Friends of the Earth Malta has launched a petition under the European wide SUPPLY CHA!NGE project aimed at stopping abuse against nature and indigenous peoples in the supply chains of European businesses.
The SUPPLY CHA!NGE project has looked at the international industries supplying Europe with cheap agricultural raw materials from the global south, and found a multitude of abuses against the environment and indigenous people. The project also revealed that the palm oil supply chain is especially problematic, with indigenous people in South-East Asia seeing their traditional land rights ignored by companies that destroy their lands for the cultivation of palm oil. This palm oil is used to produce delicacies sold by retailers in Europe that we eat every day – which are especially popular around Christmas time.
A delegation of the SUPPLY CHA!NGE consortium went to Indonesia to speak with affected farmers, where stories of corruption and violence were revealed. In one case, a bupati (district leader) sold the communal forest to a company to plant palm oil without the knowledge of the villagers. In response, the villagers set fire to the company’s digger, seen as the symbol of the destruction of their forest. Two weeks later, two hundred policemen stormed the village, smashing windows and breaking down doors. Twenty men were arrested and were tortured in jail with cigarettes and beatings to make them confess to setting fire to the digger.
“Life has changed since the plantation company came to our land. Before, we could drink the water from our spring. We could gather fruit, rattan and wood in the forest, and eat our own vegetables. Today we have to buy everything in the shop, even the water,” said an anonymous woman from a village which is now almost completely encircled by palm oil plantations.
The European Union needs to implement mechanisms that hold companies accountable for what is happening in their supply chains. These mechanisms need to be binding if they are to have the desired impact.
”We are calling on the European Commission to support the initiative for a new binding United Nations Treaty on Business and Human Rights to regulate the operations of transnational corporations and to ensure environmental justice in countries of the global south,” said Martin Wildenberg from Global2000 (Austria), whose organisation played a leading role in the research.
Friends of the Earth Malta is appealing to Maltese consumers to also lend their support to this cause, as they too are contributing to environmental destruction and infringement of human rights by purchasing such products.
Notes to editors:
Twenty five thousand people from around Europe are asking to “stop the squeeze out and make orange juice fair”, The petition launched by members of the international SUPPLY CHA!NGE campaign carried out a stunt in front of the Hilton Hotel in Antwerp, Belgium. Caged in a massive trolley they attracted the attention of 100s of passers-by to the annual Juice Summit, where all the main players in the worlds’ juice industry meet.
After rolling out a red carpet covered with pictures of Brazilian workers in front of the hotel’s entrance, the activists put up a stop sign, with the order “Don’t step on worker’s rights!”
Sandra Dusch Silva, SUPPLY CHA!NGE coordinator and researcher for the Christian Initiative Romero said: “Workers are harvesting approximately 1.5 tons of oranges for an income of 10 Euro per day. The fruits are collected by leaning simple ladders against the orange trees. The workers climb up and down these unstable ladders carrying up to 30 kg of oranges under great time pressure.”
Two thirds of all orange juice is sold as a supermarket own-brand product. Supermarkets in Europe are directly or indirectly influencing the conditions of millions of workers worldwide and contributing to environmental devastation. The campaigners are putting pressure on European supermarkets to take responsibility and stop this destruction.
Antoine Borg Micallef from Friends of the Earth Malta added: “The average Maltese consumer drinks 11 litres of Orange Juice in a year, 80% of which originates from Brazil. As such, it is imperative that Maltese people understand the consequences and impacts that such products have outside of our shores.”
Brazil is home to over 3,000 bee species but the massive use of pesticides in Brazilian orange plantations has a tremendous negative effect on these insects. This is worrying as bees are essential for most food production.
As part of the SUPPLY CHA!NGE project, civil society organisations from across Europe and the Global South are working to make supermarket store brands fairer and more sustainable. Campaigners highlight that while supermarkets gain influence in the global supply chain, they are failing to use their power to prevent human rights violations and to reduce environmental damage along the supply chains.
Notes to editors:
Friends of the Earth Malta is looking to fully sponsor 15 Maltese youths, aged 18-30 years old, to join up with 15 Belgian youths, and participate in a 7-day and 7-night residential programme, ECOLOGICA, here in Malta.
ECOLOGICA is an Erasmus+ Youth Exchange programme organised by Friends of the Earth Malta and BINCO, Belgium. The programme is designed to provide hands-on fieldwork experience to persons working and studying in the field of biology. However, the programme is open to anyone with a passion for biodiversity and willingness to learn field research techniques.
