Tourism: Global civil society witnesses joint statement appeals for harm avoidance

A group of CSOs (civil society organizations) have taken action to help raise awareness of and influence the United Nations tourism agenda. The United Nations has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IY2017) to promote tourism’s role in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Civil society groups have long voiced concerns over tourism growth that, through its aviation dependency, is fossil fuel dependent, and is a key driver of land grabs displacing communities and destroying ecosystems. GAAM joined a number of CSOs in issuing a joint statement criticizing the current global tourism and development model. Entitled ‘Tourism, Urgent Appeal for Harm Avoidance’, the statement was issued on 22nd May, the International Day for Biodiversity which was marked this year on the theme of ‘sustainable tourism’. The statement was issued by: International Support Centre for Sustainable Tourism, Tourism Investigation and Monitoring Team (Tim-Team), Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM), Third World Network (TWN), Consumers Association of Penang, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth, Malaysia), and Tourism Advocacy and Action Forum (TAAF).

An article by Friends of the Earth International International Day for biological biodiversity: celebrate by protecting biodiversity, not promoting tourism critiques the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) for using the International Day for Biodiversity to promote tourism and mentioning the need to reduce its negative impacts, but failing to recognize that many so-called ‘sustainable tourism’ projects, fail host communities by denying them revenue generation and self-determination. In the worst cases indigenous peoples are evicted to make way for resorts. FOE calls for tourism policies that protect ecosystems and the rights of local communities, calling for celebration of International Biodiversity Day be challengign the dominant tourism business model.

Aviation is one of the most rapidly growing sources of climate damaging greenhouse gas emissions and a press release from the Global Forest Coalition Aviation Emissions Under Scrutiny On Sustainable Tourism Day raises the issue of proposals to offset these emissions, which were discussed at last week’s climate talks in Bonn, Germany.  Instead of reducing its emissions the aviation industry seeks to offset them with monoculture tree plantations which are a threat to biodiversity and local communities. The plantations destroy natural ecosystems and the livelihoods of communities that depend on them.

Sukamulya villagers resist eviction for Kertajati airport and aerotropolis

An article about resistance to eviction from their homes and productive agricultural land for a new airport in Java, Indonesia, has been published by The Ecologist online magazine: Indonesia: Villagers resist eviction for 50 sq.km ‘aeropolis’ / Airport city on their land. Ten villages, and a vast area of farmland, have already been wiped from the map for Kertajati Airport, which is currently under construction. But Sukamulya village remains. Residents have sustained their resistance to displacement for the airport for over 12 years, since the project was first mooted in 2004. The Front Perjuangan Rakyat Sukamulya (FPRS) was formed to resist eviction for the airport.

Sukamulya villagers have blocked officials from measuring land for Kertajati Airport on many occasions. Starting in August 2016 a series of attempts to measure the land were successful blocked by residents. But on 17th November 2016, when people had gathered yet again to protect their farmland, 2,000 police rushed onto the fields to disperse them and enforce the land measurement. Twelve protesters were injured and the barbaric eviction attempt has been widely condemned by Indonesian human rights organizations and NGOs. Land rights and agrarian reform NGO Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria (KPA) highlighted resistance against Kertajati Airport as one of Indonesia’s key land rights struggles.

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A video by AGRA Indonesia Alliance of Agrarian Reform Movement/Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria shows the firing of teargas at Sukamulya residents attempting to defend their land and resist eviction.

If development of the project goes ahead as planned Kertajati Airport will be the starting point for an even larger development, an aerotropolis. An Aerocity adjoining the airport site is planned. In total, 50 square kilometres of land, predominantly productive farmland, has been earmarked for Kertajati aerotropolis: 1,800 hectares for the airport and 3,200 hectares for the Aerocity.

