climate change


  • Donors must improve on Istanbul summit pledge to world's poorest

    Budget squeeze no excuse to let targets slip

    BRUSSELS, 6th May, 2011: The first UN summit for the world's poorest countries in a decade must ensure that developed nations make good on commitments to help the most destitute, a global coalition of over 1000 civil society organizations said today.

    "Richer nations cannot use the economic crisis as an excuse not to follow through on their engagements," said Tony Tujan, co-chair of BetterAid.

    "This week's conference must ensure the immediate flow of 0.15 percent - 0.20 percent of the total gross national income of developed countries to the less developed countries, in line with previous commitments."

    The four-day United Nations conference on the 48 Less Developed Countries opens in Istanbul on 9 May. The so-called LDC-4 summit will adopt an "action program" for the coming decade that is likely to include a target of cutting the number of people suffering from poverty and hunger by half.

    BetterAid insists the Istanbul summit must go beyond good intentions to produce concrete results that go beyond the limited achievements of the last LDC conference in 2001.


  • ECOCIDE: ‘Perpetrators of environmental destruction should be prosecuted just like war criminals are’

    CIVICUS speaks with Jojo Mehta, co-founder and Executive Director of Stop Ecocide International and Chair of the Stop Ecocide Foundation. The Stop Ecocide campaign seeks to establish ecocide as an international crime. To that end, the Netherlands-based Stop Ecocide Foundation works with international criminal lawyers, researchers and diplomats to develop an up-to-date, clear and legally robust definition of ecocide and advocate for states to propose an amendment to international criminal law.


  • GHANA: ‘Work in the corner of your community has a potential to cause change at the top’

    Following a year marked by massive mobilisation on the climate emergency, CIVICUS is interviewing civil society activists, leaders and experts about the main environmental challenges they face in their contexts and the actions they are taking. CIVICUS speaks with Perk Pomeyie, a climate organiser, environmental advocate and artivist affiliated with the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM), a youth-led environmental group that advocates and campaigns for a sustainable environment and a just world for the current and future generations. GYEM seeks to build an inter-generational network to find solutions to environmental challenges and confront the climate crisis. It focuses on bottom-up solutions and encourages the co-production of knowledge through participatory approaches.

    Perk has recently been selected to take part inCIVICUS’s Youth Action Lab, a pilot co-creation initiative that works on year-long projects with grassroots youth activists based in the global south to support their movements and help them become more resilient and sustainable by building solidarity and networks, strengthening capacities, engaging with policy processes and facilitating resources to support their movement.

    Perk Pomeyie


    Can you tell us more about the work that you do?

    My work is part of the broader work of GYEM, a leading youth-led grassroots movement in Ghana. GYEM works by organising and coordinating young people from different backgrounds and empowering them with the tools, techniques and technology to run disruptive campaigns on environmental issues. GYEM addresses key ecological challenges such as poor waste management, various forms of pollution, deforestation and the impacts of climate change in different communities and regions of Ghana. It specialises in running high-impact training for non-violent direct action (NVDA) campaigns, which target state actors and decision-makers from both the government and business sectors.

    GYEM is composed of a youth-led Steering Group that mobilises logistics creatively, forging partnerships with other grassroots activists and community-based organisations to influence environmental change from the bottom up. It employs digital organising via social media and other NVDA tactics to deliver campaigns that challenge the status quo and offer both transformational and incremental community-led solutions that bring together scientific and Indigenous knowledge systems. GYEM also hosts the largest annual youth-led environmental summit in Ghana, Power Shift, which brings together grassroots activists from across the country to share ideas and collaborate on campaigns in various parts of Ghana.

    We do much of our work in collaboration with several other organisations, including Rocha Ghana, an environmental civil society organisation (CSO) focusing on practical conservation interventions in important ecological habitats and improving the ability of target communities to adapt to current trends in climate change; the Green Africa Youth Organisation, a youth-led gender-balanced advocacy group that focuses on environmental sustainability and community development; 350 Ghana, a leading environmental grassroots CSO affiliated to, aimed at mobilising and empowering young people in partnership with key stakeholders to champion the need to reduce our carbon emissions and promote renewable energy systems; and WaterAid Ghana, a CSO focused on providing people with clean water, decent toilets and sanitation.

    I am based in Accra, Ghana’s capital, but I work with diverse communities in different locations depending on the environmental challenge being addressed. Some of these include low-income groups who reside in informal settlements and are disproportionately affected by the impacts of plastic pollution and flooding. Another group I work with are frontline communities who face the impacts of climate change, such as drought, water stress and food insecurity. I also work in high schools and university campuses with student volunteers, aged between 12 and 25, who are passionate about the environment and require training and capacity to take action. Finally, I engage with CSOs working on various Sustainable Development Goals nationwide. Most of these are youth groups with leaders and members between 18 and 35 years old, working on initiatives and projects in areas such as conservation, plastic recycling, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and climate mitigation and adaptation.

    What have been the biggest successes you have achieved?

    We have had several high-profile victories. In 2016, the government backtracked on a project, proposed in 2013, to build a coal-powered plant in a community called Ekumfi Aboano. The plant was going to pose health and environmental risks to the people there, and especially to children and women. We designed campaign messages, organised the community for NVDA and marched repeatedly. As a result, the government engaged GYEM in a discussion and halted the coal plant project in 2016.

    Secondly, in 2016, WaterAid Ghana approached GYEM in search of support to create awareness of WASH-based climate adaptation interventions. They wanted young people to design a campaign to draw the government’s attention to WASH issues in local communities and informal settlements, and tackle them as part of adapting to climate change. I contributed with my design work and communication strategies to a year-long campaign that reached more than 10,000 young people. This resulted in the National WASH Forum, which brought together local communities and political actors to work jointly towards the goal of addressing WASH problems as part of climate adaptation strategies.

    In 2018, I worked with other activists in an urban poor settlement in an area called Pokuase, to raise awareness about a water source in the community that was being threatened by road construction and other building work. This water source was vital because it served the community during the dry season. For the first time, attention was drawn to the impact of human activities on the river.

    Did you take part in the global climate mobilisations in 2019?

