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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 21st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From Brazil and Peru, Disparate Internet Bills Under Consideration.

Rachel Glickhouse, for Americas Society

 www.as-coa.org/articles/brazil-an…

September 20, 2012

The explosion of Internet use in Latin America means a new set of threats for consumers and the need to address their online safety and rights. In both Brazil and Peru, Internet use increased roughly 30 percent over the past five years. With two bills making their way through national legislatures, Brazil and Peru’s lawmakers could take diametrically opposed steps on Internet freedoms. Brazil’s Congress will soon vote on a bill to protect Internet consumers while Peru evaluates legislation that would change the penal code to include online crimes.

In Brazil, what some dubbed the “world’s first Internet bill of rights” is slowly winding its way through Congress. Called the Civil Rights Framework for the Internet, the bill was due for a vote on September 19, but after a postponement a new vote will take place following the October 7 municipal elections. Using research done through public hearings and online consultations with the public, the bill outlines rights for Internet users, thus providing a legal framework for future laws on Internet-based crimes and copyright infringement. Guilherme Varella, a lawyer from the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection, praised the bill, saying: “[Users will know] that their personal data will be protected, their privacy will not be violated, what they will be free to browse and that they will not see their connection degraded (with a slow speed) without justification.” The law originated in 2009, when the Ministry of Justice’s Secretariat for Legislation and the Getulio Vargas Foundation conducted a study exploring a legal framework for the Internet, asking for input from citizens online.

The bill enjoys support from three of Brazil’s most popular websites, as well as dozens of Brazilian and international civil rights organizations. While Dilma Rousseff’s administration supports the bill, the government wants to ensure new language on net neutrality won’t change. This means the law would ensure Internet service providers and governments cannot restrict users’ access to content, websites, or Internet-based services, nor can they interfere with how consumers use the Internet. If the bill passes, Brazil will become the first South American country to guarantee net neutrality. The bill also protects website owners, saying they are not responsible for user-generated content. However, Brazil’s attorney general wants to change text to ensure the bill fully protects “consumers, children, and teens.

Peru’s Congress may follow quite a different path—one some say could lead to privacy violations. Last year, it began work on legislation to combat cybercrime, targeting offenses like bank fraud and child pornography. The Computer Crimes Bill, which would alter the country’s penal code, would “essentially eliminate anonymity online, force companies to comply with government requests for user data, and put average Internet users at risk of imprisonment for their online activities,” writes Access Now, a digital watchdog site. One of the bill’s authors, Congressman Juan Carlos Eguren, defended the legislation, saying: “It’s everything that’s opposite to taking away privacy. It’s to protect and punish those who use electronic ways to violate rights, to gain information.”

One of the most controversial parts of the law, Article 23, allows the police to demand personal data—including name, home address, phone number, and IP address—from Internet service providers within a 48-hour period and without a warrant. Unlike Brazil’s Internet bill, legislators created the Peruvian bill without consulting the public. Some critics also say that the crimes listed are vague, such as “informational fraud,” and that jail times seem arbitrary. As a result, the bill was protested in Peru. Over 5,000 people sent letters to Congress. An open letter to legislators from 15 Peruvian and international organizations denounced the bill, saying “the creation of new crimes that are not sufficiently clear and narrowly applied can affect citizens’ constitutional rights to legal due process, privacy, and freedom of expression, among others.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 5th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Tancredo de Almeida Neves, Commonly called Tancredo Neves (March 4, 1910 – April 21, 1985) – was  born in São João del Rey, in the state of Minas Gerais, of mostly Portuguese, but also Austrian descent. [1]

Neves was the opposition candidate to replace President João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo – the last general-President of Brazil.

The campaign for direct elections failed. There was no popular public vote.[5] Neves was elected President by a majority of the Electoral College on January 15, 1985, where he received 480 votes.[6]

USING WIKIPEDIA LANGUAGE THE FOLLOWING IS THE OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION OF A CHAIN OF EVENTS:

On March 14, on the last day of his predecessor’s term, and on the eve of his own inauguration, Neves became severely ill, requiring immediate surgery. He thus was not able to attend his own inauguration on March 15.

The Constitution required the President and Vice-President elect to take oaths of office before the assembled National Congress.

The inauguration was accordingly held for the Vice-President only, the Vice-President immediately assumed the powers of the presidency as Acting President. At that time, there was still hope that Neves would recover and appear before Congress to take the oath of office.

However, Neves suffered from abdominal complications and developed generalized infections. After seven operations, Neves died on April 21, more than one month after the beginning of his term of office, without ever having taken the oath of office as President.[7] He was succeeded by José Sarney who was the Vice President. Neves’s ordeal was intensively covered by the Brazilian media and followed with anxiety by the whole nation, who had seen in him the way out of the authoritarian regime into what he had called a “New Republic” (Nova República).

His death caused an outpouring of national grief.

Tancredo Neves is counted among the official list of presidents of Brazil as a matter of homage and honour, since, not having taken the oath of office, he technically never became President. An Act of Congress was thus necessary to make this homage official. Accordingly on the first anniversary of his death, a statute was signed into law declaring that he should be counted among the Presidents of Brazil.

BUT NOBODY I TALKED TO IN BRAZIL BELIEVED THAT TANCREDO NEVES DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES. THE BELIEF IS RATHER THAT THE GENERALS WERE NOT READY YET TO TRANSFER POWER TO AN ELECTED PRESIDENT AND THIS INCLUDED NEVES, EVEN THOUGH HIS OWN ELECTION WAS NOT YET THE STATE OF THE ART OF PURE DEMOCRACY.

During the period that he was President Elect I had the great honor to be invited to Hotel Pierre in New York to a Presentation he made as guest of the Americas Society and Mr. David Rockefeller. Shortly after that the Organization of American States was involved in a conference on ethanol fuels that was held in Bello Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Neves was the opening speaker and Aureliano Chaves, who later became the Energy Minister, and at that time was Governor of Minas Gerais, was the opening presenter. Here was a Brazil in motion that was talking independence of oil imports and local production of fuels. Was this something that ruffled feathers?

Above is my addition to the following article that does not mention Tancredo Neves. Nevertheless, if Brazil is ready to look under the rugs of dictatorship, even that an amnesty for the sake of internal peace has been declared, the Tancredo Neves case will eventually be touched upon as well. All what we can say nevertheless, the search for the truth of past dictatorships in the Southern Latin Cone, has in it the makings of unravelling as well US business involvement and CIA operatives that taught methodology  of torture in the region.

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Leader’s Torture in the ’70s Stirs Ghosts in Brazil.

By 
Published by the New York Times: August 4, 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO — Her nom de guerre was Estela. Part of a shadowy urban guerrilla group at the time of her capture in 1970, she spent three years behind bars, where interrogators repeatedly tortured her with electric shocks to her feet and ears, and forced her into the pau de arara, or parrot’s perch, in which victims are suspended upside down naked, from a stick, with bound wrists and ankles.

The Lady President of Brazil by Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Ms. Rousseff, now president of Brazil, says little these days about the cruelty she endured.

And years ago by Adir Mera/Public Archive of the State of Sao Paulo

Dilma Rousseff at 22 as a captured guerrilla at a military hearing in 1970. Today, a panel is investigating the torture she and others endured under Brazil’s military dictatorship.

That former guerrilla is now Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff. As a truth commission begins examining the military’s crackdown on the population during a dictatorship that lasted two decades, Brazilians are riveted by chilling details emerging about the painful pasts of both their country and their president.

The schisms of that era, which stretched from 1964 to 1985, live on here. Retired military officials, including Maurício Lopes Lima, 76, a former lieutenant colonel accused of torturing Ms. Rousseff, have questioned the evidence linking the military to abuses. Rights groups, meanwhile, are hounding Mr. Lopes Lima and others accused of torture, encircling their residences in cities across Brazil. “A torturer of the dictatorship lives here,” they recently wrote in red paint on the entrance to Mr. Lopes Lima’s apartment building in the seaside resort city of Guarujá, part of a street-theater protest.

While a 1979 amnesty still shields military officials from prosecution for abuses, the commission, which began in May and has a two-year mandate, is nevertheless stirring up ghosts. The dictatorship killed an estimated 400 people; torture victims are thought to number in the thousands.

The torture endured by Ms. Rousseff, who was 22 when the abuse began and is now 64, is among the most prominent of hundreds of decades-old cases that the commission is examining. The president is not the region’s only political leader to rise to power after being imprisoned and tortured, a sign of the tumultuous pasts of other Latin American countries.

As a young medical student, Chile’s former president,Michelle Bachelet, survived a harrowing stretch of detention and torture after a 1973 military coup. And Uruguay’s president, José Mujica, a former leader of the Tupamaro guerrilla organization, underwent torture during nearly a decade and half of imprisonment.

Since Ms. Rousseff took office, she has refused to play the part of a victim while subtly pushing for more transparency into the years of Brazil’s military dictatorship. She rarely refers in public to the cruelty she endured; aside from ceremonial appearances, she has spoken sparingly about the truth commission itself. She declined through a spokeswoman to comment on the commission or the time she spent in prison.

Ms. Rousseff has evolved considerably since her days in the underground resistance, when she used several aliases, a trajectory similar to that of other leftists who ascended into Brazil’s political elite. The daughter of a Bulgarian émigré businessman and his Brazilian schoolteacher wife, she grew up in relative privilege, only to abandon that upbringing to join a fledgling guerrilla group, the Palmares Armed Revolutionary Vanguard.

After her release from prison, she moved to the southern city of Porto Alegre, where her husband at the time, Carlos Franklin Paixão de Araújo, was completing his own prison sentence for subversion. She resumed her studies in economics, gave birth to a daughter, Paula, in 1976, and entered local politics. Moderating her political views, she slowly rose to national prominence as a results-oriented technocrat. She served as chief of staff and energy minister for Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He prevailed on her to run in the 2010 election.

She governs with a markedly different style from that of Mr. da Silva, a gregarious former union leader. Even as Brazil’s economy slows, her approval rating stands around 77 percent, as the government expands antipoverty spending and stimulus projects. She won plaudits from some in the opposition by acknowledging the economic achievements ofFernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil’s president from 1995 to 2002.

She keeps a low profile in Brasília, where she lives in the Alvorada Palace, the modernist presidential residence, with her mother and an aunt (she is divorced from Mr. Araújo, though the two remain close). News media pore over her interests, which range from René Magritte’s surrealist paintings to the HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones.”

At the same time, her hard-charging governing style — she has been said to berate senior officials until they cry — has been enshrined in Brazilian popular culture, with Gustavo Mendes, a cross-dressing comedian, attaining fame by imitating her on the raunchy national television program “Casseta and Planeta Go Deep.”

Such satirical derision on television of a Brazilian leader would have been almost unthinkable at the time of Ms. Rousseff’s incarceration, when Brazilians faced censorship, prison sentences — or worse — for criticizing military rulers. Her experiences in the dictatorship’s torture chambers remained unknown to the public for decades.

Some details emerged in 2005, after she was serving in Mr. da Silva’s cabinet, when testimony she provided to the author of a book on women who resisted the military dictatorship was published in Brazilian newspapers.

She described the progression from palmatória, a torture method in which a paddle or stick is used to strike the knuckles and palms of the hand, to the next, when she was stripped naked, bound upside down and submitted to electric shocks on different parts of her body, including her breasts, inner thighs and head.

It was generally thought that Ms. Rousseff’s torture sessions were limited to prisons in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, until an investigative report published in June described more torture interrogations, including sessions during a two-month stretch at a military prison in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. When she was still an obscure provincial official, she gave testimony in 2001 to an investigator from Minas Gerais, describing how interrogators there beat her in the face, distorting her dental ridge. One tooth came loose and became rotten from the pummeling, she said, and was later dislodged by a blow from another interrogator in São Paulo.

Robson Sávio, the scholar who interviewed her then, said she had no obligation to respond to the request for testimony, since the Minas Gerais commission had already collected proof that she had been tortured. But she did so anyway; by the end of the encounter, after recalling interrogations resulting in other injuries, including the hemorrhaging of her uterus, she was in tears, he said.

“I remember the fear when my skin trembled,” she said back in 2001. “Something like that marks us for the rest of our lives.”

Mr. Lima Lopes, identified as one of Ms. Rousseff’s torturers in São Paulo and still living in seaside Guarujá, has denied torturing her, while defiantly calling her a “good guerrilla.” Other retired military figures, meanwhile, have adopted a similar stance.

Luiz Eduardo Rocha Paiva, a former secretary general of Brazil’s Army, called into question in a newspaper interview this year whether Ms. Rousseff had been tortured. But he also claimed she belonged to an armed militant group seeking to install a Soviet-inspired dictatorship. Both insurgents and counterinsurgency agents committed abuses, he said. “Was there torture during the military regime? Yes,” he said. “Is there torture in Brazil today? Yes,” he added, referring to the deplorable conditions in some Brazilian prisons.

Ms. Rousseff, who has insisted she never took part in an armed act against the government, has opted not to publicly clash with the former officers. Meanwhile, the commission continues without interference from the president. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, a noted legal scholar who is one of its seven members, said the only time he met Ms. Rousseff was when he and his colleagues were convened this year in Brasília.

Here in Rio, the search for knowledge of the past has moved state authorities to pay reparations to nearly 900 people tortured in the state during the dictatorship. Among them is Ms. Rousseff, who said in May that she would donate her check of about $10,000 to Torture Never Again, a group that seeks to raise awareness of the military’s abuses.

Still, despite such moves, closure remains evasive. Rights activists here were stunned in July after the office of Torture Never Again was burglarized, and archives describing the psychological treatment undertaken by torture victims were stolen.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Latin America seemingly buckles under pressure from outside and inside the continent.

Seemingly – Mercosur is not growing larger as expected. It is made up by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. A reaction t this, under leadership of Brazil and Argentina, Mercosur will increase tariff on imports from non-Mercosur States.

Closer allies of the US – Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile, are eying the Pacific region, and tend to get closer business relations with the other side of the Pacific under a Pacific Alliance with US as main pivot. Chile seems to be interested to lead this group so there is less of a Brazil – Mexico competition in Latin America.

The left leaning ALBA States include Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba, and some of the Caribbean Islands, while the Caribbean Island States still have their CARICOM that looks to Mexico.

This posting comes about because of our expectation that June 2012 will prove to be an important month for Latin America, considering the Mexican hosts of the G-20, and the Brazilian hosts of RIO+20 – both meetings with potential high power influence  on global economic structure at least in these next few years. Will the US be helpful, or harmful, to the creation of a more united Latin America?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 31st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Governments of the United States and Peru will hold a series of environmental meetings related to the U.S – Peru Trade Promotion Agreement from May 29-31. A public information session will be held on May 31 at 2:00 p.m. at 1724 F St., NW, Washington, DC. The press is invited to attend the public session and the presentation of the U.S.-Peru Joint Communiqué.

Daniel A. Clune, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, and Juan Rheineck, Peru’s Vice Minister of Agriculture, will deliver opening remarks. This session will provide an opportunity for the public to participate in a discussion with government officials about implementation of the Environment Chapter of the Trade Promotion Agreement, as well as the status of cooperative environmental activities.

The public session is open to the press from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Due to space limitations, only writers and stills may attend the public session. Press may begin arriving at 1:45 p.m. at 1724 F St., NW. Media representatives who wish to attend the public session should RSVP to Kate Villarreal at (202) 395-3230 or Kvillarreal@ustr.eop.gov.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Beijing Comes To Lima: The Fifth China – Latin America Summit – Analysis.

Written by: 

December 23, 2011

By Peter Tase – www.eurasiareview.com/23122011-be…
also – an oil-oriented version of this please find at:  http://www.petroleumworld.com/lagniappe11122801.htm

On November 21, the Peruvian capital, hosted the fifth China – Latin America Summit, in which for two days were discussed a roster of urgent topics involved in order to achieve further development in terms of commerce and trade between China (PRC) and Latin America.

