Africa’s Environment: The Final Frontier
Before the Subcommittee on Africa
of the Committee on International Relations
House of Representatives
One Hundred Fourth Congress
Second Session July 17, 1996
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:05 p.m. in room 2200, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (chair of the subcommittee), presiding.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. The subcommittee will come to order.
We want to welcome Congressman Alcee Hastings’ daughter, Chelsea, who is with us today and she will be attending Florida A & M. Congresswoman Carrie Meek would be very happy with your choice of higher education institutions. Thank you, Matt and Alcee, for being with us today.
Environmental issues are of great concern to all of us but Alcee and 1, being from Florida, we understand how important a topic it is as we seek to protect our State’s coral reefs, the Everglades and safeguard species that are native to our State, such as the manatee and the Florida deer, from extinction. Miami itself has the normal environmental challenges of any large urban area, even though heavy industry is not a significant sector of our economy. However, the need to protect the environment knows no municipal, State or national border. The environmental damage to one region of the world necessarily affects the global environment.
As we take initiatives to resolve our own environmental difficulties, we cannot remain detached or unconcerned about what is happening in other regions of the world. And Africa is the last frontier .for the environment for two contradictory reasons.
First, it is a continent where there are substantial areas of the environment which haven not been changed by large-scale human settlement and activities. While there has been some damage to Africa’s ecological landscape, it is important to remember that there is much that remains to be preserved and which must be preserved from further damage. Some African countries possess species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Second, Africa is the last frontier because there is so much that 1 needs to be done to create an effective environmental protection movement and to enforce environmental safeguards. Protection of the African environment must begin with addressing the problems of governance that plague so many countries on thc Continent.
A distinguished Nigerian geographer, Akin Mobogunje, wrote recently that while there are international conventions in effect in most African countries and while laws have been passed and regulations have been issued to protect the endangered species of the countries, most species in the Continent are there for the taking. Legal initiatives to stop urban pollution are too often not enforced an] the laws and the regulations are not enforced either protecting the endangered species.
One special area of concern for the environment that almost all countries in Africa must face is the field of urban pollution It is a special challenge in Africa because many countries on the continent have a very rapidly urbanizing population all too often, an urbanization pattern where only one large city is the focus of almost all the urbanization. The city of Lagos, with its population of up to ten million, was built as a city for 300,000. This often over whelms the capacity of the available municipal services of the city and exceeds the financial ability of the government to provide further services and facilities. Basic environmental protections that we take for granted, such as clean drinking water, solid waste collection and sewer systems, are often lacking in large parts of these large urban areas too many people believe that there is a tradeoff between development and environmental concerns. Some argue that the environmental protection is a luxury that African countries cannot afford at this time. Yet, as many have pointed out, the history of Africa’s environmental degradation has demonstrated that the environ- I mental havoc wrought in most countries over the past several decades has not improved the average person’s standard at all.
We are faced in Africa with economics that are deteriorating as rapidly as the environment and theories of tradeoff between the economic development and the environment have little factual basis. The fundamental question is thus how to achieve a balance between human needs and interests and the environmental protection.
The concept of “sustainable development” is relevant here. The development programs that we undertake must be environmentally sound if they are to contribute to the long-term prosperity of the Continent. Overgrazing of pasture lands ultimately destroys the ability of the land to provide for human needs. Poor soil conservation practices on crop lands destroys the ability of the soil to produce needed food and fiber. In all too many African countries, the challenge is to control man’s demand on the natural resources of the country in order to maximize the survival of those resources and man’s ability to benefit from them.
I would like to now turn to our other members of our subcommittee to see if they have opening statements as well.
Mr. HASTINGS. Madam Chairlady, thank you very much and thank you for holding this hearing. I really am interested in hearing Administrator Bombardier and so I will be very brief.
Iwas thinking as you were speaking, Madam Chairman and I associate myself with all of your remarks about the $200 million that our budgetary constraints are just permitting that paltry amount for assistance in restoration of the Ever~1ades in Florida alone. And when you compare $200 million that will not complete the work of the Everglades with the USAID request of $112 million
I do have to confess that it is a bit different being on this side of the table rather than that side of the table and I am not sure it is entirely comfortable. But I will certainly try and do my best.
I would like to say at the beginning that you made a very powerful opening statement and we welcome this hearing and we are very grateful for the opportunity to testify.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
Mr. BOMBARDIER. I do have a prepared statement, Madam Chairman
Ros-Lehtinen. Yes. We will be glad to put it in the record.
Mr. BOMBARDIER. Thank you.
Madam Chair, think of an environmental challenge, any environmental challenge, and it is a challenge facing Africa today. For example, we know the population of Africa is likely to double by the year 2020. We know approximately 80 percent of Africa’s people depend upon farming in one form or another for their livelihood and that because of growing population pressures, they are being pushed onto increasingly marginal lands. We know that soil erosion and soil degradation are already serious problems in Africa, reducing its capacity to feed its people.
Perhaps this seems a distant concern to those of us living here in the United States. But can we as easily ignore some of the other environmental challenges Africa faces? Today, the last major tropical rain forest in Africa, the Congo Basin, is under threat.
future of the Congo Basin is obviously important to the 65 million people who live there. But what happens there will affect all of us as it is the largest rain forest in the world. If destroyed, it will release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which will almost certainly contribute to global climate change, and we will not be able to escape those changes here in the United States.
Let me cite another–example. We know that biodiversity in Africa is threatened. What does the loss of biodiversity mean? At one level, it could mean the loss of animals that give us so much pleasure, such as the forest elephants, gorillas and chimpanzees. Ana perhaps this is a loss we could live with, if we had to. But the truth is, we do not know the full range of plant and animal species that would be lost if biodiversity in Africa is destroyed. And, thus, we cannot begin to estimate the potential advances in medicine, agriculture and other fields that would be lost to the world as a whole.
What are the root causes of these environmental problems? Certainly rapid population growth, urbanization, the movement of people resulting from the lack of economic opportunity, and civil strife have all placed increasing pressure on the environment. Poverty itself is cause. But underlying these are a series of key problems affecting the way people use resources.
Solutions often seem to require too much time to those in immediate need. An African woman who needs to feed her children tonight is unlikely to pay much attention to the long-term consequences associated with removing wood from her land. Too much attention was given to building fences and parks, while too little/’ attention was paid to the needs of local communities in which the parks and fences were located.
