There have been so many tributes from so many people, that anything I write seems insignificant. After all, I can’t say I knew him or ever met him, and I don’t have a memorable “Mandela and Me” moment to share. But like me, there are millions of ordinary people in this country and all around the world, who never met him, yet could not help being touched in some profound way by his extraordinary life.
Churches, NGOs and local communities in Vanuatu have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the accession of the country to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) under current conditions. However, the Government has gagged opposition groups and without consultation decided to join.
Over the past 15 years the production of palm oil has increased enormously, and not without reason: palm oil, pressed from the fruit of the oil palm, is cheap and is used in many different products. It is processed in ice cream, chocolate, margarine and sauces, but also in personal care products and cosmetics such as lipstick, detergent, toothpaste, soap and biofuel. Unfortunately, the large demand for palm oil has quite some negative side effects: large-scale deforestation, pollution, 'land grabbing' and above all human rights violations are common practice in countries where palm oil is produced.
Years of heavy protests from the local population, environmental organizations and experts have led to the suspension of the permit for the construction of a huge steel plant and port by the Korean steel company POSCO in an environmentally sensitive area in Orissa (India). This decision was taken by the Indian National Green Tribunal, a special court for the Environment.
After 15 years of massive campaign by many organisations from Nepal and abroad, led by Nepalese NGO WAFED, the plans for the construction of the West Seti Dam in Nepal have been shelved. In 2010 the campaign had already forced the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to pull out from this project for its failure to comply with its own policy on information disclosure, public participation, environment, and the rights of indigenous people living in the affected area. The decision of the government of Nepal not to grant permission for construction to Australian construction company Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) is yet another success.
On 7 December 2009 the overwhelming majority of the Hungarian Parliament voted to oppose the use of cyanide in gold mining. So doing, Hungary has set a new global environmental standard and can thus play a leading role in banning the use of cyanide in the European mining sector.