Weblog of Daniëlle Hirsch


Weblog of Daniëlle Hirsch


 Weblog of Daniëlle Hirsch, director of Both ENDS

  • 6 April 2017: Déjà vu: from Famatina via Orissa and Dakota to Groningen

    Whenever I see pictures of the people in the Dutch province of Groningen whose houses are collapsing because of gas extraction and who, even if they wanted to move somewhere else, would never be able to sell them, I can’t help but think of all the people worldwide who have been experiencing the same problems, sometimes for decades. Every time I see the anger and powerlessness of the people of Groningen, the comparison to the many people we have been working with for many years in many parts of the world comes to my mind.


  • 24 November 2016: Celebrate countervailing power!

    This is the text of the speech given by Danielle Hirsch on the 'Nacht van de Tegenmacht' (Night of Countervailing Power):


    Today, we are celebrating countervailing power, that very diverse area in our society that contains everyone and everything that is not part of the established institutions of government and business.


  • 11 July 2016: 'She is just around the corner' 

    “Another world is possible. She is just around the corner. In a quiet moment I can hear her breathing.”


    Every now and then a quote comes by that really gets to me. Its words linger in my mind and create a vivid glimpse into the future. The quote got to me in that way. It was expressed by Ruby Johnson, coordinator of FRIDA/ The young feminist fund, a network of young women across the globe.


  • 16 October 2014:  ''Africa Works' with Decent Finance'

    Last week, a score of civil society organisations left consultations they had with the World Bank about safeguards for investments and loans. Each year, the Dutch contribute some 300 million Euros of their tax money to the bank, whose main task is to combat the world’s poverty in the best possible and most effective way. This incident clearly shows that up to now the World Bank has not been able to offer a set of hard conditions to ensure that the promising projects, financed with our tax money, will also benefit the very poor. 

  • 18 April 2014: 'Value for climate money'

    The last IPCC report cannot be misunderstood; humanity has a big problem and is not working hard enough to resolve it. Strange, one would think, because didn’t the international community, including the Netherlands, decide to spend a large amount of money to combat climate change? Unfortunately, a look at the way the money is spent reveals that countering climate change is far from the only goal. Climate finance has turned into a tool to stimulate our own economy.

  • 5 December 2013: 'The winner takes all'

     Every day we consume soy and palm oil in soap, biscuits, meat and many other products, often without knowing. The large-scale production of these and other commodities cause deforestation, the violation of land rights and threaten the Amazon, the forests of Borneo and many other ecosystems.

  • 20 November 2013: 'Zombie treaties cripple international trade'

    A few weeks ago, South Africa decided to terminate its current Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with the Netherlands. South Africa’s decision could signal a trend and could have a significant impact on our own trade policies. But, amazingly enough, there is very little news on this issue to be found on Twitter, or on Aid and Trade Minister Plouman’s Facebook page, or, for that matter, in the various media outlets that focus on these kinds of issues.

  • 16 October 2013: Minister of Trade and Aid chooses fresh head wind

    Last week I was travelling through the United States, the country of foundations like Gates and Rockefeller, to explore the American world of philanthropy and to strengthen our relations with the U.S-based organisations. The US reality offers an interesting perspective on Dutch Minister Ploumen’s  vision on the future role of civil society.


  • 30 August 2013: Green value for money

    Some days ago I heard sad news from Ecuador. It’s related to a poorly answered question we also think of in the Netherlands: what should be the price of nature. What happened in Ecuador? President Correa announced that he stops the Yasuni initiative. Yasuni nature reserve is part of the Amazon, an untouched paradise protected from human activity. He claimed to have no alternative and has to make ends meet. The Yasuni initiative did not bring the financial benefits promised by the international community, facilitated by the UN. And so he decided to allow the exploitation of the oil reserves under the Yasuni forest. Good for the treasury, bad for nature. Who knows if Chevron and other others will turn this untouched part of the Amazon into another Niger delta?

  • 8 August 2013: Summer time

    In the Netherlands we’re amongst the lucky people that can actually enjoy our holidays. Our summers in the office are a great time for silent reflection. Each year, our annual report is finalised during the summer days. Reading it always generates an amazing boost.


    Our 2012 was packed with activity and brought a lot of good things: we received funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery (NPL) to roll out our work on small grants funds. Cordaid allowed us to scale up our work with Sri Lankan environmental organizations, a tea producer and the Dutch Embassy on sustainable entrepreneurship into the Rich Forests Initiative. Together with the Ghanaian Development Institute, Argentinean M’Biguá and Asian Keystone and Samdhana, we put the challenge of equitable international climate financing on the agenda of the Green Climate Fund negotiations. And these are of course but a few of our activities.

