Latest Developments, February 7

In the latest news and analysis…

French exit strategy
Reuters reports that France is calling for UN peacekeepers to take over from the “African-led military mission” in Mali by April:

“According to diplomats at the United Nations, the Security Council is looking at adopting a resolution at the end of February or early March to replace the current African mission under the United Nations.
It would then take 45-60 days to ‘re-hat’ them as U.N. forces, which would involve a reduction of their number, the diplomats said.

French sources said the exact role of French troops in Mali under a U.N. mandate would have to be defined.”

Alternative Mining Indaba
The Daily Maverick’s Rebecca Davis writes that South Africa’s annual mining mega-convention, the Mining Indaba, is being accused of “deliberately excluding any potentially oppositional voices, like those of civil society or – crazy idea – miners”:

“A venture now in its fourth year, the [Alternative Mining Indaba] aims to give voice to mining’s critics, and members of mining-affected communities. Made up of a collective of NGOs and faith-based organisations, the impetus for the initiative came from Tanzania, where mining communities complained of toxic effects on health. ‘For 18 years the Mining Indaba has been meeting and talking about dividing up mineral resources, but there is no representation of people that live in these areas and are most seriously inconvenienced,’ Mandla Hadebe, programme manager for the Economic Justice Network, told the Daily Maverick.
The group of protestors carried signs bearing the words ‘Remember the slain of Marikana’, ‘No To Tax Dodgers’, and ‘If It’s Not Okay In Canada, It’s Not Okay In Africa!’ ”

Sharing the wealth
Bloomberg reports that Zambia’s state-controlled investor is calling on foreign mining companies such as Vedanta and Glencore to contribute higher dividends:

“Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, privatized its mining industry between 1996 and 2001, maintaining minority stakes ranging from 10 percent to 21 percent in the companies, which it holds through ZCCM. The degree to which the country benefits from its copper resources has become a point of political contention, with the government accusing mining companies of avoiding as much as $2 billion a year in tax.
ZCCM wants the companies in which it has shareholdings to alter their dividend policies to improve transparency and increase payouts, [ZCCM CEO Mukela] Muyunda said in the Jan. 31 interview. He said dividends are the last priority for some companies, and this ‘doesn’t work for us.’ ”

Missed opportunity
Global Witness argues the European Commission’s proposed new legislation on financial crime does not go far enough in two key areas:

“Criminals currently find it easy to abuse European companies to hide their identity and therefore their assets. ‘Who owns and controls European companies should not be secret,’ said Robert Palmer, campaigner at Global Witness. ‘The names of the ultimate, beneficial, owners should be made public.’ A European Commission study found that public registries of the beneficial owners of companies would be more cost effective than other options.
Instead, under the Commission’s proposal, companies will only be required to know themselves who their ultimate owners are. This will be of limited help.

The proposal does not do enough to tackle professionals that facilitate tax evasion. ‘The Commission proposal allows bankers, lawyers and accountants who facilitate tax evasion to get away with it. They should face money laundering charges for this insidious activity which costs developing countries billions every year’ said Alex Marriage, Policy and Outreach Analyst at [the European Network on Debt and Development].”

Open secret
Gawker’s Adrian Chen tears into some of America’s most respected news organizations for decisiding not to report on a drone base in Saudi Arabia for more than a year after learning about it:

“In the case of the Saudi drone base, the Times and the Post weren’t protecting a state secret: They were helping the CIA bury an inconvenient story.
Reading the Times and Post stories on the Saudia Arabia drone base used by the CIA to assassinate American cleric Anwar al-awlaki in Yemen, one is left with the impression that its existence had become known for the first time today. In fact, the Times of London reported 18 months ago that the CIA was ‘launching daily missions with unmanned Predator aircraft from bases in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates.’ ”

Not budging
Inter Press Service reports that the World Bank is standing by its forestry policies despite both internal and external criticism:

“ ‘The allocation of large logging concessions, millions of hectares, to mostly foreign companies is still the prevailing model in many countries in the Congo Basin to manage forests,’ Susanne Breitkopf, a Washington-based senior political adviser on forest and climate with Greenpeace International, told IPS, referring to the vast tropical rainforests that cover six countries in Central Africa.
‘That clashes with local use by communities, and economically the local communities are not benefitting from this. As it turns out, these are often low-paid, low-quality jobs without contracts. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we found that over time local communities are often poorer than when the companies arrive.’ ”