Participants will carry out field surveys, practice different methodologies and collect data on different taxa groups. This is a youth project and participants will be able to shape how this project moves forward. All the data you will collect in the field will contribute towards updating of the national red list.
Other informal workshops include:
• Proposal writing and grant application workshop
• Paper publishing and poster presentation sessions
• Species Identification
• Informal talks and networking sessions with local/international scientists, and species specialists.
• Statistical analysis sessions using preliminary data.
ECOLOGICA is the first step towards contributing towards setting up a clear and scientifically robust biodiversity-monitoring network. More and more surveys will be carried out which participants will take a leading role in establishing. Join this programme and actively contribute towards the conservation of the unique and diverse biodiversity of the Maltese Islands.
Programme duration: 21st - 27th September 2016 (residential)
Cost: Board and Accommodation and meals during the programme, fully sponsored.
Facebook page: Ecologica - Malta Biodiversity Survey Project
Following the enactment of the ‘Public Domain Act’, Friends of the Earth Malta has today filed applications requesting that seven sites be designated as being Public Domain.
This law empowers citizens and NGOs to recommend land and property to be listed as ‘public domain’.Such land cannot be used for commercial reasons while also guaranteeing unrestricted access to the public.
The proposed sites include Comino, Fomm ir-Riħ, Ras ir-Raheb and Qlejgha, Il-Ballut tal-Wardija, Il-Ballut tal- Imġiebaħ (l/o Mellieħa), Is-Simblija (including Wied ir-Rum, Ta-Baldu and Wied Hazrun) and Has-Saptan extending to Wied Zembaq.
Friends of the Earth Malta believes nature is for everyone to experience and enjoy. We all need nature in our lives, and we are campaigning to ensure everyone has a right to access vibrant nature. Nature is invaluable in its own right – special places and species are unique and irreplaceable. They must not be sold off, privatised nor traded on any market.
Experiencing vibrant nature is also crucial for everybody's health and wellbeing. Regular time spent in nature is good for children's development, and for fitness and our mental health.
As a necessary component of a good life, we believe that experiencing nature should be considered a fundamental right for everyone, regardless of our backgrounds. When nature thrives we thrive.
NGOs hail ban as a feather in the new environment minister’s cap
Friends of the Earth Malta and the Malta Organic Agriculture Movement have hailed government’s decision to kick start the process for a national ban on glyphosate in Malta as a feather in the new environment minister’s cap.
Martin Galea De Giovanni, Director of Friends of the Earth Malta said that “this is a triumph to civil society following years of campaigning since tests carried out by Friends of the Earth Malta in 2013 showed that traces of the weed killer glyphosate were found in 9 out of 10 people tested.
This announcement shows responsibility from government’s side as it chose to listen to the concerns of experts and individuals who have demanded that our fields, streets and gardens would be free from this risky weed killer.”
John Portelli, spokesperson for the Malta Organic Agriculture Movement said “Reducing potential health risks is in the interest of both the government and the public: every cent we don’t spend on health is a cent gained somewhere else. The national ban is a win-win to all Maltese citizens.
"FoE Malta and MOAM would hope that other European countries follow Malta's example and ensure that European farming becomes safer and greener for the benefit of all European citizens.
The European Parliament has responded to the communication by the European Commission on Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs). They’ve send a strong message to upgrade the current fig leaf and get real on UTPs. Friends of the Earth Malta together with a coalition of 29 NGOs united in the Supply Cha!nge project now look forward to see a bold step forward by the European Commission.
Stefan Grasgruber-Kerl, spokesperson for the Supply Cha!nge project: "Today's vote shows that the European Parliament wants to see fairer trade relations between Europe and the Global South. Now it is the task of the European Commission to finally take steps to draft a binding directive to protect farm workers and small holder farmers from the increased and by now huge power of supermarkets and multinational food companies over the supply chain. The European Parliament vote is in line with the petitions of the Make Fruit Fair and Supply Cha!nge campaigns, where 61.000 Europeans said that they are against the currently dominant unfair trading practices.”
Friends of the Earth Malta welcomes the fact that the European Parliament has accepted that the Supply Chain Initiative is not enough to eradicate Unfair Trading Practices from the food supply chain. The plenary vote at the European Parliament of the Czesak’ report was successful according to our demands. We celebrate that MEPs have sent a clear message to the European Commission, highlighting that the issue of private-own brands requires particular attention from the Commission and competition authorities.”
