian Assistance and Conflict; and Open and Resilient Societies.
The positive synergies and constructive dialogue between civil societies and governments is the only way to overcome the aforementioned crises and civil society across the globe is willing and eager to work together with governments and all relevant stakeholders to design and implement sustainable policies for peace and prosperity..
* Access the full statement (28pp): http://bit.ly/3McHiCt http://civil7.org/news/726/ http://civil7.org/
WFP calls on G7 to keep focus on hunger as crises in Sudan, Haiti and Sahel add to global food crisis
The G7’s commitment to global food security in 2022 must be maintained in 2023 as new crises in Sudan, Haiti and the Sahel push more people into hunger, the UN World Food Programme said today, just days before G7 leaders were due to meet in Japan.
At least 345 million people are currently facing high levels of food insecurity, according to WFP analysis, an increase of almost 200 million since early 2020. Of these, 43 million are just one step away from famine. Meanwhile, WFP has recently been forced to cut food rations in operations in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Palestine as needs outpace available funding. More cuts are looming in Somalia and Chad.
“Last year, G7 humanitarian funding support achieved life-saving results in the fight against hunger. Millions of people received much needed support and countries like Somalia were pulled back from the brink of famine. Unfortunately, the global food crisis hasn’t gone away. And situations like Sudan and Haiti are adding fuel to the fire,” said new WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain.
Fighting in Sudan has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and pushed millions into hunger. WFP estimates that between 2 and 2.5 million additional people will become acutely food insecure in coming months as a direct result of ongoing fighting, taking the total in the country to a record 19 million.
In Haiti, hunger is tightening its grip as insecurity, violence and deepening economic woes drive food insecure Haitians further into crisis. A record 4.9 million people in the country are estimated to be facing acute hunger, around 45% of the population.
Similarly, in the Sahel region of Africa, new outbreaks of violence in places such as Burkina Faso are driving hunger among fleeing populations as well as those whose lives and livelihoods have been upended by conflict.
WFP calls on G7 countries to continue funding food assistance for the hundreds of millions of people affected by the global food crisis and the millions new to hunger since last year.
It is also calling for political support for other actions which would help ease the crisis These include working for the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, ensuring adequate supplies of fertilizer and supporting programmes to increase smallholder farmers’ production.
Longer term requests centre on the need to make vulnerable populations more resilient. They include a renewed focus on social protection for communities at risk and ensuring every child in need receives a nutritious meal in school daily.
At the G7 summit in Germany last year, leaders stated they would “spare no effort to increase global food and nutrition security” and to protect the most vulnerable. They also committed to strengthen the long-term resilience of agriculture and food systems so that poor countries would be less vulnerable in the future.
Conflict remains one of the main drivers of global hunger. Events in Sudan are just the latest example of how food insecurity rises when guns come out. WFP asks G7 countries to “work toward political solutions to protracted crises where conflict is the primary driver of hunger.”
http://www.wfp.org/stories/6-solutions-end-hunger-and-malnutrition-wfp-appeal-g7-leaders-hiroshima http://www.wfp.org/publications/hunger-hotspots-fao-wfp-early-warnings-acute-food-insecurity-june-november-2023 http://www.wfp.org/news/global-report-food-crises-number-people-facing-acute-food-insecurity-rose-258-million-58 http://www.fsinplatform.org/global-report-food-crises-2023 http://executiveboard.wfp.org/document_download/WFP-0000146953 http://hungermap.wfp.org/ http://www.wfp.org/countries http://dataviz.vam.wfp.org/version2/ http://www.ipcinfo.org/
Dealing with Destabilising Economic Crises. (Extract: International Crisis Group)
When G7 leaders met in 2022, the economic fallout from Russia’s all-out attack on Ukraine was a top concern. Economic problems will continue to absorb their attention in Hiroshima. But while the participants will likely talk about problems in their home countries – such as April’s U.S. bank collapses – they may have less time to talk about economic difficulties elsewhere.
But the assembled leaders should not overlook the rest of the world’s challenges. While commodity prices have somewhat retreated from their peaks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and supply chains tangled by COVID-19 and the war have begun to straighten, inflation rates remain at historically high levels and household savings continue to dwindle. In much of the world, economic vulnerability has surged over the past year, and in some places political tensions have spiked in parallel.
G7 countries are somewhat responsible. Having protected themselves by tightening liquidity and money supply to tame inflation, they provoked an international credit crunch that has already hit poorer countries hard – and will soon hit even harder.
