Tag Archives: United Nations Environment Programme

[Press Release] Lawmakers Want Congress Declared as “Lead-Safe Zone” -EcoWaste Coalition

Lawmakers Want Congress Declared as “Lead-Safe Zone”

22 October 2013, Quezon City. Lawmakers have signified their desire to declare both chambers of the Congress as “lead-safe zone” in resolutions filed to mark the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action on October 20-26.


In separate resolutions, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Representative Anthony del Rosario expressed support for the Week of Action coordinated by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme.

As explained by Senator Santiago, a “lead-safe zone” will mean “disallowing the use of lead paint in any painting job within its premises and ensure safe work practices to minimize occupational exposures to lead.”

Proposed Senate Resolution 292 described the UN-backed Week of Action as “an excellent platform to raise public awareness about children’s exposure to lead in paint and other sources and strengthen initiatives to prevent childhood lead poisoning.”

Lead, a potent neurotoxin, is known to contribute to about 600,000 new cases per year of children with intellectual disabilities across the globe, according to the WHO.

Proposed House of Representatives Resolution 383 lauded the Week of Action “as boosting current advocacies and initiatives to bring about a shift from leaded to unleaded decorative paints, including the government’s effort to phase out lead-added paints through a Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, the civil society’s Lead Paint Elimination Project in partnership with the European Union, and the industry’s own efforts to move away from lead-based paint production.”

In the resolution he authored, Representative del Rosario cited “the special vulnerability of young children to lead exposure that can detrimentally affect their health and well-being, and the need for preventive actions to curb lead pollution from lead paint and other sources.”

Senator Santiago also noted that a recent report by medical experts at the New York University School of Medicine estimated childhood lead exposure is costing low and middle income countries $977 billion and the Philippines $15 billion per year due to lost lifetime economic productivity from lead-attributable IQ loss.

Senator Santiago’s and Representative del Rosario’s actions drew immediate cheers from environmentalists campaigning for zero waste and chemical safety.

“We laud the two lawmakers for taking up the cudgels on behalf of children who are most vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, an organization in the forefront of the campaign to stop lead pollution.

“We hope that their proposals would result in the adoption of a broader ‘lead-safe’ procurement policy that will require the use of only unleaded paints in all public buildings and facilities, especially those frequented by kids such as day care centers, schools, libraries, playgrounds, clinics and hospitals,” she added.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., 1101 Quezon City, Philippines
Phone/Fax: 4411846 E-Mail: info@ecowastecoalition.org
Website: http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com/

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[Press Release] On World Environment Day, Green Groups and HR defenders ask: Ganun na lang ba ‘yun? -SOS-Yamang Bayan

On World Environment Day, Green Groups and HR defenders ask: Ganun na lang ba ‘yun?
DENR urged to support the passage of Philippine Minerals Resources Act of 2012

Manila – On this year’s World Environment Day, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) posed the question, “Green Economy: Does it include you”? But for more than two hundred green protesters and human rights defenders, the more important thing to ask is “Ganun na lang ba ‘yun?” – pertaining to environmental degradation and other atrocities of mining left unaddressed.

Disappointed at how mining is run in the country, farmers, indigenous peoples, church-groups and civil society organizations led by SOS-Yamang Bayan Network combined forces and blasted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with bawls and placards on the ill effects of mining to the environment, water, livelihood and lives of communities and indigenous peoples in the country.

Policy Change

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) Executive Secretary and 2012 Goldman Prize Environmental Awardee Fr. Edu Gariguez said that the campaign echoes the call of thousands of Filipinos affected by mining. “The message is simple — immediate change has to take place in the system and most importantly in the policies governing the mining industry.”

Gariguez emphasized that the Catholic Church, together with religious communities in the whole country, continue to call for the protection of the integrity of creation, and the promotion ofsustainable livelihoods and lifestyles.Mining now is a grave threat to the path of sustainable development.

Alyansa Tigil Mina National Coordinator Jaybee Garganera said that the protest highlighted the call to scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 that aggressively promotes large-scale mining even as it failed to protect the country’s national patrimony.

