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Cablegate: South America Esth News, Number 113

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DEPT PASS USAID TO LAC/RSD, LAC/SAM, G/ENV, PPC/ENV
TREASURY FOR USED IBRD AND IDB AND INTL/MDB
USDA FOR FOREST SERVICE: LIZ MAHEW
INTERIOR FOR DIR INT AFFAIRS: K WASHBURN
INTERIOR FOR FWS: TOM RILEY
INTERIOR FOR NPS: JONATHAN PUTNAM
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JUSTICE FOR ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES: JWEBB
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NSF FOR INTERNATIONAL: HAROLD STOLBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR EAID TBIO ECON SOCI XR BR
SUBJECT: SOUTH AMERICA ESTH NEWS, NUMBER 113

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1. The following is part of a series of newsletters, published by
the Brasilia Regional Environmental Hub, covering environment,
science and technology, and health news in South America. The
information below was gathered from news sources from across the
region, and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of
the Hub office or our constituent posts. Addressees who would like
to receive a user-friendly email version of this newsletter should
contact Larissa Stoner at stonerla@state.gov. The e-mail version
also contains a calendar of upcoming ESTH events in the region.
NOTE: THE NEWSLETTER IS NOW ALSO AVAILABLE ON THE BRASILIA INTRANET
PAGE, BY CLICKING ON THE 'HUB' LINK.

2. Table of Contents

Agriculture
--(3)Brazil: Small Farmers to Join Brazil Sustainable Cane Movement
--(4)IDB, Guyana to Sign Agro-Energy Agreement

Water Issues
--(5)Ecuador Seizes Dam Constructor Assets, Water Initiatives May be
Affected

Forests
--(6)Brazil: Chico Mendes Reserve threatened by Cattle Grazing
--(7)Brazil Welcomes Foreign Money for Amazon

Fisheries & Marine Conservation
--(8)Brazil: Currents, Overfishing Cited In Unusual Penguin
Strandings
--(9)Rumors of New Salmon Disease Surface in Chile
--(10)Argentine Navy Ordered To Steer Clear of Whales

Protected Areas
--(11)Colombia Designates high Andean wetland as RAMSAR site
--(12)Guyana: Kaieteur National Park Being Closely Monitored For
Illegal Mining
--(13)Colombia Creates Park to Protect Medicinal Plants

Science & Technology
--(14)Uruguay: Pasteur Director Announces Plans to Create Biotech
Center

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--(15)Colombia: New Science Law Moves Ahead in Congress

Climate Change
--(16)Brazil to Invest U$63 Million on Climate Research
--(17)Andean Countries Team to Monitor Glacial Melt
--(18)President of Guyana Shares his Views on Climate Change, Forest
Conservation

Energy
--(19)Brazil to invest US$ 12 billion in Biodiesel Projects
--(20)Chile Warming Up To Solar Energy Solutions

(Sustainable) Development
--(21)Environmental-Licensing Overhaul in Brazil
--(22)Ecuador's Draft Constitution Has Green Hue
--(23)Controversial Paving of the Darin Gap between Colombia and
Panam

Free Trade Agreement
--(24)Trade-Related Decrees Triggering Protests in Peru

NEWS FROM THE FRONT
*US Embassy ESTH Work in South America*
--(25)Peru: Mercury Recapture Devices in Peru's Amazon
--(26)Colombia: Promoting Sustainable Biofuels Development

-------------
Agriculture
-----------
3. Brazil: Small Farmers to Join Brazil Sustainable Cane Movement

SEPT. 01, 2008 - Dozens of small and medium-scale farmers in
Brazil's Sao Paulo state will grow sugar cane certified as meeting
strict social and environmental standards, according to the region's
cane producers association. Several ethanol companies like Cosan
and Louis Dreyfus signed deals to produce and export verified
sustainable ethanol in the last couple of months to address
consumers' concerns over the impact of ethanol, but now some of the
state's small producers in the world's top sugar cane producing
state will be able to join them. The sustainability of Brazil's
cane-based ethanol has been called into question by Europe, which is

