Local Producers Worried about Venezuela’s Admission to Mercosur

After a six-year delay, Venezuela finally became the fifth full member of South America’s main trade bloc, Mercosur, on Tuesday, bringing with it huge oil and natural gas reserves and a market hungry for the abundant agricultural production of its new partners to the south.

Ambassador Kim Sook. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Q&A: South Korea Steps Up as Marine Conservation Champion

When South Korea picked an oceans theme for the 2012 Yeosu World Expo, it became host to the largest marine-themed event in history, with the potential to make a concrete contribution to sustainable development and simultaneously buoy the Korean global image.

India

UNESCO Protection Crucial – and Controversial

It took six years for a dedicated team of scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India, wildlife officials from six Indian states and officials from the federal ministry to secure international protection for one of India’s most precious biological reserves.

Peru Working to Reform Environmental Impact Assessment System

A random review by the Peruvian government of 205 environmental impact assessments approved between 2001 and 2010 revealed that 86 percent lacked complete information on how they had received the green light from the authorities.

Where Are Canada’s Missing Native Women?

First Nations’ leaders are calling on the Canadian government to establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate at least 582 missing and murdered indigenous women and girls - a wish which was not immediately granted by provincial premiers meeting last week.

Teachers’ Strike Does Not Mean Political Liberation for Swaziland

Swazis should not see the ongoing nationwide one-month teachers’ strike as a movement capable of overthrowing the political regime here, despite the fact that civil servants and nurses have joined the action, according to political analyst Dr. Sikelela Dlamini.

Egypt Opening Doors to Gaza, Slowly

With the election of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as Egypt's first-ever freely elected president, the Gaza file – especially as it pertains to Egypt's border with the besieged enclave – is fast becoming one of the new president's first major foreign policy challenges.

HIGH-LEVEL PANEL ON POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

As a follow up to the Rio+20 summit, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday announced the appointment of a High-level Panel to advise on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Economic and Social Potential of Biofuels

In 2010, global biofuel production (bioethanol and biodiesel) reached 105 billion litres and is expected to almost double by 2020. Provided that oil prices remain relatively high ­ which is likely ­ the production of biofuels is expected to grow at double-digit rates for the next decade. Most of the biofuels produced are consumed at the national and local levels, with only seven percent of total production being exported. This reflects the fact that biofuels are mainly used for energy diversification and national energy security strategies.

Online Discussion on Prevention of Violence Against Women

UN Women [http://www.unwomen.org/ ], which  has launched an online discussion about violence against women,  is offering a chance to civil society organizations worldwide to provide their views from their own cultures.

Teachers’ Strike Does Not Mean Political Liberation for Swaziland

Swazis should not see the ongoing nationwide one-month teachers’ strike as a movement capable of overthrowing the political regime here, despite the fact that civil servants and nurses have joined the action, according to political analyst Dr. Sikelela Dlamini.

Laos’s Rural Women Await Midwives

A year after the Laotian government launched a safe pregnancy programme news of this initiative,  involving the dispatch of teams of midwives across the country, is yet to reach women in the remote  communities.

Groups Vow to Fight Arctic Drilling

Many environmental groups are concerned over a possible extension of drilling expeditions in the Arctic, as oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, are set to begin drilling in the region as early as this week.

Q&A: “In Portugal, We Fight the Illness, Not the People Who Suffer from It”

Portugal’s anti-drug policies have been gaining international visibility since this country began to publish the results of its 2001 decision to eliminate all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs.

U.S., Russia and China Stick to Their Guns

The protracted negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with the ambitious aim of eradicating the illicit trade in conventional arms hit a deadlock Friday at United Nations as Washington, Moscow and Beijing required "more time" after six years of preparatory meetings.

Iran Diplomacy Runs into Sanctions-Happy U.S. Congress

Congress’s rush to pass new sanctions against Iran ahead of the August recess comes amidst an intensified drive to pin the Iranian government to deadly acts of international terrorism and amplified moves by U.S. politicians to demonstrate their support for Mideast ally Israel ahead of the November presidential election.

Q&A: “Israel’s Heavy-Handed Abuse of Palestinian Children Is Unacceptable”

After a fact-finding tour of the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip - and following hearings in Amman and Cairo - a three-member United Nations committee has lambasted Israel for the harsh treatment of Palestinian children held in custody.

Private-sector estimates suggest the combined value of chromite and nickel in the north is approximately 60 billion dollars. Credit: Lazurite/CC BY 2.0

Native Canadians Fear Mining Boom in “Ring of Fire”

With accusations that Canadian resource companies and government officials are disregarding the need for indigenous consent in development projects, First Nations leaders have lashed out by approving a resolution calling for a moratorium on mining development in the so-called Ring of Fire until proper consultation begins.

Profiting from Sustainable Forests on Communal Land in Mexico

Mario Guzmán plans to start cutting down trees again in August and September, the last months of the rainy season. “Now the roads are impassable, and the trucks can’t get in to haul out the timber,” the Mexican farmer, whose community is sustainably managing its forests, told IPS.

Caribbean Sees Progress on HIV/AIDS, Fears Funding Cuts

Ian McKnight, executive director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVCC), used one word - “tokenistic” - to sum up his perspective on the 19th International AIDS Conference that ended here over the weekend.

Children in Otjivero, Namibia. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch/IPS

Private Sector Debt Gnawing at Developing Countries

Twelve years after a global campaign successfully advocated the cancellation of some of the world’s poorest countries’ public debt, developing economies are again facing unsustainable debt burdens. Only this time, it is the private sector’s debt in developing economies that is inflating dangerously.

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