Economic incentives often promote the short-term exploitation of resources. In Madagascar, the Forestry Department used to charge
the same fee for cutting pine trees as for harvesting the rare palisandra, a tree that takes a century to regenerate. Too often, people do not have secure use of the land, trees, and other resources and thus lack the incentive to use such resources responsibly.
Finally, the environment in Africa is so diverse and complex that single-issue solutions can often lead to confusion, wasted resources and even more deterioration. The environmental consequences of conflict in the Horn of Africa, in Angola and Mozambique, and in Liberia, cannot be understated. At the same time, scarcities of land and other resources often are fundamental causes of conflict.
Yet not all is negative in Africa. There are many examples where Africans are taking control of their future by taking control of their environment. While problems differ, the recipes for environmental progress share certain traits in common. By giving local people and take in managing their natural resources, we are beginning to see that Africans can wisely balance their immediate needs with the long-term needs of their children and grandchildren.
Throughout African, there is n rethinking of the respective roles the public and private sectors. For instance, government forestry agents in Senegal and Mali now act in partnership with communities, providing technical support instead of acting as policemen. As a consequence, communities and governments share responsibility for forest management and the forest resources are being sustained. Throughout Africa, there have been many examples of enhanced coordination between donors, PVO’s, host country governments and local communities to address the most critical problems facing the environment.
Clearly, there is no certainty that the hopeful signs we are seeing today will become the rule, yet it is also clear that Africa today is a vastly different continent than it was a decade ago. Today, more than 40 African countries have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, National Environmental Action Plans (NEAP). In the best of cases, such as Madagascar, these are developed in highly participatory ways: set specific goals and objectives; establish priorities for the limited use of funds; and become a mechanism through which donors, host governments and people of Africa jointly collaborate in attacking environmental problems.
NEAP is just one example of the growing commitment of Africans to addressing the environmental challenges they face. There are many others as well. And I am proud to say that USAID is playing an important role in this effort as well. Since 1987, the Africa Bureau has been implementing its environmental programs through our Plan for Natural Resources Management. This plan focuses our efforts in three key areas: tropical forestry, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity. We firmly believe that the way to maximize our impact is by focusing scarce resources on a limited range of issues and these are the areas where we believe that we have a comparative advantage among the donor agencies.
There are two points I would like to stress in particular with regard to our environmental programs. First, like physicians, we take very seriously the injunction to do no harm. We are required under agency environmental procedures to review every project design
within the agency. When we discover possible unintended environmental impacts, we change our programs.
The second key element of our work in African is to focus on the r direct links between the environment and economic growth, especially as it affects the rural poor. we know we can make a difference because we are already doing so. In Mali, Francois Coulibali and his family have doubled, in some cases tripled, yields on their land while enhancing its capacity to continue producing in the future. They have done so with our help but, more importantly, they have done so for well over a decade now. And thousands of their neighbors have adopted similar practices, to the benefit of both the people and the environment.
We now have enough experiences as an agency to know what works. Some of the key lessons learned include the following: first, the importance of an enabling environment that is environmentally friendly. If laws, policies and incentives are not environmentally sensitive, results are unlikely.
Second, the need for collaborative strategic planning. None of the problems we have discussed today can be resolved if those involved in attempting to address them fail to cooperate. Nor will solutions be sustainable unless they reflect priorities established by Africans themselves. As donor resources decline, coordination become more important.
Third, incentives make a difference. A farmer who does not have secure use of the land and who could be forced off it tomorrow has little incentive to invest in the future. A community that does not benefit from the wildlife with which it must co-exist will have no stake in the future of that wildlife.
Finally, and most importantly, empowering people makes a difference.
As I said, Madam Chair, the challenges are great and the outcome by no means certain. Much remains to be done. What I can tell you is that the process, however slow it may seem, does pay off and that is why it is so important to stay the course, to remain engaged with Africa as it makes the transition to a more environmentally sustainable and productive future.
Thank you very much, Madam Chairman.[The prepared statement of Mr. Bombardier appears in the ap-
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much.
Gary, it has been stated that many of the problems in Africa are not necessarily inappropriate government policy but rather the implementation and the execution of those policies. What sort of effort is your agency making to improve the quality of the implementation of the policies of environmental protection in African countries?
Mr. BOMBARDIER. We spend a lot of time thinking about capacity building in African countries.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Capacity building
Mr. BOMBARDIER. Capacity building.
First of all, what we are trying to do is two things. One is to get people in African countries to focus on the environmental problems they face, to identify what they think the priorities are, to set those priorities for how limited donor resources are going to be used and how their own resources are going to be used, and then to development plans to implement those priorities. And a key to this, of course is the capacity of governments and individuals thc problems. And, since we have limited resources to address these problems, building the capacity of Africans to address them is very important.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. But how do we go around about to build that capacity?
Mr. Bombardier. We do it in a number of ways. It can involve demonstration projects in particular regions which show people improved natural resource management techniques. IL involves training. It involves discussions among people, government officials and our missions on the ground. So there are a. number of ways in which this can be done.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Much of the improvement in the rural environmental concerns such as soil erosion and overgrazing obviously has to lake place within the context of agricultural production of crops and livestock, yet agricultural development programs seem to be of decreasing importance within the overall AID program in Africa.
What are the factors that led AID to reduce the priority of agricultural programs that helped improve environmental practices in Africa?
Mr. Bombardier. Well, some of the major factors, Madam Chair man, are reductions in funds. But beyond that, of course, it is the flexibility in how we can use our funds.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. flexibility in how you can use them?
Mr. BOMBARDIER. Yes. There are obviously priorities we are required to meet in using our funds. There are concerns within the Administration itself and on Capitol Hill about certain areas which are very important, like child survival. And so we get earmarks or directives that tell us to spend so much money on particular kinds of activities. These are all well-intended and these things are all important and we are happy to do them.
But what we essentially end up with is gridlock. We have so many earmarks and directives that we are not in a position to develop the program in a particular country from the ground up to reflect the priorities in that country. We are often in the position of telling our missions that “We know you think that agricultural programs are very important,” or “We know you think that a particular activity is very important, but we do not have the resources or that because we have to meet these directives and earmarks.”
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. What is Aid’s role in the area of industrial pollution? You talked about the agricultural concerns. Do you have any assistance programs for controlling any environmental programs problems related to mining or petroleum also and other orts of industries that might be sources of pollution?
Mr. BOMBARDIER. Industrial pollution is an important problem worldwide, but in terms of the scheme of in Africa, it has not been as large a problem. I do not mean to diminish the importance of the problem. In some areas, it is obviously very important.