The Summit was attended by over a thousand business leaders and public officials from the PRC and from all of the Latin American countries.

Since the world financial crisis of 2008, Chinese corporations have devoted special attention to diversify their investment potential throughout South America in particular.

According to Mr. Zhang Wei, the Vice President of the Chinese Council of International Trade Promotion (CCPIT), in 2010 China and Latin America, reached record levels of USD 183 billion in inter-regional trade and commerce. In the coming years, Chinese business hope to have a wider grasp and a more comprehensive investment expansion strategy in high production areas such as energy, infrastructure, mining and telecommunications. It is believed that with the help of this year’s end gathering, Chinese business activists will reach a record level of their investments thrust, with growth pointed at an upwards of USD 22.7 billion. It remains to be seen on what will be the logical consequences of Chinese Investment in Latin America, taking into consideration that Chinese companies tend to be not as environmentally responsible when it comes to South America’s fragile landscape and that its inadequate infrastructure requires special consideration and hyper-responsible practices.

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), China is one of the three largest investing countries in the Latin America region, immediately trailing the United States and the Netherlands.

On the first day of the Summit, Peruvian president Ollanta Humala, whose term began in November of 2010, emphasized that the development of his country and the rest of Latin America is at a stage of industrialization where much is happening: “We should not only export minerals, but also move forward towards building a region that leaves behind the path of industrial progress and become developed nations.”

The Peruvian leader added: “it is important to export not only minerals but place an emphasis on the exportation of software…human resources and inspire the young generation the desire to learn Chinese language and attract Chinese students to study Spanish and conduct research in Peru and Latin America”.

The Peruvian president quickly took notice that it is important for his country’s businesses to diversify their commercial products and to initiate a transition and a new conceptualizations of economic productivity that could be used as an example for the Latin America region, therefore future business ought to reduce the future exportation of raw materials and begin to trade products with added value which would be more likely to promptly alleviate poverty and stimulate the economy to achieve new and accentuated levels. On the same topic, the Peruvian Minister of Economy and Finance, Luis Miguel Castilla Rubio, noted in his speech that: “Peru is in a very important stage, very promising. Its Macroeconomic Stability, commercial openness and dynamic policies of social inclusion transform Peru into a very attractive country for investment and commerce.”

The fifth China – Latin America Summit took place at a time when Peru was one of the world’s most successful growing economies, it has experienced a seven percent growth of its GDP in 2011. The Peruvian population also experienced a steady growth and a considerable reduction of the poverty line that has steadily decreased from fifty percent below poverty line in 2004 into almost 30 percent in 2010. The conference was a decided success, with a thousand delegates in attendance. Preliminary data included that several thousand of one-on-one meetings were held, and over USD 100 million worth of deals were made, with more to come.

Previous Summits have taken place, beginning in Chile (2007), Harbin (2008), Bogota (2009) and Chengdu (2010), with this year’s Summit statement being: “comprehensive growth: new stage in China-Latin America relations”.

According to the Chinese ambassador resident in Peru, Mr. Zhao Wuyi, “Continental China has emerged in 2010 as the largest trading partner of Peru and of other South American countries.”

This year’s Summit was organized by the Council of International Trade Promotion of the People’s Republic of China (CCPIT), in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Tourism and the Commission of Promoting Peruvian Exports and Tourism (Promperú and ProInversión), in cooperation with the Foreign Trade Association of Peru (ComexPerú) and Lima Chamber of Commerce and the Peruvian Chamber of Commerce in China.

References for this article can be found here.

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Peter Tase is a Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 1st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

For the past three decades Agritech Israel has served as a platform for bringing together more than 7,000 foreign visitors from 115 countries to interact with the leading international agriculture technology companies.

The Agritech Israel Exhibition, held once every three years, is one of the leading international events of its kind to showcase Israeli and international agriculture technologies.  It traditionally attracts many Ministers of Agriculture, decision-makers, experts, practitioners and trainers in agriculture, as well as thousands of visitors from Israel and abroad.

Agritech Asia 2011 will continue this tradition of uniting the worldwide agriculture community to see at a single site the latest developments in agriculture and advanced agro-technologies, especially in the fields of irrigation, water management, arid zone agriculture, intensive greenhouse cultivation, development of new seed varieties, and organic and ecologically-oriented agriculture.

Agritech Asia will take place September 6-8, 2011 at the Bombay Exhibition Center, NSE Complex in Mumbai, India.

www.agritechasia.com

the Mashav program:

www2.kenes.com/agritech-asia/seminar/Documents/PROGRAM%20MUMBAI%20CONFERENCE.pdf

please click the following:

The International Agricultural Exhibition & Conference - Mumbai, India - September 6-8, 2011

The Israeli Mashav Seminar program – Wednesday, September 7, 2011′

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Consulate General of Israel
Mumbai
CINADCO
Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation
Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development.
—-
The Israeli Consulate General in Mumbai cordially invites you to attend the Conference on:
“Innovative agro-technologies for sustainable agricultural development”
at the AGRITECH ASIA International Agricultural Exhibition
Mumbai Exhibition Center – Wednesday, 7th, September, 2011.
10:00 – 10:30 Official Opening of the Conference
Welcome Greetings:
? Mrs. Orna Sagiv, Consul General of Israel – Mumbai
? Mr. Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Minister of Agriculture, Govt. of Maharashtra
? Amb. Effi Ben Matitiahu, Director of Projects Dept. – MASHAV, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
10:30 – 10:45 “Agro-technologies  – A tool for making agriculture profitable”
Mr. Yitzhak Kiriati, Director of Agricultural Dept. – The Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute
10:45 – 11:00 “Aiming for market oriented , high value agricultural production”
Mr. Shai Dotan, Director of CINADCO, Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development
11:00 – 11:15 “Indo – Israeli Agricultural Centers of Excellence : A successful model”
Dr. Arjun Singh Saini, Mission Director, Haryana Dept. of Horticulture, India
11:15 – 11:25 “Social integrated solutions in agriculture”
Mr. David Ashkenazi, Argos Agri-Projects Ltd.
11:25  – 11:45                                                 Coffee Break
11:45 – 12:00 “Increasing yield & fruit quality in citrus production”
Dr. Joseph Greenberg, Director Fruit Dept., Extension Service, Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development
12:00 – 12:10 “Are greenhouse – farmers in India different from other farmers around the world?”
Mr. Amiram Regev, Top Greenhouses Ltd.
12:10 – 12:20 “Drip & micro irrigation: Suitable technologies for India”
Mr. Amnon Ofen, NaanDanJain Irrigation Ltd.
12:20 – 12:30 “Reuse of water as integral solution for water quality management  and pollution control”
Mr. Ran Weisman, Palgey Maim Ltd.
12:30 – 12:40 “A high production dairy farm”
Mr. Ronen Koll , S.A.E. Afikim Ltd.
12:40 – 12:50 “Pomegranate postharvest technologies”
Mr. Avner Galili, Juran Industries Ltd.
12:50 – 14:00                                                 Lunch Break
14:05 – 14:20 “Practical implementation of mechanization in Indian mango orchards”
Mr. Cliff Love, Fruit Dept., Extension Service, Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development
14:20 – 14:30 “L.L.F. (Low Low Flow-rate) – A new trend in drip irrigation”
Mr. Eliezer Kelmeszes, Netafim Ltd.
14:30 – 14:40 “Solutions for the protection of irrigation systems”
Mr. Guy Luria, Amiad Filtration Systems Ltd.
14:40 – 14:50 “Israeli greenhouses development – From the wooden to the steel greenhouse”
Mr. Eran Luckatch, Azrom Greenhouses Agricultural Innovations Ltd.
14:50 – 15:00 “Using trellising methods for vegetable production in greenhouses”
Mr. Ori Dash, Paskal Technologies Ltd.
15:00 – 15:10 “Improving cold storage for Kharif onions”
Mr. Assa Aharoni, A.Aharoni Consulting Engineering Ltd.
15:10 – 15:20 “Growing pomegranate and producing health products”
Mr. Samson Talker, M.D. HAI R&D Projects Ltd.
15:20 – 15:30                                                Closing Greeting

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Change is coming to Peru’s remote Amazon lowlands in the form of a 21st century engineering marvel: the Interoceanic Highway, a long-delayed mega-project designed to connect Brazil’s Atlantic ports with the Pacific docks of Peru. Many Peruvians are wary of the road that will connect them with the Brazilian colossus, fearing job losses and an economic takeover. Others are more optimistic at the prospect of new opportunities and trade. They all agree that the massive highway will forever alter their way of life.

From material by Michael Robinson Chavez and Patrick J. McDonnell that was prepared end of October 2010 for The Los Angeles Times.

The 3,400-mile Transoceanic Highway from Brazil to Peru has long been a pipe dream, but as it finally nears reality many along its long path worry that a way of life and livelihoods are in danger.

The Transoceanic Highway, evoking engineering marvels such as the Transcontinental Railroad and the Panama Canal, has been talked about for decades, assuming a mythic stature that has led many to question whether the east-west thoroughfare linking Brazil’s Atlantic ports with the Pacific docks of Peru would ever come to pass.

In Puerto Maldonado, a boisterous, anarchic river port about 150 miles of dense jungle south of the Brazilian border, the sonorous sounds of Brazilian-accented Portuguese can be heard along streets clogged with motorized tricycles. Samba beats and bossa nova tunes compete with merengue and musica chica, a blend of techno and salsa, at rowdy cantinas and garish karaoke bars.

From Puerto Maldonado, Peru, photos show the road crashes through the jungle like the fevered dream of an indomitable Fitzcarraldo, who schemes to transport a steamship overland through the Peruvian tropics in a cult film celebrating demented ambition.

Not everyone is thrilled about the Brazilian onslaught. Plans for vast new hydroelectric plants and dams in the Peruvian Amazon to help feed Brazil’s voracious energy appetite have met stiff resistance from environmentalists and indigenous groups.

Skeptics warn of a quiet conquest with a smile, a handshake and lilting Brazilian charm.

This is some of the planet’s most challenging road-building terrain. The southern stretch of the 3,400-mile Transoceanic Highway climbs from steamy jungle, to rolling savannahs, to Andean cloud forests, pine expanses, and snow-blown glacial moonscapes reaching almost 16,000 feet — an elevation surpassing Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak — before dropping down to the arid coast.

At highway speeds, ecosystems would whir by like signposts on a freeway.

The road is, in a sense, the culmination of outgoing Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s determined campaign to cement his nation’s leadership role in a region where Washington’s supremacy has faded.

Now, Brazilian and Peruvian officials are pushing for a 2011 grand opening, once the final, and most difficult, stretch of the highway is completed in Peru, where broad swaths remain dirt, gravel and mud.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

President Evo Morales of Bolivia announced on October 21, 2010, that Bolivia will not need foreign investors’ help to exploit its vast Uyuni Salar lithium reserves, scheduled for 2014 development, reports Reuters. The country does not currently mine lithium.

In a display of warming bilateral relations, Peru extended a 1992 deal giving Bolivia access to a section of the Peruvian coastline, allowing the landlocked country to build a Pacific port. The deal will “open the door for Bolivians to have an international port, to use the oceans for global trade,” said Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Bolivian President Evo Morales arrived in Tehran on October 25 for a three-day visit seeking to develop bilateral ties with Iran. Infolatam reports that the Bolivian embassy in Tehran sees the visit’s main goals to be securing a $200 million loan to Bolivia, reports infolatam.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The several thousand people that came from all over the world to the Rockefeller Center’s Radio City Music Hall were entertained by many of the speakers, but gave Rockette status to Joe Stiglitz only. He was being interviewed on stage by Carol Massar, the Bloomberg TV Co-anchor of “Street Smart” with Matt Miller. People were hoping he will tell them where things are going and who did the major mistakes.

Stiglitz was coy about predicting the future, but was clear about the mistakes – hanging them high up at the Greenspan door.

“Greenspan did not believe in bubbles – he thought that this was a school of fraud. The models were faulty. Ram Schuller from Yale spoke of bubbles but who would listen. There was a theory that if you only got down the deficit it will be well – that’s what Edgar Hoover sponsored and it did not go well.”

The problem is that there is now not enough aggregative demand and not enough jobs. Some people even do not want full jobs in these conditions. There is a need to move people from old sectors to new sectors. The health-care problem is that the US spends much more then other developed economies and lt gives much less in return.

Question; What would you tell President Obama to do in order to help small businesses?

A: The smaller Businesses are dependent on the banks – the bigger banks have no use for the SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). The bigger banks funding goes to the larger speculators in the market – that is where the money is. The smaller banks have constraints. I would put much more pressure on the healthy banks and the big banks involved in the speculative market. These problems will be with us for years to come, he said.

So, as expected, according to Joe Stiglitz, the malaise is in the financial sector and that is the Stiglitz forte. On the other hand, when the turn came for Al Gore to speak, he did not need an interviewer or moderator – he simply ran off a series of slides and described the malaise in material terms. It is the environment stupid – this is how I would summarize his words.

Al Gore’s own subtitle to his presentation is “SUSTAINABLE CAPITALISM AND THE CLIMATE CRISIS.”

The Climate Crisis is the most dangerous crisis we had and it offers challenges and opportunities to make changes that we should have made anyway.

He flatly stated that you would put somewhere on any list of reasons for involving in Iraq there was the access to oil. We are so dependent on that oil at a time we have to create new jobs. The conversion to renewable energy is the handle we have to unravel from our simultaneous three crises –  the energy, economy, environment crises – and the source of wars – all at the same time.

We must learn to understand the relationship of human ecology and the environment.

What has changed in our world in our time is the quadrupling of the World Population in 100 years and we see now the move from 2 billion people to 9  billion – this while as a positive sign, the demographic trend is reducing the size of families all over. The education of girls, empowerment of women, availability of birth control and conscious spacing of birth with higher child survival rates is becoming the key to fight poverty and disease. We have thus to promote literacy and education.

Al Gore reminded us that Democracy as per the US Declaration of Independence, and Capitalism, as per Adam Smith, were both born the same year – 1776 – and since walk hand-in-hand so far as the US goes.

He showed the spikes in oil prices since the beginning of the 70’s,, and had there a picture of the oil Sheiks in traditional garb, also the twin towers of 9/11,  and made the strongest appeal for Renewable Energy one could imagine. If that was not enough the business audience must have been made of stone.

DRILL BABY DRILL – IS NONSENSE – he said – it will not provide the oil for the US.

22% of Peru’s glaciers have been lost in the last 30 years – as the ice is gone so the supply of water is dwindling down. On the other hand, right there in Nashville, Tennessee, his home State, the Grand Opry was closed for three months  because of rains of May 3, 2010 – a one in 1000 years event in its size, that caused $7 Billion of dammage.

Sun light for one hour caries the energy needed for a full year – get going and use it, he said. The cost is continuisly coming down. Moore’s law of business is that the observation shows costs coming down to half every two years in the transistor business.

Portugal, Spain, China, Germany are front runners in renewables. China just invested $4 billlion in one solar plant and the Vatican went solar too! Where is the US in this race?

Australia is deep into enhanced geothermal via hot rock steam.

Think of smart grid, the China and Japan bullet trains, light rails for the cities like in Phoenix, Arizona. We can do it and create employment while doing it.

The economy they say is better now – but this is relative. And Al Gore produced the following story about someone not complaining because it is all relative.

As the story goes, a farmer is in court as he accuses a trailer-truck driver of having caused him injury, suffering and losses.

The lawyer for the defense says – but you told the policeman that came to the site that you were OK?

The farmer answers and says, I was driving my truck and a cow was in it. Here comes the truck and …

The judge says – we have no time just answer the question – did you say at the time of the accident that you were OK?
Just say Yes or No!

The farmer tries again. I was just coming to it – it depends how you look at it. He continues and says – here comes the policeman – I was lying on one side of the overturned truck and the cow on the other side. The policeman looks at the cow and says – let me take her out of her misery – points his gun in between her eyes and shoots. Then he comes over to my side and asks me how I feel – I trembled and said fine.