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likely to demand stricter environmental and labor standards on
imports. The program will have 50 small and medium-scale cane
suppliers who farm up to 3,500 hectares and produce an estimated
260,000 tons of cane per year. They must refuse the use of child or
slave labor, limit their use of agrochemicals, and gather their cane
with mechanical harvesters as opposed to cutting it manually.
Production standards, which will come into force on Aug. 30, were
set by Organizacao Internacional Agropecuaria (OIA), a private
company which provides inspection and certification services.
Source - Planet Ark

4. IDB, Guyana to Sign Agro-Energy Agreement

AUG. 21, 2008 - The Guyana government and the Inter-American
Development Bank are to sign a cooperation agreement for
institutional strengthening and technical support in developing
national agro-energy capacity. Guyana Minister of Agriculture
Robert Persaud told the Stabroek News that the funds, which will
provide technical support in developing institutional capacity to
facilitate foreign investment in the sector, are already available
but a date has to be set for the signing. In April the IDB
announced that the sum of US$925,500 in grants had been approved to
encourage private investment in bio-fuel production. The Guyana
government has emphasized that no agricultural lands in use would be
put under cultivation for bio-fuel production and forests would not
be felled for this purpose.
Source - Stabroek News

------------
Water Issues
------------
5. Ecuador Seizes Dam Constructor Assets, Water Initiatives May be
Affected

SEPT. 24, 2008 - Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has called on
Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht to speed up the rehabilitation
works on the San Francisco hydroelectric dam in Pastaza province or
risk being asked to leave the country. The plant suspended its
operations in June due to large structural problems found during a
routine inspection. Correa met with authorities from the country's
electric sector to discuss the problems, which have also been

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detected in other Odebrecht hydro-electric projects such as the
Toachi Pilatsn initiative in Pichincha province. Aside from
requesting the company to fix the damages found in the dam's
turbines and conduction tunnels, the firm has also been requested to
cover the economic losses generated since the facility halted its
operations. The president also requested that Odebrecht return a
US$20mn award it received from delivering the project before the
deadline established in its construction contract. Correa added that
foreign construction firms that fail to comply with their
commitments and responsibilities will be forced to exit the country.
The measure could affect sectors such as power generation, transport
infrastructure, and water initiative projects in which Odebrecht is
involved.
Source - BN Americas

-------
Forests
-------
6. Brazil: Chico Mendes Reserve threatened by Cattle Grazing

SEPT. 21, 2008 - Twenty years after the assassination of the
rubber-tapping leader and environmentalist Chico Mendes,
deforestation rates reach up to 6.3% in the Federal Nature Reserve
in Acre dedicated in his honor. According to the news report, there
is only one forest ranger monitoring fires and deforestation in the
reserve, which is six times the size of the city of Sao Paulo.
Nearly 10 thousand cows are being grazed in the reserve, according
to Acre's Institute of Agriculture and Forestry. According to the
management plan, families living in the reserve are allowed to have
between 15 and 30 cows. Vaccination records show, however, families
with as much as 648 cows in one area. A preliminary study shows
that nearly 15% of the families living in the Chico Mendes reserve
are in this irregular situation. According to Minister of
Environment Carlos Minc, "everyone knows the region is poor" and
containing deforestation there is very difficult.
Source - Folha de Sao Paulo (hard copy; Brasil/A6)

7. Brazil Welcomes Foreign Money for Amazon

SEPT. 10, 2008 - Brazil's environment minister fought off charges
that a new international Amazon conservation fund, which recently