You may have seen the article in the Washington Post, I believe the day before yesterday, about mining in Ghana and the impact that is having on some of the people who are trying to live off some
of the resources left behind by the mining companies. Mining, as an extractive industry, can be very damaging to the environment. We do not have a lot of programs in Africa focused on these areas. We have limited resources, abort million currently, to focus on I all of the environmental problems in Africa. So we do not have the I resources to put toward programs in this particular area.
I guess I would add that it is not simply a question of resources. These are areas where, within the agency and our global bureau, to some extent within our own Africa bureau, we do have some intellectual knowledge of these issues. So within the national environmental planning process, we do try to bring what we know to these areas. And to the extent that these are problems in a particular country, we do work with host governments to identify donors who can address those problems.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
Mr. Hastings. Thank you very much, Madam Chairlady.
Just as a preface, when Congressman Johnston and Payne, myself and several of the staffers, some of whom are in the room, traveled to Africa, we saw several research projects that AID was involved in that demonstrated rather substantial successes. At the same time, some projects such as in Niger
Harry, you may remember, we saw this weather project there and since that time, the head of that country that Harry and I met with has been emptied out because of conflict. And I am sure now that that project is still running but so important.
I say that also in the context of drought and studies of drought and how environmental degradation comes about without clear data in that arena that could help to avoid it.
But you know something? After all is said, we live in a world of people, and Americans assist in leading the charge, in being in love with ivory and with wood and with leather and any number of other things that hungry people do not think in terms of the abundance that they have not had ever running out. And I can only use by way of analogy my own life as a child in pristine Florida and I will be 60 my next birthday Harry is going to be a little older than me, but he knows pristine Florida as well and, honest to goodness, as a child where animals ran in the streets and you could go to the lake and catch fish, I just never thought that that lake would ever be dead or that the animals would ever run out.
My point is, education is going to be key and USAID projects involving education of the people in that capacity are really, really important. Because where people are at war, where people are hungry, where people have greedy leaders, the likelihood is not very strong that we are going to have a whole lot of environmental sensitivity and I think all of us understand that.
That said, my one question, Madam Chairlady, directed to our witness is, in light of the budgetary constraints and AID has taken its share of the responsibility in making adjustment are there suggested environmental programs that may be cut?
I notice, in responding to the Chairlady, you did not say specifically where these things were going to come from and I now, since this is an environmental hearing, ask you pointedly, do you plan to cut any environmental programs in the cuts that I know that you have to make?
And that is my only question, Madam Chair.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen That is a good question.
Mr. BOMBARDIER. It will depend on the final shape of the foreign aid appropriations bill that is passed this year. We have been able to sustain the environmental and natural resource management programs to this point in time. We would not like to cut those programs.
As you pointed out, I believe, we are requesting more in Fiscal Year 1997 than we did in Fiscal Year 1996. But right now, we are not thinking of cuts. We are not focused on cuts. We are focused on a positive way of addressing those programs.
I would share one other comment, since you mentioned Niger. You saw some very successful projects if you were in Niger. We have had one of the most successful of our natural resources programs in that country. Of course, we are required by law to cut off assistance to Niger as a result of the coup and we were all hoping the recent elections would turn that situation around, but it is very discouraging right now.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Congressman Hastings.
Mr. JOHNSON. Just one observation. In South America, in a rain forest in Brazil and areas like that, we established a policy of debt versus nature swap; and traveling throughout Africa, their biggest complaint is the debt that is saddled on them lies the Administration thought about that line of thought, canceling or reducing the debt for certain set-asides of pristine areas?
Mr. BOMBARDIER We have done some work in this area, particularly in Madagascar, in terms of both debt for nature swaps and in terms of environmental foundations that we help to establish and that have long-term resources available to address these problems, including purchases. Although the discussion about these’ techniques has been going on for a long time. I can remember it from my days when I was up here on the Hill often takes Administrations a long time to develop the procedures and we are just beginning to get some good experience in Africa with this, so I think we ~ be doing more of it in the future.
Mr. JOHNSTON. Yes. If you can make really wholesale recommendations across the board on specific countries, because that is killing them.
Mr. BOMBARDIER. Sure.
Mr. JOHNSTON. The other question I have is I have a bad habit of reading all my own mail, and I got a letter today, coincidentally, from Earth Action dealing with Central Africa, specifically the Republic of Gabon, and their rain forest and the fact that they are changing it now and destroying it. And they have a map here of Central Africa, the Republic of Gabon, Cameroon.
I was just wondering, you do not go into Gabon, because they have oil so they do not need money. But are you concentrating at nil in that area it says here their rain forest is larger than the Amazon.
Mr. BOMBARDIER. That is right. That is what I was referring to in my testimony on the Congo Basin. Gabon, the countries you mentioned Zaire, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Congo these are the countries in which the (Congo Basin is located and we have designed a new 5-year, $14-million project, the Central African Regional Program for the Environment, CARPE. We are going to be working closely with the global environmental facility at the World Bank. It is going to be a very innovative program which we manage completely through PVO’s and NGO’s on the ground with support from a number of agencies beside ourselves. So we are very hopeful that we can begin the process of turning around the destruction of the rain forest in the Congo Basin.
Mr. JOHNSTON. Last question, Madam Chairwoman.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Sure.
Mr. JOHNSTON. In Angola, there are more land mines than there are people. Has this been a deterrent to promoting environmental programs, either in Angola or in other countries — Somalia, Rwanda?
Mr. BOMBARDIER. It is a major contributor to environmental degradation. People do not have access to land that would be fertile and that could be used for productive farming and so people are forced to some degree, onto smaller and less desirable plots of land. So land mines, the residue of conflict and civil war, are major causes and impediments to environmental progress in these countries.
Mr. JOHNSTON. Thank you.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
Mr. HOUGHTON. I think I will wait.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. OK
Mr. HOUGHTON. Thank you very much.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Congressman Payne.
Mr. PAYNE. Oh, I
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Would you like to make a statement or ask some questions?
Mr. PAYNE. Well, I will follow my colleague, Mr. Houghton. Although I would like to mention that 1, too, have a concern about the Gabon and have written a letter to President Omar Bongo about the degradation there in the rain forest and asking, especially in the Lope region, that they cease or revisit their degradation of that area.