“If DENR is true to its mandate of protecting the environment then it should support the passage of a new minerals management bill—also known as the Philippine Mineral Resources Act of 2012. The DENR should in fact ask the same question to the industry or the Chamber of Mines — ganun na lang ba ‘yun?” Garganera added.

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) executive director Atty. Grace Villanueva elaborated that “We need a paradigm shift in managing our mineral resources – a paradigm that puts people above private interests or private profits. The Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) seeks to rationalize the use of minerals. When passed, the AMMB will be more responsive to the needs of the country and its people, as well as of generations to come. People and communities will be priority, and not merely the interest of giant corporations and first world economies.” LRC is also the lead convenor of SOS-Yamang Bayan Network.

Human Rights Violations and Abuses
The group also bewails the escalation of social conflicts and human rights violations and abuses associated with mining that include extrajudicial killings of anti-mining activists in the country.

Dr. Nymia Pimentel Simbulan, executive director of Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) said “We demand justice and decisive actions on the part of government to put a stop to human rights violations perpetrated by state agents, especially the military, in mining-affected communities. Militarization, filing of trumped-up charges against anti-mining advocates, harassment & violent demolitions are common occurrences in these areas.

“The government has not done any effective action against extra-judicial killings of environmental activist. Francisco Canayong of Salcedo, Leyte is the latest victim to which the government has not taken any effective action. Responsible mining as it is being promoted by government is only directed to ensure sustainability of mining operations but lacks the perspective of protecting the people,” added Atty. Mario Maderazo of Philippine Miserior Partnership Inc. – Anti-Mining Campaign.

Biodiversity loss

Contrary to claims that ‘there is life in mining’, Haribon Foundation Inc. a member of SOS-Yamang Bayan network, insisted that there can be no life when an act destroys life itself.

Anabelle Plantilla, Chief Operating Officer of Haribon Foundation affirmed that mining has threatened and destroyed some of the very sources of life in this planet. “The fragile ecosystems where we get so much from in terms of ecological services, including water, fresh air, protection from natural hazards, and capture and storage of greenhouse gases – if these things are gone, we too are gone. Ganun na lang ba ‘yun?”

Economics of mining

Meanwhile, the group also questioned the low share of mining in the development of the country.

“Over a decade, since the year 2000, mining industry and quarrying combined, accounted only for less than one percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. They are not contributing fully to the Philippine economy, even their rants on being a good ticket for this country to get out from poverty is a still a big question. We are not earning enough from mining, ganun na lang ba ‘yun?” said Cielo Magno coordinator of Bantay Kita, a mining revenue watchdog.

Mining and Climate Change
Meanwhile, the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), co-organizer of the action, asserted that the sources of destruction of our natural ecosystem such as mining and other extractive activities must be thoroughly regulated and aimed at producing only what is needed to sustain life and ensure people’s rights and well-being, rather than for profit generation. The negative impacts on environment and the adaptive capacities of communities must be minimized, and environmental rehabilitation and restorative programs must be implemented.

“Mining involves several activities that generate greenhouse gas emissions as well as diminish the earth’s capacity to absorb greenhouse gases (GHGs) — thus contributing to the increase of what is already an excessive GHG concentration in the atmosphere. Excessive GHG concentration is the cause of global warming.” said Lidy Nacpil, convenor of PMCJ.

“Mining not only contributes to climate change, it exacerbates the impacts. For instance, water is a vital resource that is already heavily impacted by climate change. Mining as a water-intensive industry leads to further reduction of water supply and access by communities for both domestic and agricultural needs. It also fuels climate disasters, like what happened in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.” she further added.

The group brought a backhoe miniature to demonstrate how mining operations wreak havoc to the environment and destroy biodiversity. The protesters also held a mass die-in to show that there are lives being killed by mining.

Protests also in many other areas

Four other sites in the country also mounted their call against mining. In Cebu, protesters camped in front of DENR regional office to press their stand to conserve the environment. Demonstrators in Iligan had a forum with the officials of various government agencies and discussed the issues brought about by mining and other environmental destructive activities.

In Palawan, advocates pronounced their call in local radio programs, while in Dipolog City and Municipality of Ipil in Zamboanga, local parishes raised their concerns with mass prayer.

