Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.


Ecuador Amazon tribe win first victory against oil companies

Ecuador Amazon tribe win first victory against oil companies

Ecuador’s Waorani indigenous tribe won their first victory Friday against big oil companies in a ruling that blocks the companies’ entry onto ancestral Amazonian lands for oil exploration activities.
After two weeks of deliberations, a criminal court in Puyo, central Ecuador, accepted a Waorani bid for court protection in Pastaza province to stop an oil bidding process after the government moved to open up around 180,000 hectares for exploration.
The lands are protected under Ecuador’s constitution that establishes the “inalienable, unseizable and indivisible” rights of indigenous people “to maintain possession of their ancestral lands and obtain their free adjudication.”
Crucially, however, the wealth in the subsoil is owned by the state.
The constitution also enshrines the need for prior consultation on any plans to exploit the underground resources, given the probable environmental and cultural impacts on tribal communities.
The state reached an agreement with the Waorani over oil exploration in 2012, but the tribe’s leaders say they were duped.
The judges ordered the government to conduct a new consultation, applying standards set by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San Jose.
The ruling “has created a significant precedent for the Amazon,” said Lina Maria Espinosa, attorney for the plaintiffs, outside court. “It has been demonstrated that there was no consultation and that the state violated the rights of this people, and therefore of other peoples.”


‘Inspiring’ protester becomes symbol of resistance for Sudanese women | The Guardian

‘Inspiring’ protester becomes symbol of resistance for Sudanese women | World news | The Guardian: The image is striking: a young woman, alone, standing above the crowd, urging them on with songs of revolution. Taken on Monday night in the centre of Khartoum, as tens of thousands thronged the roads in front of the heavily guarded complex housing the headquarters of the military and the feared intelligence services, the picture of the woman in white with gold circular earrings has become an icon of a protest. Lana Haroun told CNN she had taken the picture. “She was trying to give everyone hope and positive energy and she did it,” she said. “She was representing all Sudanese women and girls and she inspired every woman and girl at the sit-in. She was telling the story of Sudanese women ... she was perfect.”

..Salah, in her first statement to the media since her photo went viral, in a WhatsApp message that she is currently studying engineering and architecture at Sudan International University in Khartoum.
Hind Makki, an interfaith educator and blogger, pointed out on Twitter that the details in Salah’s clothing make the photograph even more powerful. She said that the white garment and gold moon-shaped earrings Salah wore pay homage to working women; her dress is a "callback" to the clothing worn by Sudanese women from earlier generations who also fought for the end of dictatorial rule.


UN: Soap and Superbugs: 2B People Lack Water at Health Facilities

UN: Soap and Superbugs: 2B People Lack Water at Health Facilities: LONDON —  A quarter of the world's health facilities lack basic water services, impacting 2 billion people, the United Nations said on Wednesday, warning that unhygienic conditions could fuel the global rise of deadly superbugs. In the poorest countries, about half of facilities do not have basic water services — meaning water delivered by pipes or boreholes that protect it from feces — putting birthing mothers and newborns in particular danger, new data showed.
 The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said more than 1 million deaths a year were associated with unclean births, and 15 percent of all patients attending a health facility developed infections. "Hospitals are not necessarily points of care where you can heal, but points of almost infection. (We) are very alarmed by this," WHO public health coordinator Bruce Gordon told a media briefing in Geneva. Worldwide, nearly 900 million people have no water at all at their local health facility or have to use unprotected wells or springs. One in five facilities also lack toilets, impacting about 1.5 billion people, the agencies said.
 One of the development goals agreed by world leaders in 2015 was for all to have access to safe water and sanitation by 2030. "A health care facility without water is not really a health care facility," said UNICEF statistician Tom Slaymaker. "Sick people shed a lot more pathogens in their feces, and without toilets, staff, patients — this includes mothers and babies — are at a much greater risk of diseases caused and spread through human waste."
 The agencies said good water and sanitation services were crucial to reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance, one of the greatest global health threats. International charity WaterAid said rising rates of superbugs had been linked to poor sanitary conditions in health facilities which lead to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Helen Hamilton, WaterAid policy analyst, said the data revealed the "often-deplorable conditions" in which health workers were trying to help patients.
 "The battle to save lives, and to slow the rise of deadly superbugs which threaten us all, cannot be won as long as these dedicated frontline staff are denied ... the fundamentals of health care," she said. She urged governments to prioritize the issue when they meet at next month's World Health Assembly in Geneva.
 The data showed that West Africa had some of the lowest rates of access to water and sanitation. WaterAid said this was alarming given that a lack of clean water and good hygiene had contributed to the spread of the world's worst Ebola outbreak in the region, which killed more than 11,300 people between 2013 and 2016.


The startups paving the way for a world without plastics |

The startups paving the way for a world without plastics | Green shoots | The Guardian:

A number of startups and innovators have risen to this challenge, producing “zero-waste” materials with similar properties to plastic. San Francisco-based Mango Materials, for example, has developed a bioplastic that is cost-competitive with petroleum-based plastics. The company, which won the 2012 Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge, was co-founded by CEO Molly Morse after her PhD studies at Stanford University fired her interest in naturally occurring biopolymers called PHA – a naturally-made polyester.
 “You can tailor their properties to get a lot of different types of mechanical performance,” she says. “Also, they’re one of the few, if only, naturally occurring biopolymers you can melt and mould into different shapes.” Historically PHAs have been produced through a costly method that involves feeding sugar to bacteria. But Morse and her co-founders realised it was possible to substitute sugar for a widely available and much more affordable alternative: methane.
 Today, the company transforms methane (a highly potent greenhouse gas) from landfill and wastewater treatment into bioplastic, which comes in the form of either powder or pellets. These are sold to existing plastic producers, who turn them into products. When these products eventually reach a waste facility, they biodegrade back to methane in a closed-loop process. And if, somehow, Mango Materials’ bioplastic does end up in the ocean, marine microorganisms can digest it naturally. Recently, the company has developed a polyester replacement from its PHA, which could potentially help to reduce the amount of harmful microplastic fibres that enter waterways and oceans when clothes are washed. Morse also hopes to build a large-scale commercial facility in the future. “If we can make a billion pounds [of bioplastic] at a single plant, we will enjoy the economies of scale that petroleum-based plastics enjoy,” she says.