I also have concern about Liberia. I understand that there has been a tremendous amount of logging done, I guess primarily by the French traders, and I understand even now at risk are some wild bird preserves that habit in that particular forest and now there is a question about the survival of some rare species and also the civil war is creating the problem of logging. Is there any effort going on through governments to at least raise the concern and many times there is a tremendous amount of exploitation when you have warring factions and it would seem to be going on in Liberia, not only with timber but with other natural resources diamonds and things of that nature that we have heard about recently. But is there any concerted effort to have discussions on some levels with primarily European business people of governments to question these practices?
Mr. BOMBAARDIER. Yes, sure. We are in constant touch with our allies about some of these concerns. In Liberia, the warring parties have often used these resources to finance their campaign of death slid destruction. So it is a problem and it is going to be a very difficult problem to address, quite frankly, until we can get that situation stabilized in Liberia and begin to go in there and see just exactly how much damage has been done in all of the areas.
Mr. PAYNE. OK, thank you.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Gary. We appreciate your being here. See, if your name is just too complicated, I just call you by your first name.
Mr. BOMBARDIER. You did very well, Madam Chairman.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much for being with us.
I would like now to introduce our other two panelists who will be joining us, Mr. Michael Wright and Mr. Steve Mills. Mr. Wright is the president and chief executive officer of the African Wildlife Foundation where he has served in this capacity since his appointment in July 1994. Mr. Wright came to the African Wildlife Foundation from the Nature Conservancy where he headed a program linking social and economic activities with biological diversity conservation.
Trained as an attorney, he had also served as western regional counsel and is founder and director of the organization’s international program. Previously, Mr. Wright was with World Wildlife Fund, U.S., serving in various capacities, including senior fellow, senior vice-president, vice-president and general counsel and he will be followed by Mr. Steven Mills, Human Rights and Environmental Campaign Director for the Sierra Club.
Mr. Mills shares responsibility for such issues as biodiversity protection, multilateral development bank lending, human rights, international trade, population and tropical forests. He leads the Sierra Club’s international outreach efforts, serves as the organization’s representative to the United Nations and serves as the coordinator of the Sierra Club’s Local Carrying Capacity Campaign, a division of the International Population Program.
Prior to joining Sierra Club, Mr. Mills also worked for the Nature Conservancy and the Overseas Education Fund International. He has been recognized at the national and international level for his work in conservation causes and his contributions to human rights.
We thank both of you for joining us today and sharing your insight on this critical issue. We will begin with Mr. Wright.
STATEMENT OF MR. MICHAEL WRIGHT PRESIDENT AND
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AFRICAN WILDLIFE FOUNDATION
Mr. Wright. Thank you, Madam Chair.
I have a written statement that I
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. We will put it in the record.
Mr. WRIGHT. Thank you very much.
I am the president, and have been for 2 years, of the African Wildlife Foundation, an organization that has been around for about 35 years. We believe we are the only U.S. charity that is focuses solely on conservation on the continent of Africa. We have about 50,000 members, a small headquarters staff here and the majority of our staff is based in Africa. Historically, we have worked in eastern Africa and increasingly in southern Africa. We are not presently active in either central or west Africa.
There is considerable interest in a segment of the American public concerning the environment in Africa, Particularly focused on wildlife. The remarkable migrations of wildlife in Africa, and the megafauna the large mammals of Africa are unmatched any place on the globe. And periodically the attention of the American public focuses on the people of Africa, usually in the form of a crisis or a disaster. These two are often not connected in people’s minds.
The population of Africa, as the previous witness said double in the next century. The density is quite a bit lower than many of the developing parts of the world. Nevertheless the fragility of the land and the ecosystems of Africa mean that many of those people, estimated at 150 million, presently live in absolute poverty on less than a dollar a day.
Many of the rural poor are very dependent on Africa’s biological resources. It produces the food they eat, the fuel they use for cooking, the medicine for health, and products to generate income. No place on earth are human beings more dependent on the bounty of nature directly for their survival than in Africa.
The link between human dependence and the Continent’s natural resources means that organizations such as the African Wildlife Foundation, although we are focused primarily on wildlife, recognize that there is a direct link between the question of poverty alleviation and human needs and the preservation of wildlife. We also recognize that this is not merely a scientific concern. Addressing these issues will require changes in government policy. It will be critical to strengthen civil society. We need to build institutional capacity and train natural resource staff. And we need to deal with the wide range of general issues of poverty in the rural landscape poverty that is often characterized by a woman farmer struggling to exist on an arid and very unforgiving landscape.
Unfortunately, the complexity of addressing the problems of Africa does not always generate the same interest as its wildlife spectacle. But there is a changing attitude toward conservation that has taken place in Africa in the last decade that focuses on working with communities to address issues of conservation.
In my prepared statement, I talked about the role of AID and U. S. foreign assistance, which I believe is critical and has been extremely helpful on the Continent. AID has worked very effectively with non-governmental organizations, both environmental and developmental, and I think it is a partnership that has been extremely successful on the ground particularly in rural areas.
I also talk about the importance of national parks as the cornerstone strategies to save Africa’s wildlife. Parks are critical to the preservation of wildlife in Africa and, contrary to what many people believe, the number of parks and protected areas in Africa have grown substantially since the end of the colonial era. This is not an inheritance from the colonial past. This is something to which the governments of Africa have remained strongly committed.
AWF has spent a lot of effort over the last 35 years training and working with those institutions. We were fundamentally created to build capacity of African institutions. We helped set up the Wildlife College in Makerere which has trained a generation of protected area managers, and we continue to do that work today.
I would like to focus my testimony, though, on the issue of community-based conservation, which has been developing over the last decade. African Wildlife Foundation has four projects underway right now that focus on this approach. All these have been supported by USAID, I should add. USAID has been particularly
(helpful in focusing on the protection link wildlife and natural resource conservation with human needs, an area that is extremely difficult to find funding for and understanding in the general public. So AID has recognized the complex linkage of concerns and played a very critical role in funding, not just for ourselves but with a whole range of other NGO’s.
For example, one of these projects in Tanzania, AWF is working with TANAPA, which is the Tanzanian Park Agency. TANAPA had a traditional protected area approach, a very good system of parks, but had a negative relationship with the communities outside the parks. As a result of the last 4 years of work, TANAPA now has a new policy that involves sharing revenue with communities outside parks. They are putting part of their budget into a fund for these purposes. Every one of their 12 parks has a community conservation warden whose job it is to work as a liaison with communities outside the parks.