This reminds me now of the presentation of the honorable Professor Joe Stiglitz and the people he analyzes. He is surely right of what he says – he is one of the few economists that we trust – but he cannot solve the Global malaise these days – it takes an Al Gore approach of creating new businesses – not just the firing of the old financial institution heads. Both these activities must go hand in hand because the environment cannot be decked in paper money. Some environmental disasters may not have means of recourse.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Amazon Civilizations

Archaeologists say centuries-old civilizations in the Amazon were much larger and more advanced than previously thought.

Scientists find evidence discrediting theory Amazon was virtually unlivable.

Gallery
Archaeologists say the heart of the Amazon was home to an advanced, even spectacular civilization that managed the forest and enriched infertile soils to feed thousands.

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 5, 2010.

SAN MARTIN DE SAMIRIA, PERU – To the untrained eye, all evidence here in the heart of the Amazon signals virgin forest, untouched by man for time immemorial – from the ubiquitous fruit palms to the cry of howler monkeys, from the air thick with mosquitoes to the unruly tangle of jungle vines.

Archaeologists, many of them Americans, say the opposite is true: This patch of forest, and many others across the Amazon, was instead home to an advanced, even spectacular civilization that managed the forest and enriched infertile soil to feed thousands.

 

 

The findings are discrediting a once-bedrock theory of archaeology that long held that the Amazon, unlike much of the Americas, was a historical black hole, its environment too hostile and its earth too poor to have ever sustained big, sedentary societies. Only small and primitive hunter-gatherer tribes, the assumption went, could ever have eked out a living in an unforgiving environment.

But scientists now believe that instead of stone-age tribes, like the groups that occasionally emerge from the forest today, the Indians who inhabited the Amazon centuries ago numbered as many as 20 million, far more people than live here today.

“There is a gigantic footprint in the forest,” said Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo, 49, a Colombian-born professor at the University of Florida who is working this swath in northeast Peru.

Stooping over a man-made Indian mound on a recent day, he picked up shards of ceramics and dark, nutrient-rich earth made fertile hundreds of years ago by human hands. “All you can see is an artifact of the past,” he said. “It’s a product of human actions,” he said.

The evidence is not just here outside tiny San Martin de Samiria, an indigenous hamlet hours by speed boat from the jungle city of Iquitos. It is found across Amazonia.

Outside Manaus, Brazil, Eduardo Neves, a renowned Brazilian archaeologist, and American scientists have found huge swaths of “terra preta,” so-called Indian dark earth, land made fertile by mixing charcoal, human waste and other organic matter with soil. In 15 years of work they have also found vast orchards of semi-domesticated fruit trees, though they appear like forest untrammeled by man.

Along the Xingu, an Amazon tributary in Brazil, Michael Heckenberger of the University of Florida has found moats, causeways, canals, the networks of a stratified civilization that, he says, existed as early as A.D. 800. In Bolivia, American, German and Finnish archaeologists have been studying how pre-Columbian Indians moved tons of soil and diverted rivers, major projects of a society that existed long before the birth of Christ.

Many of these ongoing excavations follow the work of Anna C. Roosevelt. In the 1980s on Marajo Island, at the mouth of the Amazon, she turned up house foundations, elaborate pottery and evidence of an agriculture so advanced she believes the society there possibly had well over 100,000 inhabitants.

Her initial conclusions, published in 1991, helped redirect scientific thinking about Amazonia, with younger archaeologists who followed buttressing and building upon her findings.

“I think we’re humanizing the history of the Amazon,” said Neves, 44, a professor at the University of Sao Paulo. “We’re not looking at the Amazon anymore as a black box. We’re seeing that these people were just like anywhere else in the world. We’re giving them a sense of history.”

The number of scientists who disagree has diminished, but influential critics remain, none more so than Betty J. Meggers, director of Latin American archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution. She said the new theories are based more on wishful thinking than science.

“I’m sorry to say that archaeologists like to produce sensational refutation of previous theories,” said Meggers, whose 1971 book, “Amazonia: Man and Culture in a Counterfeit Paradise,” holds that the region is unfit for large-scale habitation. “You know, this is how you get your promotions.”

There is also concern among some that the new theories could pose a danger to the Amazon. If the forest were not as unspoiled as previously thought, they wonder, then wouldn’t that serve as a green light to developers today?

“Just because the indigenous had complex societies that managed the forest can’t justify the large-scale transformations in the Amazon today,” said Zach Hurwitz, a geographer who consults International Rivers, a Berkeley, Calif.-based environmental group that has raised concerns about dam building projects and mineral exploration.

A study of contrasts:

In some ways, the theory that the Amazon may have been a wellspring of civilization should come as no surprise in the 21st century. In a long perilous journey along Ecuador’s Napo River in 1541, Spanish friar Gaspar de Carvajal, a chronicler of the European conquest, wrote of “cities that gleamed white,” canoes that carried dozens of Indian warriors, “fine highways” and “very fruitful land.”

But until recently, scientists and explorers had all but rejected his work as fantastical, the diaries of a man who would write anything to justify to investors back in Spain that the hunt for El Dorado would bear fruit.

In sharp contrast, explorers in the 20th century noted that the Amazon held no pyramids or stone aqueducts, like those of Mexico. And the people they encountered belonged to small bands – Amazonian Indians who appeared to be little more than human relics forgotten by time.

Roosevelt, a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, said that was because the civilizations encountered by Europeans quickly disintegrated, victims of disease.

But until their demise, she said, their cultures were anything but primitive. “They have magnitude, they have complexity,” she said. “They are amazing.”

A feel for the land

Archaeology in the Amazon is not easy. Few rock formations meant that any buildings had to rely on wood. Left untended – or abandoned – they would soon be quickly swallowed by the jungle.

So those scientists who go today rely on new technologies to unearth the past, from satellite imagery to ground-penetrating radar and remote sensors to find ceramics.

Oyuela-Caycedo, the University of Florida archaeologist, and Nigel Smith, a geographer and palm tree expert, have yet to use these tools here, a short boat ride from this town, San Martin de Samiria. Instead they have been trying to get a feel for the land beneath their feet.

On a recent morning, using a soil coring device, Oyuela-Caycedo extracted a heavy, black dirt in a spot he calls Salvavidas, or Lifesaver. It was terra preta, black, nutrient-rich, as good for agriculture as the soil in Iowa.

“It is the best soil that you can find in the Amazon,” said Oyuela-Caycedo, who wore netting over his face to protect him from mosquitoes. “You don’t find it in natural form.”

Three feet deep here, and stretching nearly 100 acres, this terra preta could have fed at least 5,000 people. The forests here were also carefully managed in other ways, Oyuela-Caycedo believes, with the Indians planting semi-domesticated trees that bore all manner of fruit, such as macambo, sapote and jungle avocados.

Bits of colorful ceramics – matching that found elsewhere in the Amazon – seem to show that those who lived here were the Omaguas, the same people Gaspar de Carvajal encountered nearly 500 years before.

There is no doubt, Oyuela-Caycedo said, that the Omaguas faced hardship: insects, poisonous snakes, poor soil. But their environment had vast potential, he said, and the Omaguas exploited it before their civilization was brought to heel by disease.

“The only thing they had to do was to change and transform the landscape,” Oyuela-Caycedo said. “And that is what they did.”

 www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


China Wants Business with Latin America.
By Mitch Moxley

BEIJING, Aug 18, 2010 (IPS) – China, now the world’s second largest economy with a ferocious appetite for resources, is aggressively strengthening relations with Latin American countries, but this has not been without roadblocks.

According to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), released in May, China will displace the European Union as the region’s second largest trading partner by the middle of 2011. Latin American countries are actively exploring cooperative arrangements with China in the fields of mining, energy, agriculture, infrastructure and science and technology, the report said.

China has in recent years diversified its investment in Latin America, from natural resources to manufacturing and the services industry, according to a July report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Latin American Studies. China’s interest in Latin America ranges from oil from Venezuela to timber from Guyana and soybeans from Brazil.

Zhang Sengen, executive director of the Institute of Chinese International Economic Relations, said Latin America has dual appeal for China: It has abundant resources, which are needed to fuel China’s future growth, and it is a huge market for Chinese products – with 560 million consumers and a combined Gross Domestic Product of 4 trillion U.S. dollars.

“Latin America is a very attractive spot for Chinese investment,” Zhang said.

China’s foreign direct investment in Latin America reached 24.8 billion dollars in 2008, making up 14.6 percent of China’s total foreign direct investment, according to figures from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Meanwhile, Latin American investment in China hit 112.6 billion dollars, roughly 14 percent of the total foreign capital China absorbed.

Exports from Latin American countries to China are expected to reach 19.3 percent of the total by 2020, up from 7.6 percent in 2009, according to the ECLAC report.

China has prided itself on what it calls a “win-win” relationship with Latin America, in which the region sells China raw materials, such as copper, iron and oil, while Latin American countries receive goods from China, including mobile phones and cars.

But relations have not been altogether smooth. Across the region, a growing wariness about trade with China has also been emerging.

In Brazil and Argentina, manufacturers have accused China of dumping products in their markets, prompting new tariffs on some Chinese importers. Other countries worry about China’s aggressive efforts to win access to energy reserves.

In Peru, a state-owned Chinese company has faced a nearly two-decade long revolt from mine workers, featuring repeated strikes, clashes with police and arson attacks, ‘The New York Times’ reported earlier in August. Disputes at the mine, founded in 1992 by steelmaker Shougang Corp, focus on wages, environmental damage and the company’s treatment of local residents.

Wang Peng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Latin American Studies, said Chinese companies in Latin America need to do proper risk assessment and better protect the local environment. “There are more NGOs in other countries than in China, and many of them focus on environmental protection,” Wang told IPS. “If our companies violate local environmental laws, no wonder tension happens.”

Despite the problems, relations continue to develop. In April, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Brazil, a move that was heralded in China’s state media as a significant step in cementing relations with Latin America.

“China and Latin American countries, all as developing countries, share extensive common interest. China has always attached great importance to its relations with these countries,” Vice Foreign Minister Li Jinzhang said at a press conference in April, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

During the meetings, Brazil and China inked a joint action plan for 2010 to 2014 and reached agreements in the fields of culture, energy, finance, science and technology and product quality inspection, according to Xinhua.

China is Brazil’s largest trading partner and biggest export market. Trade with Chile, China’s second largest trading partner in the region, reached a record 17.7 billion dollars in 2009.

Oil-rich Venezuela is China’s fifth largest trading partner in Latin America with a trade volume of 7.15 billion dollars in 2009. In March that year, Su Zhenxing, director of the CAAS’s Institute of Latin American Studies, told ‘Beijing Business Today’ that Latin America will become a leading strategic provider of crude oil.

Jiang Shixue, vice president of the Chinese Association of Latin American Studies and deputy director-general of the Chinese Centre for the Third World Studies, said China’s interest in Latin America is not just economic, but also political.

Of the 23 countries in the world that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, 12 are in Latin America. China can gain leverage over these countries through investment incentives, Jiang said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Be’chol Lashon is the Hebrew for “In Every Tongue” and it advocates for the Growth & Diversity of the Jewish People. Today Jews come indeed in every color and every stripes and some leaders do the outreach to embrace them all. Just look at Dr. Lewis Gordon of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Mr. Romiel Daniel of Queens, New York, The head of Jews of India in our region, Dr. Ephraim Isaac, of the institute for Semitic Studies. They do not look like your stereotype Jew. I met them and was impressed – the latter actually for the first time as we both visited Addis Ababa at the time of the delayed Ethiopian Millennium. Then Rabbi Hailu Paris with his communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx, Ethiopian born and graduae of Yeshiva University, and his Assistant Monica Wiggan (www.blackjews.org/Essays/RabbiParisEthiopianTrip.html), and Rabbi Gershom Sizomu of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda from whom I got a very distinctive kippah with the menorah – of the old temple worked in. Then Dr. Rabson Wuriga of the Hamisi Lemba clan in South Africa and Zimbabwe and so on – in Nigeria, in Peru, in India, in China.

And who has not heard by now of the present White House Rabbi – Cappers Funnye – the cousin of Michelle Obama – and associate director of Bechol Lashon and spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B’nei Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of Chicago?

The New York regional director of DiverseJews.org is Lacey Schwartz who is also National Outreach Director of BecholLashon.org, assisted by Collier Meyerson and to top it all Davi Cheng, Director of the Los Angeles region is Jewish, Chinese, and Lesbian. As I said it is all a new image of the Jew.

Last night, at the Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard St., NYC there was a Shemspeed Summer Music Festival event.

The two further upcoming events in New York will be on:

Monday, August 2nd – the Shemspeed Hip Hop Fest at Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleeker Street NYC Featuring Tes Uno, Ted King & guest Geng Grizlee and others with CD Release parties for “A Tribe Called Tes” and “Move On.”

Thursday, August 5th – Shemspeed Jewish Punk Fest at Pianos, 158 Ludlow Street, NYC Featuring Moshiach Oil & The Groggers.

info on each event above and at shemspeed.com/fest

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Mona Eltahawy
A Jewish Woman Living in Ethiopia


Rethinking How U.S. Jews Fund Communities Around the World.

The Forward
Published: May 27, 2010

For more than half a century, North America’s Jewish federation system has divided its overseas allocations between the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Joint Distribution Committee. The Jewish Agency has been dedicated to building up Israel and encouraging aliyah, while the Joint has focused on aiding Jewish communities in need around the globe.

Today, both agencies are working to assert their continued relevance in a changing Jewish world. With aliyah slowing, the Jewish Agency is moving toward embracing a new agenda: promoting the concept of Jewish peoplehood. The JDC, meanwhile, has sought to claim a larger share of the communal pie, which had long been split 75%-25% in the Jewish Agency’s favor.

After a recent round of sniping over the funding issue, the two sides are now stepping back from their public confrontation and recommitting to negotiations over the future of the collective funding arrangement. Underlying this fight, however, is a more fundamental tension over communal funding priorities: Should overseas aid be focused on helping needy Jews and assisting communities that have few resources of their own, or should it be used to bolster Jewish identity?

With this debate raging, the Forward asked a diverse group of Jewish thinkers and communal activists from around the world to weigh in and address the following question: How should North America’s Jewish community be thinking about its priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad?

New Century, New Priorities

By Yossi Beilin

During the 20th century, the challenges facing world Jewry were the following: rescue of Jews who encountered existential danger, assistance to Israel, helping with the absorption of those who immigrated to new countries and opening the gates for those who were denied the right to emigrate. In the 21st century, ensuring Jewish continuity is the greatest challenge facing the Jewish people.

Yet too often Jewish organizations in the United States and elsewhere remain focused on the challenges of the previous century. (Indeed, Jewish groups were not very receptive when I first proposed the idea for Birthright Israel 17 years ago.)

Ensuring the existence of Jewish life (religious and secular) throughout the world via Jewish education, encounters between young Israeli and Diaspora Jews, creating a virtual Jewish community using new technologies — these must be at the top of the global Jewish agenda. This requires American Jewish philanthropy and leadership, which in turn requires discerning between past and present priorities.

Yossi Beilin, a former justice minister of Israel, is president of the international consulting firm Beilink.

Reviving Polish Jewry

By Konstanty Gebert

The rebirth of Central European Jewish communities after 1989, though numerically not very impressive, remains significant for moral and historical reasons. It is also crucial for Jewish self-understanding. An enormous proportion of American Jews can trace their origins to what used to be Poland alone. This is where much of Diaspora history happened.

Alongside the courage and determination of local Jews, the far-sighted support of several American Jewish organizations and philanthropies made this rebirth possible. In Poland the Joint Distribution Committee, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and the Taube Foundation played key roles. Their support has translated not only into Jewish schools and festivals in places once believed to be Jewish-ly dead, but also in most cases into changed relations between local Jewish communities and their fellow citizens as well as clear support for Israel on the part of these countries’ governments.