History matters
Based on his experiences at last month’s World Economic Forum, Columbia University’s Joseph Stiglitz writes that the global financial crisis has reduced the West’s power but has not necessarily changed how the rest of the world feels towards it:

“In response to one development expert’s heartfelt despair that unfair trade treaties and unfulfilled promises of aid have cost the developed countries their moral authority, [a mining company executive from a developing country] retorted: ‘The West never had any moral authority.’ Colonialism, slavery, the splintering of Africa into small countries, and a long history of resource exploitation may be matters of the distant past to the perpetrators, but not so to those who suffered as a result.”

Force majeure
Mining.com reports that uranium supplies are under threat due to a huge storm in Kazakhstan and unrest in the Sahel:

“State-owned Kazatomprom has since reported that operation of the affected uranium mines has been halted, and that repair of the power transmission lines could take anywhere between one to five months. Analysts estimate that the power outage could lead to a shortfall in uranium supply of up to 21 million pounds.

Areva’s two uranium operations in Niger have an estimated total output of 10.9 million pounds of uranium this year, much of which could be disrupted if conflict spreads from Mali to Niger, where France has already taken the precaution of dispatching special forces soldiers and helicopters.”

Latest Developments, November 28

In the latest news and analysis…

Beyond aid
The Center for Global Development’s Owen Barder argues that over the past decade, “there has been very little overall progress in the policies of rich countries which affect prospects in poor countries”:

“But people from developing countries are clear that development policy today must mean more than giving aid. With growing economic success, they want to benefit more from the resources and services which they supply to the world. They do not want aid as compensation for global trade rules which are stacked against them: they want the rules changed. They do not want merely to be compensated for the damage done to the environment by industrialised countries; they want the destruction of our shared planet to stop.

Aid agencies and campaigners make a powerful case for increases in aid, and for improving its quality. But many have neglected the other issues which developing countries are increasingly demanding must be addressed and which are likely to be at least as important. This paralysis in the face of a changing agenda should come as no surprise. All aid agencies have to spend their budget wisely and avoid waste (or worse). But working to improve the policies on fisheries, patents or tax is always discretionary, however important it might be. Nobody in the government department responsible for these policies will complain if the development ministry leaves them alone. The people who stand to lose are in developing countries: and they have no voice and no vote when these priorities are set.”

US exceptionalism
The Hill reports that US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that will exempt US airlines from EU carbon fees:

“The White House had been under pressure from environmental groups to veto the bill. Those advocates want Obama to address climate change more forcefully in his second term, and said the emissions bill provided an opportunity to chart a new course.

‘However, there is a silver lining here — the administration has appointed high level representatives to pursue a global solution for aviation and climate,’ [the World Wildlife Fund’s Keya] Chatterjee said. ‘The White House now must endorse a global, market-based measure to rein in carbon pollution from aviation. If they do, we are optimistic that the U.S. can work with [International Civil Aviation Organization] to develop a package of policies that will reduce our share of global emissions.’ ”

Right to development
350.org’s Bill McKibben, the Environmental Rights Action’s Nnimmo Bassey and Focus on the Global South’s Pablo Solon call the COP 18 climate talks currently underway in Doha “the time to act for the future of humanity and Nature”:

“Rich countries who have poured most of the carbon into the atmosphere (especially the planet’s sole superpower) need to take the lead in emission reductions and the emerging economies have also to make commitments to reduce the exploitation of oil, coal and gas. The right to development should be understood as the obligation of the states to guarantee the basic needs of the population to enjoy a fulfilled and happy life, and not as a free ticket for a consumer and extractivist society that doesn’t take into account the limits of the planet and the wellbeing of all humans.”

Killer fashion
Al Jazeera provides a roundup of the global clothing lines who were customers of the Bangladeshi garment factory where a fire killed “at least 110 people” over the weekend:

“Survivors and witnesses told AFP that workers, most of them women, tried to escape the burning factory, which supplied clothes to international brands including Walmart, European chain C&A and the Hong Kong-based Li & Fung company.
Order books and clothing found at the site show the company was also making clothing for Disney Pixar, Sears and other Western brands.
The Associated Press news agency reports that blue and off-white shorts from ENYCE, the label now owned by Hip Hop mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, were piled and stacked in cartons on the floor.”

