.ECO No. 3, 29 September 1994: ENGLISH
Facultad de Medicina,
Universidad Aut�noma of Madrid,
c/ Arzobispo Morcillo 2-4.
Room: Seminario V.
Tel/Fax: (+34-1) 397 53 40
* Bhopal: Remember the Victims of Development
* ANPED AGM
* Super Squat
* A Just Solution of the Multilateral Debt Problem: Sign On
* One of the Voices
* World Bank Coup Over Genetic Resources
* Vigil/Camp out
* How to Find Friends
* Narmada Petitition
BHOPAL: REMEMBER THE VICTIMS OF DEVELOPMENT
Of the tens of millions of victims of Bretton Woods-style development, December 3rd 1994 will have special meaning to the survivors of the world�s worst industrial disaster. It was just ten years ago that the pesticide plan of the US Corporation, Union Carbide, gassed the sleeping city of Bhopal in India, killing as many as 10,000 innocent people and injuring half a million more.
In the decade since the Bhopal disaster, transnational corporations, aided and abetted by the World Bank and the IMF, have spread their tentacles throughout the world, North and South, and now dominate the global political economy, destroying the environment in their relentless search for higher profits.
Join the Bhopal victims in a World Day of Protest against Toxics and Corporate Power on December 3, 1994. Milan Kundera, the Czech author, once wrote that the struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetfulness. We must not forget. The people of Bhopal never can.
Int'l Coalition for Justice in Bhopal
From Wednesday evening, 28 September, until October 1st, Saturday ANPED is holding its Annual General Meeting in Madrid. The morning sessions with a focus on building up ANPED and discussing ways of working together will take place at 'Los Dominicos', Avenida de Burgos 204.
The Alliance of Northern People on Environment and Development (ANPED) is a network of environmental, solidarity,development, Indigenous, human rights, women's organisations and civic groups which got together in 1990 with the preparatory process for the Rio conference, as well as those which organized at the time the campaign on 500 years of colonialism. One of the aims of ANPED is to link up activities, exchange experiences and to enhance mutual learning and promote critical debate on the issues of environment, development and participatory democracy in the North. ANPED links groups from Europe, USA, Canada, with substantial participation of groups from Central and Eastern Europe. ANPED publishes a quarterly newsletter, and a bi-monthly interactive newsletter for changing consumption and production patterns. Also, the Groundwork Series is a collection of inspiring articles and NGO statements on changing consumption and production patterns.
In the afternoons, from Thursday till Saturday, the following workshops co-organized by ANPED will take place at the Alternative Forum (Autonomous University of Madrid): The Impact of Bretton Woods Institutions on Cultural and Biological Diversity; Climate Change, Energy Policies, the World Bank and Social Consequences; Climate Action Campaign; Greening the Industry; Spanish Grassroot Stories of Work for Sustainable Consumption and Clean Production. For details see the Forum programme and the next issues of ECO.
For more information about ANPED you may contact the following people at the Alternative Forum: Simone Bilderbeek, Netherlands Commitee for IUCN, Jose Santamarta, CODA, IniakiBarcena, EKI, Ewa Charkiewicz, "Wole Byc", Poland; Ronald Boon, WISE. You are welcome to join ANPED. See you at our workshops!
Squatted buildings all over the world tend to share a distinctive atmosphere - a fine balance between emptiness and clutter, walls decorated with Ch� Guevaras and anarchist symbolism, ragged dogs zipping around rooms densely populated by mattresses, sofas and chairs rescued from the street, and the squatters themselves.
The squat in the middle of Madrid where more than 100 young people from the A SEED network have crashed this week has all of the requisite features, as well as quite a few unusual ones. Occupied only 3 months ago after standing empty for several years, this huge, five-floor building is full of artists, performers, and activists from Madrid. Although only a handful of these people live in the building, many others come to create art and theatre, to drink huge beers around the bar, to listen to traditional Spanish music, and to cook together.
A tour of the squat with one of the inhabitants gives a rather surreal impression. A huge empty room, the "gallery" with a few "exhibits", includes an impressive collection of rubber stamps hanging in a circle from the ceiling and a artfully arranged pile of old school notebooks. Noticing a puddle of water in the middle of the floor, a visitor wondering if there is a leak in the ceiling is told "no, no! this is art!" On the second floor, a gigantic styrofoam banker is being painted for the Alternative Forum by students of a local art school.
A SEEDers have been invited to occupy the two top floors of the squat during the two weeks of the 50 Years is Enough! activities. Spacious enough to allow snorers to be isolated (not yet a fait accompli, but still in the planning phase) and rollers to take several free spins across the floor during the night, this accommodation is relatively Ritz-like in comparison with our usual international meeting accommodations. Minor drawbacks include an icy shower, electricity shortages, a chronic lack of toilet paper, and a single toilet, but we are not complaining.