As a result, when a tourist goes into a park in Tanzania and pays their entrance fee, part of those finds ultimately may dig a well outside of the park; it may stock up a medical clinic; it may build a school. And this is beginning to change the relationship between communities and the parks.
We have similar work in Kenya and several projects in Uganda, including Bwindi National Park, where half of the world’s mountain gorillas exist. There is a tremendous amount of revenue shared with communities around Bwindi as a result of that tourist enterprise.
Each of these projects is somewhat different in its details, but they share a common theme the belief that local communities must benefit from wildlife and from parks if we expect wildlife to exist outside those parks.
Something that is not often discussed, is that an elephant in your backyard is not always a desirable thing. There is an enormous amount of destruction that can come from wildlife in Africa and people have been tolerating it over the years while receiving no benefit. As a result, the amount of wildlife that moves outside of parks in its natural migrations is dropping drastically. In some parts of Kenya in the last 20 years, they have lost 50 to 60 percent of their wildlife. If we expect that wildlife to survive outside those parks, we must make common cause with those communities.
In addition to the work AWF is doing, there are a number of other similar projects. Some are. private efforts, for example, a project culled the Cullman Wildlife Scheme in Tanzania. Probably the best known of these other projects is the Campfire Program in Zimbabwe. There is another program in Zambia. Community conservation is a very widespread and growing approach.
I should acknowledge that there is some controversy around some of these programs. The Campfire Program, Particularly, and AID’s support of it has been criticized by some of the animal rights groups. Those groups are concerned because the benefits that flow to communities through the campfire program come from utilization and come from consumptive utilization, specifically hunting. In the case of Campfire, it comes from the hunting of elephants. The other programs, like the Cullman Program and the Zambia program, do have a hunting base but they are not hunting elephants. The work in Kenya, the work we are doing with TANAPA in Tanzania and our Uganda projects, do not involve consumptive use. They involve nature tourism of the more traditional variety. But all of these projects have a common central theme which is communities need to benefit. And, although there may be controversy about utilization of wildlife, the simple fact is that in Zimbabwe, in less than a decade, the land that is dedicated to wildlife conservation has grown from 12 percent, all in government reserves, to over 35 percent of the country and almost all that new land that is dedicated to wildlife is in private not communal lands. These are private people individuals and communities who have decided that wildlife conservation is an important resource for their development. This is a very significant change that has taken place.
Now, I would like to highlight a couple of general lessons that we have learned from this wildlife experience and perhaps expand it into a slightly larger set of issues. First, that conservation projects, if they are to succeed, have to offer economic alternative to people. We cannot simply as people to conserve and tighten their belt one more notch. There are no notches left in Africa’s belt. Second, we are not focused on the rain forest, which perhaps makes us a bit of a heretical organization, we are particularly concerned about savannas and some of the arid lands of east and southern Africa. So as we look at tropical forests, we should not lose sight of the importance of the diversity on these arid lands and, particularly, the degree of dependence the people living on those lands have on that diversity for their survival. To protect these arid lands, where often wildlife is the best use, we must increase the production on the good agricultural lands and we must make sure that there is an equitable distribution of the production of those lands.
Third, that a modern and urban economy is going to be critical to helping meet the needs of Africa’s growing population. We are not going to be able to meet human needs on the rural landscape alone. So focusing on urban areas is important. We have not done so and I think by ease next decade, none of us are going to have the luxury of only focusing on the rural countryside. Africa’s urban areas are increasingly critical.
Fourth, sustainable resource development for the poor, and especially
for poor women, is not a process of technology transfer but an institutional and social process. This means that we must be involved in issues of land rights and resource rights. This is not a technical issue; it is a political and social issue. And increasingly we are not hiring scientists, we are hiring anthropologists. There is a real change in conservation thinking about the issues we are trying to address. The issues of wildlife conservation are not of
wildlife person, they arc issues of people. They are issues of working with people.
And, finally, although we focus in the field, it is critical that there be a policy environment that supports community empowerment. Fundamental to all we do is a civil society that tolerates nongovernmental organizations; that allows communities to make decisions about their future; that gives them control over resources.
So the division between democracy and environment, I think, increasingly is an artificial distinction. It is a mistake to think of environment as a sort of separate category. There is a spectrum of concerns that flow from one of these programs to the other.
Thank you.[The prepared statement of Mr. Wright appears in the appendix.]
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much, Mr. Wright.
Mr. Mills. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF MR. STEPHEN MILLS, HUMAN RIGHTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, SIERRA CLUB
Mr. Mills. Good afternoon. My name is Stephen Mills and I am the Human Rights and Environment Campaign Director for the Sierra Club. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today.
I will concentrate my remarks today on West Africa; primarily on Nigeria and the campaign the Sierra Club currently has there. I will summarize my testimony but ask that the whole text be submitted for the record.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. We would be glad to.
Mr. Mills. This afternoon I would like to discuss, in part, the role that the multinational oil company, Shell, has played in Nigeria and the collusive relationship with the brutal military dictatorship. I believe that this case provides a good example of the challenges faced by Africans across the Continent as they strive to develop and manage their natural resources. It is also a story of a heinous double standard utilized by one of the world’s most recognized multinational corporations. The Sierra Club aims to hoed Shell up as an example of how development should not occur in Africa. I will close with some recommendations for preventing future: Nigerian tragedies.
Madam Chairman, in February 1994, in an Atlantic Monthly article entitled, “The Coming Anarchy,” Robert Kaplan wrote, The cities of West Africa at night are some of the unsets places in the world.” He wrote that, West Africa is becoming the symbol of worldwide geographic, demographic, environmental and societal stress in which criminal anarchy emerges as the real strategic danger.” The intention of his article was to stimulate readers to under-l stand the environment for what it really is, the national security) issue of the early 21st century.
“The political and strategic impact of surging populations spreading disease, deforestation and soil erosion, water pollution, air pollution and rising sea levels in critical overcrowded regions,” he said, “will be the core foreign policy challenge from which most others will ultimately emanate.” Kaplan said that to mention the environment or diminishing national resources in foreign policy circles was to meet a brick wall of skepticism or boredom. To make matters worse, there are those who even believe that what Africa really needs in pollution,” order to give it an economic boost is, in fact, more.
In a January 1992 internal memo to World Bank chiefs, economist Lawrence Summers wrote, “I’ve always felt that the underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly underpolluted. Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more . migration of dirty industries to the LDC,” the lesser developed countries? It is within this mix that we dwell when we consider Africa’s environmental future.