Yet for all this progress, Central European Jewish communities might never become self-financing. The support given them by American Jewry remains a vital Jewish interest. It must be strengthened.

Konstanty Gebert, a former underground journalist, is a columnist at the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza and founder of the Polish-language Jewish monthly Midrasz.

What We Give Ourselves

By Lisa Leff

More than any Jewish community in history, postwar American Jews have used our prosperity to help Jewish communities around the world. On one level, the greatest beneficiaries of this support have been Jews abroad. But we should also recognize that these philanthropic efforts have shaped our communal values and identity.

Through our international aid, we have dedicated ourselves to universalist and cosmopolitan ideas like tikkun olam and solidarity across borders. In helping disadvantaged and oppressed Jews abroad, we have also deepened our community’s commitments to democracy, human rights and economic justice for all. It’s only natural that Jewish groups pitch in on Haitian earthquake relief and advocate on behalf of oppressed people of all backgrounds.

Whatever the outcome of the federations’ deliberations over how to divide allocations between the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, it is imperative that American Jewry maintain its commitment to our values through supporting international philanthropy.

Lisa Leff is an associate professor of history at American University and the author of “Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France” (Stanford University Press, 2006).

Putting Identity First

By Jonathan S. Tobin

The choices we face are not between good causes and bad or even indifferent ones but between vital Jewish obligations. But since the decline in giving to Jewish causes means that we must make tough decisions, programs that reinforce Jewish identity and support Zionism both in the Diaspora and in Israel must be accorded a higher priority.

At this point in our history, with assimilation thinning the ranks of Diaspora Jewry and with continuity problems arising even in Israel, the need to instill a sense of membership in the Jewish people is an imperative that cannot be pushed aside. Under the current circumstances, absent an effort that will make Jewish and Zionist education the keynote of our communal life, the notion that Jewish philanthropies or support for Israel can be adequately sustained in the future is simply a fantasy.

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Commentary magazine.

Collective Responsibility

By Richard Wexler

One cannot have a meaningful discussion about framing the national Jewish community’s priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad without first asking the question: Is there actually a collective “North American Jewish community” today?

Collective responsibility has been and remains the foundation upon which the federation system and, therefore, the national Jewish community are built. It is what distinguishes the federations from all other charities. It is embodied in our participation in the adventure of building Israel and in meeting overseas needs through the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, in the dues that federations pay to the Jewish Federations of North America and so much more. But today, federations “bowl alone.”

Collective responsibility gives meaning to kol Yisrael arevim zeh l’zeh — all Jews are responsible for one another. Until federations understand once again that Jewish needs extend beyond the borders of any one community, we cannot have a meaningful priority-setting process for funding Jewish needs abroad.

Richard Wexler is a former chairman of the United Israel Appeal.

Originally published here: www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/rethinking-how-u-s-jews-fund-communities-around-the-world-1.292527

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Avi Rosenblum
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu and Be’chol Lashon director Diane Tobin at the opening of the Health Center.


Gary Tobin’s Legacy Lives on in New Ugandan Health Center

By Amanda Pazornik

The J Weekly
Published: July 22, 2010

On the day of the grand opening of the Tobin Health Center in Mbale, Uganda, health professionals were already hard at work treating patients inside.

The center was open for business, but that didn’t slow down the lively June 18 celebration, which featured song and dance performances and speakers. About 3,000 people gathered at the center’s grounds to mark the occasion.

Seated under colorful tents was Diane Tobin, director of S.F.-based Be’chol Lashon and wife of the late Gary Tobin, for whom the center is named, along with three of their children, Aryeh, Mia and Jonah.

“Everyone was amazing, friendly and so generous of spirit,” said Tobin, who was visiting Uganda and its Abayudaya Jewish community for the first time. “They were so appreciative of having the center and demonstrated a tremendous willingness to work together. It’s a great model for the rest of the world.”

Andrew Esensten, Be’chol Lashon program coordinator, and Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jews and the first chief rabbi of Uganda, joined them, in addition to government and medical officials, and representatives from Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities.

The Tobin Health Center is named for Gary Tobin, the founder of the S.F.-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research, of which Be’chol Lashon (“In Every Tongue”) is an initiative. Tobin died one year ago after a long battle with cancer. He was 59.

“He really has left a legacy,” said Debra Weinberg of Baltimore, who attended the opening with her husband, Joe, and their 14-year-old son, Ben. The couple also helped fund the project. “I think he would feel deeply comforted to know it’s improving the lives of people.”

The 4,000-square-foot facility is a major component of the ongoing Abayudaya Community Health and Development Project undertaken by the Abayudaya Executive Council and Be’chol Lashon, a nonprofit that reaches out to Jews of color and helps educate the mainstream community about Jewish diversity.

It cost approximately $250,000 to erect the two-story center, using donations collected over five years. While patients pay for their services, continuous fundraising is a necessity, Tobin said.

Construction began in July 2009, enabling more than 50 Africans from diverse ethnic backgrounds to earn a living.

Stars of David are featured in the window grids, ceilings and floors of the health center, a “lovely expression of their Judaism,” Tobin said. Private rooms make up most of the top floor, with patient wards on the ground floor. A mezuzah is affixed to every door.

A large portrait of Gary Tobin hangs in the lobby.

“It’s so heartwarming,” Diane Tobin said of the visual tribute. “Gary would be so honored to have this health center in the middle of Africa named after him.”

Prior to the opening of the Tobin Health Center, the nearest medical facility to the Abayudaya Jews was Mbale Hospital, an overcrowded and understaffed institution not accessible to all the residents of the region. Tobin said there are other clinics in the area, but they lack the preventive health care measures necessary to respond to the community’s needs.

The Tobin Health Center is licensed by the Ministry of Health and is certified to operate a pharmacy and laboratory. It serves all who seek basic medical care in the region, providing life-saving health services and simultaneously creating jobs.

“The goal is to raise the standard of medical care,” Tobin said.

In addition, rental units on the bottom and top floors of the center will provide more job opportunities for locals. The first business recently opened — a hardware store that sells bags of cement, plumbing equipment and sheet metal — with a beauty salon and video rental outlet in the works.

The center “is rewarding on a number of levels,” said Steven Edwards of Laguna Beach, who, along with his wife, Jill, has been involved with the Abayudaya for six years. “The most obvious is to see this beautiful, clean building. On top of that, local dignitaries noted how lucky Mbale is to have the Jewish community and how much they contribute to the larger community by bringing jobs.”

The Abayudaya Jews comprise a growing, 100-year-old community of more than 1,000 Jews living among 10,000 Christians and Muslims. They live in scattered villages in the rolling, green hills of eastern Uganda. The largest Abayudaya village, Nabagoye, is near Mbale, the seventh-largest city in Uganda and the location of the center.

Research conducted by Be’chol Lashon in 2006 showed that contaminated water and malaria-carrying mosquitoes pose the biggest health risks to the community. A year later, the organization launched the Abayudaya Community Health and Development Project with the drilling of the first well in Nabagoye.

Since then, nearly 1,000 mosquito nets have been purchased and distributed throughout the community.

“Our goal is to respond to the needs of communities,” Tobin said. “If there are other communities that need health centers, we will be there.”

Originally published here: www.jweekly.com/article/full/58727/s.f.-researchers-legacy-lives-on-in-new-ugandan-health-center/

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Not Everyone in Peru Is Winning “Championship” Against Poverty.

LIMA, Jun 24 (IPS) – The Peruvian government is taking advantage of the broadcasts of the World Cup football games in South Africa to air an ad touting a reduction in the poverty rate from 48 to 34 percent between 2005 and 2009 as an achievement of the administration of President Alan García. “Peru won the World Cup against poverty” says the voiceover in the spot financed by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and aired on TV channel 9 and Radio Programas — the stations that have the exclusive broadcasting rights to the World Cup that kicked off on Jun. 11 in Johannesburg.

The ad celebrating Peru as world champion in the fight against poverty shows President García holding the FIFA (football’s world governing body) World Cup trophy on Feb. 16, when it was on tour ahead of the tournament. The government ad cites the May report by the head of the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI), Renán Quispe, who announced a drop in the poverty rate from 48.7 to 34.8 percent between 2005 and 2009. (García took office in July 2006.)

But poverty statistics broken down by region, which IPS requested from the INEI, show that in 11 of the country’s 25 regions, the proportion of people living below the poverty line actually increased. Between 2008 and 2009, poverty rose from 69 to 70.3 percent in Apurimac; from 61.5 to 64.5 percent in Huanuco; from 53.4 to 56 percent in Cajamarca, the leading gold mining region; from 48.8 to 56 percent in Loreto, home to most of the country’s Amazonian indigenous tribes; from 36.7 to 38.9 percent in La Libertad, a leading agro-export and mining region; and from 36.7 to 38.9 percent in San Martín, where the Alto Huallaga coca-producing valley is located.

Poverty dropped, on the other hand, in Pacific coastal regions like Ica (from 17.3 to 13.7 percent) and Piura (41.4 to 39.6), and in the capital (from 18.3 to 15.3 percent). Economist Iván Hidalgo, director of the government’s main anti-poverty programme, “Juntos”, said the rise in poverty in some regions is a result of the impact of the global economic crisis.

“The economic crisis has hit the whole world, and Peru too,” he told IPS. “But we don’t do year-to-year comparisons; we look at longer periods. Our base line is 2005, and there was clearly a drop in poverty by 2009. “If we only look at the 2008-2009 results, there was clearly a setback. But if we analyse the situation between 2005 and 2009, the proportion of people living in poverty has shrunk,” he said.

The economy has been hit harder in some regions than in others because they depend heavily on exports, like Cajamarca and La Libertad, which is why they have seen a rise in poverty, Hidalgo said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Peru Seen With $1 Billion In Green Energy Investments

Date: 06-Apr-10
Country: PERU
Marco Aquino, Reuters.

Peru should get about $1 billion in investments after signing 26 green energy contracts, companies involved said on Monday.

The contracts last for 20 years and will generate about 9 percent of current power demand in the Andean country, the government said.

The deals, signed with foreign and domestic companies, include a total of 412 potential megawatts of “clean” energy produced by wind farms, solar panels, dams and biomass, among other natural resources.

Among the companies are Spanish firms T-Solar and Solarpack, which will together build an 80 megawatt solar project.

“The investment forecast are some $1 billion for the 26 projects,” said Juan Coronado, head of a project put together by a firm called Energia Eolica.

All of the contracts come with pacts enabling the generators to sell power to Peru’s main distribution companies.

The deals include 162 megawatts of hydro power, 142 megawatts of wind power, 80 megawatts of solar and 27 megawatts of biomass, Peru’s energy ministry said.

All projects should be in operation by 2012, the government said.

The green energy contracts come as Peru has also pushed to open up vast sections of its land and sea to petroleum exploration as part of a drive to become a net exporter of oil and gas.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Friday, March 26, 2010, the UN University hosted at the UN Headquarters Professor Alejandro Toledo who tried to practice what he teaches, during the years 2001 – 2006 when as President of Peru for a full term.

The advertised topic of the event that was part of the UNU Current Affairs Series – was:

“SOCIAL AGENDA IN LATIN AMERICA.”

The topic is clearly a very up-to-date issue as it is being presented at the UN by leaders of the ALBA group and Professor Toledo does not see exactly eye to eye with them. Our website has taken the position that it is in the interest of the US to develop a closer rapport with the Latin Rio Group and with ALBA. As such the ideas of a previous Peruvian President, an indigenous American, and this is an extremely attractive proposition, someone who has learned facts of life not just as an academic, and can look back indeed at a quite successful presidency, even harboring the intent for a second term in office, he is clearly someone worthwhile to have over as a guest speaker at the UNU – really the only remaining brain trust or open think tank at the UN.

I posted on SustainabiliTank.info nearly exactly to the day – two years ago, the article:

Former Presidents Cesar Gaviria (Columbia) and Alexandro Toledo (Peru) With Former UNDESA USG Ocampo Conclude, At a Meeting of the Latin American Business Association at Columbia Business School, That Latin America, With Markets Of Produce In China, India, and LA, Could Themselves Become A Market Equal To The US, Provided Their Mestizo/Indio Poor Get The Chance To Become Consumers. Was posted  March 30th, 2008

 www.sustainabilitank.info/2008/03…

further postings can be found on www.sustainabilitank.info/?s=Alej…

I will first reintroduce here former President Toledo and provide new content, but please look up also the first article. It is extremely interesting to see how Professor Toledo refuses President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, an ALBA leader, left credentials – as this throws light on the incident at the UN, part of yesterday’s event, which I chose best to let you read from the attached reporting by Matthew Lee from Inner City Press.

But before doing what I just said, let me get to say something about the title of the meeting. It is not just the title of a lecture, rather it comes from the title of a meeting that was held in Estoril, Portugal, November 30, 2009, that established a “SOCIAL AGENDA FOR DEMOCRACY IN LATIN AMERICA FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS.” This lead to “Public and Private Policy Recommendations” and a call for Leadership Beyond Politics and the establishment of a Global Center for Development and Democracy with offices in San Isidro, Lima, Peru; Washington DC: and Madrid, Spain with internet and TV outlets: www.cgdd.org and www.cgdd.tv

The organization has an impressive Board of Directors and an International Advisory Council that though at first look seems heavy on Peruvian former officials, but includes names like Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Goddard and Francis Fukuyama, Shimon Peres, Jacques Chirac, Javier Perez de Cuellar, Muhammad Yunus, Felipe Gonzalez Marquez, Enrique Iglesias, Rodrigo Rato, Nicolas Ardito Barletta, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Vicente Fox, Lionel Jospin, and many others. Their statements in the Executive Summary could be subject for another posting.

In effect, the Washington office, in the presence of three ex- Heads of State or Government, was inaugurated last night:

Ex presidentes inauguraron oficina internacional del Centro Global para el Desarrollo y la Democracia en Washington DC

Ex presidentes inauguraron oficina internacional del Centro Global para el Desarrollo y la Democracia en Washington DC

25 Marzo 2010

Anoche se inauguro con la asistencia de los ex presidentes de Perú, Alejandro Toledo, de México, Vicente Fox, y de España, José María Aznar.

The Address of the Washington office:

505 9th Street N.W, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20004

Teléfono: +1-202-776-7801

E-mail: contacto@cgdd.org

This clearly shows a high level of interest in the UNU meeting of today, Friday.


———————
Dr. ALEXANDRO TOLEDO was democratically elected President of Peru from July 2001-July 2006. He was elected by narrowly defeating former President Alan Garcia. It was Toledo’s second presidential race in just 13 months. A year earlier he ran against incumbent Alberto K. Fujimori. Toledo dropped out of the runoff election amid widespread allegations that the election was rigged in Fujimori’s favor. Months after being reelected, Fujimori fled to his native Japan and resigned via fax after the broadcast of Fujimori’s chief spy, Vladimiro Montesinos, evidently bribing an opposition congressman to switch parties.

Toledo was born in a small and remote village in the Peruvian Andes, 12,000 feet above sea level. He is one of sixteen brothers and sisters from a family of extreme poverty. His father was a bricklayer and his mother sold fish at markets. At the age of six, he worked as a street shoe-shiner and simultaneously sold newspapers and lotteries to supplement the family income.

At age 16, with the guidance of members of the Peace Corps, Toledo enrolled at the University of San Francisco on a one-year scholarship. He continued his education, obtaining a partial soccer scholarship, and making up the difference by pumping gas.

Dr. Toledo started with  BAs in Economics and Business Administration from the University of San Francisco, then proceeded to Stanford for two masters degrees in economics and in Economics of Human Resouces, he earned a Ph.D. in economics with emphasis on Human Resources from Stanford, at that time he met his wife, Elaine Karp and that was a prize also.