For further information:
On the SC project: http://supplychainge.org/the-project-eu/?L=eu
The controversial trade deal being negotiated between the EU and the US could spell disaster for European farming, finds a new report from Friends of the Earth Europe.
The report ‘Trading away EU farmers’ launched today in 14 EU countries, reviews modelling studies carried out in the EU and US on the impacts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The report concludes that TTIP will massively increase imports from the US, with far fewer benefits for EU producers. Studies foresee a decline of up to 0.8% for EU agriculture’s contribution to gross domestic product, while US agriculture's contribution will increase by 1.9% - a net trade benefit to US interests of over 4 billion Euro.
This is predicted to result in many farmers across the EU facing stronger competition and lower prices, threatening farm businesses across Europe, as well as having negative impacts on rural areas and on consumer interests. The US Department of Agriculture is predicting falls in the price paid to European farmers in every food category.
Elena Portelli from Friends of the Earth Malta said ‘’ The local farming sector consists of circa 19,000 farmers, only around 1,300 of whom are full time. This small figure coupled with a small holding size - circa 88.4% of farm holdings are smaller than 2 hectares makes the Maltese farming sector even more vulnerable than most to competition from imported products.’’
The report says that corporate lobby groups on both sides of the Atlantic are pushing for greater access to each others’ agricultural markets, with the US in particular targeting Europe’s generally higher safety and animal welfare standards. However, even if EU standards are maintained, increased imports from the US will still flood European markets, ensuring huge export opportunities and profits for food corporations and US factory farms at the expense of European farmers.
Ms Portelli continued “The main winners from the TTIP deal will be corporate food giants and US factory farms who already have bigger economies of scale and lower production costs. Any removal of EU restrictions will mean a huge increase in imports and could be the final nail in the coffin for some EU farming sectors. While the imports of US products are at present negligible in Malta, TTIP could completely change US product access to our market.”
In terms of gains for EU agriculture, the report says these will be restricted to just a few sectors, such as cheese, but even these are dependent on the US giving way on ‘non-tariff measures’ that it uses to restrict trade. The report highlights that consumer and environmental protection may suffer too, because both US government and producer organisations are openly calling for the EU to weaken protection in areas such as the approval of GM foods, pesticide safety rules and the bans on hormones and pathogen washes in meat production.
Friends of the Earth Malta calls on the Maltese government to keep to its promise to conduct and publish impact assessments on Maltese market sectors. Special interest should be given to highly vulnerable sectors such as Maltese agriculture. A recent study by the World Trade industry puts Malta as the only country to suffer economic losses due to TTIP, suffering -0.3% income and -0.7% investments.
Today, representatives of over 130 nations are expected to attend the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This brings parties one step closer towards ratifying the Agreement through national Parliaments in most cases - with nations turning their intended pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (known as INDCs) into their agreed actual contribution to the climate effort.
The global elite are celebrating this event, and patting themselves on the back. But what does it really mean?
When the Paris Agreement was adopted on 12 December 2015, our organisation Friends of the Earth Malta along with Friends of the Earth International strongly denounced the deal as a weak agreement which failed to deliver the scale of action needed to prevent dangerous climate change.
“Scientists are now telling us that we have entered ‘decade zero’. Decisions taken in the next 10 years – investments in dirty mega infrastructure, exploitation of new fossil fuel sources, mobilisation and distribution of public finance, the scale of emissions reductions that are undertaken – will determine if we breach the 1.5°C guardrail or not,” said Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate Justice and Energy Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International.
“This in turn will determine the scale of impacts on our planet and its people,” she added
We demand our government provide much-needed climate finance so that developing countries can transform their societies and provide a dignified life for their citizens. Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries are only obliged to ‘report on’ any finance they provide - but exactly how much, or what kind of finance that might be, is conveniently ambiguous, opening the door for dangerous private finance, and potentially broadening the pool of donors to include developing countries, ” said Martin Galea De Giovanni, Director of FoE Malta.
Neither the Paris Agreement nor its formal signing this week will safeguard our planet from the ravages of the climate catastrophe.
In December, we had noted that even though the Agreement mentions the pursuit of ‘efforts to limit increase to 1.5 degrees,’ whilst acknowledging the risks of a 2°C goal, it totally lacks the conviction that is urgently needed to meet the 2°C goal, let alone 1.5°C goal. In fact, current pledges put forward by countries add up to warming of around 3 degrees, and possibly higher - clearly incompatible with a habitable planet.
Yet the climate science is clear that breaching the 1.5°C guardrail poses an unacceptable risk of crossing irreversible tipping points, impacting billions of people. So without a meaningful increase of action now, the current pledges lead us to climate disaster.
