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CONCORD at the EU Development Days 2013

CONCORD is pleased that we positioned European NGOs in many key events this year at the European Development Days that took place on 26-27 November in Brussels.

Highlights included an open brainstorming discussion on the Political Narrative process which saw a packed room debate ideas on how to change the development sector. You can catch up on the debates by listening to the Podcast here.

A key panel on women's empowerment post-2015 saw CONCORD President Joanna Maycock take centre stage alongside the Jamaican President Portia Simpson-Miller, the Liberian Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell as well as representatives from the United Nations and the European External Action Service. You can watch the panel in full here.

Policy Coherence for Development was also placed firmly on the agenda with two events that saw Board Member Rilli Lappalainen and outgoing Director Olivier Consolo promote CONCORD's report and position on making EU policies more coherent with development objectives.

A high level panel event alongside the French Development Minister Pascal Canfin, and other leading speakers also saw CONCORD present, with a discussion on "mobilising all resources for development". You can watch the panel in full here.

CONCORD's full round up of the event.

President Barroso and Commissioner Piebalgs feature at the 2013 European Development Days

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, and European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs were both present at the 8th European Development Days Conference, held here in Brussels. Barroso opened the conference, and also spoke exclusively to Devex on the role of the EU in development, now and in the future.

"Much still needs to be done and this cannot be business as usual — the world has changed and with these changes come new challenges.” Barroso explained the bloc is confident that a “limited and ambitious set of new goals and targets” for all countries “is the right way [to move] forward” after the MDGs expire in two years, both to eradicate poverty and boost sustainable development.

Commissioner Piebalgs opened the conference by saying that he hopes to create a "sustainable, poverty-free future for our children", but realises that "the global challenges we face require global answers and global actions. Only when we act together are we truly stronger."

Read more from Barroso.
Read Piebalgs statement.

European banks financing illegally produced palm oil

A report commissioned by Friends of the Earth, released on 21 November, has shown that two of the biggest biofuels producers, Bumitama and Wilmar, have knowingly traded illegally-extracted palm oil from plantations that encroach on and threaten orangutan habitats. Both companies count European banks amongst their biggest investors.

The report alleges that the companies operate 'ghost estates' in plantations spread across 7000 hectares on the Indonesian island of Borneo, all of which they lacked the permits to run and were not registered with the Indonesian Forestry Ministry.

Anne van Schaik, finance campaigner of FoE Europe and co-author of the report, says: “We have written to Bumitama and asked them repeatedly to prove the legality of the plantations, but they could not offer this so far.” The data for the report was obtained using satellite imagery, trade data and on-the-ground reports, and claims to prove that the land was acquired illegally from growers who unlawfully cleared large tracts of rainforest, including that of protected forest reserves and orangutan sanctuaries.

After the palm oil was harvested, it was bought by Wilmar, an Indonesia based agri-business company which has been ranked the world's worst environmentally performing company for the past two years by Newsweek magazine.

In response to the report, Bumitama have stopped all planting activities in the region.

Read more.

Lithuania proposes to lift EU biofuels cap

The planned proposal for a 6% cap on biofuel use, itself already a departure from the original 5% proposal, could be resurrected by a Lithuanian proposal to raise the cap to 7%, according to EurActiv.

The proposal has drawn criticisms not just from green campaigners, who believe that it is a "stab to the heart" of the original proposal, but members of the biofuel industry as well.
Marc Oliver Herman, Oxfam’s EU biofuels expert, said that “what’s on the table is no cure to the ailing EU biofuels policy.”

“If EU Energy Ministers give their green light, they will be encouraging further hunger, land-grabs and environmental damage,” he added.

Chiara Zanasi, the project manager for the European Algae Biomass Association told EurActiv that her organisation opposed the new proposal because it scrapped the sub-targets for advanced biofuels, which would lead to falling investment for newer, more advanced forms.

Read more.

African farmers facing soil erosion seek solution in fertilisers

24 billion tons of fertile soil is lost every year, with chemical fertilisers being seen as the major cause. But agriculture experts are now calling for wider use of the substances in order to improve land fertility and boost crop yields, according to EurActiv.

Researchers at this years Global Soil Week in Berlin have called for a shift in agricultural policy towards preserving or improving land fertility. The issue is particularly important in Africa, where governments and aid agencies are seeking ways to improve agricultural productivity, without lasting damage the the environment.

"In sub-Saharan Africa the main problems are soil erosion and the loss of soil fertility due to unsustainable land use," explains Rolf Sommer, an agriculture economist who works for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to Sommer, organic solutions, such as those used in Europe to preserve the nutrient content of the soil, are unfeasible in sub-Saharan Africa as soils are relatively infertile and lack sufficient nutrients. In this region, farmers are forced to use chemical fertilising methods in order to produce any crops at all, he says.

However, the WWF disagrees with the use of chemical fertilisers. "Mineral fertilisers in agriculture indicate the finite state of natural resources. They endanger tomorrow's food security," says a WWF study conducted in cooperation with the German foundation Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

Read more.

Central African Republic 'descending into chaos'

According to the UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, the Central African Republic is on the brink of complete chaos, and called for urgent action before it was too late.

Since the rebels seized power in March, there have been repeated warnings about a possible genocide, with France committing to increase the number of troops it's stationed in the country from 400 to 1000.

Mr Eliasson said there had been an surge in sexual violence, torture, summary executions and sectarian violence.

"The CAR is becoming a breeding ground for extremists and armed groups in a region that is already suffering from conflict and instability," he said.

"If this situation is left to fester, it may develop into a religious and ethnic conflict with long-standing consequences, even a civil war that could spread into neighbouring countries."

Read more.


Global calls

No new calls

In country calls


135196 - Renforcement des capacités de la structure de développement agricole - plaine de la basse Mahavavy Ambilobe- DIANA
 Open » 7/01/2014  Action Grants   Madagascar   Africa, Caribbean and Pacific
135257 - Appel à propositions des acteurs non étatiques (ANE) sur le thème Développement inclusif en zone urbaine et rurale en République du Congo
 Open » 20/01/2014  Action Grants   Congo (Brazzaville)   Non-State Actors and Local Authorities
135226 - Achieving Millennium Development Goal 7c: Water and Sanitation Programme: Water and sanitation project in peri-urban areas in Malawi
 Open » 21/02/2014  Action Grants   Malawi   Africa, Caribbean and Pacific
CONCORD is the European NGO confederation for Relief and Development.  Its 27 national associations, 18 international networks and 2 associate members represent 1,800 NGOs which are supported by millions of citizens across Europe. CONCORD leads reflection and political actions and regularly engages in dialogue with the European institutions and other civil society organisations.
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