They married in 1979. Eliane Chantal Karp Fernenbug was born in Paris, experienced life on a kibbutz in Israel, and did Master’s and Ph.D. work in anthropology at Stanford University, with a minor in Finance and “Economy of Development”.  Karp  first came to Peru in the late 1970s to study Indian (indigenous) communities while working on her Ph.D. Karp speaks seven languages: French, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Dutch, Portuguese, and Quechua, a native Peruvian language. Before her husband was elected president, she gave several campaign speeches in Quechua, which helped her husband’s election campaign. At one rally in the Andean city of Huaraz, Karp declared that the “apus” (mountain gods of Peru’s ancient Indian cultures) had spoken and that Toledo’s election would break a “curse of 500 years” of oppression. When I was in Peru – a friend who knew them both, told me – this is a case of look for the woman that stands behind the man. She gets part of the success but she is also successful on her own. Before going to Peru, at the World Bank she specialized in loans for economic aid programs for developing countries. In Peru, before becoming first lady, she worked for USAID.

Eliane Karp serves on the board of several organizations. She is the Honorary President and Founder of the Fund for Development of Indigenous Communities of Latin America and the Caribbean, and she was once the Honorary President of the National Commission on Andean, Amazon and Afro-Peruvian Communities (CONAPA) of Peru. Karp accompanied Toledo into office with ambitious plans to address social inequality and the needs of Peru’s poor. When she became Peru’s first lady, she promised to shake up the capital’s elite and avoid the socialite duties customary to presidential wives. Toledo later appointed her honorary head of a commission to address multicultural issues.

She published an extensive list of books, papers and articles. During the 2008-2009 academic year, Dr. Karp-Toledo conducted an investigation on the successful struggle of native peoples in three Andean countries to influence the destiny of their nations.
and published a book  on lessons and experiences in implementing public policies that foster the inclusion of indigenous peoples in Latin American countries. She also participates in research on social inclusion and equality in the foundation created by her husband, the Global Center for Development and Democracy  www.cgdd.org). I expanded on this paragraph as Mrs. Karp-Toledo was also present in New York at the UNU event.

Dr. Toledo was able to go from extreme poverty to the most prestigious academic centers of the world, later becoming one of the most prominent democratic leaders of Latin America. He was the first Peruvian president of indigenous descent to be democratically elected in five hundred years.

His most precious dream and work, he says  now, is that other men and women of the large socially excluded Peruvian and Latin American population can also become presidents of their respective countries by having access to quality health care and education.

Dr. Toledo was a visiting Scholar at Harvard University and Research Associate at Wasseda University in Tokyo.

Before becoming President, Dr. Toledo worked for the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, and the United Nations in New York.

On the stump, like the most experienced politicians, Toledo knows how to work a crowd, whether addressing peasants or potential foreign investors. Seamlessly transitioning from a buttoned-down, eloquent economist to a rebel outfitted in jeans, a t-shirt, and a bandana, Toledo is well versed in international trade and promises to give voice to the labor movement.

Mostly, though, Toledo has preached a centrist platform, pledging to award small-business loans to farmers, balance the budget, lure foreign investment, and create jobs. Toledo’s moderate campaign and carefully selected issues have found broad appeal. Let us also remember the academic institution he is now connected with – Stanford University and the Hoover Institution so let us not expect him to be a chess piece of the left.

President Toledo first appeared on the international political scene in 1996 when he formed and led a broad democratic coalition in the streets of Peru to bring down the autocratic regime of Alberto Fujimori. This coalition had the support of the international democratic community.

During the five years of Dr. Toledo’s presidency, the Peruvian economy grew at an average rate of 6 percent, registering as one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. Inflation averaged 1.5 percent and fiscal deficit went as low as 0.2 percent. While markets in China and Thailand were opened, free trade agreement negotiations with the United States, Chile, Mexico and Singapore were about to conclude. These markets were generating new investments and jobs for the most poverty-stricken Peruvians.

Nevertheless the fight against poverty through health and educational investment was the internal central aim of Dr. Toledo’s presidency. As a result of sustained economic growth and deliberate social policies directed to the most poor, extreme poverty was reduced by 25 percent in five years. Employment grew at an average rate of 6 percent from 2004-2006. He started the alleviation of poverty process through investments in healthcare and education.

He is currently an economics professor (on leave) at the University of ESAN in Peru. and from Stanford University, and from the Freeman Spogli Institute’s Center on Democracy, Development and the rule of Law.

He is Founder and President of the Global Center for Development and Democracy (GCDD), which studies the interrelationship between poverty, inequality, and the future of democratic governance. The institute   www.cgdd.org) is housed in Latin America, The US, and the EU as we mentioned earlier. Dr. Toledo is currently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at SAIS/Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC and also senior Fellow in Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution, and his wife is Visiting Professor in the Department of Anthropology at George Washington University. She teaches classes there on the culture and social organization of indigenous peoples in the Andean countries and their struggle for greater rights and participation in public life and democratic politics. Their base is now in Washington DC.

At the UN, March 26, 2010, Dr. Alejandro Toledo spoke about the relationship between economic growth and democracy – poverty, equality, social institutions – the challenges of achieving sustainable growth.

Democracy is not just about casting votes on election day. The high level of inequality in social institutions leads to low chance to get economic democracy. Poverty undermines economic growth and this in turn will destroy any concept of democracy.

In the streets of Latin America there is discontent that shows up as social unrest which then pushes away investment – everybody loses. Investment that comes in under such conditions has low rate of return. The investors must do their part in conjunction with the local government for their own long term goals.

Dr. Toledo does not share the “trickle down” concept. He wants the government to prioritize and show accountability in transparency conditions. It is all about transparency and education. He says it is not an abstract proposition that one achieves through professorial regression mathematics – it is his own life experience. He says democracy in Latin America is an empty shell to be used only on election day, then discarded – corruption rules and people have empty stomachs. People read statistics and ask – if we do so well – why is my stomach empty?

It takes 18-20 years to train a professional – a lawyer, doctor, engineer. He calls for strong democratic institutions to increase the quality of parliaments and bring about accountability.

He made some populist statements:

– Democracy does not have nationality.

– Human Rights does not have skin color.

– The air we breathe belongs to all of us.

The UN has put forward the goal of reducing poverty by 2015 – some countries will do it. Latin America has the stigma of instability, high inflation, and the foreign debt crisis. Again and again – the Toledo doctrine is that in order to have sustainable growth in Latin America the social aspects of democracy must be tackled in the interest of the people but also in the interest of the investors that are needed to help growth.

From here it opened up to questions and with a lively audience Dr. Toledo showed the hand of a master.

Journalists present wanted to know the Toledo reaction to Chavez and Morales populism and were not disappointed. The answer came that if you get a lot of money because of the increase of oil income – it is easy – but planning gets harder. He does not like the closing of independent TV channels or the jailing of the only opposition leader. This connects to climate change:

(1) But if we compete for investments we have to set clear terms and norms for the environment. You cannot build roads to integrate countries – Bolivia – Peru – Brazil – Paraguay – or build pipelines – without looking on the impact on indigenous people on the way.

(2) We must provide energy for the poor.

(3) But then the alternative to oil – to be cleaner, cheaper and to make the economy less dependent on oil.

Growth based on oil has brought up 3 million people world wide but the fossil crisis brought half a billion down into poverty.

But it could have been even worse if not for new players like Brazil.

Cheap labor is part of growth but the question is the collection of tax. The answer is new economy with indigenous democracy and not neo-liberalism, but without growth it will not work. The arrival of investment starts the chain. Microcredit alone will not do it – though microcredit has helped start small business. One needs then  (a) a project, (b) the microcredit and (c) a market.

Women have proven they can do it and with the result improve the education of their children.

Government and the companies are both responsible for social investment – water, education, more accountability.

Sustainable Development means when people are educated there is environmental concept of quality of life. That requires policies that go beyond political statements and it needs investments – so he talks of environment, less corruption.

If there is corruption, the cost of production increases, the self esteem of the society is lost – there is no faith in government without accountability – this leads to poverty and corruption and corruption is higher in authoritarian regimes.

Now that lead to the Venezuelan intervention that is described further on by Matthew Lee.

I will end here by saying that the Dr. Alejandro Toledo platform is clearly not of the left, rather the Hoover Institution and the Washington houses of SAIS and Brookings. But it is think-tank stuff that can show the way to the ALBA and Rio Groups on how to cooperate with Washington in development of their own people and countries, provided they also put brakes on the deeds of the foreign companies and on their own governments. If this is said in a balanced way, and the corporations want to go to Latin America with long-term goals – not just for the reaping of mineral resources, with responsible governance concepts, a Toledo consultancy in Washington should be weighed in gold. He could thus be more effective there now then at the helm of Peru alone.

I would be interested to get further information from Venezuela of how they would want to be seen as presenters of a different point of view – or simply as defenders of an insulted regime that did indeed jail its opposition and stopped media. But, if they have an argument with those that got silenced, we would like to see how those arguments could improve upon the Toledo presentation.

Regarding the UNU, the event was great. When Venezuela wanted to have its intervention he made it possible and stood firm that in an academic institution there cannot be political censorship – simply said – Venezuela cannot stop at the UN the expression of criticism by anyone – clearly not by another former head of State. Further, it must be noted that when there was a coup in 2003 against President Chavez, then President Toledo and other Latin American Presidents, including Lagos of Chile, spoke up for President Chavez.

* * * * *

At UN, Peru’s Toledo Coy about Election, Blasts Chavez, Draws Venezuelan Protest.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 — Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, reportedly polling at 11% support in the run up to the 2011 election, spoke Friday at the UN in New York. Inner City Press asked him about his poll numbers and plans, including if he might join forces with the leader of the Partido Popular Cristiano, Lourdes Flores Nano, who polls lower at six percent.

“I understand you are a journalist,” Toledo began. “You do your job and I do mine. I am not a candidate, I’m sorry to disappoint you.” He paused. “At least not yet.”

Toledo went on to describe his “heavy burden” as the first president elected in 500 years from “an Andean background… I’m concerned how to implement, how to change lives.”

Describing his life as a professor, he concluded that he’d “lost him mind” once moving from “academia to politics, I’m trying to be care not to commit the same mistake.”

Toledo was also asked, twice, about Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Toledo contrasts a leader flush with oil money with one, implicitly like him, who tries to manage an economy correctly. He denounced the shutting down of media and arrests of political opponents.

A representative of Venezuela’s Mission to the UN ran out into the hallway of the UN’s new Temporary North Lawn Building, clutching his cell phone. Later, a more senior Venezuelan representative, Ms. Medina, entered the room. She was given the last question of the UN University event.

She chided Toledo for criticizing President Chavez without giving any notice to the Venezuelan Mission, calling this “cobardia” or cowardice.


UN’s Ban and Toledo, Hugo Chavez and right of reply not shown

The audience, with many Toledo supporters in attendance, booed the use of this word, and urged the UNU moderator to cut off the question. But Ms. Medina continued, in Spanish, with the colleague who had called her providing a monotone translation.

She said the Toledo had supported the coup against Chavez in 2003. While some argue that it was not a coup at all, Toledo when he responded countered that he had issued a press released condemning the attempt to oust Chavez. He conceded that for a time his popularity had sunk to 8%, but he said this was because he was not “managing for polls.” Ms. Medina rolled her eyes. She said Toledo did not understand democracy.

Afterwards, Ms. Medina was heard to say while in the UN coffee line that “there are going to be problems.” It was unclear if this meant a complaint against UNU. She also told a journalist to be sure to report “objectively.” Or what?

Also after the showdown, sources say that Toledo’s wife complained to the UNU moderator about the Venezuelan intervention, and ask that he deliver a short apology for the camera crew following Toledo. Some surmised a campaign commercial being filmed.

At Friday’s UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky about the relation between UNU and the UN, and whether UN events held inside UN buildings implied that member states have the “right of reply” as they have in the General Assembly. Nesirky said he’d look into it.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Close to the departure of President Obama on his all-important trip to Asia with stops in Tokyo November 12th, Singapore November 13-15, Shanghai November 15th, Beijing November 16-18, and Seoul November 18-19, the Japan Society has planned co-incidentally the event we are reporting about here.

Japan is the only original OECD member in Asia, as such Japan clearly feels justifiably it is a US prime partner in Asia. It also was clearly instrumental in nailing down the 1987 Kyoto Protocol to The Framework Convention on Climate Change, and hopes that this material will continue to be the base for future climate negotiations. That was the basis for having co-organized and hosted  the following meeting – November 10th.

————-

Copenhagen & Beyond: A Multilateral Debate about Climate Change Policy.
Green Japan Series
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at the Japan Society, New York.

The positions and participation of Japan, China and the United States in any successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol will help determine its success or failure. In a Tuesday November 10, 2009 panel, at the Japan Society, New York, Masayoshi Arai, Director, JETRO New York, Special Advisor, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); The Honorable Zhenmin Liu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations; Elliot Diringer, Vice President, International Strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Takao Shibata, chair of the working group that drafted the Kyoto Protocol, debated the direction of international climate change policy.

It was Moderated by Jim Efstathiou, Correspondent, Bloomberg News, and co-organized by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

————–

Takao Shibata, who is now a Chancellor Lecturer at the University of Kansas and Japan Consul General in Kansas City,mentioed that Japan is ready to commit to a 2020 reduction of 25% in emissions provided that there is FAIR and EFFECTIVE agreement with a VIGUROUS COMPLIANCE agreement as part of it. He stressed that the problem with Kyoto was that there was no compliance paragraph in the Protocol. All it said was that we postpone decision.

The OBJECTIVE must be: THE STABILIZATION OF CO2 CONCENTRATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE rather then fighting over figures of temperature increase or concentrations in parts per milion numbers. We have already a Framework he said – the Copenhagen process should be about STABILIZATION. Later he added that we must at least agree to a 2050 position.

Mr. Masayoshi Arai, who is in New York since June 2009, with The Japaese External Trade Organization (JETRO), after having held 16 positions within Japan Government, includingthe Prime Minister’s task force that created the Japan Consumer Protection Agency, and with The Fair Trade Commission and Agency for Natural Resouces and Energy and its Research Institute, Supervised manufacturing industries in their CO2 emissions reduction, and has also an MBA from Wharton, probably because of his present government trade position, was rather careful in what he said. He said that we ned something “meaningful”  for global warming  and left the Japanese point of view to Professor Shibata.

————-

Eliot Diringer whose organization, the Washington based Pew Center, is a link between Environmentalism, industry and government made it clear that what is lacking is a legal architecture in place to deal with the problems created by climate change to which now Professor Shibata answered on the spot that the history is such that already in Berlin, later in Kyoto, the US was against a legal concept – that is a clear 15 year old problem. In Kyoto, the US Vice President came to seal the Protocol in full knowledge that it is unratifiable in Washington. Shibata does not want a repeat of this with a US that is in no position to ratify an agreement.

Diringer came back with the suggestion that he can see that Developing countries will accept self prescribed domestic reductions and will request an agreement that makes this possible for them to do so. That means a new FRAMEWORK that is more flexible then the original.

—————

Ambassador Zhenmin Liu, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN in New York since 2006, in charge of China’s participation on the Second Committee at the UN, with prior experience at the UN in Geneva and as Director-General of the Treaty and Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been involved in Climate Change negotiations for China. He was actually the only member of the panel entitled to express a national negotiating position, and he did indeed come through.

Ambassador Liu said that he cannot have now a document to replace Kyoto – this lines him up with what might be a Japanese interest, but clearly is no answer to the problems that were pointed out at why Kyoto was a failure.

But then he also said that you need a GLOBAL CAP for the GHG emissions that must then take into account, when talking about individual nations, their level of industrialization.

A certain raport evolved between him and Washingtonian Diringer.

It was agreed that there is the need for Technology Innovation, Technology Cooperation, and Technology Transfer.

Diringer said that China is very well positioning itself for the green technology economy. People in the US start to understand that the US will lose the competition for future technology and there must be a start for support in US Congress for energy action right now.

