Sustainable Development

KRIBI, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - Michael Wakam stood beside a palm tree in a bushy area in Kribi in the South region of Cameroon and looked dejectedly at the farm land in front of him that was once his.

“It starts from here right over there where you see that palm tree. From there, you move to the right extending to the middle of that building right up to where were are standing” he said showing a vast piece of land which he claimed was grabbed from him by a Chinese company commercial cultivation of rice and cassava.

“We agreed that the land will end right there in the middle of that tree but I came and discovered that they have extended to this level. They have encroached my land almost by one hectare. This is wrong and illegal” he said boiling with anger.

Michael’s story is familiar across Cameroon where locals continue to dispute land with International companies especially Chinese companies.

In September 2015, neighbouring communities of the Lokoundjé and Kribi II subdivisions living close to the farms of Hévéa du Cameroun (Hévécam), a sister company of Chinese group Sinochem International addressed a memorandum to the Cameroonian government in which they accused the company of the of grabbing farming lands, stepping beyond the limits of some of its land concessions. A situation which, according to them, deprived them of a livelihood generally provided by agricultural activities on the lands under dispute.  

“Government remained mute to our complaints and the land grabbing continued. This is 2017, two years after the memorandum and nothing has changed” said Michae. “We suspect that they bribed government officials to stay quiet” he added.

Company officials denied the allegations and stressed that the land was acquired from the indigenes in strict respect of the Cameroonian law.

“What always happens is that, villagers usually get excited and confused when this companies come with huge sums of money to buy and develop their land. They only realized that they did not bargain well when the companies start operating” said Nelson Ndi, a Cameroonian working with Camco, a Chinese company that deals in agricultural and construction machinery.

According to two studies carried out separately by Land Matrix, the global watchdog on large scale land acquisitions, and Deborah Brautigam, Director of China Africa Research Initiative at John Hopkins University in the USA, Cameroon is one of the top 10 African countries that have sold the most lands to Chinese agricultural investments.

With 10,120 hectares of lands sold to the Chinese company Shaanxi Land Reclamation General Corporation (operating under the name IKO), to farm maize and rice in the Center region of the country (Nanga Ebola and Ndjoré), Cameroon, Ethiopia and Mozambique have some of the most important Chinese investments in agriculture on the Continent. Cameroon however comes far behind Zimbabwe that sold 100,000 hectares to the Chinese company CWE to farm maize.

Way Forward

“We are thinking of organizing a solid resistance to these land grabbers and demonstrate our resolve to keep our lands. We do not care what happens” said Michael. A move that will certainly end up in violence and probably loss of lives.

The Cameroon Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mining and Arts (CCIMA) has proposed a more sustainable measure to settle the crisis which will possibly not please strong opponents of land grabbing by agro-industrial companies.

The President of the Chamber Christophe Eken, has exhorted the government to carry out a “land reform, to facilitate access to land ownership for investors, especially in the agro-industrial sector”. For businessmen, this reform is to be considered as a “priority”, if the government wants to “increase the competitiveness of the Cameroonian economy”.

Government is yet to react. The request comes in a context marked by civil society organisations blowing the whistle on the land grabbing operated by agro-industrial units, a practice which according to these NGOs, challenges the survival of neighboring communities.

BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - The United Nations seeks to involve young professionals from developing countries in implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through a new fellowship programme run by two key UN agencies based in Bonn, Germany.

According to a press statement released in Bonn on 15th May, the fellowship initiative will offer work experience in a vibrant international policy environment at the UN Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC).

“Young, qualified professionals from developing countries represent one of our best resources for building capacity for climate action,” said Patricia Espinosa, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary.

“As we move with determination into the new era of implementation of the Paris Agreement, we need to equip young people with the skills to green economies and build resilience, and this initiative is an example of how organisations can prepare young people for the challenges of the future,” she said

The United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) will help identify and recruit the young professionals, and provide them with an exciting research environment.

Upon completion of the scheme, the “Early Career Climate Fellows” will be able to work in their home countries or internationally, deploying the valuable experience and insights they have gained in Bonn.

“We will also be building their skills so they can better secure employment in the work-place. Many of the young people we will be supporting need real-life experience to get on the job ladder. What we are doing is also a living example of Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) under Article 6 of the original Convention. It ranges from education to training in respect to climate change: So we are securing a great, dynamic human resource and giving back with a positive, empowering experience in partnership with UNU,” said Espinosa.

Professor Dr. Jakob Rhyner, Director of UNU-EHS, said: “There are 1.8 billion young people in the world today, more than ever before in human history, and about nine out of ten live in developing countries. Efforts for sustainable development and climate protection must build on their enthusiasm and ideas. The UNFCCC-UNU-EHS Early Career Climate Fellowship Initiative offers young people from developing countries a unique possibility to start their career at the interface between international climate policy development and research.”