Pipeline colonialism
A First Nations group in Canada’s westernmost province has issued a letter to “the illegitimate colonial governments of Canada and British Columbia, and to all parties involved in the proposed Pacific Trails Pipeline project” warning against attempts to bring a natural gas pipeline through their territory:

“Under Wet’suwet’en law, the people of these lands have an inalienable right to their traditional territories, and the right to defend it. Even by Canadian law, the Supreme Court Dalgamuukw case decision explicitly recognizes the authority of hereditary chiefs, not elected Indian Act bands or councils. As such, any further unauthorized incursion into traditional Wet’suwet’en territory will be considered an act of colonialism, and an act of aggression towards our sovereignty.”

Tackling offshoring
Global Witness’s Rosie Sharpe argues that the opacity of the global financial system is a major contributor to the perpetuation of poverty:

“Why don’t Congolese citizens know who bought the rights to six of their country’s best copper and cobalt mines? Because they were bought by anonymous firms registered in the British Virgin Islands. And, what’s more, these companies bought them at a snip – in some cases just a 20th of their estimated value – and then sold some of them on for much, much more. Someone pocketed a fortune, but hidden company ownership means neither we, nor Congolese citizens, can know who.

If we want to make poverty history, we have to make corruption history. And if we want to make corruption history, we have to make anonymous companies history. Global Witness has been calling for the names of the true, beneficial owners of companies and other corporate vehicles to be made public. Nominee directors and shareholders should have to declare themselves as such and say who they’re working for.”

Minimum tax
Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett makes the case for a minimum tax on America’s wealthiest people:

“I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.”

Latest Developments, October 31

In the latest news and analysis…

European intervention
Reuters reports that the European Union is mulling sending “about 200 troops” to Mali for training, not combat, purposes:

“EU leaders said at a summit on Oct. 19 that the Mali crisis was an ‘immediate threat’ to Europe. Foreign ministers had called four days earlier for the EU diplomatic service to draw up a plan to help Mali’s military.
Three such plans have been under consideration, said an EU official: help only with training; training plus reform of the army’s structure; or both of these, plus mentoring.
The third scenario envisaged sending EU troops into combat with Malian troops. But member states are not willing to risk sending their troops into combat, said the official.”

Uranium dispute
The Maravi Post reports that community tensions are growing over an Australian-owned uranium mine in Malawi:

“ ‘Business people in Karonga are not benefiting according to plan. Now they are importing simple things like foodstuffs from foreign companies saying that our things are expensive. Are they serious? How can that be? How can they be importing tomatoes, rice and fish, things the people of Malawi can easily supply?,’ charged [Karonga Business  Community chairperson Wavisanga] Silungwe.
On his part, Karonga Youth for Justice and Development publicity secretary, Stevenson Simusokwe, said that they were representing the people of Karonga, but in real sense the whole country and asked all Malawians to support their cause.
He said that they would block the road that leads to Kayerekera Uranium Mine so that no uranium and foreign foodstuffs go through to frustrate the miners so that they can consider changing their ‘stupid attitude towards the locals.’ ”

America’s third war
Foreign Policy’s Micah Zenko writes that this week marks the 10th anniversary of “the campaign of targeted killings in non-battlefield settings” which has accompanied declared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

“Targeted killings have exacted a considerable toll, far beyond what anyone imagined in the immediate post-9/11 era. Although the publicly available numbers vary among research organizations, an estimated 3,400 people have been killed — 13 percent of whom were civilians.

Some claim these figures are too high, and others too low. The truth is that nobody knows.
Despite the immense death toll, it is important to mention this is also the most one-sided war in U.S. history: 3,400 suspected adversaries and civilians to zero (Americans). No U.S. government employee has directly lost his or her life in all of the known targeted killing operations.”

A different world
The Overseas Development Institute’s Claire Melamed argues that agreeing on successors to the Millennium Development Goals will be far more difficult than establishing the original poverty-eliminating benchmarks was in 2000:

“The MDGs were cooked up by a group of rich countries sitting in a room and deciding how they wanted to spend their aid to help poor countries (I exaggerate slightly, but not much). The panel that [UK Prime Minister David] Cameron is co-chairing won’t be like that; there are a lot of different interests at stake, and everyone will want their say when they meet in London this week.
Most poverty is now in middle-income countries, many of which are themselves donors. They’re not going to take kindly to any hint of the big rich countries – like the UK, for example – trying to push them around or tell them what to do within their own borders. And many countries, including some of the poorest, are quite reasonably saying that the rich world has a lot more to do than hand over a bit of cash if poverty is to be ended in a way that doesn’t destroy the planet. This isn’t just about the usual list of aid, trade and debt relief (though that would be a start).”