These exchanges gave me an opening to ask mty question about what goes on right now – the days that President Obama plans for his trip to Asia with a long stopover in China.

I started my question to ambassador Liu by saying that on the internet there is a lot of talk about a G-2 US-China agreement needed to jump start the Copenhagen negotiations, and I saw visually the Ambassador cringe.  to this idea of a G-2. I continued by asking that what can we expect as an outcome from the meetings in Beijing if there is anything he could tell us as we believe that some concluding material was negotiated prior to the deision for this trip considering tha this is in effect the second meeting between the leaders?

I was honored with a long answer that included several main points.

The first point is that the US has accepted Kyoto and I guess China does not want to renegotiate Kyoto.

Then, China has 20% of the world population the US only 5%, but China has only a fraction of the GDP per capita then the US, so there is no G-2 situation here. That must have been the reason for the cringing – China does not want to lose its place as leader of the underdeveloped nations.

Secondly – this is not a US – China negotiation but a negotiation for all groups.

Thirdly, there is place for clean energy cooperation, bilateral programs and projects – to jointly use clean technology.

——-

Professor Shibata added that we talk of the atmosphere where there are no national boundaries. We talk of sovereign areas only on the surface of the earth – and we must realize that the effects turn up in the air and we have no national control of the air.

Further, he said that in the west when something bad happens, the first thing we do is we sue the polluter – ask him to pay. He continued saying “I would encourage everyone to think about that.”

Mr. Diringer added that the CDM was introduced to harness market forces to get reduction of CO2 emissions at lowes cost.

——-

To summarize – it was nice for Japan to try to host a US-China debate before moves that will inevitably have to bring the US and China closer together. To follow up – let us look at President Obama’s itinerary to get further in depth to what a reorientation of the US towards Asia could mean.

Japan, South Korea, and China are trying to form an East Asia Trilateral grouping with a Free Trade Agreement among the three countries. Obviously, this will open the Chinese market to Japan and Korea and there is no way for the US, with its own effective NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico. Japan wants thus perhaps more then just be a pivot in US – Chiba negotiations, it rather has also to make sure that it can hold on to its own agreements with both main countries. President Obama has thus quite a few non-climate topics to talk about in his Yokyo and Seoul stops.

The second big stop is in Singapore where he will meet the 21 members of APEC: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (part of China), Indonesia, Japan,  Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Thailand, The United States, and Viet Nam. This will be the reintroduction of the US to the Pacific region in general – an area that the locals contend was totally neglected by the US in the eight years of the Bush administration. A main point in this meeting will be to help redirect the participating economies from export to the US to supply to their local populations – this so that they help both areas – their own and the US economy as well.

Will they also consult on whom to back for the job of UN Secretary-General in 2010? That is about the time to start this sort of negotiations, and Singapore seems to be the right place to look for the best viable candidate.

Eventually, the Third leg of the trip – the stops  in China – will have to be the clear main target of the trip – as said here by Ambassador Liu, the business deals in clean energy that can underpin both economies  (US and China) so they become an example for cooperation on climate change that presents direct benefits to economies looking for sustainable growth, that is a match to the needs of the people and the climate as well –  this is what we call Sustainable Development that is mutual – for the newly industrializing nation and for the phasing out of the old polluting industries of the past.

——————

for information from President Obama’s Asian trip we recommend:

www.ft.com/obamainasia 

www.ft.com/rachmanblog

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 13th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


Bolivian hillside village in Los Yungas, in the tropical Andes. Credit:Diana Cariboni/IPS

 

ENVIRONMENT-SOUTH AMERICA: Mapping the Riches of the Tropical Andes
By Humberto Márquez*

 
CARACAS, Aug 8 (Tierramérica) – The Ecosystems Map of the Northern and Central Andes could serve as a guide for environmental conservation of this South American area covering 1.5 million square kilometres and holding the world’s highest concentration of biodiversity.

The tropical Andes, the stretch of the mountain range that includes the Central Andes (Bolivia and Peru) and Northern Andes (Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela), were dubbed the “global epicentre of biodiversity” by British ecologist Norman Myers. 

The zone holds 45,000 types of plants (20,000 of which are endemic) and 3,400 vertebrate animal species (more than 1,500 of which are endemic) on just one percent of the planet’s land surface, according to figures from Conservation International. 

These riches “are distributed among 133 specific ecosystems that we have inventoried for our map of areas at more than 500 metres of altitude, of which 77 are in Peru, 69 in Bolivia, 31 in Ecuador, 22 in Colombia and 21 in Venezuela,” environmentalist Eulogio Chacón-Moreno, head of the project in Venezuela, told Tierramérica. 

The map, initially presented in April, was conceived as a tool to “identify gaps and priorities for conservation in the national agencies for protected areas, and to develop a set of indicators that allows us to assess the state of conservation of the Andean ecosystems,” said Chacón-Moreno. 

Such is the case of the “páramos”, treeless high plateaus “with a high percentage of endemic species, unique diversity for the way the species interrelate, and a highly important source of freshwater,” Vanessa Cartaya, of the regional Andean Páramo Project, sponsored by the Global Environment Facility, told Tierramérica. 

Cartaya underscored that the intensification of land use, expansion of the agricultural frontier, growing urbanisation and increased demand for potable water, as well as climate change, “affect the páramos to a great extent, making it essential to determine which areas are the priority for action.” 

The páramos are situated between 3,000 and 4,500 metres above sea level in the Northern and Central Andes, with temperature, humidity, sunshine, rain and wind factors that make them quite different from the lower altitude tropics that surround them. 

The high altitude flower known in Spanish as “frailejón” (Espeletia neriifolia) is emblematic of this ecosystem. 

“The páramo functions like a sponge, absorbing rainwater before filtering and releasing it” into other ecosystems, states the text that accompanies the map. The mountaintops hold remnants of glaciers and lakes that feed streams and springs. 

The project was based on studies and maps available from national institutes, standardising their data. Some of the maps used are: the Vegetation Map of Bolivia, Map of Ecosystems of the Colombian Andes, Map of Ecuador’s Continental Ecological Systems, Forest Map of Peru, and the Map of Ecological Units of Mérida, Venezuela. 

Plans are in the works to publish an atlas in 2010, with a preliminary version already available on the Internet. 

The mapping effort is a contribution to the Environmental Agenda of the Andean Community trade bloc (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) as a guide to design and coordinate policies among the national environmental agencies, focusing on three themes: biodiversity, climate change and water resources. 

Backing the project are the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, Spain’s Ministry of the Environment, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The work has been coordinated by NatureServe, a non-profit conservation organisation, and the Consortium for Sustainable Development of the Andean Eco-Region. 

Chacón-Moreno said the mapping will pave the way for studies “to identify ecosystems with more intense dynamics and patterns of fragmentation, which will serve as input to guide conservation policies.” 

Furthermore, experts will be able to “assess the vulnerability of Andean ecosystems through vegetation distribution models in scenarios of climate change and land-use change,” he added. 

For example, the Institute of Environmental and Ecological Sciences at the Venezuelan University of the Andes, led by Chacón-Moreno, has studied the spread of the mountainous cloud forest to the heights of the páramos in the highest sierras of southwest Venezuela, with records from 1952 to 1999 “showing how the páramo area has been reduced with the passing of the decades.” 

“The changes in vegetation cover demonstrate the effects of climate anomalies. In this respect, the map and the studies that support it allow the study across an entire region using a single standardised system of classification,” said the expert. 

A database will be a “planning tool that contains information about biodiversity,” communities and ecosystems, according to Chacón-Moreno. 

Of the 133 ecosystems identified, the most extensive is the High Andean Wet Scrubland (Puna Húmeda), covering nearly 10 million hectares in Peru and Bolivia, just 6.8 percent of which is officially protected. 

“Human use has greatly influenced the structure of these landscapes, subjected over the centuries to tree cutting and cyclical burns, so criteria need to be developed to better evaluate the natural landscapes,” which would lead to better understanding of the conservation of the Central Andes ecosystems, says the report that accompanies the map. 

The Tropical Andes run 4,000 km north-south. Few mountaintops are lower than 2,000 metres in altitude, and most of the landscape is steep inclines, deep gullies, vast valley floors, and sharp peaks. 

In the Central Andes, a vast “altiplano” or high plain is formed at more than 3,500 metres above sea level in southern Peru and western Bolivia. 

The altiplano’s towns and villages are home to more than 40 million people who rely heavily on the natural goods and services of the Andean ecosystems, including grains, fruit and vegetables produced in the area. 

“The map has also been proposed as an information and education tool for communities about the potential of their surroundings and the importance of preserving it, in order to obtain clean water and sustenance, as well as enjoying the beauty of the landscape,” said Cartaya. 

(*This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.) 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 12th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from:

sfmbam@sfmbam.com

 

Lima and Washington DC.
The Campo Verde project in Peru became the first commercial reforestation endeavor with native species to be validated under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) following the AFOLU guidelines for Afforestation and Reforestation. It was validated by TÜV SÜD.

The project has planted 919 ha to date, with a target of 18,900 ha. It uses a mix of native species within a 30-year cycle, with an initial validation of 101,982 credits for Emissions Reduction after the application of a 40% buffer.

The project breaks the cycle of deforestation in the Amazon in which extraction of high-value timber is followed by changes in land use through conversion to cattle ranching and subsequent land abandonment. The project reverses this inexorable trend by recovering heavily degraded soil prior to plantation of a mix of native species of high commercial value, in a process that resembles natural forest succession. “We are very pleased to be the first native commercial reforestation project to be recognized for carbon sequestration. We want to expand this model of sustainable forestry to other areas in Peru and adjacent countries” said Jorge Cantuarias, SFM-BAM’s Chief Executive Officer and the pioneering Peruvian entrepreneur behind this major accomplishment.

The project is also undergoing validation under the Carbon, Community, and Biodiversity Standard (CCB). “The ancillary biodiversity and social benefits generated represent a new promise for sustainable development, in which private capital can be a force of change in rural areas” said Gonzalo Castro de la Mata, a Washington-based businessman and ecologist responsible for the investments made by SFM in this project.

From a financial perspective, “this is ideal – the long-term value
generated by timber revenues is complemented by the ability to treat carbon as a market-based commodity, the future value of which can be more readily monetized,” said Richard Saettone, a businessman with an international financial background, and currently SFM-BAM’s Chief Financial Officer.

SFM-BAM is a Peruvian company specialized in forestry and environmental services. It employs over 250 people, and is in the process of developing several large REDD projects in various regions of the Peruvian Amazon. The VCS standard is widely accepted as the most accurate and rigorous approach for carbon projects in the voluntary markets.

For further information, please contact:

Jorge Cantuarias
SFM-BAM
jorge.cantuarias@sfmbam.com
www.sfmbam.com

Gonzalo Castro de la Mata
SFM Americas
gcastro@sfm.bm

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 25th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Why the Amazon is important

Page last updated: 14 May 2008

By BBC’s Latin America Analyst James Painter

The Amazon Paradox

080509airpollution187
The rainforests are essential for removing carbon dioxide from the air.

As concerns grow about global warming and the future of the planet, much more international attention is being paid to the Amazon region.

There are three fundamental reasons why the region is important to the rest of the world.

The Amazon and the world’s climate

It is not surprising that the Amazon region is often called the “lungs of the world,” as it plays a critical role in the global carbon cycle that helps to shape the world’s climate.

About 200 billion tonnes of carbon are locked up in tropical vegetation around the world, of which about 70 billion tonnes are estimated to be in Amazon trees.

Rapid rates of deforestation cause more carbon to be converted into carbon dioxide, either when the trees are burnt down or more slowly by the decomposition of unburned wood.

And once the forests are gone, they cannot soak up the carbon from cars, power plants and factories. At the moment the Amazon is thought to absorb about 10 per cent of global fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions.

080509forestfires187

Burning is leading to a vicious circle of carbon release

The build-up of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere is one of the key causes of global warming. About 20 per cent of annual global greenhouse emissions is estimated to come from the clearing of tropical forests around the world.

According to the Stern Report on the economics of climate change, the loss of natural forests around the world contributes more to global emissions each year than the transport sector.

Brazil, for example, is ranked in the top five of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, not because of its high emissions from fossil fuels but because of deforestation.

Tipping Point

A study released in February 2008 by a team of international scientists from Oxford University, the Potsdam Institute and others concluded that the Amazon rainforest was the second most vulnerable area in the world after the Arctic.

080509meltingarctic187

The loss of the Amazon is leading to the loss of the Arctic

The essential idea is that the drying of the Amazon and/or increased deforestation could cause what is called “dieback” of the rain forest and a vicious cycle – a large reduction in the area of Amazon rainforest could cause a significant rise in CO2 emissions, which in turn would raise global temperatures – which in turn would cause more drying of the Amazon.

Scientists and climate change modellers disagree how soon a tipping point might happen or how likely it is. But however low the probability, changes to the Amazon are likely to be a “high impact” event on the world’s climate.

Biodiversity

The Amazon is the world’s largest tract of tropical rainforest, containing the Earth’s greatest biological reservoir – around 30 percent of all terrestrial species are found there.

The region is the main reason why Brazil is the most bio-diverse country in the world, with more than 50,000 described species of plants, 1,700 species of birds and between 500 and 700 different types each of amphibians, mammals and reptiles.

All this rich biodiversity is now being threatened by the destructive combination of stress from climate change and deforestation. Even though there are many unknowns about the Amazon’s future and its effect on the world’s climate, scientists agree that because of its biodiversity and the crucial role the region plays in shaping the climate, it is a matter of great urgency to find the right policy mix to conserve enough of the forest.

ws_amazon_banner4

080515mato_grosso187

Brazil is also the biggest exporter of soya beans in the world

Who should decide the fate of the Amazon rainforest? The people who live there? The Brazilian government? The international community? Or individuals all over the world?

A remote tribe in the Brazilian Amazon says illegal loggers have already cleared around 40 per cent of their land, while the government has ignored their pleas for help.

The Tembe indians say that as the authorities failed to act, some of their community also became involved in selling wood illegally, but for now this has stopped.

Now they say the authorities should recognise they too have the right to make some money from the wood that surrounds their reserve by providing a plan for sustainable development.

The BBC’s Gary Duffy has been to the state of Para in northern Brazil to meet one of the leaders of the small Tembe indian community: Listen to Gary Duffy’s report (4 mins 13 secs)

080507amazon_map_303_1

The Amazon rainforest is the largest in the world, covering approximately seven million km² (40% of South America). Much of the global carbon cycle that is crucial to the world’s ecology and climate goes through the Amazon, earning it the label “the lungs of the Earth”.

The Amazon is a rich store of biodiversity, containing around a quarter of all terrestrial species. At 6,400km, the Amazon river is the second longest in the world, and accounts for one fifth of all fresh water drained into the world’s oceans.

The Amazon basin is also home to more than 30 million people of nine nations; Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. Two-thirds of the Amazonian population are Brazilian, and more than half live in urban centres.

The Amazon by country

Explore BBC country briefings, reports, audio, and video using the interactive map.

The Brazil part of the Amazonas is a follows:

2143726_amazon_brazil

Brazilian Amazon surface area: 4,776,980 km²
Estimated deforestation: 700,000 km² since 1970
Brazil Population: 191.8 million (UN, 2007)
Forest cover: 56%

Brazil is South America’s most influential country, an economic giant and one of the world’s biggest democracies.

Brazil also contains 65% of the Amazon, yet it is estimated that 700,000km² has been lost through deforestation since 1970. This is an area larger than Afghanistan, and accounts for 80% of recent deforestation in the whole of the Amazon basin.

Despite the destruction, the Brazilian Amazon remains the largest continuous area of tropical forest in the world.

Cattle ranching accounts for around 70% of all forest loss. Soya production and illegal logging are the other main culprits. The construction of new hydroelectric dams and the building of roads across the region are also blamed for deforestation as they open access to low-cost land and attract new migrants.