    Yes, in late 2019 I championed the first #FridaysforFuture and #SchoolClimateStrike campaigns in the northern region of Ghana. I organised and coordinated strikes in Damongo and Tamale. I designed creative graphics and campaign materials, which attracted more than 200 schoolchildren and young people to these global campaigns. This was important because it was the first time that children and young people in that part of Ghana came out in large numbers to raise their voice on the impacts of climate change and demand urgent action from their leaders. Northern Ghana is currently experiencing the worst impact of climate change in the form of droughts and food insecurity.

    Ours was one of the many #FridaysforFuture events that were held in Ghana. I think we’ve been successful in mobilising because we’ve used innovative approaches. Personally, I’ve used my skills in design thinking and graphic design and my expertise in non-violent communication and direct action. I communicate to reach my target on various social media platforms, while also mobilising communities for action on the ground with context-relevant messages to address specific environmental challenges.

    Before that, in March 2019, I helped bring together hundreds of grassroots activists from Ghana and activists from the International Youth Climate Movement from other parts of Africa, to campaign for climate justice and urgent climate action, during the United Nations (UN) Africa Climate Week. I think this has been so far the most important achievement of my work as an activist. This high-profile conference was hosted in Accra and was attended by African governments, international organisations and business leaders. During this week, I coordinated an NVDA training session for hundreds of young people, while leading a mass rally of about 300 activists to the summit venue to deliver a strong message to heads of governments, businesses and stakeholders of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to act on the climate emergency.

    I consider this as an important achievement because as a grassroots activist in Ghana, this was the first time I gained a strong personal conviction that my work in the little corner of my community has a potential to cause change at the top, if supported with the right tools, capacity and resources.

    What support do activists like you need from international actors, including international civil society?

    Personally, my work is self-financed. I use some income from my part-time self-employment as a graphic designer to support my activism. I design marketing materials for individuals and campaign banners for CSOs and get paid for it. I use a percentage of this to fund my work. Sometimes, family and friends also donate to support my work if I make a request. I have also financed my work through crowdfunding to help coordinate and implement projects and high-profile campaigns. So one area in which activists like me need support is in generating sustainable resources.

    We also need more opportunities to connect and network with other activists from the global south who may share similar solutions to particular challenges in their respective contexts, to interact with multiple actors and to learn to navigate complex policy processes in the areas in which we work.

    Civic space in Ghana is rated as ‘narrowed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Get in touch with the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement through itsFacebook page andblog, and follow@gyemgh on Twitter.


  • Grassroots Organising Points the way in Fight Against Rising Repression

    By Lysa John, CIVICUS Secretary General

    This article is part of a series on the current state of civil society organisations (CSOs), which will be the focus of International Civil Society Week (ICSW), scheduled to take place in Belgrade, April 8-12. 

    “I never thought it would get so big and I think it is amazing.”

    The words of a 16-year-old Swedish teenager who skipped school to protest outside her government’s inaction on climate change. Greta Thunberg is marvelling at how, in just a few short months, her solitary protests outside Sweden’s parliament, have inspired and united hundreds of thousands of young people and others across the globe into a powerful, growing grassroots movement for climate change action.

    Read on: Inter Press Service


  • Lettre ouverte de leaders militants aux délégués du Forum économique mondial

    Les leaders militants demandent aux délégués du Forum économique mondial de déclarer l’urgence climatique

    Nous sommes aux côtés – #StandTogether – des centaines de millions de personnes à travers le monde qui s’engagent en faveur de la justice climatique, de la transformation économique, de l’égalité, des droits humains, de l’environnement, de l’égalité entre hommes et femmes, et des droits des travailleurs, des enfants, des réfugiés, des peuples autochtones et des communautés confessionnelles.

    Afin de limiter le réchauffement climatique mondial à 1,5 °C, nous devons réduire de moitié les émissions mondiales d’ici 2030 et parvenir à zéro émission à l’horizon 2050.

    Nous pensons qu’il est temps pour les décideurs réunis lors de la réunion annuelle du Forum économique mondial à Davos de déclarer l’urgence climatique dans leurs pays et au sein de leurs entreprises et de prendre de toute urgence les mesures nécessaires en vue de protéger l’humanité et notre planète.

    Les gouvernements, les entreprises, les investisseurs et la société civile doivent collaborer sans attendre en vue de restructurer notre système économique d’ici la fin de la décennie, de mettre fin au chaos climatique, tout en luttant contre les inégalités et en faisant respecter les droits humains et le droit du travail.

    Afin de permettre une transition juste pour les travailleurs et les populations, nous devons:

    • Mettre un terme à l’exploration et à l’extraction des combustibles fossiles – En finir rapidement avec l’exploration, l’extraction et l’utilisation de ces combustibles ; les pays à hauts revenus doivent réaliser les réductions les plus rapides et les investisseurs doivent se désengager des combustibles fossiles.
    • Cesser de subventionner les combustibles fossiles – Redistribuer les 5,2 billions de dollars de subventions accordées à l’industrie des énergies fossiles pour financer les énergies renouvelables et renforcer les systèmes de protection sociale.
    • Faire payer les pollueurs – Fixer un prix justifié à la pollution et faire payer aux émetteurs le coût réel de leurs activités sur la santé humaine et l’environnement.

    Nous pensons qu’il est temps de construire un futur prospère, régénérant et plus équitable, qui fasse la part belle à l'égalité entre hommes et femmes et ne laisse personne de côté. Pour ce faire, les entreprises doivent se conformer à des lois respectant les droits humains et l’environnement, travailler de façon transparente et responsable afin de mettre en place des politiques de transformation et mettre en œuvre la diligence requise pour identifier leurs impacts préjudiciables, les rendre publics et y remédier.

    Sans ce leadership, le thème central de ce 50e Forum économique mondial à Davos, consacré aux « Parties prenantes pour un monde cohérent et durable », sonnera creux et nous ne parviendrons pas à réaliser les Objectifs de développement durable d’ici 2030.

    Alors que nous entamons cette décennie décisive, il est temps que les gouvernements et les entreprises réunis à Davos décident s’ils se mobilisent aux côtés de l’humanité pour notre avenir commun.