  • 4 June 2013: Behind the scenes of a ‘growth-economy’


    We have had an Argentinian queen for some weeks now. I imagine she has a lot of observations about the ways of the Dutch. During various travels I have made to Argentina in the last couple of years I was able to get a good impression of Máxima’s homeland. At first glance, Argentina is a thriving democracy with an articulate, highly educated population, rich in land, water, oil and gas. In recent years soybean exports have made Argentina one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The country is full of active citizens and NGO's that advocate people's rights, the protection of the environment and sustainability.


  • 17 May 2013: Deafening silence

    On May 23rd the Dutch Parliament will debate the policy statement of the Dutch Minister of Trade and Aid. The discussion will cover the ‘Business Fund’, the climate budget and its purpose, and the role civil society organisations can play in the realisation of the Ministers’ ambitions. One topic, however, seems to be surrounded by a deafening silence:  the environment.  I would like to ask the question: why does Minister Ploumen degrade the environment to a so-called ‘cross-cutting theme’ without mobilizing any budget for it?


  • 8 April 2013: My world deserves better!

    It could have been so beautiful, a Minister of Trade and Aid who understands development issues, who works in a Parliament which even emphasised the importance of 'good governance' and 'environment' in its coalition document. Our hopes for sustainable and equitable policies got up even higher when Minister Ploumen, during the first months of her mandate, stressed that distribution should be key in development, not just growth. She also underlined the importance of civil society organisations to make economic growth fair and inclusive.

  •  19 March 2013: Eraser for Minister Ploumen's charcoal sketch

    The novelty in spending the remains of the Dutch budget for development cooperation is the ‘Revolving Fund’. Out of this fund of 750 million euro (in the next three years) companies can borrow money for activities abroad. This could offer interesting possibilities for the private sector in developing countries. Unfortunately, the so-called charcoal sketch in which minister Ploumen (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) outlines the fund, shows that the bulk of the fund will be used for ‘development related export’. Our experience with export credits, however, proofs that it is all but guaranteed that this kind of finances will benefit development. 

  • 8 March 2013: Female leadership is changing the world

    Sheryl Sandberg’s new book is the talk all over town. Sheryl is a top manager at Facebook who claims that women have themselves to blame for the fact that so few of us are mingling in the world’s highest echelons. We should show more grit and not be too humble. It is a pity Sheryl has such an incredibly one-sided image of what women are doing, but also of leadership.


  • 21 February 2013: Trade agenda minister Ploumen decisive for fair and sustainable development

    The battle has begun. Is the newly formed ministry of Trade and Aid a happy marriage? I have noticed that in the Dutch newspaper ‘de Volkskrant’ supporters and opponents have expressed their conflicting opinions. For some it is fashionable these days to express the opinion that more trade automatically leads to development. 'Trickle down' is the simple motto. I'm not convinced that easily. A country like India is booming, the number of billionaires is rising explosively, but tens of millions of Indians are threatened with extreme poverty by rising food prices. In reality, the development of large numbers of people is currently obstructed rather than pushed forward by international agreements on trade. The EU has also concluded that ‘trade and finance’ have a major impact on development. It therefore appears to be only logical to me that our cabinet, Rutte II, combined Trade and Aid. In this way they can both can be managed more effectively.

  • 12 February 2013: Out of the limelight, but spot on

    It might seem like you’re not doing anything worthwhile if nobody knows you or knows what you’re up to every second of every day. Parineeta Dandekar, one of the 120 fellows of the Joke Waller-Hunter Initiative, shows us nothing could be further from the truth.


  • 30 January 2013: The empty words of the president of the World Bank

    In the Washington Post President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim urges participants of the World Economic Forum to pay serious and sincere attention to climate change, considering the world is heading for a 4C rise in temperature by 2100. Kim even mentions his two sons to lend strengh to his arguments  "What kind of world do we leave behind for them if we let this happen?'  I find his call a perfect example of the hypocrisy of our present day discourse on on sustainability, climate and nature conservation of nature.


  • Corporate Social Responsibility just a façade?

    Next Monday the Dutch House of Representatives will debate the budget for development cooperation. The bigger role for businesses in international cooperation will be consolidated during this meeting. The Revolving Fund for businesses that operate in Southern countries will be discussed, and yes, why not actually? The managers that lead companies probably realise by now that they do not have a future without sustainable useage of natural resources? And that social unrest should be prevented, because otherwise they won’t be able to operate in certain markets? And is it not true that Dutch companies all have beautifull chapters on Corporate Social Responsibility on their website?

  • Growth on Paper

    ‘Africa Works’ is the name of the conference organised by the Netherlands Africa Business Council and the Africa Studies Centre in honour of their 65 years of existence, and my curiosity was aroused by their glossy made under the same name. So I attended the opening that, according to the organising parties, would show that Africa is no longer the lost continent, but part of the quickly changing world economy. It was a morning that beautifully pictured the dilemmas and framing we encounter when talking about sustainable development in the world.   

