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UN Environment Program Is Hacked, Explains Policies on New Media and Corporate Partnering

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, August 14 -- Two days after UN Headquarters acknowledged that the web site of Ban Ki-moon's speeches had been hacked, the UN Environment Program confirmed that it, too, had been targeted, and had to "deactivate" a portion of its site.

            UNEP's Eric Falt stresses that the portion deactivated, the "Creative Gallery probably represents less than 0.5 % of the overall in terms of pages and traffic." That site, which on Monday showed the same anti-war message as appeared on on Sunday, by Tuesday was no longer accessible, displaying instead this message:

"You are not authorized to view this page. The Web server you are attempting to reach has a list of IP addresses that are not allowed to access the Web site, and the IP address of your browsing computer is on this list."

            In response to another question, about his involvement in a UN Communications Group meeting which considered making it more difficult for bloggers to cover the UN, Mr. Falt points out

"a new initiative I recently introduced, whereby UNEP presents a new 'expert' each day on the UNEP website front page to answer questions on the environment and UNEP's work. This facility not only provides answers in real time, but also enables us to monitor the types of questions that interest our interlocutors so we can provide a better service in the definition and implementation of our program strategy."

            One recent expert, on August 9, riffed about the opportunities and luxuries of multinational banks like Standard Chartered:

Banks such as Standard Chartered are in a unique position to be able to have a positive influence on environmental and social issues. Placing an analysis of the social and environmental impact at the heart of your lending decision-making is key... A multi-national bank such as Standard Chartered has the luxury of a well-developed internal policy on these issues, which can act as a driver for local banks to also consider them. An interesting idea which has been carried out in South Africa that might interest you is that of a bank such as SC acting as a 'buddy' to guide a local bank interested in learning about incorporating sustainability issues in credit risk analysis. A recently published report on sustainable banking in Africa may be of interest to you: 'Banking on Value: A New Approach to Credit Risk in Africa'

            While there surely must be some good things to say about Standard Chartered -- and UNEP would find them, no doubt -- it is noteworthy, as regards the environment, that of what Friends of the Earth calls an illegal logger, Wilmar, Standard Chartered is a main financier --

The palm oil industry has attempted to market the trade as environmentally and socially sustainable, but this report exposes these policies as hollow and inadequate. Singapore-based multinational Wilmar is a member of the industry-led Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and is funded by the World Bank's private arm as well as private European banks which have codes of conduct against unsustainable palm oil. Rabobank and Standard Chartered Bank are the main European financers.

            Inner City Press asked UNEP about its activities with another alleged illegal logger, PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (Riaupulp).

Logging (see below)

The Jakarta Post of August 7 quoted Indonesia Greenomics that Riaupulp's "supply of logs as raw material to its mills has drastically increased to 9 million tons in 2006 from four million tons in 2005, but it has never been transparent about from where its mills (received) its logs." The same article mentioned, in Riaupulp's defense, that it had formed "partnerships" with UNEP. So Inner City Press sent UNEP the article and asked, what partnerships?

            Mr. Falt responds:

Subj: Press questions re Riaupulp,, UNCG, thank you 

From: Eric Falt [at]

To: Matthew Russell Lee at

Date: 8/14/2007 11:32:52 AM Eastern Standard Time

Dear Matthew, Thanks for sending these questions. Please find answers below...

[Q] - Please describe any and all "partnership" or relations UNEP has with PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (Riaupulp).

[A] Since 2006, UNEP has partnered with Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL), which is the parent company to PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper in the context of our Champions of the Earth environmental award and, since 2007, with B4E, the Global Business Summit for the Environment. Information about APRIL, including its involvement with UNEP and the UN Global Compact, and its commitment to corporate social and environmental responsibility is available at

In recent years UNEP, like many other international and non-governmental organizations, has chosen to engage constructively with selected private sector entities who we believe can make an impact in promoting behavior change in the environmental field.

We are aware that many companies operating in the forestry sector are subject to some controversy. However, we consider that APRIL's own initiatives towards transparency and environmental sustainability, combined with the vigorous scrutiny of regional and global media as well as organizations such as WWF, mean that progress is being made towards more sustainable practices in this industry, and that our engagement with this company allows us to engage them constructively.

[Q] could you describe UNEP's participation in the UN Communications Group meeting in Madrid on June 21-22, 2007, particularly on Item 6 / "new media." Who attended for UNEP, what position did or will they take on these issues, and what update to the June 21-22 discussion can you provide?

[A] I attended the UNCG meeting in Madrid in my capacity as Director of Communications and Public Information at UNEP. On Item 6 (New Media), I participated in the discussion but did not advance a specific 'position' as UNEP does not have one. (NB: Accreditation in Nairobi is done for all UN Agencies operating on the complex through UNIC, which I also head. We essentially follow accreditation procedures decided upon at UN Headquarters in New York).

            Inner City Press' previous article on the UNCG meeting is here. These are issues we will continue to cover. Watch this site.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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