Over the coming days, we will be busy planning, painting and socializing in the squat, preparing some spectacular presents for the Bretton Woods birthday. Anyone who is interested in joining us is encouraged to contact someone at the A SEED table in the main hall.
Ann Doherty, A SEED
A JUST SOLUTION OF THE MULTILATERAL DEBT PROBLEM: SIGN ON
More than 160 NGOs from North and South have signed an "Appeal for a Just Solution of the Multilateral Debt Problem."From 1982 to 1992, the multilateral debt of least-developed countries increased from US$98 billion to US$304 billion. In 43 countries more than 40% of debt service went to multilateral institutions in 1991. (See 'A Golden Opportunity' in this issue).Some European and Southern NGOs together with the US-campaign "50 Years is Enough" have started to address this issue. They suggest a debt relief package combining total debt cancellation for the severely indebted poorest countries and a 50% debt cancellation for the severely indebted middle-income countries regarding their IMF and World Bank debt.
The organizers of the international campaign (WEED, Berne Declaration and Eurodad) urge you to sign the Appeal for a Just Solution (copies are available at the registration desk at the Alternative Forum). A workshop on the "World Bank and IMF as Creditors" will take place on Friday, September 30 at the Alternative Forum (Aula III, 2 pm to 5 pm).The platform and the signatures will presented to the media during a press conference on October 3rd, 10 am at the Club Internacional de la Prensa, Monte Esquinza 41.
ONE OF THE VOICES
Hnuti Duha the member organisation of Friends of the Earth (FoE) in the Czech Republic, came to the forum to spread and promote an ecological world view that allows human-kind to live on earth with dignity and provide nature with the space to evolve. Founded shortly before the changes in 1989 that took place throughout the post-communist world, Hnuti Duha today consists of about twenty local groups. When asked about their projects, Chairman Jakub Patocka answered: "There is not enough room in ECO to describe all of them! In respect to IMF and World Bank we have started a group project to inform about the plans of the World Bank, the EU and other institutions like the WTO, and of the transnational corporations. We fear these issues are highly neglected by movements in the post-communist world. That is why we are also starting some activities towards creating a network in this region, so that we are able to actively defend ourselves." "At this conference, our main aim is to support and assist our friends and colleagues in Slovakia in their fight against the World Bank's crazy plan to invest in the Slovak forest, to give a loan for what they call 'environmental forest management'."
Forestry is a sphere in which the World Bank has done a lot of evil throughout the world. Jakub described this project as being gigantic even in a global context. They consider this the first project in the post-communist world of the typical kind that gave the World Bank its bad name. Firstly, although the project is called 'environmental forestry', it basically gets rid of the country's forest. Secondly, the loans and interests of this project are basically unpayable. It gets rid of the country's economic independence and thus turns the country into a mere raw material base as it has done in the past in Third World countries.
Contact: Jakub Patocka HNUTI DUHA - Friends of the Earth, Czech Republic Jakubske' na'm. 7 602 00 Brno Czech Republic Tel. 42-5-42210438; fax: 42-5-42210347
World Bank Coup Over Genetic Resources
By Simone Lovera- Bilderbeek, coordinator of the ANPED working group on cultural and biological diversity
Despite vehement opposition of Southern and Northern governments and NGOs the World Bank is still trying to gain control over 40 % of the world|s genetic resources These resources, 500,000 samples of valuable agricultural crops, are stored in 18 so-called International Agricultural Research Centres. In a recent letter to the Board of Trustees of these gene banks, the World Bank proposes that these centres should speak with one voice and thus authorize the Chairman of the consultative donor group ot these institutions, Vice-president Ismail Serageldin of the World Bank itself, to "negotiate and enter into agreements for and behalf of these centers with international organizations and other international or domestic bodies". The far majority of the crop samples stored in these gene banks were freely collected in developing countries. These countries now fear their valuable resources being taken over by an entirely Northern dominated institution.
Genetic resources are of crucial importance if one wants to create new varieties of agricultural crops like wheat, rice and potatoes. The economic importance of such crops should not be underestimated. A country like Australia earns more than US$ 100 million per year out of the use of above-mentioned genetic resources in wheat and other agricultural production.
Meanwhile, many of these crops are the products of years and years of traditional innovation by farmers in developing countries. Over centuries, these farmers and their families have developed thousands of varieties of agricultural crops. These varieties form a unique and essential biological and cultural diversity. Only recently it has been acknowledged by large institutes like the above-mentioned agricultural research centres, that many of these varieties are more resistant to pests or drought, or otherwise more valuable than the varieties normally used. Consequently, it is suddenly recognized that these resources are worth millions of dollars.
