Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Allegations that mining threatens wildlife rely on activist ‘evidence.’
On Monday in Paris, four UN bodies released a summary of an 1,800-page report about threats to biodiversity. It declares that “fundamental structural change is called for…for the broader public good.”
On Tuesday in Geneva, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released another report. Its press release tells us that sand needs to be planned, regulated, and managed by the UN. Yes, really. Sand.
Apparently, those who currently trade in sand and gravel sometimes do so in an unsustainable manner. “[R]ules, practices and ethics” apparently differ worldwide. Imagine that. Moreover, “irresponsible and illegal extraction” needs to be curbed. In other words: the UN has now set its sights on this industry.
In the foreword to the 56-page Sand and Sustainability: Finding new solutions for environmental governance of global sand resources, Joyce Msuya, UNEP’s executive director, declares that humanity is “spending our sand ‘budget’ faster than we can produce it responsibly.”
While this report says it merely wants to spark a conversation, that it doesn’t intend to be “prescriptive,” Msuya’s remarks belie that. She advocates “improved governance of global sand resources,” talks about implementing global standards, and looks forward to the creation of brand new “institutions that sustainably and equitably manage extraction.” What’s another level of red tape, after all?
UN bureaucrats see only one conceivable solution to every problem: meddling from above. This woman wants to “cut consumption of sand and gravel” by “reducing over-building and over-design.” In her view, keeping her nose out of other people’s business isn’t an option. She doesn’t trust poor nations to become more environmentally responsible on their own schedule. It doesn’t occur to her that people struggling to drag themselves out of poverty don’t need UN busybodies second-guessing the trade-offs they’re compelled to make.
How did this report come about? Last October, UNEP invited 19 ‘experts’ to gather in Geneva. Three were UN employees. Activist organizations were also well-represented: the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Awaaz Foundation, SandStories.org, and the World Economic Forum.
Also in attendance were a lobbyist, a sustainable energy expert, a researcher from the Responsible Mining Foundation, a journalist who’s written a book about sand, and a representative of Switzerland’s federal environment ministry. As far as I can tell, only two people had any connection to entities that do things with sand in the real world.
Based on the conversation that took place at this one-day event, a report got written which was then reviewed by 11 other people – including, once again, representatives of the WWF and the IUCN.
So it’s no surprise that the final version relies heavily on activist-produced ‘evidence’ – such as a WWF report titled Impacts of Sand Mining on Ecosystem Structure, Process & Biodiversity in Rivers.
You see what’s going on here. The wholly activist WWF writes a report which then gets cited repeatedly by the UN. Like money-laundering, the questionable nature of the original source becomes obscured. The public will now get told that illegal sand mining threatens fish, birds, turtles and dolphins. After all, the UN says so.
The public is unlikely to be advised that the UN’s only source for this claim is an activist document. Because activists never indulge in hyperbole. They never ever exaggerate.
Oh, wait. Didn’t Greenpeace argue in court recently that it is “well-known for advancing…opinions, not hard news”? When accused of using phony photos and phony videos, didn’t Greenpeace tell the court that ordinary people “clearly understand” its accusations aren’t factual but are merely an “interpretation”?
The bottom line is that there’s an octopus of aligned/interconnected interests out there. UN bureaucrats. Activists. Academics. These people work hand in glove, pushing certain ideas into the public square in an orchestrated manner.
It’s no accident that the UN press release and the WWF’s press release yesterday had the same headline – Rising demand for sand calls for resource governance – and shared nine paragraphs of identical content.
How the UNEP press release began:
How the WWF press release began:
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