By Maureen Okon
The Friends of the Earth Africa (FoFA), has urged the ECOWAS Parliament to adopt legislations to stop the massive deforestation and pollution in the region.
The NGO also urged the parliament to develop regional-wide policies to stop the expulsion of communities by companies setting up industrial plantations, the destruction of local food systems, and land grabbing.
The appeal was made by an eight-man delegation of FoFA, who visited the ECOWAS Parliament on Thursday in Abuja.
Ms Rita Uwaka, FoFA’s Coordinator, Forest and Biodiversity Programme, said that the regional body should also take measures to end the harassment of environmental rights activists, violations of workers’ rights, and gender-based violence.
“We call on the ECOWAS Parliament, through the International Development Bank, and the relevant committees of the ECOWAS Parliament to examine the role of financial institutions.
“Companies and investors, both national and regional, conducting activities that lead to deforestation, destruction of forest ecosystems and human rights violations.
“Develop regional-wide policies for international financial institutions, development banks and portfolio investors to stop financing agricultural commodity expansion projects at the expense of communities and the environment.
“Instead, policies and a financing system should be put in place that are supportive of people-centered solutions, such as community forest management and agroecology, which respect and protect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.”
She added that the parliament should “ensure that any economic partnership agreement is respectful of the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, in particular the right to self-determination and the right to prior.
“Free and informed consent, as well as the protection and restoration of the environment. Reject pseudo-solutions such as voluntary certification systems, carbon trading and carbon offsetting.
“Also green solutions to the climate and biodiversity crisis that commodity nature, mask bad practices and fossil fuel emissions, condone deforestation and violate human rights”.
Uwaka added that there was need to adopt policies that have zero-tolerance to the criminalisation and harassment of human rights defenders engaged in environmental protection.
She said appropriate legislation should be enacted to allow activists and affected communities to seek justice.
In her contribution, Mariam Bassey, Coordinator Food Sovereignty Programme, FoFA, said that the Friends of the Earth International (FoFI), has offices in 74 countries around the world.
She added that it also has nine national groups in Ghana, Liberia, Togo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
“Our main thematic programmes are, forests and biodiversity, food sovereignty, climate justice and energy, economic justice and resistance to neoliberalism, as well as two inter- dependent areas, gender justice and international solidarity systems,” she added.
Richard Sam, the Regional Programme Officer for FoFA from Liberia, urged ECOWAS to promote regional policies that establish a moratorium on the expansion of industrial monocultures.
“Also, to retreat from trade or investment agreements that give companies the power to influence legislation by granting them special rights and provisions that harm the forest and the people,” Sam said.
Others who spoke on the issues were Wisdom Koffi from Ghana, and Gladys Uzoigwe from Nigeria.
The 1st Deputy Speaker of the parliament, Ahmed Wase, appreciated the delegation for the enriching presentation, which highlighted the enormous environmental devastation faced by the region.
He assured that the parliament would take appropriate steps to enact policies and laws that are friendly to the environment.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Maharazu Ahmed