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received a large contribution from Norway, could threaten the
nation's sovereignty. Nationalist politicians and media have warned
that foreigners donating to the Amazon Fund, which Brazil unveiled
in August, might try to impose their own agenda on Latin America's
largest country. Norway made an initial $20 million donation [and
pledged additional contributions through 2015, possibly as much as
US$1 billion] during a visit to Brazil by Norwegian Prime Minister
Jens Stoltenberg. Other countries are looking into making
contributions. Asked whether the growing presence of foreign farmers
and non-governmental groups in the region was cause for concern,
Minc responded: "Today, those who destroy the Amazon are Brazilians.
Nationalists, especially in Brazil's military and intelligence
circles, have long harbored conspiracy theories that foreigners are
scheming to take Amazon resources. The Amazon Fund will support
forest conservation, scientific research and sustainable development
projects such as rubber tapping, forestry management and the
creation of drugs from plants. Brazil's national development bank
BNDES will manage the fund, Minc said. The government hopes to raise
$1 billion within a year and as much as $21 billion by 2021, the
bank said last month.
Source - Alertnet

-------------------------------
Fisheries & Marine Conservation
-------------------------------
8. Brazil: Currents, Overfishing Cited In Unusual Penguin Strandings


AUG. 2008 - Stronger than usual ocean currents are being cited as a
prime cause of the unprecedented number of wayward penguins washing
up on the beaches of Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state, but some experts
believe depleted fisheries may also be to blame. The gray-and-white
Magellan penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) that wind up here are
typically young birds that became separated from their group during
their first fishing expedition, scientists say. Approximately 120
penguins reportedly arrived last month on the coast of Sao Paulo
state, far more than in July 2007. And penguins - 200 last month -
even reached northeastern Bahia state, which is 600 miles (970 kms)
north of Rio de Janeiro state and 6,000 miles (9,700 kms) from
southernmost Patagonia. Never have such cases been reported so far
north, according to Eduardo Pimenta, head of the Rio de Janeiro

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State Coastal Environmental Protection agency (GMA).
Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

9. Rumors of New Salmon Disease Surface in Chile

SEPT. 16, 2008 - Chile's already wounded farmed-salmon industry,
which has suffered major problems this year and shed as many as
3,000 jobs, could have a new problem on its hands: Pancreas Disease
(PD). Rumors suggest that the new viral disease, which can be
lethal to fish but does not affect humans, has somehow made it into
the country. PD is already present in other top
farmed-salmon-producing countries such as Norway and Scotland, where
it first appeared in 1976. While the suspicions have yet to be
confirmed, the Chilean government's National Fishing Service
(SERNAPESCA), for one, is taking them seriously - so much so that it
recently hired the Universidad Austral's Animal Pathology Institute
to investigate the matter.
Source - Santiago Times (no link)

10. Argentine Navy Ordered To Steer Clear of Whales

AUG. 2008 - Argentina's defense minister has pledged to keep naval
operations at the "lowest possible level" in the vicinity of
Patagonia's Peninsula Valds during the period of the year that
Southern Right whales (Eubalaena australis) use local waters as a
calving ground. The pledge follows the discovery last month that a
whale had been killed by the propellers of an Argentine Navy
destroyer, Herona. At the time of the accident, Herona was among
a group of naval vessels leaving the coastal city of Puerto Madryn
following a visit there for a July 9 Independence Day ceremony.
"For two years we've been warning that this might occur and
demanding that Navy ships not enter the area when pregnant whales
come to give birth," says Guillermo Caille, a biologist with Natural
Patagonia Foundation. "This was an avoidable accident, but at least
it turned into a lesson learned."
Source - EcoAmericas

---------------
Protected Areas
---------------

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11. Colombia Designates high Andean wetland as RAMSAR site

SEPT. 11, 2008 - Colombia has designated its fifth Wetland of
International Importance, a high Andean site called Complejo de
Humedales Laguna del Otn. Support for this site designation was
provided by WWF International's Freshwater Program, as a
contribution to the Ramsar Regional Initiative on High Andean
Wetlands.
Source - UN MEA Bulletin