    Amnesty International
    Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
    Global Call to Action Against Poverty
    Global Witness


  • New paper on the restrictions facing climate change activists

    • Environmental activism is dangerous and too often deadly, and may worsen as the growing climate crisis fuels divides over access to natural resources
    • Millions of people have marched this year calling for an end to climate injustice yet around the world just 4 percent of the world’s population live in countries where governments are properly respecting the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression according to the CIVICUS Monitor.
    • The annual United Nations climate change negotiations (COP), to be held in Madrid from 2 to 13 December  was meant to be the ‘People’s COP’ but was unable to find a home in Latin America, which remains the most dangerous region in the world to be an environmental defender

    Millions of people have taken to the streets in 2019 calling for an end to climate injustice but on the frontlines of the crisis and at the United Nations brave activists continue to be deliberately silenced.

    This new position paper ‘We will not be silenced: Climate activism from the frontlines to the UN’ details how people who speak out for climate justice are threatened and intimidated with violence, repressive laws, frivolous lawsuits and disinformation campaigns. Instead of responding to the demands of the climate movement for a more ambitious and just response to the climate crisis, governments are choosing to smother their voices.

    In October, when Chilean civil society called for the government to withdraw the military from the streets before hosting COP 25 the Piñera government instead responded by withdrawing overnight from hosting the pivotal meeting. Chile’s withdrawal reflects a worrying trend after Brazil earlier pulled out from hosting COP 25 and Poland, the host of COP 24, imposed restrictions on public mobilisations and limited the participation of accredited civil society.

    Civil society scrutiny and contributions to UN climate talks are vital in a year when millions of people have marched in the streets demanding an end to climate inaction. Recent developments in UN climate talks - including the erasure of the landmark IPCC 1.5 degree report from negotiations - under pressure from states including  Saudi Arabia - show the vital need for the COP 25 to be the first true ‘People’s COP’ - reversing the trends in closing space for civil society from the local to the global level.

    For more information and interview requests please contact:

    Lyndal Rowlands (English)
    Natalia Gomez Peña (English, Spanish)

    Download: English | Spanish


  • Nuevo documento sobre las restricciones que sufren los activistas que luchan contra el cambio climático

    • El activismo ambiental es peligroso y, con demasiada frecuencia, mortal. Esto puede empeorar a medida que la creciente crisis climática agrava el acceso a los recursos naturales.
    • Millones de personas han marchado este año pidiendo el fin de la injusticia climática, pero en todo el mundo solo el 4 por ciento de la población mundial vive en países donde los gobiernos respetan adecuadamente las libertades de asociación, reunión pacífica y expresión, según el Monitor CIVICUS.
    • Aunque la COP 25, que se celebrará en Madrid del 2 al 13 de diciembre, debía ser la "COP de la gente", no pudo encontrar un hogar en América Latina, que sigue siendo la región más peligrosa del mundo para defender el medioambiente

    Millones de personas salieron a las calles en 2019 pidiendo el fin de la injusticia climática, pero en la primera línea de la crisis y en las Naciones Unidas, valientes activistas continúan siendo silenciados deliberadamente. Este nuevo documento de posición "Silenciando a los Testigos: activismo climático desde la primera línea hasta la ONU" detalla cómo las personas que hablan por la justicia climática son amenazadas e intimidadas con violencia, leyes represivas, juicios frívolos y campañas de desinformación. En lugar de responder a las demandas del movimiento climático por una respuesta más ambiciosa y justa a la crisis climática, los gobiernos eligen sofocar sus voces.

    En octubre, cuando la sociedad civil chilena pidió al gobierno que retirara a los militares de las calles antes de la COP 25, el gobierno de Piñera respondió cancelando de la noche a la mañana esta reunión central. El retiro de Chile como anfitrión de la COP refleja una tendencia preocupante,  después de que Brasil decidió no alojar la COP 25 y Polonia, la anfitriona de la COP 24, impuso restricciones a las movilizaciones públicas y limitó la participación de la sociedad civil acreditada.

    El escrutinio por parte de la sociedad civil y las contribuciones a las conversaciones sobre el clima de la ONU son vitales en un año en que millones de personas marcharon por las calles exigiendo el fin de la inacción climática. Los recientes desarrollos en las negociaciones climáticas de la ONU, incluida la eliminación del histórico informe de 1.5 grados del IPCC de las negociaciones, bajo la presión de estados como Arabia Saudita, muestran la necesidad vital de que la COP 25 sea la primera 'COP de la gente', y que se reviertan las tendencias del cierre del espacio cívico para la sociedad civil desde el nivel local hasta el global.

    Para obtener más información y solicitudes de entrevistas, comuníquese con:

    Lyndal Rowlands (Inglés)

    Natalia Gomez Peña (Inglés, Español)

    Descargue:  Español Inglés


  • Observations on the quest to build back better

    SDG Knowledge Hub’s interview with Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer

    • Five years since the passage of the SDGs, the impulse in many quarters is still to scale up existing approaches, rather than to push for fundamental changes in how our societies and economies function to better realize rights.
    • In addition, there are worrying signs that COVID-19 emergency restrictions could be used as a smokescreen for a broader crackdown on dissent, which would undermine accountability for the 2030 Agenda.
    • Countries that appear to have done better are ones that have empathetic leaders who have been inclusive in their policy responses and have involved civil society in decision making.

    The SDG Knowledge Hub spoke with Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer at CIVICUS, about his assessment of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and impacts on the 2030 Agenda. Mandeep highlights the persistence of “MDG mindsets” and an increase in censorship and surveillance. He also suggests five ways to build a better post-pandemic world.

    Read full interview in SDG Knowledge Hub


  • Outcomes & reflections from the UN Human Rights Council

    Joint statement at the end of the 41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    By renewing the mandate of the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), the Council has sent a clear message that violence and discrimination against people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities cannot be tolerated. It reaffirmed that specific, sustained and systematic attention is needed to address these human rights violations and ensure that LGBT people can live a life of dignity. We welcome the Core Group's commitment to engage in dialogue with all States, resulting in over 50 original co-sponsors across all regions. However, we regret that some States have again attempted to prevent the Council from addressing discrimination and violence on the basis of SOGI.