Academically outstanding young graduates from developing countries who are less than three years into their careers, especially women from least developed countries, are encouraged to apply.

Fellowships may last from six months to two years and the work experience with the UNFCCC will be tailored to fit the specific skills and backgrounds of each fellow.

The collaboration will get underway following the UN Climate Change Conference, which runs to 18 May.

BONN Germany (PAMACC News) - The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is offering an opportunity for young people from around the world to showcase what they are doing to combat climate change, through a video competition.

“We are absolutely delighted to be launching the Global Youth Video Competition for the third year running,” Nick Nuttall, the Spokesperson and Director of the UNFCCC said during the launch of the contest at the ongoing climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

Two winners of this contest will get a trip to the UNFCCC in November (COP23), where they will join the UN communications team as videographers and reporters. The competition is opened to young people between the ages of 18 and 30 and videos must be submitted by 18 August 2017.
 
 “I am even more excited about viewing the video shorts that young people from across the globe will be making and sending in, in order to win a place at the UN climate conference in Bonn in November," said Nuttall.

Last year, a total of over 180 entrants from 77 countries submitted short video reports on their personal climate actions and activities to raise public awareness, of which 40 were short-listed.

The two categories for this year are ‘Climate friendly and resilient cities,’ and ‘Oceans and climate change.’
 
“With the Pacific island of Fiji presiding over the conference—COP23—I would like this year to especially urge young, creative people from small islands and vulnerable coastlines to get out their cameras and their smart-phones and submit cool, amazing and inspirational videos about how they and their communities are taking climate action,” added Mr. Nuttall.

The videos can be taken either by cameras or even smart phones, as long as they are able to communicate.

 “We are seeking to inspire collaboration and learning sharing stories presented by young people that could be of interest for their peers around the world,” said Angelica Shamerina, Program Advisor with the UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme, which is supporting the competition.
 
“For our programe, support of the young generation is a priority, especially on the issue of climate change given that the young people will face the most severe climate impacts and are the future leaders of efforts curb greenhouse emissions and build resilience,” she added.
 
 The third Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change is co-organized by the United Nations Climate Change secretariat, the UNDP GEF-Small Grants Programme, and will be implemented through the Television for the Environment (tve) platform.

Submit your video here: http://biomovies.tve.org/en/

EARTH MEANDERS ESSAY By Dr. Glen Barry

 

PAMACC News - Given long-predicted and self-evident abrupt climate change and ecosystem collapse, and resultant perma-war and rise of fascism, despite decades of scientific warnings which went unheeded; will you now listen to science, embrace an ecology ethic, and act to avoid biosphere collapse and the end of being before it is too late?

Essentially every warning from ecological and climate scientists regarding the limits to growth have come to pass. Climate models have been amazingly accurate, if anything under-predicting the magnitude of the climate apocalypse dramatically playing out in Polar Regions and radiating heat globally. Water, farmland, soil, wetlands, oceans, old-growth forests, and the atmosphere are, as forecasted, in precipitous decline.

Whole regions are collapsing ecologically and are on track to being uninhabitable and will have to be abandoned. Yet demands for inequitable consumption placed upon nature by seven billion top predators continue to grow exponentially (as a billion live in opulent splendor, another billion face abject soul-sucking poverty, and a handful enjoy half of Earth’s wealth).

There are few naturally evolved large ecosystems remaining to cut, burn, and otherwise plunder for short-term ill-gotten gains as the biosphere and society bear the unpriced external costs. Those natural ecosystems that remain are under threat as the oil oligarchy consolidates its power in order to access and burn every last drop of oil and chunk of coal, destroying our atmosphere and last natural ecosystems in the process.

The global ecological system – our one shared biosphere that makes Earth habitable – is collapsing and dying as human industrial growth overruns natural ecosystems and the climate.

Resource scarcity resulting from ecosystem loss, albeit delayed through the advent of information technology, nonetheless underlies the surge in uncontrolled mass migration and diminished economic prospects for the formerly affluent Western middle classes. Landscapes ravaged by industrial capitalism in the developing countries in particular are barren wastelands unable to support indigenous and other local self-reliant lifestyles that provided for quality lifestyles for millennium.

As foreseen by this author and others, authoritarian fascism has arisen to exploit both environmental decline and surging inequity between the super-rich and multitudinous have nots. A state of perma-war and institutionalized war murders masked as a clash between cultures are more accurately depicted as a scramble for dwindling resources upon which to base overly consumptive and clearly unsustainable lifestyles for the privileged few for a while.

Fascist demagogues have arisen that spout charlatan alternative facts as they stifle voices of ecological and other truths.

