Friends of the Earth
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Friends of the Earth
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Justice (3 hits),

Full Submission

Submission from Friends of the Earth

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Recommendations concerning resource efficiency:measuring our resource use

Desired outcomes:

That governments commit to measuring their consumption of natural resources with a view to managing consumption within limits of equitability and sustainability.

The challenge ? why bother measuring how much we?re using?

As a species we are using ever more of the world?s finite resources, with developed economies in particular consuming well more than is equitable or sustainable in a resource constrained world. This for many is also a security issue since it has left some, Europe in particular, highly dependent on imported resources than other global region. In spite of this we remain hugely wasteful ?Europe throws away over 5 billioneuro?s worth of valuable resources every year. The Earth?s ability to sustain humanity?s increasing rate of consumption is being pushed to the limit. Through their overconsumption developed economies in particular are playing a massive role in degrading the natural environment on which we all depend.

Friends of the Earth EWNI is calling for all economies to measure their use of resource use. The most developed should measure across four resource categories: land, water, materials and greenhouse gases (GHGs), and adopt policies to increase resource efficiency, such as higher recycling targets. The least developed economies could adopt a more limited system of measurement such as limited to materials flows only. Developed economies in particular should devise long-term targets and strategies in order to reduce their use of the world?s resources.

How to measure resource use

Given that no major economy currently measures its total use of resources, it is difficult for targets to be set or policies to be evaluated. A 2009 study by Friends of the Earth Europe and Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI) in Vienna looked at how to measure Europe?s use of resources in a way that is achievable and comprehensive. It concluded that the best way would be to use four indicators:

? Land (in hectares), including land used outside the EU (for example to grow crops for food or energy sources).

? Material (in tonnes), including those used to make products that are imported into Europe (sometimes called the material rucksack of products). Data sources allow this figure to be broken down into different forms of materials, for example biological and mineral resources.

? Water (in litres), including water used outside the EU to produce imported products (eg cotton).

? Greenhouse gas emissions created by consumption (in CO2 equivalent), which includes both Europe?s Kyoto emissions, and the carbon footprint associated with imported products.

These indicators already exist in research literature, and they are all quite transparent, measuring clear physical quantities.

The indicators do not directly measure impacts on biodiversity. But they can be used to highlight issues that need to be investigated. For example, if a new policy such as a biofuel target or reform of the Common Agricultural Policy results in a measurable big increase in EU land use, then there should be further investigation. Nor do the indicators address issues of hazardous chemicals or pollution; but it has been found that specific regulation (such as the REACH chemicals policy) is more effective in this area.

How would these indicators be used?

? The indicators can be used by governments to set targets,measure progress, establishpolicies and assess the impactof policy changes.

? Companies can use them toassess and improve the resourceuse associated with their productsand activities.

As global population grows, and standards of living rise in many countries, the pressure on the world?s resources ? whether land, materials, water, or the climate ? becomes ever greater. This pressure will affect people, the environment, governments and businesses around the world.

The Rio+20 conference must respond to these trends and seize the opportunity to set in train an ambition to accurately assess and reduce humanity?s resource use. The indicators that Friends of the Earth and SERI have developed provide a workable and effective way of helping governments measure and reduce their consumption of natural resources. By advocating the adoption of these resource-use indicators the Rio+20 Conference will be taking the first steps to developing a decarbonised and highly resource efficient global economy, with the benefits for people, the environment and the economy that would bring.

Recommendations concerning sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty at Rio+20

20 years after the Rio Summit, the global food system is in deep crisis. Industrial agriculture, based on monocultures and heavy inputs of chemicals, fossil fuels, water and land is depleting our common natural resources at a rapid pace and is causing a host of environmental problems including climate emissions, loss of biodiversity, loss of genetic resources and destruction of soils. At the same time, 20 years of deregulated agriculture and liberalised agricultural markets are destroying small scale family farming, which is the primary method for most of the world?s population, especially some of the most vulnerable communities, to feed themselves. The combination of industrial agriculture and global governance and trade models that are based on food as a tradable commodity rather thanas a Human Right that States must uphold have left nearly a billion people hungry. The rest are increasingly being fed with unhealthy diets which is creating global health crises.

Viable food systems already exist. Small scale food producers provide the food for about 70 per cent of the population today, and there is widespread recognition that taking into account the needs of small holder farmers is vital to feed a global population in the future. Yet marginalisation of small scale farmers in policy making and investment combined with a focus on producing for export markets means most of the poor and hungry in the world today are small farmers in rural areas. 10 The global market is failing to feed them. Therefore we need policies that allow small scale food producers to feed themselves.

At the same time agro-ecological methods of production have been shown to have the potential to reduce climate emissions, reduce hunger and poverty, restore biodiversity and soils as well as improve livelihoods. The 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Science and technology for Development report stressed the importance of agro-ecological farming combined with systems that work for small scale farmers as the way forward to a sustainable food system in the future.