Faced with a looming recession, poor and middle-income countries need help, but now that the G7’s own path to economic recovery is imperilled, its members may be tempted to downgrade the already halting efforts to stabilise the more fragile economies’ finances. That would be short-sighted, however, from both a global economic and a peace and security perspective.
Worsening economic indicators on their own do not cause or exacerbate conflict, but the cost-of-living crisis, in particular, has created political pressures that in some places threaten unrest. After years of distress, many governments are unable to cushion their populations from shocks. Sri Lanka, Turkiye and Zimbabwe have seen rises in inflation of 46, 72 and 193 per cent, respectively. In countries ranging from Pakistan and Myanmar to Mozambique, imports have dropped, and along with them consumption, including of basic goods. Unemployment has skyrocketed in places from Bosnia and Herzegovina to South Africa.
Of particular concern is a shortage of U.S. dollars. Further aggravating the cost-of-living problem is a new surge in fuel prices that, in addition to the direct burden it creates, likely will soon drive up food prices since transport and fertilisers (the production of which requires natural gas) make up a significant part of food costs.
As noted in this briefing, these developments have had destabilising consequences in Haiti – and Pakistan and Tunisia are teetering as well.
Among the most painful of these factors is the global credit crunch – which may be about to worsen, given the U.S. banking sector’s troubles. Rising interest rates have been particularly difficult for states with elevated conflict risk because they typically rely more heavily on credit and are less financially self-sufficient.
As credit grows scarce, global lenders hesitate to invest in places that are marked by political risk, fearing they will not recoup their loans. Dwindling credit brings further economic decline, which is amplified by persistent inflation. This decline further elevates conflict risk, which in turn chokes off credit, and so on.
At the end of this downward spiral lies sovereign default, which threatens an increasing number of states today.. The number of countries on the edge speaks for itself. During the 2010s, fourteen states defaulted – the same number that defaulted in the three years from 2020 through 2022. Presently, another seventeen low-income countries are in debt distress, of which ten are grappling with various forms of conflict, including Sudan, Mozambique and Somalia.
Slow growth, coupled with rising debt service payments (since, unlike in past decades, many loans carry variable interest rates), leaves these countries at the mercy of G7 and especially U.S. monetary policy.
For states on the brink, the consequences of default – such as currency depreciation, rising food costs, capital outflow, unemployment, banking system instability and reduced access to international credit markets – could prove nearly insuperable..
Averting a wave of default will require prompt, concerted action by G7 countries. The group’s foreign ministers have already endorsed some steps, such as better creditor coordination. These are a good but insufficient start. Creditors, including those among the G7, should go further, using strategies that were successful in curbing previous debt crises, such as debt restructuring with lower payments and extended repayment periods, as well as suspended obligations while debtors participate in good-faith negotiations. The crisis is unlikely to be resolved without creditors sharing the burden in the form of a “haircut” – that is, writing down the value of a loan. The more quickly creditors adopt the sort of measures advanced here, the less exposed they will be to taking an even bigger haircut because of events outside their control.
Also vital is that G7 nations honour their commitment to recycling their allotment of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) – an international reserve asset created by the IMF to supplement member countries’ official reserves that can be passed (“recycled”) to countries in need – or encourage a new allocation of them. SDRs can be used for various purposes, including facilitating the consumption of imported goods, supporting current capital accounts and stabilising exchange rates.
So far, G7 nations have taken few of these measures, largely because of the complex financial arrangements required, the diversity of creditors and disagreements among the largest of them. To contain crises in the last century, G7 countries, which then held the majority of sovereign debt, worked with other Western donors through a loose body hosted by France and known as the Paris Club. But now China is the world’s largest creditor, and India and private banks hold significant debt as well.
In 2021, the G20 formed a more inclusive debt relief group, the Common Framework, but it did little, owing to China’s disinclination to write down loans, especially to the private sector’s benefit, and the G7’s unwillingness to provide relief that would help China. The Framework has since been superseded by the Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable, which also includes private lenders. The new formula might work better, partly because the private banks’ involvement makes relief more palatable for China, but more because Beijing’s own loans have soured rapidly, forcing it to agree to relief. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are notable examples.
In the meantime, the IMF remains the lender of last resort. It continues to push hard for removing subsidies, including on food and fuel, as a condition for new loans.. Subsidy removal drives up the cost of living and sometimes sparks violent unrest. Even governments in extreme distress baulk at accepting this enormously unpopular measure. As influential members of the IMF board, the G7 nations should advocate reconsideration of the institution’s fairly rigid approach to subsidies and create alternatives, particularly in the short term. The G7 also could aid poor countries in expanding unemployment insurance, which would help mitigate the repercussions of monetary policies designed to curb inflation.
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