12. Guyana: Kaieteur National Park Being Closely Monitored For
Illegal Mining

SEPT. 10, 2008 - Illegal mining is one of the encroachments that the
management of the Kaieteur National Park has been monitoring closely
over the years. Chairman of the Park, Shyam Nokta told Kaieteur
News that while miners have started to conform with to respect the
protected area, there are sporadic infringements. The Guyana
Geology and Mines Commission has been working with the Park's
rangers to address this problem. Kaieteur National Park is situated
on the Guyana Shield, a plateau that is one of the world's oldest
and remotest geological formations. The entire Kaieteur National
Park area is located within one of the largest and most bio-diverse
rainforests in the world. Over the years, Kaieteur Park has been
subject to competing interests for its rich natural wealth. The
Park was downsized in the 1970s to facilitate mining in the area,
and then expanded in the 1990s to protect the watershed and the
integrity of the area from that very same mining.
Source - Kaieteur News

13. Colombia Creates Park to Protect Medicinal Plants

AUG. 2008 - In a unique undertaking blending cultural and
environmental protection, Colombia has created a new national park
to preserve the hallucinogenic and medicinal plants important to the
culture of five Indian tribes. Colombian officials say creation of
the 25,000-acre (10,000-ha) Orito Ingi-Ande Medicinal Plants
Sanctuary in the southwestern departments of Nario and Putumayo
will protect tropical rainforests providing habitat to more than 400
species of birds. But they say the prime goal is to safeguard some
100 medicinal plants, including the hallucinogenic yag

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(Banisteriopsis spp) and the yoco (Paullinia yoco), which lie at the
core of the religious and spiritual practices of Indian tribes in
the southwestern part of Colombia`s Andean-Amazon Piedmont region.
"This marks the first time a national park has been created in
Colombia to harmonize biological conservation with the protection of
the ancestral practices and knowledge of indigenous communities,"
said Juan Lozano, Minister of the Environment, Housing and
Territorial Development, in an interview with EcoAmricas.
Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

--------------------
Science & Technology
--------------------
14. Uruguay: Pasteur Director Announces Plans to Create Biotech
Center

Sept. 09, 2008 - According to the director of South America's Branch
of the Pasteur Institute (in Montevideo, Uruguay), Guillermo
Dighiero, human capital, business and academic integration, and
political will are essential elements needed to stimulate the
development of biotechnology in Uruguay. Dighiero highlighted the
need for a "stronger articulation between the academic and the
business sectors." The Pasteur Institute director stated that they
are partnering with the state university, Montevideo's
administration, the Ministry of Industry, the National Agency for
Research and Innovation (ANII), and pharmaceutical industries to
create a biotechnology center in Uruguay in 2011. According to
Dighiero this idea is still in an initial phase.
Source - SciDev

15. Colombia: New Science Law Moves Ahead in Congress

AUG. 30, 2008 - Colombia's Congressional Representatives approved on
August 19 a proposed a bill for science, technology, and innovation
(ST&I) which aims to strengthen this sector in the country. The
proposed bill will now be sent to Senate and, if approved, will need
the president's signature to be converted into law. The bill aims
to allocate 1% of Colombia's GDP to ST&I by 2010. Current
investment is 0.37%. It also creates a National Fund for Financing
ST&I. Expectation is that the law will be signed by December this

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year.
Source - SciDev

--------------
Climate Change
--------------
16. Brazil to Invest U$63 Million on Climate Research

SEPT.15 2008 - The State of Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)
has announced a new US$63 million investment initiative for research
on global climate change and its impact on Brazil. Over the next
ten years, FAPESP will offer US$6-7 million every year to climate
researchers. FAPESP will also look to bring in other institutions to
add more funding to the program. A US$10 million initial investment
for this will be shared between FAPESP and the Brazilian National
Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). The
FAPESP program will also finance the Brazilian National Institute
for Space Research (INPE) to buy equipment to develop global climate
models. The FAPESP program aims to help understand the causes of
these changes and trends in Latin America, particularly in Brazil,
and establish mitigation and adaptation strategies for the region.
Source - SciDev