Desired outcomes:

1) Give strong and increasing support to small scale, agro-ecological and other forms of sustainable, ecological and humane food production, research in this area and enabling conditions, to ensure a shift away from environmentally and socially destructive industrial food production in order to produce enough and healthy food for the projected 9 billion people or more;

  2) Regulate, encourage and support the transformation of industrial and other forms of unsustainable agriculture towards smallholder based agroecological and other forms of sustainable, ecological, low energy food production;

3) Recommend a new global trade system that prioritises countries abilities to feed their populations and achieve the Right to Food over trade agreements, investments treaties that undermine this;

4) Support the development of comprehensive short and long-term national and regional food security strategies to address high food prices and volatility. These strategies should include a wide range of agricultural and price policies and instruments, adapted to specific national and regional contexts and the transition to agro-ecological practices;

5) Support food sovereignty as the overall framework for food and agricultural policies; 6) Emphasize the important role of the organizations of small scale food producers in decision making on food and agriculture;

7) Welcome the reformed UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) as the primary as the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for food security, with a mission based on defending the right to food;

8) Start to develop a work plan for implementing the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD);

9) Resist the commodification and commercialization of natural resources and carbon trading, such as REDD+, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM),that would include agriculture and soil carbon sequestration in speculative market schemes 10) Support the adoption of a UN Declaration on Peasant Rights;

11) Support the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

12) Condemn multi-genome patent claims and encourage governments to block or rescind such claims;

13) Focus research spending on agriculture on agro-ecology and small scale farming as well as improving local and traditional crop varieties and peasant breeding instead of biotechnology, GM crops and a narrow focus on genetic breeding;

14) Underline that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities must be respected;

15) Call on Governments to stop the global land grab and return the more than 80 million hectares of land that has been taken from small scale farmers, pastoralists, indigenous communities with immediate effect;

16) Abolish all incentives for the production of bio fuels including targets and mandates;

17) Recognise the environmental damage and inequitable consumption patterns promoted by industrial, grain fed livestock systems. Support integrated, low input, humane farming systems;

18) Take action to reduce overconsumption of meat and dairy products in the industrialised world;

19) Promote resilient livestock breeds and species diversity; and re-introduce traditional and local animals on farms;

20) Break-up oligopolies in agricultural input corporations and in the food retail sector;

21) Promote and encourage improvement of traditional plant and seed varieties, stop monopolistic genetic patents and halt planting of genetically modified crops.

Recommendations concerning the implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration

Desired outcomes

1) The Rio+20 Conference should take a decision to start negotiating a global treaty on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, in order to have a text ready for adoption in 2017. The negotiation process itself should be transparent and participatory.

2) The Rio+20 Conference should (a) encourage the development of regional treaties on Principle 10 along the lines of the Aarhus Convention, and (b) encourage interested States to accede to the Aarhus Convention and its Protocol on PRTR, both of which are open to accession by any UN Member State.

3) The Rio+20 Conference should request UNEP to provide assistance to countries to enable them to better implement the Bali Guidelines on Principle 10, and invite donor governments and institutions to provide financial assistance for this purpose.

4) Any new instruments or processes established pursuant to the Rio+20 Conference should be ?Principle 10-proofed?, i.e. they should contain provisions and/or requirements promoting effective access to information, public participation and access to Justice in relation to their subject matter.

5) In its conclusions on the institutional framework for sustainable development, the Rio+20 Conference should invite the governing bodies of and Parties to international treaties relating to the environment, including but not limited to multilateral environmental agreements, to ensure that the substantive outcomes under such instruments promote effective access to information, public participation and access to Justice.

6) The Rio+20 Conference should adopt a set of guidelines guaranteeing minimum standards for civil society participation in international decision-making processes.

7) Such Guidelines could build on the Almaty Guidelines adopted under the Aarhus Convention and Agenda 21 and would address, inter alia, the following issues: definition of civil society, openness of meetings, access to documentation, modalities of participation (right to circulate proposals, right to make interventions, right of peaceful assembly, etc), access to Justice (grievance mechanisms, Ombudsperson institution for international forums), capacity building and funding.

Recommendations concerning Energy Access and Climate Change

Climate change is one of the greatest threats we face, driven by our combustion of fossil fuels for energy. Yet 2.7 billion people still rely on traditional biomass for cooking, heating or lighting, a figure that is not set to improve by 2030 if we continue current policy trajectories. Of those, 1.3 billion do not have access to electricity. If Rio+20?s focus on the ?green economy? is genuinely about sustainable development and poverty eradication, it needs to find a way of addressing the energy needs of the 2.7 billion people while not contributing to climate change; in short, a transformation away from fossil fuels.

