Government Experts at UN Body Expresses Strong Concern About Biofuel Impacts on Biodiversity
Contact: Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition (English, Spanish, French, Dutch) +31 (0)62.245.7495
Orin Langelle, Global Justice Ecology Project/Global Forest Coalition (English) +33 (0)66 929.4560
Paris, France--An overwhelming majority of governments, including Norway, Sweden, Germany and Indonesia expressed serious concerns about the risks of large-scale production of biofuels to forests, ecosystems, indigenous peoples and local communities at a meeting of a UN scientific advisory body on biodiversity in Paris this week . Several governments called for a precautionary approach to biofuels.
A large number of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples Organizations from around the world present at this meeting also expressed their concerns and called for a profound scientific assessment of the risks of biofuels and a moratorium on all forms of financial support to biofuels pending the outcomes of this assessment, based on the precautionary principle.
"The island where I live, Marajo island in the Amazon delta, is expected to drown in the coming 30 years due to global warming, but the Brazilian government is only pushing false solutions", says Edna Maria da Costa e Silva of the Cooperativa Ecologica das Mulheres Extractivistas do Marajo. "My government [Brazil] claims they support development, but they do not support my community in producing sustainable bio-oils for local consumption, they only support large-scale agrofuel production for urban consumers." she added.
At the Paris meeting, Brazil blocked the consensus of countries to develop a process to begin to address the negative impacts of biofuels, which are already being felt in numerous locations around the world. At the same time, Brazil's President Lula is touring Europe to promote biofuels as a green solution to climate change.
"There is a clear strategy of the Brazilian government to block any consideration of the social and environmental impacts of agrofuels, as this may interfere with their commercial interests", adds Mateus Trevisan of MST, the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement. Trevisan continued, "They are only promoting large monocultures and defending the interests of sugar cane companies and biotechnology corporations like Syngenta, which has representatives on Brazil's delegation here. This strategy is not going to benefit the Brazilian people."
A UN report released a few weeks ago  warned that large-scale production of biofuels is already having devastating impacts on Indigenous Peoples, whose lands are being targeted for oil palm expansion and the expansion of other monocultures, triggered by the commodity boom caused by steeply rising demands for biofuels.
Use of large scale tree monoculture plantations, including genetically modified trees, are planned for second generation biofuel production.
"We came here seeking a solution for the problems that agrofuels are already costing our communities," said Marcial Arias from Kuna Yala (Panama), adding "now we are leaving frustrated seeing how the governments not only are not addressing our concerns they are promoting even more of these destructive agrofuels projects on our land."
Joint Release by Global Forest Coalition, EcoNexus, Global Justice Ecology Project, World Rainforest Movement, MST-Brazil's Landless Worker Movement, Timberwatch Coalition, BUND/Friends of the Earth Germany, NABU/BirdLife Germany, Sobrevivencia /Friends of the Earth Paraguay, STOP GE Campaign North America
Note to editors:
 The Twelfth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technological and Technical Advice (SBSTTA) to the Un Convention on Biological Diversity took place in Paris, France, July 2-6, 2007.
 The report of the Special rapporteur of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues "Oil palm and Othr Commercial Tree Plantations, Monocropping andf the Impacts on Indigenous peoples' Land Tenure and Resource Management Systems and Livelihoods", http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/6session.crp6