Meanwhile, we are concerned that the Paris Agreement’s mention of ‘climate neutrality’ will encourage the deployment of untested, dangerous geoengineering, and roll-out of false solutions such as more carbon markets, dangerous nuclear energy and a global land grab for agrofuels. This agreement must not be used to continue pumping of carbon into the atmosphere, by pretending that’s it's possible to use technology to suck the carbon out.
What is needed to stop the climate crisis is system change, an energy revolution and transformational action. Specifically, if we are to prevent dangerous climate change:
• We need a just, global energy transformation, including stopping of dirty energy projects, improving energy efficiency, tackling energy access issues and moving to community-owned renewable energy. It is inconceivable that we can hope to stay within our carbon budget without such an energy transformation.
• We need the age of fossil fuels to come to an end, within the next short decades.
• We need finance from developed to developing countries to help them move away from dirty energy.
• We need countries to cut emissions at source, and not hide behind carbon markets, REDD and other false solutions.
“Today, we emphasize that we will build peoples’ power at the local, national and international levels, to stop dirty energy on the ground, to focus on good energy solutions, to dismantle the power of polluting corporations and to hold our governments responsible to our citizens instead,” said Sara Shaw, Climate Justice and Energy Coordinator of Friends of the Earth International.
In the next 10 years, as the window closes on our chance to remain below that 1.5°C guardrail, we will help build a peoples’ movement to push for this transformation.
Simply singing the Paris Agreement without any substance on implementation and ambition is irresponsibly insufficient. We cannot count on such an Agreement alone to achieve climate justice.
Friends of the Earth Malta with the support of project partner Sudwind (through the Supply Cha!nge Project) evaluated 62 supermarket store brand chocolates from 11 leading Maltese supermarkets. The results show 38 products rated red, 16 rated orange and only 5 rated green for environmental and social criteria.
62 storebrand chocolates (including 4 easter-themed products) were tested by Friends of the Earth Malta regarding their social and ecological quality through the Supply Cha!nge – Make Supermarkets Fair EU project.
Only 5 storebrand chocolates were found to be of high social and ecological quality (green), all branded as Carrefour products:
Carrefour bio, Cioccolato extra fondente ; Extra fine Biologico Equosolidale (Tower Supermarket, Sliema)
Cioccolato finissimo al latte – Extra fine (Trolees, Qawra)
Carrefour bio, Cioccolato extra fondente ; Extra fine Biologico Equosolidale (GS Supermarket, Mellieha)
Cacao – Amaro in polvere – Biologico equosolidale (GS Supermarket Mellieha, GS Superstore Naxxar)
38 Storebrands were marked Red, indicating issues of social and environmental exploitation throughout the supply chain. All stores that were evaluated contained these red-rated products with varying degrees. Scotts and Smart Supermarket had the highest rate of red-rated storebrand chocolates (11 out of 11 and 18 out of 19 evaluated store brand chocolates for Scotts and Smart respectively).
Lidl showed the highest rate of orange-rated storebrand chocolates (14 out of 16 store brand chocolates), only 1 red-rated item and one green-rated item.
Chocolates are a popular dessert used in traditional desserts, icecreams, sauces and consumed frequently. A good chunk of these items are found as supermarket store brands.
During this time of year, a lot of Maltese people carry out fasting or sacrifice sweets for lent – Easter Sunday is anticipated greatly as the day when the fast is broken, generally celebrated with a family feast, figolli, chocolate eggs and bunnies and sweet delicacies all around.
„Easter celebrations, including breaking fast, are an integral part of Maltese society however our research has found that some of the chocolate we're eating raise some moral and ethical questions“ the researchers from Friends of the Earth Malta explain. „More than 2 million children work in cocoa farms in West Africa. In Ghana, farmers earn circa 80c per day, while farmers in the Ivory Coast only earn 50c a day. Only 6.6% of the price we pay for a chocolate bar goes to the farmer producing the cocoa. Highly toxic pesticides used in the farming industry harms the farmers‘ and their families‘ health and environment.“
These issues are a central part of the European Campaign : Supply Chainge – Make Supermarkets Fair.
Friends of the Earth Malta urges local supermarkets to step up their game and ensure their chocolate products in the store are certified as fair and ecological – allowing people to indulge in guilt-free chocolate.
Executive Summary of the research report : Bittersweet Chocolate : The Truth Behind the International Chocolate Industry.
(The full Bittersweet Chocolate report is available on request.)