    This Council session also sent a clear message that Council membership comes with scrutiny by addressing the situations of Eritrea, the Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This shows the potential the Council has to leverage its membership to become more effective and responsive to rights holders and victims. 

    The Council did the right thing by extending its monitoring of the situation in Eritrea. The onus is on the Eritrean Government to cooperate with Council mechanisms, including the Special Rapporteur, in line with its membership obligations. 

    We welcome the first Council resolution on the Philippinesas an important first step towards justice and accountability. We urge the Council to closely follow this situation and be ready to follow up with additional action, if the situation does not improve or deteriorates further. We deeply regret that such a resolution was necessary, due to the continuation of serious violations and repeated refusal of the Philippines – despite its membership of the Council– to cooperate with existing mechanisms. 

    We deplore that the Philippines and Eritrea sought to use their seats in this Council to seek to shield themselves from scrutiny, and those States who stood with the authorities and perpetrators who continue to commit grave violations with impunity, rather than with the victims.

    We welcome the written statement by 22 States on Chinaexpressing collective concern over widespread surveillance, restrictions to freedoms of religion and movement, and large-scale arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. We consider it as a first step towards sustained Council attention and in the absence of progress look to those governments that have signed this letter to follow up at the September session with a resolution calling for China to allow access to the region to independent human rights experts and to end country-wide the arbitrary detention of individuals based on their religious beliefs or political opinions.

    We welcome the progress made in resolutions on the rights of women and girls: violence against women and girls in the world of work, on discrimination against women and girls and on the consequences of child, early and forced marriage. We particularly welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls under its new name and mandate to focus on the intersections of gender and age and their impact on girls. The Council showed that it was willing to stand up to the global backlash against the rights of women and girls by ensuring that these resolutions reflect the current international legal framework and resisted cultural relativism, despite several amendments put forward to try and weaken the strong content of these resolutions. 

    However, in the text on the contribution of developmentto the enjoyment of all human rights, long standing consensus language from the Vienna Declaration for Programme of Action (VDPA) recognising that, at the same time, “the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights” has again been deliberately excluded, disturbing the careful balance established and maintained for several decades on this issue. 

    We welcome the continuous engagement of the Council in addressing the threat posed by climate changeto human rights, through its annual resolution and the panel discussion on women’s rights and climate change at this session. We call on the Council to continue to strengthen its work on this issue, given its increasing urgency for the protection of all human rights.

    The Council has missed an opportunity on Sudanwhere it could have supported regional efforts and ensured that human rights are not sidelined in the process. We now look to African leadership to ensure that human rights are upheld in the transition. The Council should stand ready to act, including through setting up a full-fledged inquiry into all instances of violence against peaceful protesters and civilians across the country. 

    During the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial and summary executions, States heard loud and clear that the time to hold Saudi Arabia accountable is now for the extrajudicial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. We recall that women human rights defenders continue to be arbitrarily detained despite the calls by 36 States at the March session. We urge States to adopt a resolution at the September session to establish a monitoring mechanism over the human rights situation in the country. 

    We welcome the landmark report of the High Commissioner on the situation for human rights in Venezuela; in response to the grave findings in the report and the absence of any fundamental improvement of the situation in the meantime, we urge the Council to adopt a Commission of Inquiry or similar mechanism in September, to reinforce the ongoing efforts of the High Commissioner and other actors to address the situation.

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate on freedom of peaceful assembly and association. This mandate is at the core of our work as civil society and we trust that the mandate will continue to protect and promote these fundamental freedoms towards a more open civic space.

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus. We acknowledge some positive signs of re-engagement in dialogue by Belarus, and an attempted negotiation process with the EU on a potential Item 10 resolution. However, in the absence of systemic human rights reforms in Belarus, the mandate and resolution process remains an essential tool for Belarusian civil society. In addition, there are fears of a spike in violations around upcoming elections and we are pleased that the resolution highlights the need for Belarus to provide safeguards against such an increase.

    We welcome the renewal of the quarterly reporting process on the human rights situation in Ukraine. However, we also urge States to think creatively about how best to use this regular mechanism on Ukraine to make better progress on the human rights situation.

    The continued delay in the release of the UN databaseof businesses engaged with Israeli settlements established pursuant to Council resolution 31/36 in March 2016 is of deep concern.  We join others including Tunisia speaking on behalf of 65 states and Peru speaking on behalf of 26 States in calling on the High Commissioner to urgently and fully fulfil this mandate as a matter of urgency and on all States to cooperate with all Council mandates, including this one, and without political interference.

    Numerous States and stakeholders highlighted the importance of the OHCHR report on Kashmir; while its release only a few days ago meant it did not receive substantive consideration at the present session, we look forward to discussing it in depth at the September session. 

    Finally, we welcome the principled leadership shown by Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, in pursuing accountability for individual victims of acts of intimidation and reprisalsunder General Debate Item 5, contrasting with other States which tend to make only general statements of concern. We call on States to raise all individual cases at the interactive dialogue on reprisals and intimidation in the September session. 


    1. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    2. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    3. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    4. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    5. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    6. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
    7. Center for Reproductive Rights 
    8. ARTICLE 19
    9. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    10. Human Rights House Foundation 
    11. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    12. Franciscans International 
    13. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
    14. Amnesty International
    15. Human Rights Watch
    16. International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) 


  • Pacific Island leaders are tightening the screws on press freedom, dissent

    By Josef Benedict, CIVICUS  civic space research officer. 

    It’s not only climate change and rising sea levels that threaten the lives and well-being of Pacific Islanders. Rising levels of official intolerance of dissent and free speech across the region poses a threat to the well-being of their democracies.
    Read on: Asian Correspondent


  • PAPUA NEW GUINEA: ‘If we allow seabed mining everyone is at risk’

    Following a year marked by massive mobilisation around the climate emergency, CIVICUS is interviewing civil society activists, leaders and experts about the main environmental challenges they face and the actions they are taking. CIVICUS speaks withJonathan Mesulam, spokesperson for the Alliance of Solwara Warriors and a campaigner on issues relating to experimental deep-sea mining, climate change and logging in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

    The Alliance of Solwara Warriors is an anti-mining alliance of local communities in areas affected by deep-sea mines in PNG and across the Pacific. It has organised theresistance  against seabed mining since 2009, when the controversial deep-sea mining project Solwara 1 was proposed to mine mineral-rich hydrothermal vents on the floor of the Bismarck Sea. The alliance also launched alegal case against the project in PNG's courts. In November 2019, the company behind Solwara 1, Nautilus, was declared bankrupt and it is uncertain if the project will continue.