Semi-transparency
Christian Aid’s Eric Gutierrez writes that the UK government’s commitment to transparency does not seem to extend to the beneficial ownership of companies, country-by-country reporting or open contracting:

“Transparency reforms such as these are politically difficult, but in the longer term they may unlock the cash needed to improve public services across the world.
The Tax Justice Network has pointed out that £13trillion-£21trillion in untaxed private wealth is sloshing around the global financial system, hidden in tax havens. The sums are staggering: £20tn deposited in banks earn about 5% interest a year, or £1tn.
If governments could tax just this interest income at 25%, it would raise revenues of £250bn each year – enough to pay for the millennium development goals, stabilise food prices, create jobs, resolve the global financial crisis – and so on. Christian Aid’s own calculations show that developing countries lose about £100bn a year to tax dodging by multinational corporations alone.”

European breakdown
The Open Society Foundations’ George Soros writes that his plan to establish “solidarity houses” in Greece was inspired by his memories of Europe during World War II:

“The asylum policy of the European Union has broken down and the treatment of migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable groups in Europe in the midst of financial and political crisis is an issue of ongoing concern. In Greece, and elsewhere, far-right parties campaigning on anti-migrant policies have grown in popularity.
The plan to create community centers will not be the ultimate solution. We will continue to pursue long-term solutions to the crisis in the European Union but the short-term need of the most vulnerable is too great to ignore. This has to be a European project and eventually it must find its way into the European budget.”

Trade not aid
The University of London’s Simon Reid-Henry lays out his view of the neoliberal development theories that came to prominence in the 1980s and remain “alive and well in the halls of economic and political power today”:

“In terms of development policy, neoliberalism often boiled down to the belief that an intensified globalisation was itself development, the two being inseparable sides of the same virtuous coin. Hence, instead of seeing that poor countries would be best served through appropriate targeted policies (limiting domestic vulnerability to the global market through protectionist measures like tariffs, say, as South Korea was doing), neoliberals claimed that – since global free markets were both the means and the desired end of development – the only viable object of development policy was to do whatever necessary to make local markets and societies ‘fit’ with the new global imperatives that the rich world’s drive to internationalisation was bringing into focus.”

Latest Developments, September 28

In the latest news and analysis…

Dodd-Frank setback
The New York Times reports that a US judge has struck down a rule aimed at imposing restrictions on speculative commodities trading:

“The court decision dealt the latest blow to the Dodd-Frank Act, the regulatory crackdown passed in response to the financial crisis. The decision on Friday, aimed at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s so-called position limits rule, is the second time a Dodd-Frank rule has suffered legal defeat.

The ruling is sure to embolden Wall Street as it shifts the attack on Dodd-Frank from piecemeal lobbying to broader legal challenges. Industry groups are currently challenging another C.F.T.C. rule, while others are weighing lawsuits against the so-called Volcker Rule, a still-uncompleted plan to stop banks from trading with their own money.”

Enemy of the state
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the US military has added Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange to a list of national enemies that include al-Qaeda and the Taliban:

“Declassified US Air Force counter-intelligence documents, released under US freedom-of-information laws, reveal that military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or WikiLeaks supporters may be at risk of being charged with ‘communicating with the enemy’, a military crime that carries a maximum sentence of death.” 

Defunct land grab
The Oakland Institute examines the consequences in Tanzania of an 8,211-hectare biofuel project whose British developer went bankrupt:

“People have lost their land and their supply of fresh water as well as access to essential natural resources, while the promises of development and better life never materialized. In 2011, what was left of Sun Biofuels was acquired by 30 Degrees East, an investment company registered in the tax haven of Mauritius. At the time of our field research, the project had not resumed. The new company only employed 35 staff, mostly security guards, who ban villagers from accessing their land and natural resources.”