17. Andean Countries Team to Monitor Glacial Melt

SEPT. 02, 2008 - The Andean Community (CAN) launched on August 26 a
project to help Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru to adapt to the impact of
accelerated glacier retreat caused by climate change. The
announcement was made during the Workshop on Climate Change and
Water Resources held in Lima. The World Bank will allocate US$10
million whereas the Andean nations will invest US$22 million in the
four-year project. The retreat of glaciers will be monitored
through a network devices donated by Japan. The areas to be
monitored are considered as some of the most vulnerable in the
Andes: Antisana (Ecuador), Cordillera Real (Bolivia), Huaytapallana
and Salkantay snow peaks and Shulcas-Mantaro and Vilcanota-Urubamba
rivers (Peru). In May this year, CAN presented a study "Climate
Change has no borders" in which it calculates that damages from
climate change can reach up to US$30 billion per year for the Andean
countries by 2025 - 4.5% of the region's GDP.
Source - SciDev

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18. President of Guyana Shares his Views on Climate Change, Forest
Conservation

SEPT. 08, 2008 - Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo spoke to BBC on his
views on how to reduce the 18% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by
tropical deforestation. Here are some highlights: "In Guyana, we
are ready to play our part [in fighting climate change], and to
provide a model for other rainforest countries to share. Our
deforestation rate is one of the lowest in the world and we want it
to stay that way [...] I frequently receive proposals from investors
to convert our forest into land for agriculture or biofuels.
Agreeing to these would be a quick way to meet the development
challenges we face. But in Guyana, we are acutely conscious of
climate change. We recognize that as a nation where over 80% of our
surface area is tropical rainforest, we have an obligation to our
own people and the wider world to seek to preserve it. This is why
in 2006, I suggested that the UK and Guyana could work together to
identify bold rainforest solutions that could be used as models for
the world. For our part, we are willing to place almost our entire
rainforest - which is larger than England - under internationally
verified supervision if the right economic incentives are created.
This does not mean sacrificing sovereignty over our forest or
restricting the development aspirations of our people. It simply
means allowing globally recognized supervision to verify that
activities within the forest are sustainable."
Source - BBC News

------
Energy
------

19. Brazil to invest US$ 12 billion in Biodiesel Projects

SEPT. 08, 2008 - The Government of Brazil will invest 22 billion
reais (USD 12.8 billion) to finance research projects in biodiesel.
The main focus is to reduce environmental and public health impacts
of using this type of biofuel. The money will also be allocated for
research and development of new technologies for producing raw
materials; for the production of ethanol-based biodiesel; and in the
promotion of the decentralization of biofuel production. These


***********************
* Missing Section 011 *
***********************


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permitting process in 13 months instead of the current 24. The
steps set first-ever licensing deadlines for Ibama, the Environment
Ministry's permitting arm. Ibama will have 60 days to notify project
organizers of issues that must be addressed in their
environmental-impact assessment; 180 days to analyze the assessment;
and 75 days after granting a preliminary license to decide on a
construction license.
Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

22. Ecuador's Draft Constitution Has Green Hue

AUG. 2008 - Starting in October, Ecuador will regard the environment
as "a someone to respect and not a something to exploit." That, at
least, is the approach of the country's new draft constitution,
environmentalists who support approval of the document say. The
constitution, completed by a constituent assembly on July 24 and
slated for a Sept. 28 public referendum, includes rights related to
the environment and specific green measures likely to require
implementing legislation. The draft-constitution sets a goal of
"buen vivir," or living well, for all Ecuadorians in a context of
harmonious coexistence with nature. "There's a shift from an
anthropocentric vision to a vision of coexistence with nature," says
Alberto Acosta, former president of the constituent assembly. "To
achieve it, the door will be opened to a sustainable- development
regime inspired by the goals of living well."
Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

NOTE from US Embassy Quito: Also see Unclass QUITO 913. The new
constitution definitely has a green hue, but also places greater
responsibility on the state, suggesting uncertain outcomes.