    Jonathan Mesulam

    Can you tell us about the Alliance of Solwara Warriors and how it was formed? What are its main objectives and why is it opposed to seabed mining?

    The Alliance of Solwara Warriors was formed in 2016 by representatives of communities along the Bismarck Sea who are threatened by seabed mining. The members of the Alliance also include the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches, international and local environmental civil society organisations (CSOs), educated elites, local community-based organisations and a few politicians who support the call to ban deep-sea mining. Our main objective is to ban deep-sea mining in PNG waters and the Pacific and we also call for the cancellation of exploration and mining licences.

    Seabed mining is a new frontier for the mining industry and is very risky as our understanding of the seabed is very limited. The first discovery of deep-sea minerals was in 1979 and we have no idea how the seabed ecosystem operates. If we allow seabed mining, then we may just call for the end of humanity, as the complexity of the food chains on which humans depend will be affected, putting human life at risk. I think we should all stand in solidarity to ban deep-sea mining in our area because the sea has no boundaries and when the marine ecosystem is affected, everyone everywhere is at risk.

    Environmental and legal groups have urged extremecaution around seabed mining, arguing there are potentially massive – and unknown – ramifications for the environment and for nearby communities, and that the global regulatory framework is not yet drafted, and is currently deficient.

    How has the campaign against seabed mining progressed? What have you achieved?

    The campaign against seabed mining has been very challenging and at times we almost lost hope because of the heavy presence of Nautilus, the company behind the Solwara project, at the project site for the last eight years. However, there has been growing opposition from coastal communities, local and international CSOs and churches, especially the Catholic and Lutheran churches. An environmental law firm, the Centre for Environment and Community Rights, filed a legal case and we were able to stop this project from going into full-scale mining operation. Every concerned individual and organisation has played a very important role in their respective areas of work, such as finance, the environment and politics, to stop this project.

    During the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum, held in Tuvalu in August 2019, the Pacific Island leaders also called for a 10-year moratorium on deep-sea mining. But that is not what we wanted. We arecalling for a total ban on deep-sea mining.

    What challenges has the alliance faced in recent years?

    Funding activism is a big challenge. To travel to a community to talk to people you need to pay for a bus. You have to raise funds to enable mobility and communication. The second major challenge is capacity development. As members of an alliance we deal with that by distributing challenges; we then help each other and strategise in our workshops so that we can learn from each other. Networking helps with this a lot, and the support of partners such as Bismark Ramu Group, Caritas PNG and the PNG Council of Churches.

    We have also received a lot of support from CSOs and individuals outside the country. People and organisations including Sir David Attenborough, the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, Mining Watch Canada and Caritas New Zealand, just to name a few, have really supported the campaign in terms of funding, providing information on the campaign and lobbying with banks and financers not to support such a project. As a result, we have seen positive results in our work on the ground.

    Another challenge we face is that some people in the community support deep-sea mining, and this creates division. We have had to work hard at times to really convince people that this project is not good. It's only through persistent, dedicated work and making information available so that people have all the facts, not just the perspective that the company wants people to know, that people will really support you. Once people know the truth, then you get the support.

    What is the state of civic freedoms – the freedom of association peaceful assembly and expression – in Papua New Guinea?

    The media in PNG is controlled by the state and they only publish stories that are good for the government. Sometimes our stories are not covered, and we end up publishing them through social media. The right to the freedom of association in PNG really depends on the kind of issues that are being addressed. On some very sensitive issues, the police will not allow people to organise and take part in protests. Our ability to carry on our work alsodepends on the kind of companies we are dealing with. Some companies have spent millions of Kina – the PNG currency – to stop environmental human rights defenders, and going against them is obviously risky.

    Civic space inPapua New Guinea is rated as ‘obstructed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor

    Get in touch with the Alliance of Solwara Warriors through itsFacebook page.


  • Paris Climate Agreement comes into force: A review of the UN's Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (A.K.A. COP22)

    One year since the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement, over 20,000 leaders from government, business and civil society met in Marrakech, Morocco for the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22). The two week conference reviewed progress on implementation, produced additional commitments and examined the relationship between the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

    In the beginning, there was a lot of enthusiasm with the ratification of the Paris agreement in a record time just before the negotiations started. However, in the third day of the Conference participants were hit by the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Despite reassuring remarks on the resilience of the Paris Agreement and the possibility of leadership on the local and regional levels, concerns and uncertainty about the future of climate cooperation were present throughout the event.


  • PHILIPPINES: ‘If we don’t fight against the system, people will continue to die’

    Following a year marked by massive mobilisation on the climate emergency, CIVICUS is interviewing civil society activists, leaders and experts about the main environmental challenges they face in their contexts and the actions they are taking. CIVICUS speaks with Jhewoung Capatoy, a young climate defender from the Philippines. Jhewoung is a community youth organiser with Young Bataeños Environmental Advocacy Network, a youth environmental organisation that promotes environmentally sustainable development and seeks to create awareness among youth to act to conserve the environment.

    jhewoung capatoy

    Why did you become an activist?

    I come from the Lamao Limay Bataan community, which is about three hours away from the capital of the Philippines, Manila. I decided to get involved because local communities are suffering as a result of the establishment of coal-fired power plants. People are suffering from health issues and are dying as a result of environmental disasters. And people who speak up against this are also getting killed. Being an activist is dangerous, but if no one speaks up and acts against this, the situation will become normalised. If we don’t fight against the system, things will continue to be the way they are: people will continue to die and the impacts of the climate crisis will become unbearable to our communities. Most likely, a lot more people will die.

