The European Commission is about to take important decisions about Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). These agreements are designed to protect corporations that invest in a foreign (often developing) country. These international agreements are binding, but often undermine the social and environmental regulations that developing countries want to implement. On march 3, the European Parliament will vote on reforming these policies.
Despite vehement protests from the local community and the ban from the federal government of the state Pará, on 26 Januari 2011 the Brazilian government gave its assent to the construction of the Belo Monte Dam in the River Xingu.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) disbursed an additional EUR 40 million for the Bujagali dam in Uganda while complaints from the local communities are still waiting for a response. The dam is controversial because of its tremendous social and environmental impact. "By neglecting its own complaint mechanism, the EIB proves that its policy is nothing more than a green washing machine", several civil society organisations state.
In April 2007, a number of environmentalists organized a demonstration in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. They were protesting against the Ugandan government's plans to grant a permit to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL), a sugar manufacturer, for the felling and exploitation of large parts of the ancient Mabira forest. The peaceful protest was forcefully put to an end by the Ugandan military and police, and protesters were charged. However, international media uproar forced the Ugandan government to withdraw the charges against the protesters and to nullify the logging concession.
Felsi Gonzales from Bolivia and Gamaniel Lopez from Peru both run the risk of losing their land because of the planned construction of large dams in the Amazon. They are part of a group of some twenty young indigenous leaders from Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia who participated in a training programme organized by Both ENDS and Cross Cultural Bridges, which forms part of a larger two-year course. The unique training programme was held from 19 to 29 November at a location near Santarém in the Brazilian rainforest. Sanderijn van Beek of Both ENDS briefly attended the event.
In July this year, 120 nations voted in favour of a UN resolution confirming the rights to water and sanitation as human rights. Recently, however, all references to human rights have been removed from the draft text of a United Nations General Assembly resolution on a separate drive for sanitation. This change in the text removed the obligation of states under international law to report to the UN on progress in providing their citizens with access to clean water and sanitation. On November 23, the final version of the text is due to be completed.
A large hydropower dam is threatening the Omo river basin in Ethiopia and the surroundings of lake Turkana in Kenya. Completion of the dam will have devastating effects on the environment and on hundreds of thousands of mostly tribal people who live in the area. As a result of ongoing protests and studies on the impact of the dam, several funders have already withdrawn their loans. Unfortunately, the Industrial Commercial Bank of China has now offered to further fund the project. This week, the Kenian organisation 'Friends of Lake Turkana' (FoLT) will send a petition to the Chinese ambassador in Kenia to stress the need for intervention.