Event invitation: New Frontiers, New Tricks

Protest against proposed programs like REDD+

Saturday 8 April 2017, 10.30am – 4pm

Friends of the Earth, 139 Clapham Road, Stockwell, London, SW9 0HP

From Madagascar to Mongolia, from Macedonia to middle England, mining and other sectors are using new conservation measures such as ‘biodiversity offsetting’ to put a gloss of sustainability on their damaging activities.

At this event, activists, researchers, and NGOs and will be sharing testimony from communities across several continents, discussing these new threats to people and nature, and begin learning how to challenge them together. Continue reading

EU is pushing biodiversity offsetting through the backdoor

By Xavier Sol, originally published on Counter Balance

Last year the European Commission was forced to ditch its plans to develop legislation on biodiversity offsetting after EU citizens overwhelmingly rejected such plans in a public consultation. Nevertheless this set back doesn’t seem to withhold the European Commission from pushing biodiversity offsetting forward in practice. Together with the European Investment Bank (EIB) it is running the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), which aims to invest up to €125 million in natural capital projects.

The push for biodiversity offsetting is not only at odds with the EU’s democratic policy process, the benefits for the environment remain questionable. Because of its focus on financial return critics fear the NCFF may rather drive the financialisation of nature than the protection of nature.

The NCFF will operate a total budget of €100-125 million with an additional €10 million for technical assistance. The aim is to leverage private investments for 10-12 pilot schemes from 2015 to 2017.

According to the European Commission the NCFF has to „demonstrate that natural capital projects can generate revenues or save costs, whilst delivering on biodiversity and climate adaptation objectives. The NCFF is to establish a pipeline of replicable, bankable operations that will serve as a “proof of concept” and that will demonstrate to potential investors the attractiveness of such operations“.

The European Commission’s conviction that financial gain and biodiversity gain can be easily combined is not shared by everyone. During the consultation round on biodiversity offsetting last year, over 9000 people and 65 organisations have signed a letter urging the Commission not to pursue policy related to biodiversity offsetting. They fear it would “harm nature and people, and give power to those who destroy nature for private profit.”

Indeed, the NCFF’s budget consists of €50 million from the Commission’s Life programme, money that used to come in grants for environmental projects. Increasingly, proponents of financial instruments argue that flexible financing is necessary in order to secure ample funding to address the climate and environmental crises. However, it also means a shift in management from environmentally focused institutions to institutions with a financial focus driven by profit. As a result success becomes measured by profitability rather than the ability to protect nature.

Another problem is the lack of transparency. Part of the NCFF funding will be channelled through intermediary funds managed by third parties. Using financial intermediaries makes it impossible to fully measure the project’s impact. The EIB’s responsibility to track all the investments is outsourced to the intermediary who often lacks the capacity, know-how and focus to lead on this process. This has an inevitable impact on the quality of the projects.

Among some environmental organisations doubts about the NCFF as an instrument are rising even before the first projects have been approved. Its focus on promoting the valuation of nature and developing markets for ecosystem services and biodiversity offsetting makes it a symbol of the financialisation of nature.

New report: rejecting Financialization of Nature

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Friends of the Earth International are presenting a new publication from their Forests and Biodiversity Program.

The brochure, “rejecting Financialization of Nature”, explains in a simple way how financialzation works using examples from different countries.  It puts forward a strong position on financialization to raise awareness in the public and should be a useful tool for those lobbying at international and national levels.

Spanish and French language editions are available from Friends of the Earth International directly.

Friends of the Earth International is also publishing materials to support its work about climate finance at the national and international levels, at the UN and UNFCCC, backing Indigenous Peoples and local communities rights to end deforestation and forest degradation.

Drawing together these pieces of work, Isaac Rojas has written an article for The Ecologist magazine: “Local communities, not global financiers, are the best forest managers”.

A response from the European Commission

For those of you who signed the letter to the European Commission, you may be interested to see the response we got.  We are pleased to have gotten a response, if the detail is very much lacking.

Hannah Mowat, FERN

Dear Ms Mowat,

Commissioner Potočnik has asked me to answer your letter of 17 October 2014. The Commission’s on-line consultation on a future EU no net loss initiative served to collect stakeholders’ views on a broad range of issues related to no net loss of biodiversity. We are pleased to see that so many used this opportunity to express their opinions. We also welcome Fern’s and associated organisations’ contribution on this important topic. We will evaluate all the contributions we have received and take them into account when deciding on the further actions to be taken at EU level to achieve no net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Yours Sincerely,

François Wakenhut, Head of Unit

EUROPEAN COMMISSION
DIRECTORATE-GENERAL ENVIRONMENT
Directorate B – Natural Capital
ENV.B.2 – Biodiversity

New paper: “the dangers of commodifying our natural world”

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Friends of the Earth Europe has produced a new paper stating that the group believes “nature is not for sale”.

Proposed EU policy would introduce new systems of biodiversity offsetting as a theoretical way to secure “no net loss” of biodiversity.  Friends of the Earth Europe’s paper summarises and explains the problems with this approach.

You can read the report on the Friends of the Earth Europe website.

‘Managing the Risks’ event at the Scottish Parliament

eveLast year at the Forum on Natural Commons there was a call from people in Scotland to resist the financialisation of nature.

Now the Scottish Parliament is listening at this event:

Natural Capital – Managing the Risks
The Scottish Parliament
Tuesday 28 January 6-8pm

Patrick Harvie MSP and Jamie Hepburn MSP are jointly hosting the event which they hope will be an open and frank discussion on the topic of natural capital involving a wide range of interested parties including MSPs, the business community and NGOs.

Jonathan Hughes (Scottish Wildlife Trust and IUCN Councillor) and Nick Dearden (World Development Movement) will be debating some of the key issues, followed by questions and discussion from the floor.

This event is free but registration is strictly mandatory. You can register by clicking here. You are advised to arrive 30 minutes early to give time to register and complete any security checks required.

Solidarity with Edinburgh from La Paz, Bolivia

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Activists in La Paz took action in solidarity with us in Edinburgh to mark the Forum on Natural Commons.

They have been taking part in a conference on “Commons and new civilisatory paradigms” this week and took time out of their discussions on Wednesday to bring us a message of solidarity. You can read more about their work on their Facebook page.

We hope to share photos and talks from tonight’s Forum event in Scotland over the next few days.  Stay in the discussion at #notforsale.

Message from Edinburgh to Warsaw

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A big thank you to everyone who took part in last night’s Forum on Natural Commons. We had a fantastic evening joined by Brazilian activist Camila Moreno and our keynote speakers from around the UK and shared food and ideas.

At the end of the evening we gathered together to send a message of solidarity from Scotland to activists in Warsaw defending nature at the the UN climate talks.

Scottish Parliament action: Nature not for Sale

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A motion has been proposed to the Scottish Parliament by MSP Patrick Harvie concerned that putting a price on the environment is the first step towards turning it into a commodity to be traded on financial markets.

We want to make the case to the Scottish Parliament that turning wildlife, forests, mountains and soil into commodities won’t protect nature.

If you live in Scotland you can write to your MSP now by using the e-action on the WDM website by clicking here.