    Deep down, one reason why I’m doing this is that I have lost people who were very dear to me. I went through an experience that marked me for life when I was in first grade, about seven years old, in 2004. A flash flood killed two neighbours who were also my close friends. Flash floods were caused by the construction of an energy plant in the area. Later on, when I started high school, I got in touch with a youth organisation that worked to protect Mother Nature. I got involved because I didn’t want to lose anyone else. I had realised that my friends had been killed by a corporation that only cared about making money, and by our own government, which colluded with the corporations and allowed everything to happen. Together, corporations and government are too powerful and if nobody stood up against them, they would be able to kill whoever they want. If nobody fought for it, our community would likely be gone in the near future.

    However, being an activist also meant that I would continue to lose people. Soon after I got involved one colleague, a well-known climate defender, Gloria Capitan, was killed. She led the fight against coal-fired power plants because the pollution caused by these corporations in her area were causing people serious respiratory problems and other issues. We believe that both the corporations we were protesting against and our local government are responsible for her killing. We know who shot Gloria Capitan, but the police did not listen. They tried to cover everything up and have the case dismissed.

    Can you tell us more about the work that you do?

    We organise campaigns to educate people about the effects and impacts of dirty industries and how corporations are threatening our right to a secure environment. We organise people and we protest, mostly against coal-fired power plants. We also try to reach policy-makers and bring human rights violations to the attention of human rights bodies. We were once able to reach the Philippines Commission on Human Rights, which investigated what was happening and issued a resolution that acknowledged that these corporations were causing human rights violations in our community, as well as in other communities that have dirty industries in the Philippines. That was one of our greatest achievements because if the resolution is eventually disseminated to the public, we can find a way to hold corporations accountable and bring some reparation to the affected communities.

    Did you take part in the global climate mobilisations in 2019?

    Yes, our youth organisation, Young Bataeños for Environmental Advocacy Network, participated in the global climate strike in September 2019 by holding a local event. There also was a mobilisation in Manila, but we decided to protest locally, staying in the place where the coal-fired power plants are having their worse effects. The reason why we mobilised is that we want to hold these corporations, as well as the government that lets them have their way, responsible for what they are doing to our communities.

    We had been mobilising and protesting since before the global strike, but the global climate strike was a good opportunity to put our issues out there. It was very useful as a framework because it was a global call to make corporations responsible for emissions. But we chose to participate in this global call from our own local communities, without going to demonstrate in Manila, in order to communicate that the reason why we are fighting is that the people in these communities are suffering the worst effects of global warming and the climate crisis. It is the rich of the global north who profit from these big corporations that emit carbon gases, but it is always us, the poor communities of developing countries, who suffer the worst environmental impacts of these industries.

    True, people in developed countries are striking and mobilising, and it is good that they have called attention to what is happening, but let’s always remember that the impacts of the climate crisis are extremely unequal. The impacts that people in the global north are facing are not as devastating as the ones we are suffering in the Philippines. That’s the reason why we are mobilising: because it is us who are experiencing the consequences of their actions. It is not even a matter of choice really. We are a poor country in which people are dying due to the climate crisis, so we are fighting for our lives.

    Have you had any participation in global climate forums?

    Our youth organisation has not been able to take part in any international gathering. We basically have no access to that kind of spaces. Our organisation is local and no one has yet given us the opportunity to be under the spotlight. It would have been good if we had been invited because that would have meant an opportunity for us to represent people at the grassroots level. It is important to advocate for the environment, but you also have to make sure that you are representing the people who are most vulnerable. It is not enough not be there just because you believe that the climate crisis is happening. People should represent the real experiences and those who are negatively impacted by climate change.

    The very people who are suffering the most from the climate emergency should be given the opportunity to speak for themselves. They should be invited to these forums so they can tell the world about their experiences. Those forums are big and impersonal and it would be important for participants to hear the stories of the people who are living in the areas where climate change and dirty industries are having their strongest impact. They are the ones who can really tell what’s happening, beyond what the media is covering, which is far from enough.

    What support does your movement need from international sources, including international civil society?

    Taking part in global networks is very useful for us. For instance, we’ve asked young people from Taiwan, who were participating in the 2019 Climate Action Summit, to send letters to our national and local governments to urge them to stop giving permits for corporations to increase their operations. Our government has planned to authorise two dozen new coal-fired power plants by the year 2030, so we are asking young people from other countries who are better connected to put pressure on our government. Letters coming from outside the country would mean a lot because they would show that our stories are not staying inside the country, that people from the outside world are listening and reacting to the pain and the suffering of the people in the Philippines.

    International organisations like CIVICUS could also help amplify our stories and attract the attention of our government. This then could make our government rethink the path they have taken in generating energy.

    It would be an even bigger help if the international community could help us financially in order to continue with our work. As climate activists, working with the local communities that are directly affected by climate change is always a challenge. I have had to leave my comfort zone, drop out of school and be away from my family. I stay in a community where there is little internet access or transportation. I go to work kilometres away from my house, to organise people, to give them updates and reassure them that I am with them for real. I do it because people need someone they can lean on, someone they can trust their stories with, someone they feel could help them.

    Civic space in Philippines is rated as ‘obstructed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

    Get in touch with the Young Bataeños for Environmental Advocacy Network through itsFacebook page.


  • Photos: Lives rent asunder by climate change in Bangladesh

    In 2018, two global agreements - one focused on the protection of refugees and the other on migration - are in the final stages of negotiation between governments, under the auspices of the United Nations. Each offers a rare opportunity to protect migrants from one of the biggest sources of displacement today - climate change. Through these images GMB Akash presents stories of loss from among the around 18 million Bangladeshis who risk displacement as the sea moves inward, expected to submerge as much as 17% of the country’s land by 2050.

    See on: Hindustan Times 


  • Putting the Pacific on the Map

    By Danny Sriskandarajah

    This year, CIVICUS International Civil Society Week will take place in Fiji, and will allow civil society delegates from around the world to explore the frontlines in the global fight against climate change. 

    Read on:Open Democracy 


  • Sign on! Global Civil Society Declaration on Climate-Induced Migration

    At the conclusion of International Civil Society Week 2017 (ICSW) on December 7th, more than 700 civil society leaders and activists from over 100 countries have called for climate change to be formally recognised as a primary driver of migration. The call comes just days after Donald Trump announced that he is withdrawing the United States from the United Nations Global Compact on Migration. 