The SOS-Yamang Bayan Network is a national, multi-sectoral movement composed of individual advocates, mining-affected communities, national peoples’ alliances, environmental organizations and networks, church-based organizations, human rights organizations, national NGOs, sectoral organizations from the indigenous peoples, youth, women, farmers, Congressional representatives, leaders and personalities advocating for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of a new minerals management bill.

For more information, contact the SOS-Yamang Bayan Network Secretariat:
Gerry Arances – gerry.arances@lrcksk.org; 0922-8307758
Farah Sevilla – policy@alyansatigilmina.net; 0915-3313361
Edel S. Garingan – communications@alyansatigilmina.net; 0922-8918972

SOS-Yamang Bayan Network – Press Release
June 5, 2012

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Event] Civil Society Update – Seminar on Addressing the Adverse Impacts of Climate Change on the Full Enjoyment of Human

Civil Society Update – Seminar on Addressing the Adverse Impacts of Climate Change on the Full Enjoyment of Human

Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Seminar on Addressing the Adverse Impacts of Climate Change
on the Full Enjoyment of Human Rights

23 – 24 February 2012
Room XII (12), Palais des Nations, Geneva

Dear All,

On behalf of the OHCHR Human Rights and Economic and Social Issues Section, we are pleased to send you the following message.

The “Human Rights and Climate Change” resolution (18/22) led by the Philippines and Bangladesh was adopted by the Human Rights Council on 30 September 2011. It was adopted without a vote with 43 cosponsors, including Costa Rica, Germany, the Maldives and Spain.

Pursuant to resolution 18/22, OHCHR is convening a seminar to “(a)ddress the adverse impacts of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights, with a view to following up on the call for respecting human rights in all climate change-related actions and policies, and forging stronger interface and cooperation between the human rights and climate change communities”. The seminar will build on the previous work of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, such as the Social Forum and relevant special procedures, while taking into account the outcome of the 16th session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Cancun, Mexico in 2010 (COP16), and issues arising from the 17th session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention held in Durban, South Africa, in 2011 (COP 17).

Resolution 18/22 can be found at the following link : http://goo.gl/nQvo7

The seminar will be a public meeting held in Geneva at the Palais des Nations in RoomXII (12) on 23-24 February 2012 (10:00-18:00 with a lunch break during 13:00-15:00).

The High Commissioner for Human Right will be delivering a Key Note address during the Opening Session on Day 1 along with Dr Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace. Mary Robinson will be presiding over the meeting on Day 2.

Expert panelists and participants will include representatives from the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), along with States and other relevant stakeholders, including IOM, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO,as well as Ms Virginia Dandon, the UN Special Rapporteur on International Solidarity, Mr Chaloka Beyani, the UN Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons, and environmental law and climate change advocates from academia and civil society.

The Concept Paper and the Draft Agenda can be found at the following links:

Concept Paper: http://goo.gl/24Ohu
Draft Agenda: http://goo.gl/Jy5KU

For additional information please contact: civilsociety@ohchr.org
Best regards,

Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Tel. +41 (0) 22 – 917 – 9656

Visit our website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/CivilSociety.aspx

Click here to join our mailing list: http://goo.gl/wmPyC

[In the news] Rich Asians threaten high-value fish – experts – manilatimes.net

Rich Asians threaten high-value fish – experts
by AFP, Manila Times
January 25, 2012

  THE growing ranks of wealthy Asians and their increasing appetite for more expensive fish are threatening stocks, potentially causing wider environmental damage, experts at a United Nations (UN) conference said on Tuesday.

As Asians become more prosperous, they prefer to eat more “high-value” species, forcing fishermen to catch more of these even if it means using environmentally harmful and illegal methods, they said.

“Increased wealth, especially in Asia,” had raised demand for more expensive fish like certain groupers and tunas, said Jackie Alder, head of the marine coastal office of the UN Environment Program.

“They are no longer satisfied with anchovies,” she told reporters at the sidelines of a UN conference on oceans in Manila.

She warned that fish production had stabilized at 80 million tons in the 1980s and scientists believed that it would not go any higher.