Environmental and climate crises long perceived as distant or affecting others, but not you, are increasingly impacting average people in their daily lives, particularly in the over-developed world. Food and water systems are failing and prices rising, as regular patterns of seasonality are lost. Jobs based upon ravaging natural ecosystems are a thing of the past, as they are exhausted, and are not coming back. Foreigners from hard scrabble over-populated countries will work far harder for much less and increasingly take even domestic high-tech positions excluding locals.

Our present state of environmental collapse, driven by inequitable over-population and ecosystem loss, fomenting precipitous social and economic decline, was foreseen by ecological scientists. Numerous warnings from a host of ecological visionaries sought to highlight the problems and the course of action required to move towards not only sustainable, but also just and equitable sustainable development.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the preceding work of Malthus, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson and others went mainstream as the self-evident need to protect land, air, and water led to bipartisan efforts. The ground-breaking Limits to Growth publications highlighted once again the irrefutable fact that exponential growth can only lead to collapse. The advent of micro-processors has pushed back some limits, as others like the absorptive capacity of the atmosphere have clearly been breached.

It has been two years since I proposed a 10th Planetary Boundary in my peer-reviewed scientific journal article entitled Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse regarding how many natural ecosystems can be lost before the biosphere collapses. Noting how smaller ecosystems, indeed anything from which portions are cut, fragment and fall apart at around 40% loss; I proposed a threshold of 66% natural and semi-natural terrestrial ecosystem retention as being required to avoid biosphere collapse.

Despite my findings being subsequently validated in other studies by scientific luminaries, precisely nothing is being done by world governments and even leading environmental NGOS to begin the process of ending natural ecosystem loss and beginning an age of ecological restoration.

With about 50% of natural ecosystems having been destroyed already there can be no other outcome (after unknown lag times) than biosphere collapse and the end of being.

It is not through lack of effort by others and me that deep ecology has not caught on. Indoctrination into a nationalistic, consumptive worldview is pervasive and all-encompassing. Very few are able to escape the religious, racist, nationalistic, and economic lies forced upon them in youth.

Much of humanity has forgotten that it is possible to live in peace and within the bounds of nature. Social cohesion has dangerously frayed. Poorly educated folks falling from middle class lifestyles, as well as the well-off feasting upon the last ill-gotten fruits of nature, are unable and/or unwilling to grok causal connections between declining natural systems and limited economic prospects, and that such growth can only end in collapse.

Our fatally flawed education system fails to provide the necessary cognitive skills to grasp basic truths –like nothing grows forever, ecosystems make life possible, and water is required for life – upon which our existence depends.

Nothing grows exponentially forever, it is a physically impossible.

To deny Malthus, indigenous wisdom, and all subsequent iterations upon ecological knowledge and intuition found in science is sheer utter madness.

The truth of the matter is that while ecological trends are clear, the breaking point of ecosystems and societies is not known with certainty. There may be sources of ecological resiliency of which we are unaware. And given the drive for self-survival of a species can be found in all genetic code, including the hairless ape with the amazing opposable thumb, it would be incautious, indeed ludicrous, to give up.

But we need to quickly change our ways personally and societally to embrace an ecology ethic. We need to listen to ecological and other scientific experts and dramatically reduce industrial and population growth, as well as inequitable over-consumption, or we are faced with ecological apocalypse and biosphere collapse.

One last time swords must be beaten into plowshares (and restored ecosystems).

It is known with certainty that human prospects depend upon functioning natural ecosystems. And the personal and societal changes required to maintain such systems are known with surety as well.

Simply, pollution of land, air, and water must end or we all needlessly die.

To sustain local ecological patterns and processes globally, old-growth forest logging and industrial scale marine fisheries MUST cease immediately, and massive investments in ecosystem restoration be made. Decentralized renewable energy grids and nega-watts from energy conservation must be embraced with utmost urgency as fossil fuel burning ends. Massive investments in women’s education, birth control, and tax incentives for small families must be made worldwide to slow growth and then reduce human population. Genetic modifications and oil intensive agriculture must end as we return to family farming embracing organic permaculture. And all sources of sacred water must be protected at any cost.

Fascism and the threats posed by both large governments and corporations must be eliminated. A guaranteed minimum income must be established worldwide. Armies must be demobilized and international institutions strengthened to pay the price for our continued existence, while ending systematic war murders. Liberty, justice, and equity for all members of the human and all species’ family must be ensured.

This course of action is based upon scientific truths, and further ignoring of ecological limits is a willful death wish.

Humanity heeds the warnings of its sage elders and embraces such an ecology ethic now in all haste or we face intensified abject human misery prior to biosphere collapse and an imminent end to being. Let’s come together now to make it so.

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