    Add Your Voice! Sign on Today

    The Global Civil Society Declaration on Climate Induced Displacement was first presented to delegates of ICSW, held in Suva, Fiji, by global civil society alliance CIVICUS and the Pacific Islands Association of Non Governmental Organisations (PIANGO). This is the first time in more than 20 years of convening that ICSW was held in the Pacific region, where rising sea levels are already displacing communities.
     The declaration calls on the international community to commit to protecting the human rights of all persons, regardless of their migratory status and fulfill the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.  

    “The UN global compact process is a critical opportunity to develop a consensus position on how the  international community should promote rights-based migration and protect refugees,” said Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS. “We are urging policymakers to protect the rights and dignity of individuals who are being forced to move, and promote the cultural rights of the communities affected,“ Said Sriskandarajah.

    Organisations which have contributed to the declaration include the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, the Pacific Islands Development Forum, Oxfam Pacific,, ACT Alliance and CIVICUS, among others. 


    Add Your Voice! Sign on Today

    Spread the word

    Share the message on social media:

    .@Pacific_2030, @PIDF01, @oxfampacific, @350, @ACTAlliance, CIVICUS & many others, launch Declaration on Climate Induced Displacement. Read the full declaration and sign on here:

    More than 700 civil society leaders and activists from over 100 countries call for #climatechange to be recognised as a key driver of #migration! Join the call here: #ICSW2017

    I just joined others around the world in signing on to the Climate Declaration! You can too:

    .@CIVICUSSG calls on policymakers to protect the rights & dignity of individuals who are being forced to move, and protect the cultural rights of the communities affected. Join the call 

    Rising seas and extreme weather are leading many to have no option but to abandon their homes! Sign on to the Climate Declaration and call on policy makers to protect climate refugees

    Find out more:
    Check out these stories by journalists and delegates attending ICSW. 

    Al Jazeera: Ex-New Zealand PM: Manus refugees deserve humanity
    Open Democracy: Climate refugees need global protection – with or without the US
    Inter Press News: Migrants Deserve Dignity” says CIVICUS While Trump Pulls out of Proposed Migrant Compact
    Open Democracy: Climate refugees need global protection – with or without the US
    Reuters: Where is the justice?' ask climate 'refugees', sidelined from global deal
    Fiji Times: Call for solidarity on migration
    Radio New Zealand: Climate-induced migration critical issue for Pacific NGOs

    Want to know more about what happened at International Civil Society Week 2017? Visit the live blog archive. 


  • Stories from the youth climate movement in the Global South

    By Inés Pousadela, Senior Research Specialist at CIVICUS

    In early 2020, as millions went into lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the environment experienced temporary relief from the impacts of human activity. As skies cleared and birds and animals claimed city spaces, it became apparent that the young people who had mobilized for the climate across the world in 2019 were right: Much environmental damage is the result of human action, and as such, can also be reversed through human initiative.

    The experience of 2020 has made clear that whether the threat is climate change or a pandemic, humanity won’t survive its challenges unless people act collectively on the basis of scientific consensus.

    Read on Yes Magazine


  • SUDAN: Young activists show climate solidarity through drought, floods and tears


    Nisreen El SayeemCIVICUS speaks toNisreenAl Sayeem, Chair of the Sudan Youth Organization on Climate Change and Coordinator of Youth and Environment - Sudan (YES). Nisreen is a junior negotiator at United Nations (UN) Climate Talks for the African Group of Negotiators and a co-organiser of the UN Youth Climate Summit.Nisreen speaks about how young people in Sudan are organising to respond to the climate crisis using the traditional Sudanese concept of Nafeer – collective voluntary action – to provide solidarity and assistance to villages affected by floods, droughts and desertification, and about how young people from Sudan have successfully fought to havea seat at the negotiationtable at UN climate talks.


    How did youbecome a climate change activist?

    I’ve been doing climate change and environmental activism since 2012, which is seven years now, since my first year of university. Nowadays in Sudan, people's awareness of climate change is definitely different to when I started in 2012. Even policy-makers have a different perspective on climate change issues now, and all the agencies have climate change programmes. Unfortunately, not much has changed regarding UN climate negotiations. UN member states needed 21 years to reach the Paris Agreement, so you can imagine how slow things are still.

    I’m a physicist. I studied physics and I love science very much, but I have realised that unfortunately, without policy-makers, policy papers and policy-making processes, science doesn’t mean anything. I started working in the climate change field because I wanted to see the link between the science and the policy.

    How are young people in Sudan engaging with climate change?

    Young people in Sudan are taking three different paths for climate action: policy, activism – including advocacy, campaigning and work in civil society organisations – and community-based work. Community-based work is what the majority of young people in Sudan are doing, because they realise that policy-makers are not quick enough and civil society work is not inclusive enough, so they are doing the government’s job in many places and also doing the humanitarian’s job in other places.

    Our organisation works with young people. We give them the tools and help them organise their ideas for this community-based work. We are a civil society organisation but we are only a transitional platform for young people, so they can do their community-based work. We are a bridge.

    What does community organising in Sudan look like?

    There is an initiative called Nafeer, which has been a tradition in Sudan since forever. When there is a problem, people join together and try to solve it. Because of climate change, we started witnessing severe rainfall. This caused floods, which completely destroyed more than 18 villages, killed 68 people and left more than 184,000 people homeless. So young people decided to take action. They started delivering humanitarian aid, helping people who were hurt and providing food, shelter and medicines, because the water was contaminated and there was a diarrhoea outbreak.

    Young people also wanted to show solidarity, sharing their sadness and their tears with the people from the flooded villages, and showing them that they were not alone. Even if most of the people who participated in the initiative were not really affected by the floods, the youth of Sudan are still the same, brothers and sisters, and whatever happened to you also happened to me, and with this concept and this spirit, we did it after three months of flooding and tears.

    How else isthe climate crisis affectingSudan, and howhavepeopleprovided community support?