Mapping aviation expansion in Indonesia

Following extensive research GAAM has published a digital interactive map: Aviation expansion in Indonesia: tourism, land struggles, economic zones, and aerotropolis projects. The map includes 60 airports – operational, under construction and still at the proposal stage, plus two airport projects which were cancelled. The issue of land rights in particular is highlighted, documenting disputes and resistance against displacement relating to 25 airport projects. Two airports currently under construction in Java, Kertajati and Kulon Progo, are of particular concern because of human rights violations, including police brutality, against people resisting eviction from their homes and productive agricultural land. Aerotropolis development is planned adjoining both of these airports.

Indonesia map graphic
Screengrab of GAAM Aviation Expansion in Indonesia digital map

The digital map represents only a fraction of airport projects in Indonesia, which already has 237 operational airports with a government expansion drive aiming for 62 new airports within 15 years, bringing the total number to 299. Yet it demonstrates the exciting potential of online mapping for organizing, analyzing and presenting information. GAAM hopes to collaborate with other organizations in the development of online maps to develop a more comprehensive picture of aviation expansion and the impacts on affected communities, making the most of this wonderful technology to support our research, awareness raising and campaigning. The map was designed and produced by InTouch GIS using the Storymap app.

A forthcoming report, Aviation expansion in Indonesia: tourism, land struggles, economic zones, and aerotropolis projects, contextualizes the information in GAAM’s online map, examining the central role of aviation expansion in a government drive for tourism growth and the integration of several airport projects with other infrastructure such as road networks and ports, economic zones and aerotropolis developments. The report will be published by GAAM in partnership with the Third World Network (TWN).

Alienation in the AEROTROPOLIS – an independent film from Taiwan

Although it is a work of fiction, the Taiwanese film AEROTROPOLIS, about a young man who sinks all his money into a luxury condo on land allocated for an aerotropolis around Taoyuan Airport, is all too feasible. The government driven megaproject stalled and the real estate bubble burst. Unable to flip the property for a quick profit he loses his moorings in life and wanders around the desolate urban landscape. His loneliness and loss of meaning are only superficially eased by fleeting visits from his flight-attendant girlfriend and the films follows his descent into a downward spiral of mental breakdown.

The film was written and directed by Jheng-Neng Li. Interviewed by We Are Moving Stories, which celebrates new voices in the film industry, he explains how the Taoyuan aerotropolis project “fiasco” has disrupted the lives of thousands of ordinary people, with agricultural land destroyed, families displaced and escalating land and property prices. AEROTROPOLIS is Jheng-Neng Li’s debut feature film, a true low-budget venture, shot over just 11 days with a “no-budget” of just $7000. In this evocative teaser clip the protagonist is static in an alienating urban landscape as planes fly overhead.

AEROTROPOLIS was showcased at the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival which focuses on new artists and low-budget, independent films and has garnered some enthusiastic reviews. Writing for ScreenAnarchy Christopher Bourne describes the film as ‘an elegantly made portrait of (sub)urban alienation. In Slug Magazine Kathy Zhou is full of praise for ‘a bleak and powerful meditation on the emptiness of contemporary life’. The film is being screened at various film festivals so hopefully will, over time, reach a substantial audience worldwide. There are some reviews and interesting promotion materials on the AEROTROPOLIS film Facebook page.

Challenging tourism growth: the role of aviation and impacts on biodiversity

Tourism was on the agenda at the 13th Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP13) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Cancun, Mexico in December 2016. The draft Cancun Declaration recognizes that tourism, a major sector in the global economy, is dependent upon biodiverse ecosystems. A Third World Network (TWN) briefing paper, ‘Tourism at the tipping point: Governance for future generations’, prepared by Alison M. Johnston, Director of the International Support Centre for Sustainable Tourism, Canada, urges a precautionary approach to tourism growth, challenging the institutionalization of the industry as a ‘pre-approved enterprise’ which facilitates its expansion into remote areas, often damaging rather than conserving ecosystems and biodiversity. The paper highlights the role of aviation, the tourism industry’s dependence upon the petroleum industry, the impacts on indigenous peoples and considerations for future generations.