Brazil is now the world’s largest exporter of soya and beef, much of it driven by growing demand from the rapidly-expanding Asian economies, particularly China.

=========================================================================================

Then please the following to the bottom of the piece

——————

One Planet: best of the Amazon Paradox

February saw 200 troops go into Para to crack down on logging

The Amazon Paradox

BBC World Service’s One Planet programme presents a special edition bringing you the very best of the Amazon Paradox.

Listen
Listen (27 mins 04 secs)

Download (mp3)
The programme includes:
An in-depth report from the heart of Para, following Operation Arc Of Fire – the major police effort to stop deforestation across three major Amazon states.
A look at how the government of Amazonas State is trying to save its forests by building up other economic institutions, including a free trade zone, industrial capacity, and thriving cultural institutions – with everything from Roger Waters to operettas about chocolate cake.
The factors putting a sustainable Amazon under sustained pressure – the people who say they do not want to log, but cannot survive if they do not; the lobbying of the agriculture ministry and land reform agency; and the sceptics calling for “broader discussion” and more food production.
An exclusive interview with the British Prince Of Wales, calling for a better integrated rural development programme which “makes forests more valuable alive than dead.”
And a look at one beef farmer successfully avoiding impacting on the forest – while at the same time still making a profit.

——————

BBC correspondents’ Amazon reports  The Amazon Paradox

080509airpollution187
The rainforests are essential for removing carbon dioxide from the air.

As concerns grow about global warming and the future of the planet, much more international attention is being paid to the Amazon region.

There are three fundamental reasons why the region is important to the rest of the world.

The Amazon and the world’s climate

It is not surprising that the Amazon region is often called the “lungs of the world,” as it plays a critical role in the global carbon cycle that helps to shape the world’s climate.

About 200 billion tonnes of carbon are locked up in tropical vegetation around the world, of which about 70 billion tonnes are estimated to be in Amazon trees.

Rapid rates of deforestation cause more carbon to be converted into carbon dioxide, either when the trees are burnt down or more slowly by the decomposition of unburned wood.

And once the forests are gone, they cannot soak up the carbon from cars, power plants and factories. At the moment the Amazon is thought to absorb about 10 per cent of global fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions.

080509forestfires187

Burning is leading to a vicious circle of carbon release

The build-up of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere is one of the key causes of global warming. About 20 per cent of annual global greenhouse emissions is estimated to come from the clearing of tropical forests around the world.

According to the Stern Report on the economics of climate change, the loss of natural forests around the world contributes more to global emissions each year than the transport sector.

Brazil, for example, is ranked in the top five of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, not because of its high emissions from fossil fuels but because of deforestation.

Tipping Point

A study released in February 2008 by a team of international scientists from Oxford University, the Potsdam Institute and others concluded that the Amazon rainforest was the second most vulnerable area in the world after the Arctic.

080509meltingarctic187

The loss of the Amazon is leading to the loss of the Arctic

The essential idea is that the drying of the Amazon and/or increased deforestation could cause what is called “dieback” of the rain forest and a vicious cycle – a large reduction in the area of Amazon rainforest could cause a significant rise in CO2 emissions, which in turn would raise global temperatures – which in turn would cause more drying of the Amazon.

Scientists and climate change modellers disagree how soon a tipping point might happen or how likely it is. But however low the probability, changes to the Amazon are likely to be a “high impact” event on the world’s climate.

Biodiversity

The Amazon is the world’s largest tract of tropical rainforest, containing the Earth’s greatest biological reservoir – around 30 percent of all terrestrial species are found there.

The region is the main reason why Brazil is the most bio-diverse country in the world, with more than 50,000 described species of plants, 1,700 species of birds and between 500 and 700 different types each of amphibians, mammals and reptiles.

All this rich biodiversity is now being threatened by the destructive combination of stress from climate change and deforestation. Even though there are many unknowns about the Amazon’s future and its effect on the world’s climate, scientists agree that because of its biodiversity and the crucial role the region plays in shaping the climate, it is a matter of great urgency to find the right policy mix to conserve enough of the forest.

ws_amazon_banner4

080515mato_grosso187

Brazil is also the biggest exporter of soya beans in the world

Who should decide the fate of the Amazon rainforest? The people who live there? The Brazilian government? The international community? Or individuals all over the world?

A remote tribe in the Brazilian Amazon says illegal loggers have already cleared around 40 per cent of their land, while the government has ignored their pleas for help.

The Tembe indians say that as the authorities failed to act, some of their community also became involved in selling wood illegally, but for now this has stopped.

Now they say the authorities should recognise they too have the right to make some money from the wood that surrounds their reserve by providing a plan for sustainable development.

The BBC’s Gary Duffy has been to the state of Para in northern Brazil to meet one of the leaders of the small Tembe indian community: Listen to Gary Duffy’s report (4 mins 13 secs)

080507amazon_map_303_1

The Amazon rainforest is the largest in the world, covering approximately seven million km² (40% of South America). Much of the global carbon cycle that is crucial to the world’s ecology and climate goes through the Amazon, earning it the label “the lungs of the Earth”.

The Amazon is a rich store of biodiversity, containing around a quarter of all terrestrial species. At 6,400km, the Amazon river is the second longest in the world, and accounts for one fifth of all fresh water drained into the world’s oceans.

The Amazon basin is also home to more than 30 million people of nine nations; Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. Two-thirds of the Amazonian population are Brazilian, and more than half live in urban centres.

The Amazon by country

Explore BBC country briefings, reports, audio, and video using the interactive map.

The Brazil part of the Amazonas is a follows:

2143726_amazon_brazil

Brazilian Amazon surface area: 4,776,980 km²
Estimated deforestation: 700,000 km² since 1970
Brazil Population: 191.8 million (UN, 2007)
Forest cover: 56%

Brazil is South America’s most influential country, an economic giant and one of the world’s biggest democracies.

Brazil also contains 65% of the Amazon, yet it is estimated that 700,000km² has been lost through deforestation since 1970. This is an area larger than Afghanistan, and accounts for 80% of recent deforestation in the whole of the Amazon basin.

Despite the destruction, the Brazilian Amazon remains the largest continuous area of tropical forest in the world.

Cattle ranching accounts for around 70% of all forest loss. Soya production and illegal logging are the other main culprits. The construction of new hydroelectric dams and the building of roads across the region are also blamed for deforestation as they open access to low-cost land and attract new migrants.

Brazil is now the world’s largest exporter of soya and beef, much of it driven by growing demand from the rapidly-expanding Asian economies, particularly China.

=========================================================================================

Then please the following to the bottom of the piece

——————

One Planet: best of the Amazon Paradox

February saw 200 troops go into Para to crack down on logging

The Amazon Paradox

BBC World Service’s One Planet programme presents a special edition bringing you the very best of the Amazon Paradox.

Listen
Listen (27 mins 04 secs)

Download (mp3)
The programme includes:
An in-depth report from the heart of Para, following Operation Arc Of Fire – the major police effort to stop deforestation across three major Amazon states.
A look at how the government of Amazonas State is trying to save its forests by building up other economic institutions, including a free trade zone, industrial capacity, and thriving cultural institutions – with everything from Roger Waters to operettas about chocolate cake.
The factors putting a sustainable Amazon under sustained pressure – the people who say they do not want to log, but cannot survive if they do not; the lobbying of the agriculture ministry and land reform agency; and the sceptics calling for “broader discussion” and more food production.
An exclusive interview with the British Prince Of Wales, calling for a better integrated rural development programme which “makes forests more valuable alive than dead.”
And a look at one beef farmer successfully avoiding impacting on the forest – while at the same time still making a profit.

——————

BBC correspondents’ Amazon reports  www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 24th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From THE AMERICAS SOCIETY/Council of the Americas, New York City Headquarters – A discussion on – The Risks of Deforestation in the Amazon with Bruce Babbitt, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and Andrew Revkin of The New York Times. Thursday, July 23, 2009. The moderator was Christopher Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief of the Americas Quarterly and Senior Director of Policy, of AS/COA.

The IIRSA initiative was created in the year 2000, during a summit of South American presidents in Brazil. Its official goal is South American regional integration through infrastructure related to transportation, energy and telecommunications. This initiative is coordinated by 12 South American governments with the technical and financial support of the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) and the Del Plata Basin Development Fund (FONPLATA), as well as other development banks, likely including the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Environmental groups saw from the IIRSA inception that the proposed megaprojects will endanger the environment.

The Friends of the Earth, International) (FOEI) wrote about IIRSA:

Why is IIRSA a risk for communities and the environment?

1. Because its transport, waterways and agribusiness network projects crossing ecologically fragile areas, will have a negative effect on biodiversity. For example, the impact in the Andes, the Amazon Basin, the Mato Grosso, the Pantanal, and the Paraguay and Paraná rivers, will be significant, and in many cases irreversible.

2. Because these projects are likely to put the products of peasant communities at a great disadvantage. IIRSA roads and waterways aim to facilitate the transport of export products like soy, while doing little to strengthen food security and sustainable livelihoods for local citizens.

3. Because the mega- infrastructure projects have been drawn up with excessive focus on the needs of the private sector compared to the needs of the local economy and nearby communities.

4. Because of the failure to incorporate appropriate environmental, social and cultural considerations in IIRSA’s large infrastructure projects.

5. Because IIRSA projects are now set up to follow previous large infrastructure projects financed by international financial institutions. These projects continue to cause harm to indigenous communities (for example the Camisea gas pipeline) and the environment (Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline), and can rack up devastating national debts (Yacyreta hydroelectric plant).

6. Because the role played by European transnational corporations in Latin America has already generated conflicts between consumers of public services, putting access to basic services (such as water, electricity, telecommunications) at risk, and promoting the privatization of public services. Giving these companies a greater role, as envisaged by IIRSA, is potentially very harmful.

7. Because IIRSA offers little public access to information about their projects and related policy reforms.

8. Because IIRSA does not have monitoring and evaluation programs in place to demonstrate that poverty will be reduced or that sustainable economies are being promoted.

9. Because IIRSA does not make concrete connections between its projects and the reduction of poverty or improvement of the environment.

10. Finally, and in summary, because IIRSA has a logic that is purely economic instead of a logic that is about sustainable integration and healthy local economies.

 www.foei.org/en/what-we-do/global…

 www.iirsa.org/index.asp?CodIdioma…

* * *

Andrew Revkin, besides being the Science Editor of the New York Times, has also written: “The Burning Season: “The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest” (Paperback – Sep 30, 2004) that allowed him an added insight into the social and economic drivers that destroy the Amazonas.

* * *

The base material for the presentation by Bruce Babbitt – was published in: The Americas Quarterly SUMMER 2009.       AMERICASQUARTERLY.ORG

BY BRUCE BABBITT who has served as Governor of Arizona and as U.S.secretary of the interior. He is currently researching IIRSA (?Iniciativa para la Integracion de la Infraestructura Regional Suramericana). as a fellow of the Blue Moon Fund.

IN THE AMAZON BASIN THE PLANNED TRANS-SOUTH AMERICAN HIGHWAY WILL WREAK MASSIVE DAMAGE ON THE FRAGILE ECOSYSTEMS OF THE AMAZON AND THE ANDES. WORSE YET, IT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE ECONOMIC SENSE. SO WHY IS IT BEING BUILT?

Brazil is an Atlantic nation in search of its Pacific destiny. Although it has long nurtured the dream of becoming a two-ocean, continental power, much as a young and expanding America was drawn across the continent to the Pacific by the call of Manifest Destiny, South America’s largest country has for most of its history faced eastward to European and North American markets. But as global markets shift toward China and the emerging economies of Asia, the dream of westward expansion has been revived by one of the world’s biggest and most improbable construction projects.

The Interoceanica, a highway stretching a thousand kilometers across the Amazon Basin, up the 15,000-foot-high face of the Andes and down to the Pacifi c in Peru, is as worrying as it is ambitious. With additional branches already planned, it has emerged as a serious threat to the human and natural ecology of the greatest expanse of rainforest on the planet. What makes it especially worrying is that construction of the highway, estimated to cost $4 billion, has received almost no attention and little debate. Its origins trace back to September 2000, when a meeting of South American presidents convened by Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso endorsed a plan called the Initiative of the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America, known as IIRSA. At the time, the topic of the day was regional economic integration. In the minds of many of its leaders South America was falling behind in the global economy as regional trade blocs, such as NAFTA and the expanding European Union (EU), seemed to grab the economic initiative. The U.S. proposal for a Free Trade Area of the Americas was perceived by Brazil as a threat to its claims of leadership.

The presidents endorsed a sprawling plan, the centerpiece of which was the Interoceanica highway, reviving an earlier idea for a transborder corridor that would facilitate Brazilian trade with China. Then called Transoceanica, but quickly dubbed the “Road to China,” the idea languished for more than a decade until it was reconceived as part of the sprawling IIRSA project, which pulled together national wish lists of no less than 350 infrastructure projects, including highways, bridges, railways, ports, airports, and transmission corridors. Should the full plan be realized, the greatest remaining expanse of tropical forests on the planet will be transformed into the industrial heartland of South America. Highway corridors converging inward from the Atlantic coast and from the Andean countries will meet and cross in the Amazon, drawing and concentrating settlement and development into the green heart of the continent. Yet in the nine years since the South American presidents met, the IIRSA blueprints for transforming the Amazon have attracted surprisingly little attention. That may have been because the presidential directives setting the plan in motion bypassed normal procedures of public hearings and legislative debate in each of the affected countries. It may also be that IIRSA was dismissed by many as yet another dreamy Bolivarian scheme for continental unity, destined to fade away like so many other continental visions extending back in time to the Great Liberator himself.

For better or worse, the dream is coming to life. Construction of the main road is expected to be completed as early as 2010, ensuring that the Interoceanica will play a key role in the ultimate goal of regional economic integration.

The architects of the project are proud of their achievement, which may be one reason I was invited by Constructora Norberto Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company, to see how far they have come. That’s how I came to find myself last fall in Puerto Maldonado, a once-languid Peruvian frontier town on the Amazon, the jumping-off point for a trip deep into the heart of the continent to witness the final phase of construction. The trip proved a jarring contrast with a visit I made to the area in 1991, when I first became acquainted with the trans-Amazon corridor project. Puerto Maldonado itself was an introduction to the conflicting images of the future embodied by the new highway. Roadside billboards advertise the town as a gateway to an ecotourism paradise. One boasts:

“Puerto Maldonado, Capital of Biodiversity;” another, more grandly, claims the town as the “Biological Capital of the World and Ecological Patrimony of Humanity.”

But signs of another, darker vision are everywhere as the surrounding forests come under siege from forest clearing and burning, illegal logging and land speculation. On the first morning, accompanied by the two guides assigned to me by the company, Gabriel and Devey, we left Puerto Maldonado heading west. A passing logging truck made clear that commerce was already flourishing. The pavement soon gave way to a narrow red-dirt track baked hard by the intense tropical sun. African Zebu cattle grazed among blackened stumps in pastures where the forest has been cleared and burned back from the roadway.

The tension between the vision of an ecological paradise and reality has already triggered violence.

In Februar y2008, a local municipal official, Julio García Agapito, spotted a truckload of illegally harvested mahoganylogs. In the process of reporting the sighting to federal officials, he was accosted by gunmen and shot dead. Several months after García’s death, demonstrators converged in Puerto Maldonado to protest a presidential decree authorizing the sale of communal lands. In the ensuing violence the town hall was burned to the ground. Such violence has been an all-too familiar characteristic of Amazon commercial development in the recentpast. But the contrast between ecological aims and commerce is all the more intense here, because the headwaters region represents the last possibility for preserving the wild pre-settlement Amazon.