23. Controversial Paving of the Darin Gap between Colombia and
Panam

AUG. 2008 - For decades, Panamanians and Colombians alike have
dreamed of plugging the so-called Darin Gap, a vast borderland
network of rainforests, mangroves and swamps lying smack in the path
of the 16,000-mile (25,500-km) Pan-American Highway's last remaining
unbuilt section. The 69-mile (111-km) gap in the continental

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roadway, which runs from Fairbanks, Alaska to the southern tip of
Chile, has long been seen as an impassable barrier preventing the
movement of people and products between South and Central America.
Only the most fearless have dared to cross the snake- and
caiman-infested region by foot or dugout canoe. So when Colombia's
presidential advisor Fabio Valencia told a June 6 meeting of the
Organization of American States in Medelln that Colombia would
spend US$130 million to build 33 miles (53 kms) of road on its side
of the border, completing Colombia's portion of the highway by 2010,
the government expected applause. Instead, it encountered hostility.
Panamanian officials said privately they feared an invasion by
Colombian guerrillas, paramilitaries and refugees if either the
Colombian portion of the highway or the 36 miles (58 kms) remaining
to be built in Panama were completed. And environmentalists on both
sides of the border asserted that roadwork would threaten one of the
world's treasures of biological diversity.
Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

---------------------
Free Trade Agreements
---------------------
24. Trade-Related Decrees Triggering Protests in Peru

AUG. 2008 - Protesting decrees issued earlier this year by President
Alan Garca, members of various indigenous groups in the Peruvian
Amazon marked Aug. 9, the International Day of Indigenous People, by
occupying facilities operated by oil, gas and hydropower companies.
The protest action targeted oil and hydroelectric plants in the
northern departments of Loreto and Amazonas, as well as facilities
in southeastern Peru's Camisea natural gas field. Demonstrators are
calling for the government to cancel more than two dozen decrees
issued in the first half of the year that attempt to bring Peruvian
legislation in line with the country's free-trade agreement with the
United States. The free-trade agreement was signed in 2006 and has
since been ratified by both countries, which must modify their laws
to put it into effect. Among the most controversial aspects of the
new decrees are provisions that would facilitate private purchase of
public lands; reduce the number of votes required by members of an
indigenous group or peasant community to sell communal land; and
promote private investment, particularly in farming and logging.

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Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete
article)

UPDATE from US Embassy Lima: The principal problematic decrees were
repealed, so protests have stopped.

-------------------
NEWS FROM THE FRONT
-------------------
25. EPA and Argonne National Labs install mercury recapture devices
in Peru's Amazon - (Miguel Yepez, Marcos Mandojana)
US Embassy Lima ECON Office supported the visits in May and
September of EPA / Argonne National Lab experts to Peru. On Sept.
15 the experts presented their project at the Peruvian Mining &
Energy ministry then travelled to the remote jungle region of Madre
de Dios to install their locally-built, $450 mercury recapture
device in a gold shop. They immediately obtained great results, and
had over 60 locals attend a presentation in Madre de Dios on Sept.
19. The Mining & Energy Ministry has asked EPA/Argonne Nation Lab
to return to help in spreading this device throughout Peru's mining
areas. Mercury pollution from artisanal mining is a huge problem in
Peru, as virtually no attempt is made to recapture the mercury from
gold refining, which ends up going into the atmosphere and water.

26. Colombia: Promoting Sustainable Biofuels Development - (William
Popp, Larry Gumbiner)
On September 3-5, US Embassy Bogota hosted the visit of sustainable
biofuels expert Charlotte Opal from the Roundtable on Sustainable
Biofuels Ms. Opal met with local biofuels industry
representatives, government policymakers and environmental and
development NGOs to discuss the development of standards and
certifications processes for sustainable biofuels around the world.
Ms. Opal emphasized the importance of Colombian producers and
policymakers participating in ongoing international discussions on
establishing global sustainability standards for biofuels in order
to ensure local industry incorporates environmental and social
protections in their operations which consumer nations are
increasingly poised to require. Government interlocutors confirmed
that Colombia would provide input into the Roundtable's current
draft of sustainability standards and continue to engage o the
issue through the Global Bioenergy Partnersip.

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KUBISKE

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