False revolution
Friends of the Earth warns that the Gates Foundation is promoting “damaging industrial farming” in Africa:

“Multi-million dollar investments from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – a major Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa donor – into shares in biotech corporations, and revolving doors between donors and these corporations skew the agenda of AGRA in favor of profit-based, corporate-led farming rather than farming that benefits local people and small farmers.
The bulk of projects funded by the Gates Foundation and its brainchild AGRA favor technological solutions for high-input industrial farming methods. These include patented seeds, fertilizers and lobbying for genetically modified crops. Evidence from the roll-out of genetically modified crops in other countries shows that these crops push farmers into debt, cause irreversible environmental damage and encourage land concentration.”

Transparent ownership
Save the Children’s Alex Cobham suggests the “post-2015 development framework” that will replace the Millenium Development Goals should include greater transparency regarding the beneficial ownership of companies:

“The Norwegian presidential commission on tax havens presented considerable evidence on the links between developing countries and havens, pulling out link after link that threatens development and revolving around the hiding of ownership – whether for purposes of facilitating corrupt payments, trade mispricing to dodge tax, or money laundering. In addition, the commission set out a model of how governance in a country could be broadly undermined by greater exposure to tax havens.
Because the key to havens is not in fact tax rates but secrecy, I prefer the term ‘secrecy jurisdiction’. Ultimately, it is the hiding of ownership that havens facilitate which undermines regulation and taxation around the world – not any tax competition they may engender.”

Drone development
Citing a new investigation into the civilian impacts of US drone strikes in Pakistan, New York University’s William Easterly questions his government’s claim that defense and development are “complementary”:

“It would be hard for Development to benefit from “drones hovering 24 hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning.”
The report alleges that drones strike areas multiple times, killing rescuers of victims of the first strike.
Next challenge in US: getting people to care about this.”

Workers’ rights
Human Rights Watch reports that one of the world’s biggest auditing firms has warned that companies involved in an Emirati mega-development must ensure workers’ rights are being respected:

“The government-owned developer of Abu Dhabi’s high-profile Saadiyat Island project, the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), faces ‘significant challenges’ to carry out agreed-upon minimum labor standards, says the September 23, 2012 report published by independent auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Saadiyat Island will be home to branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim Museums and a New York University (NYU) campus, and has been the focus of criticismover migrant workers’ rights.

The 34-page report detailed a range of ongoing violations of the [Employment Practices Policy] and domestic labor law. It says that 75 percent of workers interviewed had paid recruitment fees and 77 percent had paid visa and travel costs, which are supposed to be paid by employers. According to Human Rights Watch’s research, these recruitment fees are the most significant factor in creating conditions of forced labor in the UAE. Twenty percent of those interviewed reported illegal deductions from their salaries.”

Nuclear pressure
Inter Press Service reports that 50 years on from the Cuban Missile Crisis, the international community is pushing the world’s nuclear-armed countries to ratify a ban on testing nuclear weapons:

“Opened for signature in September 1996, the [Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Teaty] has been signed by 183 nations and ratified by 157. However, it cannot be enforced without ratification by 44 countries that had nuclear power or research reactors when the CTBT was negotiated.
Most of those nations have ratified the treaty, but the United States, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Iran, and Egypt remain unwilling to do so. In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama declared his intention to seek Senate reconsideration of the treaty. The administration has given no firm timeframe for action.”

Latest Developments, June 21

In the latest news and analysis…

Business as usual
Forum for the Future’s Jonathon Porritt argues the fact that Unilever is part of the UK’s delegation to the Rio+20 conference while British Prime Minister David Cameron is not, is “a sign of our unsustainable times”:

“Twenty years on from the 1992 Earth Summit, it seems to be almost universally accepted that governments have less scope and less appetite for governing, and that much more influence (if not power) has flowed over to big business and capital markets.
That’s not necessarily seen as a good thing by most people in the NGO community. In their eyes, no amount of ‘corporate responsibility’ can possibly compensate for the damage done in the name of profit maximisation.”

Dodgy draft
Former Bolivian climate negotiator Nele Marien expresses disappointment at the draft text agreed to in the run-up to Rio+20:

“It is nothing new to state that we are living in a limited world with limited recourses, and that we are at the edge of surpassing some critical tipping points for Mother Earth. To keep on growing economically in this setting is just a logical impossibility. Nevertheless, the RIO+20 text never considers these aspects of the environmental problem – in fact doesn’t make any assessment of the critical situation of nature at all- but on the contrary mentions ‘sustained economic growth’ about 23 times, as an objective in itself, and as a solution to the multiple crisis that the world faces today.”