Fortunately, some of this mentality appears to be changing. In April of this year, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, in a speech at Stanford University, announced his intention to place environmental issues in the mainstream of American foreign policy. He said that environmental forces transcend borders and oceans to threaten directly the health, prosperity and jobs of American citizens. He noted that addressing natural resource issues is frequently critical to achieving political and economic stability and pursuing our strategic goals around the world.
The Sierra Club commends Secretary Christopher for announcing these new environmental initiatives and we look forward to assisting in their implementation. We will urge, however, that the State Department’s new initiatives extend additionally to individual citizens in their right to protect the environment, their right to clean water, their right to clean air. This is because the Sierra Club believes that environmental rights are directly linked to human rights. That everyone has a right to a clean and healthy environment.
We believe that no country can feign environmental awareness when its citizens are forbidden to speak freely; when they arc forbidden to assemble; or when they are persecuted and, as I will later discuss, in some instances executed for protecting the environment. When environmentalists like Chico Mendes of Brazil arc murdered; or like Wangari Maathai of Kenya are harassed and beaten; or like Ken Saro-Wiwa of Nigeria are hanged because of their political environmental activism. The relationship between human rights and the environment becomes all too clear.
Madam Chairman, I am certain that this subcommittee has been following the recent events in Nigeria. I am sure this subcommittee’s members, like the rest of us, were shocked by the November execution of playwright/environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa. So I am sure that most of the information I am about to discuss will not come as news to you.
I will tell you that it has been a most enlightening period for members of the Sierra Club, that we have been active on international environmental issues for nearly 30 years now, domestically, as you know, for over 100. Our international work is mostly on development bank lending and international trade issues. Never has an international environmental issue so captivated our members.
I suppose it is because the members of the Sierra Club across America could so readily identify with the struggle of one of Nigeria’s
minority people, the Ogoni. Their desire for freedom from pollution is something we all seek.
First, some backround on Nigeria. It is one of the most populous countries in Africa with a population of approximately 100 million. One in every four Africans is Nigerian and the population there is set to double in the next 25 years, while the country continues to deplete its natural resources. Nigeria is one of the world’s largest exporters of oil, producing some two million barrels of oil each day, bringing about ten billion a year to military leaders and accounting for 97 percent of export revenues. Half of that total is pumped by the oil company Shell, making the company, by far, the dominant economic force in Nigeria. Yet Nigeria remains one of the poorest countries, suffering from frequent paralyzing gas shortages.
In June 1993, General Ibrahim Babangida annulled Nigeria’s democratic Presidential election. Five months later, General Sani Abacha seized power, abolished all democratic institutions, shut down newspapers and jailed most of the opposition, including the winner of the 1993 Presidential election, Moshood Abiola. Ms. Kudirat Abiola, her husband’s most vocal supporter, was assassinated last month, many believe in yet another attempt to silence an outspoken military critic.
The tragedy that occurred on November 10, 1995, however, stunned the world. In the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt, writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged by the Nigerian military. The military tribunal found Saro-Wiwa guilty of inciting a riot in which four people were killed, even though he was miles away in another town. Amnesty International’s Human Rights Watch, the Sierra Club and many other human rights and environmental organizations declared the trial a sham, responding that Saro-Wiwa had been convicted on trumped-up charges.
Of the 19 prosecution witnesses called, two of the most damaging would later admit to having been bribed by the military government. Within hours of the execution, the Nigerian military kind deployed some 4,000 troops throughout Ogoniland, beating anyone caught mourning in public. School headmasters were arrested as a warning not to discuss Saro-Wiwa in the classroom. Pastors were arrested because they prayed for Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Ken Saro-Wiwa was the president of the movement for the survival of the Ogoni people, or MOSOP, a volunteer-based democratic organization governed not unlike the Sierra Club. MOSOP was organized as a response to the environmental devastation which has occurred in Ogoni as a result of 38 years of oil exploitation. Ogoni demands include an end to the pollution, primarily by the oil spills and gas Hares of Royal Dutch Shell. The Ogoni are also demanding a share of the oil revenues from their land.
Since 1958, Royal Dutch Shell has extracted some $30 billion worth of oil from the lands of the Ogoni people. While royalties of these sales fill the coffers of the Nigerian military, the rich farmland of Ogoni has been laid waste by oil spills and the venting of toxic gases. Meanwhile, the Ogoni lack running water, electricity, adequate schools or health care.
In Nigeria, there are few or no requirements to conduct environmental impact studies, recycle oil waste or lay subterranean oil pipes instead of cheaper above-ground pipes. Waste oil is haphazardly buried in makeshift pits only to bubble again to the surface during rainy season.
Madam Chairman, you asked that I address the issue of property rights in my testimony. Well, in 1978, the military declared all land in Nigeria the property of the Federal Government. This had the effect of freeing the oil companies from having to negotiate with the locals, whose property included vast oil reserves. Gas flaring in Ogoni villages had destroyed wildlife, plant life, poisoned the air and water, left residents half-deaf and prone to respiratory diseases. According to the U.N. Conference on Environment Development, the nearly four decades of oil extraction in the Niger likely from the coastal rain forest and main growth habitat has left it the most endangered river delta in the world.
In May, many of the claims of environmentalists against Shell were vindicated. Bopp van Dessel, Shell’s former head of environmental studies, revealed in a British television interview that the company broke its own rules and international standards and failed to respond to his warnings. “Wherever I went’ I could see that Shell was not operating their facilities properly’ van Dessel said. “They were not meeting their own standards. They were not meeting international standards. Any Shell site that I saw was polluted. Any terminal that I saw was polluted.”
It was in response to this devastation, this exploitation, that in 1990 Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni leaders formed the movement for the survival of the Ogoni people. On January 4, SaroWiwa drew international attention to their cause by leading a peaceful demonstration, a protest march of 300,000 people throughout Ogoniland. Again, that is 300,000 in a community of 500,000. The resistance has been met with a repression.
In May 1994 the Nigerian Internal Security Task Force attacked and virtually destroyed over 30 Ogoni villages, killing more than 100 people and arresting hundreds more. In the years since MOSOP was founded, more than a thousand Ogoni have been killed during clashes with the Nigerian Military Police.
The Ogoni are a peaceful people. To the best of our knowledge, there have been no protest-related deaths of anyone with Shell or the Nigerian military.
