The Hague, April 5, 2019 - Today Friends of the Earth Netherlands will deliver a court summons to Shell to legally compel the company to cease its destruction of the climate, on behalf of more than 30,000 people from 70 countries. A 236 page complaint will be delivered to Shell's International Headquarters in the Hague this afternoon by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, ActionAid NL, Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL, Greenpeace NL,Young Friends of the Earth NL, Waddenvereniging and a large group of co-plaintiffs.
On 28 November 2007, the Saramaka people won a ground-breaking court case against Suriname at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). The Court ruling included the provision that Suriname could no longer grant concessions on tribal territory without the permission of the inhabitants. Ten years later, little has come of implementing this ruling in practice.
Development banks such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the German DEG and the Dutch FMO have some crucial similarities: they operate with public money, and their ultimate goal is to fight poverty and promote development. But in practice, 'development' seems to be a broad concept, as there are many people that do not profit from the projects these banks invest in. On the contrary, large groups of people are often faced with negative consequences of the investments of development banks. Under pressure from civil society organisations, including Both ENDS, a number of development banks set up a complaint desk for those that are adversely affected.
Large-scale infrastructural projects have detrimental effects on local people and the environment, while their benefits are felt elsewhere. Both ENDS is working to ensure that local people have a greater say in decision-making and is investigating the way these projects are funded.
On Monday 11 November the Dutch Parliament debated on the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF), which was initially launched in 2012 under Minister Ploumen for Foreign Trade and Development. The fund aims to promote ‘development relevant trade’: imports and exports which are beneficial not only for the Netherlands, but also for the population in (poor) countries they invest in. However, the question is whether in practice it will work this way. According to Anouk Franck of Both ENDS, the DGGF focuses too much on trade, and economic factors. This is reflected in critical report which was recently published by ActionAid, SOMO and Both ENDS.
Thanks to the negotiations about TTIP, the public debate about bilateral investment treaties (BITs) is slowly underway. Especially the ‘Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism’ (ISDS) of TTIP threatens to lower the norms to protect people and the environment. BITs make use of very controversial arbitrage systems (ISDS), which enable investors to bypass the national court to sue governments for their national policies and laws.
Global public support for coal is decreasing. Obama has pledged to stop American support for public financing of new coal plants outside the U.S., the World Bank has announced to phase out support for coal projects and some large private banks are withdrawing from fossil fuels. But what about export credit agencies (ECAs)? Until now, ECAs have not withdrawn from coal projects. On the contrary: while other investors gradually cease their support to coal projects, export credit agencies are investing in coal more than ever. On June 11, an alliance of 50 NGOs, including Both ENDS, published a recommendation to the OECD calling for an end to export credit support for coal.
The U.S. is not always in the front line when it comes to the protection of human rights and the environment in developing countries, but there are exceptions. The Netherlands has recently joined the ‘climate initiative’ of President Obama, which aims at ending the public funding of coal plants. But the U.S. is going even further than that: under the ‘Appropriations Bill’, U.S. directors at international financial institutions have to vote against projects that support large dams and industrial logging or mining projects in tropical forests. We are calling on Dutch Minister Ploumen to follow the U.S. example!