The paper was presented and discussed at a COP side-event entitled ‘Tourism and Biodiversity: Benefits and Hazards’ that was co-organized by the TWN, the Global Forest Coalition, the International Support Centre for Sustainable Tourism (ISCST) and the Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team (tim-team). This input to the UN biodiversity conference, and other critical perspective on tourism, are particularly important in view of the United Nations designation of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, aiming to support ‘a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector’.

 

A Dutch firm withdrew its application for a project in Istanbul’s 3rd airport construction site

This article is from the Kuzey Ormanlari Savunmasi (Northern Forest Defence) website

For Turkish version see: 3. havalimanı sahasında proje başvurusu yapan Hollandalı firma çekildi

As the Northern Forests Defence, we have been continuously iterating our position that Istanbul’s 3rd airport isn’t a transportation project, but a real estate-construction project that will flood the Northern Forests of Istanbul with cement, which we declared in our announcements and in our 3rd airport report. This fact has also been stated in the environmental assesment report for the project. The gigantic area allocated to the 3rd airport project and also other projects announced by the members of the consortium for the area, are strong evidence of this. As a matter of fact, the 3rd airport project will be showcased under the name of “Airport City” in the world trade show MIPIM 2017, to be held in Cannes between 14-17 March.

sabah 8 şubat 3. havalimanı - haber elif binici

The citizens of this country are ignorant of the decisions that will affect the future of the city and their children, as global capital and real estate / construction companies continue their plunder projects in the Northern Forests of Istanbul, the lungs of Istanbul. As citizens of this country we mostly don’t hear about the details nor the locations of such projects, as well as the 3rd airport project, however esteemed architects (!) and global actors, who find it difficult to embark locally on such projects that devastate nature and the environment, and violate the right to live, are in command of all details, since they are very busy preparing project after project for the Northern Forests.

One of these companies is a Dutch real estate-construction company, whose application story you will read below. This company, name and involved project unknown, applied to the well-known credit company Atradius Dutch State Business (ADSB) -which operates on behalf of the Dutch government- in 2016 in order to apply for export credit support for a project related to the Istanbul New Airport Project. Then ADSB contacted NFD in October to obtain information related to the 3rd airport project. When we met with the ADSB officials in Istanbul, we conveyed our position that the 3rd airport would be death of Istanbul and the only acceptable solution would be the cancellation of the project and detailed the permanent damage this project will leave on the local ecosystem, the workplace murders committed in the project, and the lack of transparency. And last month we received the good news: The company, probably due to refusal of its credit application, had announced its withdrawal from the project. ADSB, due to its ethics code, didn’t share the name of the company, nor the character or the location of project, with NFD.

As we announce this positive development, we are also sharing the 6 February 2017 dated press announcement of the Dutch STK Both ENDS, who linked ADSB and NFD – there is additional information about the process in this announcement.

 PRESS RELEASE: NO DUTCH PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR ISTANBUL’S CONTROVERSIAL NEW AIRPORT

The FPDT Again Denounces the Intrusion of Machinery with Protection of the Army and Federal Police

Bulldozers supported by a military tank and police entered communal Atenco farmland intent on constructing a highway for the new Mexico City Airport, violating the suspension of the project and the human rights of the inhabitants.

dorset chiapas solidarity

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The FPDT Again Denounces the Intrusion of Machinery with Protection of the Army and Federal Police

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Today, January 22, crews of workers from the companies CIPSA and Pinfra entered the ejido of Atenco with two bulldozers intent on carrying out the construction of the highway Pirámides-Texcoco. With the protection of a military tank and federal police, the companies again violated the definitive suspension awarded against this project that is part of the new airport of Mexico City. This took place one day after sharing testimony of human rights violations against members of the FDPT and of the habitants of the communities on the Eastern shore of Lake Texcoco with a special reporter of the UN.

The ejido members and habitants of the communities went to the place of intrusion to demand the fulfilment of the suspension and the respect of their human rights. They talked with the workers to…

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