    In Sudan, livelihoods depend on natural resources, and because of climate change seasons are mixed now. Autumn is late, winter is early and summer is early. Now we have a lot of conflicts between farmers and pastoralists over land, resources and crops. We have had very unfortunate events in the east of Sudan where two tribes, one of farmers and one of pastoralists, fought between each other. In 20 days we lost about 180 people in this conflict. We have many conflicts over natural resources but in this case people from both tribes who were educated enough to see that fighting was not a solution made a 15-mile wall to separate the tribes.

    Desertification is killing their land, so they are not able to do any agriculture activities or even pasture their cattle and you know how frustrated you are as a parent at home if you have kids and you cannot bring food to the table. In some villages you find animals and people drinking from the same sources. More and more people are moving to the capital and leaving rural areas deserted. As you can see, things are very complicated: climate change is no joke or a way to push the government to do something; even the government is affected by climate change in a country like Sudan.

    What do you think about the climate strike movement?

    Although it is a very progressive thing to hold strikes in global north countries, in a country like Sudan, going to school is a privilege for a lot of students, and it doesn’t make any sense for people to strike from a school they got into after a huge struggle. So I haven’t been focusing much on the strikes. But I really think it’s affecting the global north countries and I think it’s impressive. For us we have other different ways of taking action.

    You are now a climate negotiator and havesecured places for Sudanese young peoplein the government delegation at UN climate talks. How did you achieve this?

    We began by forming a network of environmental organisations in Sudan. We coordinated with the Environment Conservation Society, the oldest organisation working on the environment in Sudan, and maybe even in Africa, established in 1975. We coordinated between them and other organisations and formed a network that we called Sudan Climate Change Network.

    This network advocated very hard with the Ministry of Environment and its minister. After a huge advocacy campaign to include civil society in the delegation to climate change negotiations at the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the inter-sessions in Bonn, the minister agreed to give each organisation two badges out of a total of 24. We then started a small campaign within the Climate Change Network to give young people at least half of the 24 badges. We didn’t get 12 but we got seven.

    And then with other young people from Africa we pushed towards having a young negotiator programme within the African Group of Negotiators (AGN). We discovered that the AGN had already established a programme because they needed junior negotiators. A lot of the older negotiators are passing away and to guarantee the sustainability of both the negotiation processes and the AGN itself, there was a need to replace this capacity by bringing in more young people, since the climate change fight will not end any time soon. Now I am one of the negotiators for the AGN, and my friend Lena Hussein is the Middle East and North Africa region negotiator for Climate Tracker. So, in total we now have nine young people from Sudan. Our number is increasing because we have proven ourselves, so now they know that we have the capability they are giving us more space.

    You helped organise the first UN Youth Climate Summit in September 2019. What are your thoughts about theSummit, and whatcomes next?

    When you organise the first edition of any huge summit like the Youth Climate Summit, some things might not go as planned. In this case, the general atmosphere was very promising. From my point of view, the only issue was the output: what were the actual conclusions and recommendations of this summit, and how are we going to take these forward? These recommendations need to be taken forward. As one of a group of 30 young organisers, I have many plans for many other forms of engagement, including with the UN Youth Envoy’s Office.

    What do you think will be the big issues for you at COP 25 in Chile this December?

    Regarding negotiation topics at COP 25, we have a huge issue with loss and damage. After I saw what happened here in Sudan, and after I saw how massive the destruction has been in many other African countries, I think that loss and damage is a huge theme for us. For example, in the USA you can have a disaster and because the country can handle this, they can repopulate the area in a month, whereas in Sudan it takes at least two or three years to recover because we really don’t have the capacity to predict or prepare, and after it’s happened, to rehabilitate the affected areas. So loss and damage is a key area for us. I will also follow the Agriculture Agreement, and Climate Finance is and always will be a big deal at negotiations. Every plan, everything that we want to do, is very much linked to the finance issue. Without funding you can’t do anything, and it doesn’t make any sense to plan for something that is not going to happen because there is no money.

    Civic space in Sudan is rated as ‘closed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

    Get in touch with Nisreen through herFacebook page.


  • The climate emergency is a threat to human rights and human life

    Statement at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Watch statement delivered by youth climate activist, Paloma Costa:

    My name is Paloma Costa and I am from a region where the Amazon is threatened and human rights seem to mean nothing. I am the outcome of this dominant paradigm of development, an economic model that we insist that "sustains" our nations but is not sustainable at all. Where mining and large enterprises are destroying our land and our people. 

    So, I want to state something today: Our lives are not for sale. Our lands are not for sale. We are facing a systemic crisis and we cannot come with market solutions to human problems. 

    While we are here convened and discussing human rights, there are still people being killed, arrested and oppressed, just for being social-environmentalists, forest protectors or activists. There are still negotiations of climate change lead by deniers of science and deniers of the climate crisis. The climate emergency is a threat to human rights and human life. And we are drowning in your lack of action in order to make deep structural changes in our society. 

    And we have the solutions! We can defeat local struggles if it becomes a global fight! What more do we need to see to start turning all those resolutions and recommendations available into commitments and policies? To adopt mechanisms where people have responsibility for their actions and recommendations given really guide the parties, in an inclusive, deliberative and binding way?

    That’s why I stand here, to amplify those unheard voices of young people whose human rights are being violated, especially in the global south. But what I really wanted to see is all of these voices here with me, because we are the conscience in the work you do, and we are ready to be part of the solution andtake climate action NOW! We just need to be heard and that our calls turn into concrete action.So I still have hope. Because, your pencils have both the power to heal or to kill. So what will you choose?

    We all have a dream of a beautiful world, and we should honour that dream by doing the necessary work to make it happen. I want to be a co-creator of the world I dream of. The indigenous united themselves in Raoni’s land to protect their territories and as Célia Xakriabá, said: the limits of these lands are in our conscience. So, are you conscious to unite and protect our planet? 


  • The Coming Wave of Climate Displacement

    By Kumi Naidoo

    Not since 1951 has the international community produced a treaty to protect the legal status of the world's refugees. Now, two agreements are currently under discussion at the United Nations, and each offers a rare opportunity to protect global migrants from the biggest source of displacement today.

    Read on: Project Syndicate