Friday, September 11, 2015


In late July, Myanmar sentenced 153 Chinese nationals to life in prison for illegal logging, shining a spotlight on an issue that has been a problem for decades.
As China’s rabid demand for teak, redwoods and other timber has grown, so too has the market for stolen wood from Myanmar’s frontier forests. The trade is worth hundreds of millions of dollars every year, making it one of the single largest bilateral flows of illegal timber in the world.
The new report from the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Organised Chaos: The illicit overland timber trade between Myanmar and China, will be launched at a special event in Beijing, where a short film on the issue will be screened. EIA investigators will be discussing the report and taking questions.

United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015

25 Sep 2015 - 27 Sep 2015
New York
The United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be held from 25 to 27 September 2015, in New York and convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly.

Visit Summit website:


Over the years, South-South cooperation has emerged as a powerful tool for enhancing international cooperation for achieving sustainable development. In fact, since 2008, developing countries have exported more to one another than to developed countries, with their total trade in 2015 estimated at over US$ 4 trillion. And, according to the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, trade between Africa and the BRIC1 group of Parties has grown more than 7 per cent annually over the last 10 years. Furthermore, the MINT-BRICS2 group of emerging economies provide more than a third of global investment, and a recent BRICS Summit established a US$ 100 billion development bank to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging market economies and developing countries to complement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

International cooperation has changed significantly over the last decade due to the growing experience, capacity and know-how of developing Parties and their centres of expertise. This has led to a rise in innovative scientific and technical solutions, and to new forms of cooperation, where efforts at increased cooperation between countries of the South are complemented by more innovative approaches. This includes triangular cooperation, which also involves developing countries, yet brings resources from the North to facilitate the exchange of cost-effective and culturally and socially appealing solutions. For example, the Japan International Cooperation Agency has a diversified portfolio of assistance programmes in all regions of the South, ranging from support for the ASEAN University Network, to the development of earthquake-resistant housing in El Salvador and Mexico, to the strengthening of mathematics and science education in West, Central, East and Southern Africa.

South-South and triangular cooperation are especially important as the overwhelming majority of the Earth’s biodiversity is found in developing countries. Biodiversity – and the many ecosystem services associated with it – form the foundation of the Earth’s life support systems and underpin human lives and well-being. Anchored in the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals is a clear objective to mainstream biodiversity and ecosystem services in key national priorities and help countries achieve the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Within the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), South-South cooperation has been identified as a key mechanism for scientific and technical cooperation in support of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Scientists and agencies based in the South are playing a major role in the implementation of the Convention. Working with the Secretariat of the CBD, for instance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has scaled up its support to South-South Cooperation and launched a South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism, linked to the Consortium of Scientific Partners on Biodiversity, and supporting the implementation of the Multi-Year Plan of Action for South-South Cooperation on Biodiversity for Development, adopted in parallel to the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention and recognized by the Parties. An innovative agreement of collaboration signed in 2013 between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the Brazilian Technical Cooperation Agency has enabled experts from Embrapa to provide technical expertise to developing countries. Among the 22 members of the Convention’s Consortium of Scientific Partners on Biodiversity are several global players from the South, such as the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the Mexican National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), the Costa Rican National Biodiversity Institute (InBio) and the Colombian Humboldt Institute. The Secretariat also works with UNEP to support its network of universities, mostly from the South, through the Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability.

An important recent development of relevance for developing countries is the Convention’s 2015- 2020 Bio-Bridge Initiative (BBI). Launched by the Republic of Korea in 2014 at the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, BBI supports developing countries in their efforts to achieve the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets. In order to enable more systematic and sustainable technical and scientific cooperation, with a focus on using Southern hubs and partners, the initiative will facilitate the communication of the technical and scientific needs and priorities of countries, enhance the availability and accessibility of information with respect to best practices and expertise, and match the needs of countries with offers of support by relevant global, regional and national organizations and initiatives. South-South cooperation for biodiversity is an example of effective international cooperation that can point the way to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


LONDON: As Japan’s annual coastal whale and dolphin hunting season began today with the aim of killing more than 15,000 marine mammals, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released new evidence that the Government of Japan continues to recklessly expose its citizens to heavily polluted whale and dolphin products.

The new EIA report Dangerous Diet outlines the significant risks to human health posed by eating and the frequent mislabelling of cetacean (whale, dolphin and porpoise) products contaminated with excessive levels of mercury and other marine pollutants such as carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Independent EIA analysis in 2015 found all of the 20 products tested were above the Government’s recommended safe limit for mercury in marine food of 0.4 parts per million (ppm). One sample of long-finned pilot whale contained 19ppm total mercury – 47 times the safe limit. Of the 341 cetacean products tested by EIA between 2001-15, 56 per cent contained mercury levels in excess of recommended limits.

Clare Perry, Team Leader of EIA’s Oceans Campaign, said: ”Every government has a basic duty of care to its people, a duty the Government of Japan shamefully abdicates each time it permits a citizen to buy toxic whale and dolphin meat in ignorance of the serious health risks and, in many cases, of the species they are buying.

“EIA has documented mercury- and PCB-contaminated cetacean products in Japan for 15 years, always making our findings public, yet the Government has still to act meaningfully.

“Having suffered the world’s worst outbreak of mass mercury poisoning in Minamata in the 1950s and being one of the initial signatories to 2013’s Minamata Convention, it is incomprehensible that the Japanese Government continues to fail to protect its citizens from mercury in foodstuffs.”

Dangerous Diet strongly urges the Government of Japan to permanently ban toxic cetacean products for human consumption and to phase out all whale, dolphin and porpoise hunts, working with hunters to find alternative livelihoods.

In the interim, it should update its advice on safe intake levels, ensure wider public awareness of them, enforce the law to ensure products are labelled with the correct species information, legally require warnings of high pollutant levels on products and conduct new medical studies of the health status of the coastal communities most at risk.