Uruguay to legalize it
Al Jazeera reports that Uruguay plans to legalize the production and sale of marijuana in an effort to fight crime:

“The government will also urge that marijuana sales be legalised worldwide, Huidobro said, adding the measure could discourage the use of so-called hard drugs.
Marijuana consumption is already legal in Uruguay.
‘We want to fight against two different things: one is drug consumption and the other is drug trafficking. We think the ban on certain drugs is creating more problems in society than the drug itself,’ [Defence Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro] told a news conference.”

The state of corporate accountability
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre has released its first annual briefing on corporate legal accountability, in which it covers human rights lawsuits against companies around the world:

“A few countries, including UK, USA, France, Germany and Netherlands, have heard some lawsuits against companies for alleged abuses occurring in other countries. But even in these countries, such lawsuits are rare.

‘Home’ governments (where companies are headquartered) fail to make extraterritorial remedies available for multiple reasons. In part, they simply do not wish to constrain their companies in their operations abroad. There are rarely strong constituencies pushing them to hold their companies accountable. And these measures are often opposed by host states as an infringement on sovereignty.”

Mining violence
The Georgia Straight reports that activists are calling on a pair of Canadian mining companies to “publicly order an absolute halt to all violence” against their opponents in Mexico and Guatemala:

“One of these cases involved the shooting of Yolanda Oquely Veliz on June 13. The 33-year-old Veliz was shot by men on a motorcycle after she left a blockade near the entrance to Radius Gold’s mine in San José del Golfo, Guatemala. She survived the attack but remains in serious condition.
They also cited the shooting of Bertín Vásquez Ruiz and Guadalupe Vásquez Ruiz on June 16. The two opponents of Fortuna Silver’s operations in Mexico were wounded.”

Dead man washing
The Wall Street Journal reports on the ease with which international crime syndicates can launder money in the UK:

“According to a new report from non-profit Global Witness, a U.K.-registered company saw about $700 million flow through its account at a Kyrgyzstan bank despite the fact that its identified owner, a Russian from a remote area, had died three years before the company was registered. Moreover, records cited by Global Witness said he attended a company meeting in London after his death.”

Drone math
ProPublica looks into seemingly conflicting US estimates of the number of civilians killed by drones in Pakistan:

“It’s possible that all these claims are true. But if they are, it implies that the government believes there were zero or almost zero civilian deaths between the beginning of 2008 and August 2009, and then again zero deaths between August 2010 and July 2011. Those periods comprise a total of 182 strikes.”

Green grabbing
The ESRC STEPS Centre’s Melissa Leach argues there is a “dark side” to attempts at building a so-called green economy:

“Green grabbing builds on well-known histories of colonial and neo-colonial resource alienation in the name of the environment – whether for parks, forest reserves or to halt assumed destructive local practices. Yet it involves novel forms of valuation, commodification and markets for pieces and aspects of nature, and an extraordinary new range of actors and alliances. Pension funds and venture capitalists, commodity traders and consultants, GIS service providers and business entrepreneurs, ecotourism companies and the military, green activists and anxious consumers among others find once-unlikely common interests. ”

The right kind of investment
The Financial Times reports that foreign investment is not always a good thing, especially when it involves agricultural land, as was the case in Africa when global food prices soared in 2008:

“Experts say that, ultimately, many of the plans of 2008-09 failed to materialise as the food crisis abated and investors became more aware of the political risks and huge logistic difficulties. But as populations grow and consumption habits change, the trend of foreign investor interest in Africa’s soils is expected to continue.”

Multilateral blues
In the wake of the G20’s latest summit in Mexico and as the UN’s Rio+20 conference kicks off, Foreign Policy’s David Rothkopf discusses what the recent “depressing panoply of multilateral misfires” will mean for the future of global governance:

“What we are seeing today is the kind of failure of leadership likely to produce consequences so disturbing that ultimately they will help move us past the multilateral rhetoric of idealists to the urgency that comes of clear-eyed realism about what works, what doesn’t, and what we really need.  Multilateralism will ultimately flourish not because it is more equitable but because we cannot solve global problems without it. Today’s leaders — through their inaction and missteps — may inadvertently be doing more to ensure cooperation among their successors than they did when they actually seemed to care about such issues earlier in their careers.”