More than 90 percent of Nigeria’s farm revenue comes from oil exports, as I said. Nearly 50 percent of this oil is exported to the United States. Americans are the largest consumers of Nigerian oil, yet Nigerian oil represents only 3 1/2 percent of America’s total oil consumption. It is both economically possible and morally imperative that we stop our consumption of the oil that fuels the current regime.
Shell makes approximately $200 million a year in profits in Nigeria and has begun work on a $4billion natural gas joint venture with the military. An international embargo of Nigerian oil would hurt the country’s generals who pocket most of the $10-billion oil revenue. A boycott would hold Shell accountable for its environmental abuses and tolerance of injustice.
Nine days after the Ogoni were executed, the Sierra Club Board of Directors voted to support an embargo of Nigerian oil and a consumer boycott of Shell products until such time as the company has cleaned up the pollution it has caused in Nigeria, agreed to conform to U.S. standards while operating there, and paid compensation to the peoples
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Mr. Mills, if we could ask you to wrap it up. Thank you.
Mr. Mills. I will just finish by saying that in the time we have been working on this, we have all been impressed with the great work being done now by Assistant Secretary of State, John Shattuck. We are aware that Nigeria is now a top priority of his office and appreciate his willingness to work with him.
The Sierra Club is a strong supporter of H.R.. 2697, the Nigerian Democracy Act, as sponsored by Congressman Payne. I understand that Congressman Payne is eager to have herrings on the bill and we encourage your committee to schedule them as soon AS possible.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. We have had many hearings on the issue of human rights in Africa. We have had many hearings on Nigeria, but we are here to talk about another issue.
Mr. Mills. I will conclude by saying that Nigeria’s human rights and environmental crisis can, we believe, only be solved together.[The prepared statement of Mr. Mills appears in the appendix.]
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
Thank you very much, gentlemen.
If I could ask you what you believe are the three highest priorities for our investment in environmental protection and restoration in your many years of experience in Africa environmental issues, if you could focus in on that. If you were to make recommendations to our government, what would you say would be the three highest priorities for our tax dollars to go into, whether it is rural, agricultural kind of concerns; urban environmental protection programs. What kind of recommendations would you make? And we are speaking about environmental priorities here.
Mr. Wright. I think, ultimately, the conservation and environmental issues of Africa are going to have to be solved by Africans. So I think we have to start at the top and say that building African institutions through training and through the policies that empower them to make the right decisions. So policy change, helping African Governments re-think their environmental policy, and helping train the Africans that are going to carry out those policies has got to be very high, if not top of the list.
I think a second one is the one I mentioned at the end and I think it has come up in several cases which is the question of democracy and building civil society in all its aspects. One of the ironies that we found in particularly Latin America but also in Asia – is when they started moving toward democracy and you started having more citizen activism, there was some concern on the part of environmentalists that citizen demands to open up lands, open up parks for resources was actually going to be a threat to the environment and we found exactly the opposite. The explosion of a non-governmental movement and a democratic society holding governments accountable is really fundamental to environment. So I think we, in a way, want to focus the democracy more into the NGO and environmental area. Perhaps a little more emphasis on hat. And I think that applies to us as well.
I think continuing population programs, however unpopular they might be within some quarters, is fundamental and that, I think, primarily in the context of women’s health. Population in the sense of the social needs of communities to deal with population growth and the reasons people have children, not just a more top down authoritarian or technical solution would be the three.
Those would be the three things I would–
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
Mr. Mills;. I would support what Mr. Wright says. I would just add that in my meetings, and I meet quite often with African environmentalists, one thing they often say to me is they do not really feel they have anyone, for instance, in the U.S. embassy they can turn to when they need help with environmental protection. It is not really a priority there. Often, as you know, it is hard for African can individuals and groups to do the kind of work that Sierra Club
would do in their country. So I would again ask for help for the people to be able to organize and not be harassed.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
Oh, he is gone.
Mr. JOHNS-TON. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mr. Mills, the Chair is right when she points out that we are pretty knowledgeable of the human rights abuses in Nigeria and I am sure Mr. Payne will address that a little more. We were in Nigeria 18 months ago. We met with Ken Saro-Wiwa’s brother. We met with Abiola specifically, Mr. Payne met with Abacha. Met with Abiola’s wife, the one who WAS murdered.
In your testimony on page five, which you skipped over and which you alluded to later you say, ” The Sierra Club has come to believe that a boycott of Shell Oil and an embargo of Nicaraguan oil exports are the best way to stop the environmental and human rights abuses in Nigeria.” And then on page eight, you pick it up again after the execution of the Goons.
I have not heard anything domestically about a boycott by your
club against Shell Oil. Has it been well-publicized?
Mr. Mills. I am doing my best. This is the first time the Sierra Club has adopted a national boycott like this and
Mr. JOHNSTON. When, specifically, was that date that you had a
boycott against Shell Oil?
Mr. Mills. The board adopted the resolution 9 days after his
execution, which —
Mr. JOHNSTON. OK.
Let me go back. Mr. Payne and I asked for a report from the GAO on the impact of an embargo by the United States on oil from Nigeria. Have you had an opportunity to read that report?
Mr. Mills. No, sir, I have not.
Mr. Johnston. OK.
I would strongly recommend that you look at it.
Mr. Mills;. I will.
Mr. Johnston: I think you have to admit you are dealing with friendly people here. But that report came back — and correct we — would be shooting ourselves in the foot. Almost, by transshipment of this oil through another country and it would hurt us more than it would help us. Is Sierra involved in any other country in Africa?
Mr. Mills. I have worked, over a number of years, with different African countries, primarily in Kenya with Kenya’s Green Belt Movement.
Mr. JOHNSTON: And what were your results there?
Mr. Mills. Well, we were able to secure the release of Dr. Maathai when she was being harassed and beaten by the Kenyan Government.
I think the best thing that ever happened to President Maui was General Sani Abacha .. It took a lot of the spotlight off him.
But I thing that her offices have just moved out of her home where they were forced to operate for a long, time. So we have had some successes.
Mr. Johnston. Mr. Wright, have you lived in Tanzania?
Mr. Wright. Yes, I have. Not extensively, though.
Mr. JOHNSTON. When was your last trip there?
Mr. WRIGHT. About a year and a half ago.
Mr. JOHNSTON. Well, you were there with the refugees in the western-
Mr. Wright. I did not get up to that area.
Mr. Johnston. You did not.
Mr. WRIGHT. No.
Mr. Johnston. OK.