Friends of the Earth welcomes the focus given to energy access as a means of development, seen through Ban Ki-moon?s three Rio energy goals, as well as 2012 being the Year of Sustainable Energy for All. He rightly acknowledges the need for a ?clean revolution?. However, if this is to be a revolution the whole world benefits from, then we need to find synergy between policies; doubling the share of renewable energy in the mix by 2030 will not deliver it; doubling the rates of improved energy efficiency will not do it; and a target of universal energy access by 2030 will condemn too many to poverty for too long. Focusing on energy access means focusing on decentralised, off-grid energy that empowers local communities and democratises energy. The IEA, REN21 and the World Bank have all shown that a renewable-powered decentralised mini-grid is cheaper, more efficient and more socially and environmentally sustainable than either extending the grid or using diesel. Climate change also necessitates addressing on-grid energy and ensuring 100 per cent of new capacity is renewable (currently 50 per cent), while we also try and replace the dirtiest sources of fossil fuel energy.

Moving to a renewable future will require heavy levels of investment. The IEA sees $18 trillion needing to be spent by 2035 ? or $1.2 trillion a year ? to stand a 50 per cent chance of keeping temperatures within 2 degrees of pre-industrial levels. We currently spend $500 billion. Yet research by UN-DESA shows that investing $1.5 trillion in the next 10-15 years would bring down the cost of renewables to become cheaper than fossil fuels, making them the default choice for energy investment in developing and developed countries, and making the economic case to keep fossil fuels in the ground and catalysing the ?clean revolution?. Both the IEA and UN-DESA say the market alone will not deliver this scale of funding in the small time-frame required, therefore it needs to be an upfront public investment.

Desired outcomes:


1. Lay the foundations for a global policy that can deliver the principles of community- focused energy access, development, and tackling climate change, while realising that each country needs to define its own energy needs according to those principles and must be supported in doing so.

2. Adopt best practice through using the most effective and successful public policies for increasing the uptake of renewable energy. Research by the IPCC, Deutsche Bank and others has shown that nationally appropriate feed-in tariffs (FiTs) have led to the widest uptake of renewable technology.

3. Recognise the principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibility in any mechanism designed to address sustainable development and poverty eradication. This means richer, industrialised countries recognise their historical advantage from cheap, abundant consuming fossil fuels, and pay this climate debt to developing countries through new and additional finance as well as the transfer of technology.

4. Look to innovative sources of finance rather than emphasising the private sector, as conservative estimates place potential revenues from the redirection of fossil fuels, levies on bunker fuels, IMF Special Drawing Rights, a financial transaction tax and curbing tax avoidance (among others) between at least US$400-US$600.

5. Avoid the increasing reach of international corporate interests over satisfying the basic needs of the world?s poor. Any effort to tackle energy access and climate change cannot lead to wide-spread privatisation and the transfer of wealth from South to North under the pretence of green growth. Socially, economically, and environmentally just policies should form the basis of a green economy if it is to deliver sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

6. Ensure the right principles are followed when drawing up and evaluating policies, not prioritising metrics such as value for money or carbon savings as they will skew policies away from genuine developmental gains and clean, affordable energy access. If done well, rolling out renewable energy can stimulate local economies, employment and poverty alleviation.

7. Involve civil society at each stage of the conceptualisation, design and implementation of any mechanism addressing energy access and renewable technology as they will be best placed to comment on what needs should be addressed as well as which principles should be prioritised.

8. Prioritise community-owned energy projects that catalyse local-level democracy and development. With regards to rural electrification, the use of co-operatives in Bangladesh, Nepal and even the United States have shown they increase participation, bring down energy costs and are overall more effective at delivering energy access and development.

9. Follow best practice in including accompanying enabling policies to ensure civil society partakes fully at a local, national and international level in any policy mechanism, including but not limited to providing the capital, institutions and working culture that facilitate capacity building and empowerment.

10. Respect and promote the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples, including rights to self-determination and self-government; the right to free, prior and informed consent; the right to management and customary use of natural resources; land rights; and rights of redress.

11. Establish a process for selecting eligible technologies that is transparent and participatory and take full account of the environmental and socio-economic impacts, including in countries and communities where the raw material inputs will be produced. 12. Ensure good governance,including participation of affected workers and communities in the development of policies and measures to tackle climate change, and transparency, accountability and democratic control over decision making.

13. Ensure jobs and decent work by minimising job losses, maximising opportunities for job creation, and protecting pay conditions and health and safety for workers; protect low- income groups, and guard against the creation of further economic and social injustice. 14. Ask those with experience and expertise in the areas of providing energy access to communities. Large, centralised fossil fuel companies like Eskom or Duke Energy should not be included in high level panels addressing sustainable energy for all.

Recommendations concerning Land Use Planning

Goals for sustainable development could be set into national legislative frameworks to ensure that a clear trajectory of action in undertaken. There is an implementation gap which could be addressed by focussing land-use planning systems, particularly land-use plans held by local governments, on the delivery of sustainable development. This means that policy- making and decision-taking on the ground would work towards addressing resource use, food security and energy access and climate change, and ensure public participation.
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