Read full article @ manilatimes.net

[In the news] Marine dead zones to put Philippines at risk—UN – INQUIRER.net

Marine dead zones to put Philippines at risk—UN
By Kristine L. Alave, Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 23, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines—The United Nations and government environment officials have warned of increasing number of marine dead zones in the world, putting countries like the Philippines, which depend heavily on the oceans for food and jobs, in a precarious economic position.

Speaking at the first “Global Conference on Land-Ocean Connections,” UN Environment Program (UNEP) Director on Environmental Policy Ibrahim Thiaw warned on Monday of exploding marine litter from cities, fertilizers, tourism and industrial activities.

The pollutants from land have choked the life out in some of the world’s oceans, which have led to loss of habitats and species, he said.

“The health and integrity of our coasts have been further impacted by increased urbanization and tourism, over-exploitation of natural resources, and the ever-increasing marine pollution loads from maritime and land-based activities,” Thiaw said.
“One specific threat is the proliferation of ‘dead zones,’ where excess algal blooms stimulated by fertilizers and sewage are consuming all of the oxygen in the water, resulting in no or little life left in these areas. Over 240,000 square kilometers of estuaries and shelf areas and some of the most productive waters are affected by this threat,” he said.
The issue of wastes and litter in the world’s oceans and tributaries has often been neglected, Thiaw said, adding that the pollutants are out of sight and, therefore, “out of mind” of the communities and governments.

Sewage, for example, is a major source of pollution in the water. According to Thiaw, the world discharges 3 billion tons of wastewater every day and only 10 percent is treated. The rest of the waste would end up in estuaries and in the seas, damaging marine habitats and contaminating fisheries, he said.

Read full article @ globalnation.inquirer.net

[Event] Rio+20 Roundtable Discussion Series – #1: Sustainable Development Governance

INVITATION: Rio+20 Roundtable Discussion Series – #1: Sustainable Development Governance, 30 June/1-5pm, PCA/Ortigas Center


Collectively Organized by:
Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group)
Earth Council-Philippines
Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment-SEARICE
Third World Network (TWN)

First Roundtable Discussion:
Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD)
30 June 2010
1:00-5:00 PM

Partnership for Clean Air/CAI-Asia Conference Room
Unit 3504-05, 35th Floor, Robinson’s-Equitable Tower
ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Tel No: (63 2) 395 2843 to 45

The UN General Assembly, through Resolution 64/236, decided to hold a UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, more known as Earth Summit 2012 or Rio+20) on 4-6 June 2012 – 20 years after the groundbreaking UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992.  UNCED placed sustainable development at the center of world stage and gave birth to the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and a host of other multilateral environment agreements that adhere to the principles adopted by the international community in that landmark summit of world leaders. Twenty years later, the environmental problems that the Rio agreements aimed to address persisted, and have even worsened.  The world’s biological diversity is seriously threatened, its remaining forests continue shrinking, the climate crisis is worsening and threatening the planet’s survival, and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption persist. As the implementation of the agreements proceeded, it has become clear that these are not just environmental agreements either, but have integral social and economic dimensions. In addition there are political commitments from the package of UN Conferences in the 1990s including on social development, women and financing development.

Rio+20 aims to renew the political commitment of the community of nations on the sustainable development agenda, review the progress of implementation of commitments made in 1992, assess the gaps in implementation, and identify new and emerging issues in sustainable development.  The focus of the conference will include (not exclusively) on two themes: Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty alleviation, and institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD).  The outcome of the process is a political document that will be negotiated by UN members in the two-year process for Rio+20 that started in May 2010.  After two international preparatory committee meetings and one intersessional meeting all held at the UN headquarters in New York and half-way through the preparatory process, very few civil society organizations (CSOs) have actively engaged and many governments have notably shown lackluster interest in the debates.  The interest and quality of participation, however, are expected to pick up in the final 12 months leading to Rio+20 with the conduct of regional preparatory meetings and the start of the actual negotiations on the draft political document.