The centerof this extraordinary ecological patrimony is nearby Manu National Park, world-renowned for its profusion of Amazon wildlife—a region where visitors encounter nearly 1,000 species of birds (10 percent of the world’s species), troops of monkeys clambering through the tree canopies, huge mixed flocks of green parrots and red and green macaws swarming to nearby salt licks, tapirs crashing through the forest toward mud wallows, giant otters surfacing in the oxbow lakes, and, if one is lucky, a jaguar or anaconda.Elsewhere in the Amazon, such scenes are a rarity. Wildlife has been heavily hunted or disrupted by generations of rubber tappers, gold miners and forest settlers in much of the rainforest. The exception is the western headwaters region, where long stretches of rapids and waterfalls pouring off the mountains have blocked access.

The pristine qualityof the western Amazon, in effect, has been cradled and protected by the ramparts of the Andes. But for how much longer? Just beyond the ceja de montaña (the brow of the mountain), we reached the Peruvian village of Santa Rosa. Above this village, the construction zone looms into sight. Work crews here are widening and grading the road and laying a base course with gravel.The sheer scale of the construction effort becomes vividly clear. According to Gabriel, about 6,500 men and women are on the job during the dry season, mobilizing 1,500 trucks, bulldozers, earth movers, and other pieces of heavy machinery. As we pass through Masuko, a wildcat gold-mining camp set in a moonscape of rock and gravel, we encounter some older Amazon realities. Gold buyers occupy most of the storefronts. Masuko may be remote, but gold travels well from all locationsin all seasons. Looking across the wasteland, Gabriel shrugs and states the obvious: “the government does not have the capacity to control this gold mining.”The construction zone resumes beyond Masuko, where a narrow bridge takes us to a precarious track cut from near-vertical slopes that rise upward into the mist. On our left, far below, a river cascades downward, continuous whitewater thundering through the boulder-filled channel.Roadwork here has created a traffic jam, as local drivers jockey with heavy equipment and trucks for their turn to thread the maze. A Peruvian policeman stands by passively as workers unscramble the traffic. Gabriel explains that the policeman, who is on the Odebrecht payroll, is on duty simply to lend the color of authority to traffic management. Toward nightfall we are again heldup by workers and heavy machinerycontending with an ancient landslideof giant boulders and rock slabs thatseem about ready to resume their downward descent. Workmen are jackhammering boulders, preparing to blast a way through. Several yards up the track, a vehicle emblazoned with a red cross is parked alongside the road. Our driver radios the supervisor: the machines move, a grader pushes away a pile of rock and we weave our way through.Night descends quickly in the tropics. As the sky darkens, lights up the canyon to the left signal that we have reached the main construction camp. Checking in through a security gate, we pass a large maintenance yard,rows of prefab dormitories and the administrative center. At a meeting hall large enough for 100 participants, Sergio, the project manager, gives us a sophisticated PowerPoint presentation of the project, complete with a map showing IIRSA projects throughout the South American continent, statistics about the Interoceanica, a description of hiring and personnel policies and training programs, and even information on the medical clinic staffed by a physician, along with a summary of economic benefits accruing to local communities. Listening to this talk, I am beginning to realize that this is not just another construction company that managed to be the low bidder. Odebrecht is a powerful agent of Brazilian expansion. As long ago as 1991, when I first encountered the project, Odebrecht depicted its “Road to China” as a boost for trade: by eliminating the need to ship goods through the Panama Canal, the highway would speed the process of transforming Brazilian soybeans into Asian tofu.

THE ECONOMICS OF TOFU TRANSPORT the road to China, however compelling as a vision of national destiny, has never been supported by economic reality. Trucking bulk commodities over land, never mind up and down the Andes, is expensive. Shipping by sea costs less than onetenthof land transport.

Cutting out a few thousand kilometers of ocean distance would be nothing against the costs of trucking over the Andes. That’s not just my conclusion. Mato Grosso’s governor, Blairo Maggi , who is also Brazil’s largest soy farmer and a fervent advocate of Amazon development, observed that a road over the Andes would be “too expensive,” declaring that he would continue to ship through Atlantic ports. But the advocates of IIRSA make another claim for the project’s economic viability. They argue that the Interoceanica is needed to access the oil and gas fields now being developed in headwater regions of thewestern Amazon.

Indeed, an oil and gas boom is underway along the easternface of the Andes, reaching from Bolivia into Peru and northward into Ecuador and Colombia, with profound consequences for the future of the Amazon. In Peru, a huge gasstrike at Camisea, close to Cuzco, is under development. Camisea, however, is not an argument for road building. In fact, it makes exactly the opposite case, that roads are not necessary for modern oil and gas development. After international outcry over the Camisea project’s potential impact on indigenous forest, the company has sought to use helicopters instead to lay the pipeline down to the coast. The airborne delivery was an alternative to building roads and opening the forests up to destruction. If neither soybeans nor oil and gas are likely to repay the huge investment in the Interoceanica, there is one export commodity that assuredly will. The export of timber products, mahogany, cedar, and other high-value tropical hardwoods will benefit from new roads. Even now, without roads, mahogany is being illegally harvested, with logs cut to dimension timber and flown outfrom small airstrips to Lima. The road to China, it turns out, will be a fine all-weather logging road, opening access to still more of the Amazon forest.

Neither Odebrecht nor IIRSA any longer advances the “Road to China”argument for the Interoceanica. The billboards in Puerto Maldonado, inaddition to their biodiversity boasts,now proclaim simply “Progress and Development—Brazil and Peru.”

Even the new name, Interoceanica, suggests a more limited use: travel and development across the Brazil-Peru region.

The winding mountain road takes our group into the cloud forests, the tall canopy giving way to tangles of low trees and shrubs. Clouds drift down to the ground, leaving the land perpetually misty and wet. Far above us, earthmoving machines are perched on the slopes, so high up they look like tinker toys, as workers struggle to dig diversion channels to drain the incessant rains away from the exposed cuts. I wonder aloud how long it will be before this road goes the way of many Amazon roads that are pushed through the forests, then left to melt away in the rain, becoming nearly as impassable as the pioneer routes they were meant to improve. “That won’thappen here,” Gabriel insists. “We have a long-term concession contract that obligates Odebrecht to maintain the road for the next 25 years.” It is a public-private concession, he adds,what in the U.S. is called B.O.T.: build, operate, transfer. The Interoceanica will be operated by Odebrecht as aprivate toll road, with revenues going to repay construction costs and to finance ongoing maintenance. How much will the tolls be, and how does the construction financing work? Gabriel and Devey are vague. Highway finance is for the experts in Brasília and Lima, they say. Maintenance costs and profitability aside, the Interoceanica is an impressive example of Brazilian engineering, creative financing and international cooperation. Only time will tell whether the road is an optimal investment of public resources, for there was little economic analysis put forward by IIRSA, Odebrecht or the governments of Brazil and Peru. The financing scheme calls for construction costs to be paid through bonds sold into international markets. In theory, the bonds are to be paid down over time from tolls collected by Odebrecht as the concession operator. In fact, all parties concede there will not be sufficient traffic for tolls to repay the construction outlays. So to achieve a bondrating sufficient for the markets, the bonds are guaranteed by the Peruvian government. This means that, in the end, the road is being paid for by the Peruvian government.

MORE TO COME?  Why such an elaborate financing mechanism, when it is understood by all participants that the bonds are essentially drawing on the public purse of Peru? The likely answer is that by structuring the financing through an intermediary, IIRSA and its private sector partners have been able to circumvent the Peruvian planning process and the constraints of that country’s national budget.However lacking in transparency and national accountability, and whatever the human and environmental costs and lack of economic logic, the Interoceanica was probably inevitable. The Andes could not serve forever as a Great Wall holding back Brazilian expansion.

What’s more surprising is that IIRSA plans on building more roads. According to public documents, IIRSA believes that one road is not nearly enough. The Interoceanica is just the beginning. IIRSA plans call for at least two more transportation corridors across the western Amazon: IIRSACentral and IIRSA Norte.

IIRSA’s bold ambition raises a number of questions about the costs: economic and environmental. Is one highway corridor, whose economic rationale is still to be proven, across the western Amazon and over the Andes sufficient? Is there any reason for additional road corridors that put forests at risk and threaten the existenceof native forest communities? Rather than build new roads, what is sorely needed is an international plan to conserve and protect the remaining western Amazon headwaters.         But that doesn’t seem to be in IIRSA’s plan.

– The IIRSA Central will roughly parallelthe Interoceanica, much as the east-west interstate highways run inparallel corridors across the United States. It will branch off from the Interoceanica in Rio Branco, the capital of the Brazilian state of Acre. From RioBranco the road corridor will run west across the international border to thePeruvian city of Pucallpa, connecting from there to existing road corridors down to the Pacific. On the Brazilian side, the IIRSACentral corridor will cut a swath through the forests of Serra do Divisor National Park, renowned for its diversity of local species that have evolved along divergent paths in the isolated foothill elevations of the Andean region.The area is so isolated and so little known that bird species new to science are still being discovered and described. Ironically, even as IIRSA planners, with Brazilian leadership, are readying to invade the park, the Brazilian government has nominated Serra do Divisor Park for the UNESCO register of World Heritage Sites. Across the border in Peru, IIRSA Central will slice through and open up a reserve established to protect the largest remaining sanctuary of uncontacted indigenous groups on theplanet, who live in voluntary isolation from contemporary society. How such a redundant and destructive plan for a second transportationcorridor across the Amazon headwatersand over the Andes can take form with a minimum of discussion reveals much about the IIRSA process, or rather, lack of process. IIRSA projects have been designed and imposed from the top down, given aircover by presidential endorsementsand validation by the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) and other international agencies. The cross-border section of IIRSA Central, through the Serra do Divisor, has not yet gone out to bid, and there may yet be significant opposition within Brazil to the destruction of agreat national park, as well as protest from increasingly vocal indigenous rights groups within Peru.

– The third transportation corridorin this Amazon-Pacifi c integrationplan, IIRSA Norte, embodies a novel concept, possibly refl ecting some latent IIRSA capacity for enlightened planning. It is a bimodal land-water transportation corridor extending up Amazon River tributaries from Iquitos to the Peruvian city of Yurimaguas where vessels would disembark passengers and payloads to continue via a modern highway over the Andes and down to the Pacific coast.

Iquitos needs a transportation solution.It is by many measures the most remote city on the planet. There is no road access from the outside world. A visitor reaches Iquitos only by air or by ocean vessels coming nearly 4,000 kilometers upriver from the Atlantic. Iquitos has benefited from its isolation. It has become the ecotourism center of Peru and increasingly of the entire Amazon, by virtue of its close integration with natural surroundings, wildlife and native forest inhabitants. A bimodal river corridor would preserve the ambience of a city connected to the natural forest and riverine world. Employing the Amazon river system for the greater length of the transportation corridor would eliminate, or at least slow, the unnecessary road-building and deforestation, displacementof indigenous peoples and land-invasions that always follow. The highway anchor of IIRSA Nortefrom the Pacific over the Andean crest to the frontier city of  Yurimaguas is now under construction. The cast of players is familiar: 25-year toll road concession; financing from the Andean Development Corporation (CAF); guarantees from the Peruvian government; and a construction consortium led by Odebrecht. As this highway portion of IIRSA Norte nears completion, however, there is no sign of planning, much less actual work, along the river-corridor from Yurimaguas down to Iquitos. There are no improvements to the rudimentary port facilities, no upgrades to the primitive boats that operate on irregular schedules. The stark reality suggests that the “bimodal” concept is not a serious proposal, but rather a façade to justify the road to Yurimaguas with the hope of extending the highway down to Iquitos and beyond, through Brazil across to the Atlantic. Should the highway corridor proceed to Iquitos, and eventually into Brazil, the intended beneficiary, the city of Iquitos, will not be the only loser. Other threatened areas include the Pacaya Samiria NationalReserve, Peru’s largest national park, and the expanses of undisturbed forest stretching north and west toward Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park.

A NOT-SO-MODESTPROPOSAL

IIRSA has initiated a new era of infrastructure development inSouth America. It has built a political and economic structure that bypasses local and national governments, transcending them with a virtual organization shaped by the dark energy of Brazilian dynamism and held together with informal networks of public-private collaboration. The momentum of IIRSA projects wil lundoubtedly slow in the headwinds of a global recession. But, having demonstrated its capacity to deliver, IIRSA is not likely to disappear. Going forward, the issue is how best to bring transparency, accountability and a sense of geospatial integrity into a deeply flawed process. In past decades, human rights organizations, environmentalists, scientists, and sustainable development advocates, have typically taken their concerns to, and found a hearing at, the World Bank and the IDB. Recently, however, a new generation of regional development banks such as the CAF and the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) has taken the lead in financing the Interoceanica and other IIRSA projects. And these institutions have proven impervious to environmental and human rights concerns. If IIRSA is to be reformed, environmental, native rights and economicreform groups within theSouth American continent, will need to bulk up with technical expertise, funding and broader public support from within the national boundaries of their member countries, and from abroad.

At the international level, pressure for IIRSA reform must be generated from a broader base of governmental, private-sector, and multilateral institutions, including aid and finance agencies within the U.S. government and the European Union. The World Trade34 Americas Quarterly SUMMER 2009 AMERICASQUARTERLY.ORG Organization must be drawn into an expanded role that supports trade insustainable goods and services and penalizes products that do not meet such standards.

Consumers and corporations must be induced to adopt truly sustainable purchasing and procurement practices. The financial sector should raise its standards for project financing and underwriting, Even as IIRSA continues on a path likely to transform the Amazon into an ecological desert, a new economic  alternative is emerging with the potential to change direction. Global warming is now the most urgent international threat of our time.

Thedestruction of tropical forests contributes an astonishing 20 percentof the CO2 emissions causing globalwarming. And the emergence of an international carbon trading systemcould give economic value to tropical forests, compensating communities for the global ecosystem services provided by standing forests.

Brazil is the world’s number-one source of atmospheric carbon dioxide emitted from forest clearing and burning. Recently, Carlos Minc, the newly appointed environmental minister, pledged that Brazil will reduce its rate of deforestation by 50 percentby the year 2017, widely seen as the first step toward qualifying Brazil to participate in world carbon markets, thereby providing an economic incentive for forest protection. But a better way to preserve the fragile natural treasures that would be affected by the three transcontinental highways would be the creation of an internationally protected area, straddling both sides of the borderbetween Brazil and Peru. If transborder road-projects such as the Interoceanica can be brought into being by international agreement, then it is time for international parks to be established by the same process. If highways can be fi nanced through the IDB and other international financial institutions, then it is past time for those institutions to negotiate provisions for transborder protected areas in their planning and financing. Andthe national presidents who have so casually given credibility to the IIRSA process should be called to account by their own people for the protection of their national patrimony.Brazil’s emerging national policy,which envisions an eventual end to deforestation, cannot exist alongside IIRSA plans for an Amazon Basin carved up by an internationa lnetwork of road corridors. Now thatBrazil has at last reached the Pacific, it is time for this great nation to lead, domestically and internationally, by creating a coalition of presidents and governments to confront these contradictions of regional development policies and to establish an international plan that can protect the unique natural resources that lie across its borders. It would be an effort that would match the economically questionable and environmentally disastrous ambitions of IIRSA but promises far greater long-term returns.

Bruce Babbitt has served as Governor of Arizona and as U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President Clinton. He is currently researching IIRSA as a fellow of the Blue Moon Fund.

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The above terrific article leads us to the point were we see clearly that trees standing will be much more of value to their host country then choped up and sold for timber – this in particular for the Amazonas that does not have land quality that will lend itself easiliy to agriculture once the trees are gone.

It thus boggles my mind how National governments do not realize that being paid for leaving resources in place, is actually a much better guarantee for future income. Obviously – this requires also that outside governments understand that at meetings like the upcoming climate conference in Copenhagen,  they must make adequate offers to countries like Brazil and the Anden Countries, to make it possible for them to become part of the solution to the Global Warming requirements, rather then propelling themselves, and the rest of the world, on this down-hill treck they started with the construction of the trans-Andean highways, whose main purpose could only be the export of native hard-woods.

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