The Convention of Biological Diversity, which was signed at the UNCED conference, recognizes the fact that many valuable genetic resources originate in farmers fields in developing countries. One of the key principles of the Convention is therefore that the benefits of the use of genetic resources should be equitably shared. Regretfully, this principle has not been elaborated into concrete provisions for benefit sharing with small farmers, due to the resistance of countries like the US. Since the conclusion of the negotiations, however, initiatives are being developed to give some concrete substance to this vague objective. One step in this long road towards equity would be a contract between the 18 major gene banks mentioned above and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. This contract would place the genetic resources under the control of a body in which southern and northern countries have an equal voice. (Moreover, the contract includes a clear clause that the IARCs may not deliver genetic material to an industry or research institute that might seek patent protection upon the genetic information, thereby excluding the free exchange of information that has brought the same gene into the hands of the IARC itself.)
The FAO and the genebanks had forgotten about the main donor of the IARCs, though. Officially, the World Bank is no more than the biggest donor amongst a consultative group of 40, mainly Northern, donors to these 18 gene banks. This group, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) used to be a loose structure until last summer, when the World Bank suddenly decided that there should be some more order in the house.
Thus, the World Bank proposed to establish a steering committee, chaired by...right, Ismail Serageldin, vice-president of the World Bank. They also made serious efforts to postpone the agreement with FAO, as they obviously did not want all that democratic control upon its lab and they proposed a "system-wide approach regarding the conservation of plant and animal genetic resources and access to collections of such resources" implemented by....right, Ismail Serageldin.
Last but not least they asked the Board of Trustees of these different gene banks to authorize the chairman to negotiate and even enter into agreements with other bodies. Please note that in common law it is absolutely unheard of that a chairman of a loose body may enter into agreements without any democratic control of the institutions and people he or she chairs. Meanwhile, Serageldin is not even obliged to report about these agreements, he is only requested to do so! At least, according to the proposal of the World Bank.
Happily, there is a lot of resistance to these plans. When NGOs published the information about the World Bank "coup" in the ECO and the Financial Times at last June's Biodiversity Convention meeting, governments reacted shocked. In the uproar that resulted, the representative of the CGIAR rushed to state that they were certainly going to sign the FAO contract. In his letter to the Boards of the gene banks, the World Bank itself proposes to sign the contract before the Conference of the Parties of the Convention in November, in order to avoid any "deplorable" situations.
But the discussion is not yet over as the IARCs are seriously considering to accept the other proposals of the World Bank-letter. Why? Because the World Bank has offered them money. Not a lot, but in total it amounts to U$ 70 - 75 million. And the IARCs are in a big financial crisis. So at the moment they are still considering the proposal.
If the IARCs would agree to give up their sovereignty, this would not only mean extremely bad news for the world|s genetic resources and the Southern farmers who developed these crops. It would be bad news for any recipient of World Bank money. After all, there are many countries in deep financial crisis. Moreover, there are more formal and informal consultative groups of donors, which bear the inherent risk of total control over a country. What if the consultative group of donor|s of a deeply indebted country suddenly decided that the biggest donor was allowed to sign contracts on behalf of that country? Would the country be able to protest?
At today's Workshop on the impacts of the BWI upon Cultural and Biological Diversity this case study will be elaborated and discussed, as well as a case study on the World Bank sponsored Planaforo.
A camp out of indefinite length of time in front of the Ministry of Treasury and Economy, Cuzco Square (metro Cuzco) for the 0.7% and the annulment of the external debt. Organised by Plataforma del 0.7% de Madrid.
HOW TO FIND FRIENDS
Have you ever been looking urgently for the name and address of a NGO in a certain country working on a certain issue and there seems to be no way to find it? The NGO directory published by the US NGO World Wise can help you! The directory is now being updated. To make additions or changes contact Mark (just look for the tallest participant at the Forum) or contact: Mark Dubois, World Wise, 401 San Miguel Way, Sacramento, CA 95819, USA. Tel: 916-457-0433 Fax: 916-739-6951.
The Bank's seven year record in Narmada stands as a history of negligence and misrepresentation: extensive policy violations, cover-ups, inadequate appraisals, faulty cost/benefit analysis, contravention of democratic processes and exaggerated benefits. The Bank also bears partial responsibility for human rights violations against oustees such as arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, beatings, and rapes.
In solidarity with displaced peoples of the discredited Narmada Dam project, funded by the World Bank, a petition is now being organized, that demands that the World Bank accepts its responsibilities and changes its future behaviour.
The petition is available for you to read at the Narmada desk in the plaza outside the entrance doors to the Facultad de la Universidad Aut�noma, at Foro Alternativo. PLEASE SIGN IT!