The Roundtable Discussion Series on Rio+20 aims to raise the awareness and stimulate the interest of civil society organizations and other actors in the Philippines on the objectives and processes of Rio+20, opportunities for engagement, stakes involved, and the status of the debates and emerging positions.  The discussions aim to come up with Philippine civil society positions on the themes and key issues in the Rio+20 agenda, and hopefully, strategies on how to best influence the position of the Philippine government in the preparatory processes and negotiations.

The first in the series of Roundtable Discussions on Rio+20 is on institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD), or the governance of sustainable development.  An important component of the IFSD discourse is international environmental governance (IEG).  While the discussion on IFSD in the first year of the Rio+20 preparatory process has not come up with promising ideas on effective and viable sustainable development governance framework, the IEG discourse is quite well developed over the past 10 years under the aegis of the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and has come up with several concrete options.  The Roundtable Discussion on IFSD will tackle the background, issues and options to serve as basis for the participants’ deliberations on the positions of Philippine CSOs that can be brought to the preparatory processes of Rio+20 and presented to the Philippine government as inputs to the national position.

1)   1) To provide information on the Rio+20 processes and what’s at stake for the Philippines and CSOs;
2)   2) To discuss the emerging positions on IFSD and key options on IEG, and how the IEG debate links with the IFSD theme at Rio+20;
3)   3) To formulate Philippine CSOs’ positions on IEG/IFSD that will be brought to related discussions at the national, regional and international levels in the preparatory processes for Rio+20; and
4)   4) To discuss strategies in effectively influencing the position of the Philippine government in the preparatory processes and negotiations for Rio+20.

Provisional Program:

1:00-1:30pm             Registration

1:30-2:00pm            Introduction and Overview of the Rio+20 Roundtable Discussion Series (Paul Borja, SEARICE)

2:00-2:30pm            Background on Rio+20 Objectives and Themes, timelines to June 2012, what’s at stake for us? (Ella Antonio, Earth Council)

2:30-3:00pm            Overview on the IFSD and IEG debates and options (Neth Daño, ETC Group)

3:00-4:45pm            Discussion of issues and formulation Philippine CSO positions on IFSD/IEG

4:45-5:00pm            Synthesis

[Photo Blog] Bike for the right to a safe, healthy and ecologically-balanced environment

According to the United Nation Environment Programme or UNEP there are three main dimensions of the interrelationship between human rights and environmental protection:

  • The environment as a pre-requisite for the enjoyment of human rights (implying that human rights obligations of States should include the duty to ensure the level of environmental protection necessary to allow the full exercise of protected rights);
  • Certain human rights, especially access to information, participation in decision-making, and access to justice in environmental matters, as essential to good environmental decision-making (implying that human rights must be implemented in order to ensure environmental protection); and
  • The right to a safe, healthy and ecologically-balanced environment as a human right in itself (this is a debated approach).

Source: www.unep.org

Last Sunday, April 17, 2011,  15,000 strong biker advocates (cycling revolutionaries as they call themselves) participated in the 13th tour of the Fireflies that went around Metro Manila.

13th Tour of the Fireflies By Orly Gravador2

13th Tour of the Fireflies By Orly Gravador2

This annual event of the Firefly brigade aims to promote the use of bicycle, raise awareness for the government’s environmentally sustainable transportation (EST) strategy and calls for a safer cycling environment so that the people can all do their part in saving the Earth and breathe CLEAN AIR.

“Hopefully, all of our combined efforts as environment advocates will pay off and soon we will all be riding safely in our city streets and be able to see the return of twinkling fireflies in the evenings to come.” Karen S. Crisostomo Tour Director, 13th Tour of the Fireflies, said in a message posted in http://www.fireflybrigade.org.

as fireflies swarm the City. Photo by Orly Gravador

13th Tour of the fireflies by Al castillo

Photo extracted from FB. Photo by Al Castillo

Photo by Jay Azucena

Photo extracted from FB. Photo by Jay Azucena

Young biker, young advocate. Photo by Orly Gravador

Young biker, young advocate too. Photo by Orly Gravador

"Kala mo lang frog pero Chamelion ako." Photo by Orly Gravador

For more 13th Tour of the Fireflies photos please visit http://www.fireflybrigade.org/