After the second shocking murder of an indigenous rights activist in Honduras in less than two weeks the Dutch development bank, FMO, and the Finish development bank, FinnFund, announced a suspension of all their operations in Honduras. They declare that they will no longer engage in new projects or disbursements in the country, including in new disbursements in the Agua Zarca Project.
Ten years after the start of the construction of the Nam Theun 2 dam in Central Laos, it is clear that this mega project has disastrous impacts on people and their environment. The project - originally the flagship of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) - did not achieve its intended development goals. In a press release which was sent out this week, Both ENDS and partner organisations call on these multilateral banks to withdraw from large scale hydro dams such as Nam Theun 2. The dam, which became operational in 2010, has profound negative effects on local communities, while they do not benefit from it.
The Dutch development bank FMO and the Finnish FinnFund announced this week that they are seeking ‘a responsible and legal exit’ from the Agua Zarca project in Honduras. Last week, it was reported that four suspects had been arrested in connection with the murder of human rights activist Berta Cáceres, who opposed the project for many years. One of those arrested is the manager for social and environmental affairs of DESA, the company implementing the Agua Zarca project. Because the company is a direct client of FMO and FinnFund, the banks consider the arrest good reason to take action.
After many years of advocating for strong environmental policies at international platforms such as the UN, Kenyan Violet Matiru asked herself: "How does all this lobbying trickle down to our communities? How does this help our mothers who are still struggling with fetching water and cooking on wood stoves?" This is when she and her colleagues founded MCDI Kenya (Millennium Community Development Initiatives) and started to work with local communities. We talked to her about the historical and current power imbalance in water governance and her efforts to improve water governance in the Athi River basin, that runs all the way from upstream of Nairobi, through the city, into the Indian Ocean.
Today, it is exactly one year ago that Berta Cáceres was brutally murdered in her home in Honduras. Cáceres was a globally known human rights defender and coordinator of the indigenous Lenca organisation COPINH. The murder of Berta is closely related to her protest against the Agua Zarca dam, a hydroelectric project financed partially by the Dutch development bank FMO.
What is the reason behind the European Investment Bank’s 500 million loan to the Brazilian development bank BNDES? The money, paid for by the European taxpayer, comes from the ‘climate funds’ intended for projects to stop climate change. Does this make BNDES the most logical choice? Anouk Franck went to Brazil to find out more about this loan.