Yes, that is all I have, Madam Chair. Thank you.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Mr. Johnston.
Mr. PAYNE:. Yes. I have a question, Mr. Wright. In regard to wildlife, the question of elephants for example and every year a group of Zimbabweans come to me about their problem with elephants. They say they have more elephants than people and they claim they are being overrun and want to sort of have a dispensation as relates to cropping the herds and selling the tusk. I certainly have listened, but not. been supportive of their request.
What is your opinion on that situation?
Mr. JOHNSTON. Excuse me. Could you yield just a second?
Mr. PAYNE. Yes.
Mr. JOHNSTON. As I recall, isn’t that the country that has a huge inventory of ivory that is sitting there and all they want to do is put it on the world market and just sell it because it is just sitting in warehouses?
Mr. PAYNF:. Yes, right. That is true. They do. And that is their main objective right now. They do have a lot of them running around, they claim. And, of course, they move it out, then there may be less of them running around.
But what would your assessment of the situation be?
Mr. Wright. Well, it is an issue that comes up and it is a very tough issue because it divides different parts of Africa. In a sense, Zimbabwe is being punished for the failure of governments elsewhere to protect their elephants. And so they have a claim of equitability that is hard not to respond to. Zimbabwe has done a good job protecting their elephants. They have done a remarkable job throughout southern Africa. So the southern African countries are saying they need to use this resource and particularly the stockpiles of the resource. They come periodically make their case.
AWFs symbol is the elephant and our members would clearly rather have elephants on the hoof than any other way. The problem we have is whether you can open up a commercial trade in ivory, even a limited commercial trade, without causing an outbreak of poaching elsewhere on the Continents What turned things around at the CITES meeting 2 years ago when South Africa Proposed A very limited trade? And South Africa was talking not even of a trade in ivory, they were talking about a trade in meat and hides and nobody poaches an elephant for its hide, so it was a very, very narrow exception. Yet, the governments in Tanzania and Uganda and Kenya said, “Just even the hint that we are going to reopen commercial trade in any way is going to be sufficient for us to start losing the elephants outside the protected areas because of the mere hint of opening up commercial trade.”
And the problem you have is an enormously valuable resource that is out in the landscape. How do you protect it? And the comment somebody made, this is not just an African problem. If the deer in Scotland all had hundred dollar bills on their antlers running around, how many deer would there be in Scotland?
So, I mean, this is the dilemma that we are in and I am very sympathetic to the Zimbabwean position because they have done a good fob and yet the view we have kind to take is we simply cannot loose the elephants in three-quarters of the Continent to help them off the hook. It is a problem.
They are still allowed to do trophy hunting, which is not generally that well known. It seems contradictory that on the one hand, you cannot have commercial trade but a hunter can go in and shoot a trophy elephant. They make as much money from the very small number of elephants killed for trophy hunting as they did from the whole ivory trade at a commercial level. So, although their money is half what it used to be, it is not insignificant.
And there is no question that this is not causing a problem elsewhere. And I think at the end of the day, our view would be, although we do not like trophy hunting, that that is a legitimate use. It is enormously valuable for communities and we can support their continuing that exception. But I think we would probably have to oppose the introduction of commercial trade unless we can address the problems elsewhere on the Continent.
That is kind of a roundabout answer, but it is not an easy issue.
Mr. PAYNE. Right. Yes, I know that in Kenya about 2 or 3 years ago, they had a burning of tusks. I think it was more of a P.R. piece. They wanted to get some U.S. airplanes or something so they were showing they were against poaching.
Let me, since we are going to have to leave, let me ask Mr. Mills has there been any work done by the Sierra Club at a recent meeting of the European Parliament that was held here last week, I raised the question of an oil boycott to the Dutch people who were there, parliamentarians, and they indicated that they kind raised the issue in their country but it is not being raised very strongly. And just similar to the timber issue with the French, they raised it very quietly but no one seems to hear them.
Has there been any work done in the Netherlands, where Shell seems to have their world headquarters?
Mr. Mills. Yes, sir. There is quite a bit of work being done with the environmental groups [here. It is still quite an issue, I understand, and I just spoke with Dr. Owens Wiwa. Last week, he was in the Netherlands and had a record turn-out for a visit of his. So it is still an issue and I believe it is still being talked about.
As far as European organizations and sanctions, I just read today that the British are still having a bit of a problem with it, primarily because British Airways has such a lock on flights to Africa. I Mr. PAYNE. Well, I certainly appreciate your support for the legislation. We will continue to and we are getting co-sponsors by the day. I think we are going to have maybe over a hundred co-sponsors right now and an overwhelming majority, maybe 90-plus percent, of the Congressional Black Caucus supports the legislation.
There has been some question about whether it was unanimous. We have three members that have taken another position. But the other 35 or so strongly support it and we are hoping, that our State Department and Administration, I think they have been too tame. I agree with you. I do not think they should have sent Mr. Carrington, the Ambassador, back to Nigeria. There is a move afoot to attempt to allow some Nigerian leaders to come in to discuss a transition, but I strongly oppose that as they can just do it by letting some people out of prison if they just want to show good faith.
Though I certainly appreciate the support and the fine work that both of your organizations are doing and thank you.
I give back the balance of my time.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Mr. Payne.
Just a quick question. What are you doing with international organizations or other countries either within Africa or outside of Africa, to solve what you would see as a regional problem affecting, the environmental concerns of an area? Other organizations, do you have any kind of consortium to try to put international pressure, either through organizations like the United Nations, et cetera, to try to help force the issue to try to have these countries clean up the problems tied to the environmental concerns?
Mr. WRIGHT. Well, we are two wings of the environmental movement testifying here. AWF is not an activist organization. We are really a technical assistance organization more than an activist one. So we do participate in some consortiums. There is a group of three international organizations working, in the Rwanda/eastern Zaire area. Mostly our concern is the gorillas in the rain forest and park. But we are working with the U.N. agencies on the refugee question. There are interactions concerning the environmental implications of the refugee situation. But ours is not a political as much as a technical role. We are not sort of a pressure group in that sense.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. OK
Mr. Mills. We do network with environmental groups at U.N. meetings and such. We are not looking, to open up Sierra Club offices abroad as much as we are looking to export some of our organizing techniques and work with some indigenous groups to help them fight environmental problems in their countries like we have done here. So we are working with groups.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. OK[sic]
* The following text has been scanned from a printed document. The Editors of ASQ apologize for any errors that might have occurred during the scanning process.