  • The Dutch and the Big, Bad World

    In all the recent election debates thrown at us, political parties picture the Netherlands as the powerless underdog which needs to protect itself against the Big, Bad World.  A recent report by the Dutch Clingendael Institute comes to the same conclusion. This vision of supposedly weak international position of our country is unrealistic, because the Netherlands – being a trading nation and 16th economy of the world – is still largely in charge of the way it develops.


  • Loesje and the fight against cynicism

    In general I can see the positive sides of this world. There are opportunities for change, and I keep running into people who achieve great things. But these last weeks my optimism has been put to the test. Rio +20 shows that the world is not really willing to move towards sustainability. Democracies are tested. And to top things off, I got enthralled by the excellent book Treasure Islands, which describes how an elusive shadow economy that is 5 times the size of our real economy, is making this world a totally ungovernable place.

  • Rio+20 lacks audacity

    During the coming week, the world will dedicate itself to sustainable development. But as Rio +20 draws near the public debate shows its major weakness; its unwillingness to recognize the need for fundamental changes. Rio+20 is hugely underestimating risks. In fact, if current debates are an indication of the outcomes of the conference, Rio+20 will be disastrous for global sustainability.

  • A manual for the transition to sustainability

    On May 30th representatives of the Dutch community working on sustainability gathered in Rotterdam. 1300 people showed that the notion of sustainability is very much alive amongst citizens, entrepreneurs and managers from all over the country. All those gathered in Rotterdam presented his or her own solution to global sustainability challenges. Very few people seemed ready to accept that none of us really know how to reach the sustainable world we're all yearning for. We seem to be stuck in the current economic system that is driven by infinite growth, while at the same time we know that such a system is finite.

  • The paradoxical reality of our ‘race to the bottom’

    It's not the first time I've been to Argentina, but it keeps surprising me: everything we're talking about in the Netherlands when discussing sustainable trade - soy trade, large-scale expansion of infrastructure, privatizing natural resources - is happening here in plain sight.

  • High time for Chapter 8

    The 14th of March is a special day. We feel that spring is in the air. On this day, international attention is asked for the development of large dams. And it's the birthday of Dana Meadows, one of the authors of the much talked-about 'Limits to Growth', that was published exactly 40 years ago by the Club of Rome.

  • 'Letter on Water' Good news for extremely poor?

    With his 'Letter on Water', Dutch State Secretary Knapen takes an important step towards working in a result-oriented way, and towards cooperation between Dutch actors. With a few relatively small but strategic changes though, he can and should ensure that his "new style development aid" will actually benefit the poorest.

  • Dream or reality?

    This week Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen returned to the number one of the top 2000 of all times. I fully agree. Should there be a top 2000 for the most moving songs of all times, I would probably choose "Imagine". John Lennon shows a vision of a world that seems to lie at our fingertips. If only everyone would take small steps into bringing this world closer. Lennon asks us listeners to gather around and change that ideal world into a reality.

  • Sustainable development: a world full of contradictions

    This week the German government organises the Nexus Conference as a stepping stone towards Rio+20, next year in Brazil. The Nexus meeting reflects the dilemma that the world is facing in terms of attitudes about sustainable development: there is great faith in green growth, turning the values of nature and the environment into economic values through 'the market'. At the same time there is a growing awareness that a sustainable world will not be possible without regulation and a clear political decision toward smaller production and consumption scales.

  • 4 October 2011: A Cry form the heart

    Last week, my otherwise ordinary Monday night suddenly became a special one. Stuart Hugo Jabini, Member of Parliament of Suriname and advocate of the rights of the Saramaka, visited Both ENDS. With the support of the Forest People Program, he won a ground-breaking case at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In 2006, the Court declared that the territory of the Saramaka could not be issued for mining and logging concessions without their consent. Since 2007, all forestry concessions in Saramaka area are put to a stop.

  • 1 september 2011: Satisfied, I drink my tea

    My morning routinely begins with a pot of tea. I only feel human after drinking a few cups of the amber liquid. Which is why yesterday was a special day for me: Both ENDS and our Sri Lankan partner, RRI, presented the results of our partnership with Talawakelle Tea Estates PLC. and Baddegama Tea Cooperative, a Sri Lankan tea plantation and farmers' cooperative.

  • A little better every day

    These days everyone spending the holidays in foreign countries far away, views similar headlines in the newspapers: western economies have come under severe pressure due to the failure of the global financial system. The search for a radical system change has been going on for years, but has had no effect. This is not surprising, because politically and economically these system changes are not feasible, no matter how beautiful they might look on paper.


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