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.
The work of the partners of Both ENDS can be dangerous. The story of Odey Oyama, director of the Rainforest Resource Development Centre in Calabar, Cross River State in Nigeria, gives proof to this. Since a few weeks he is hiding. Just in time he heard – indirectly – that he is wanted, and three weeks ago the police suddenly invaded his house. Odey is afraid to return to his family. It seems that his work has engendered too much resistance. He writes to us: "Absolutely without any warrant whatsoever, men and officers of the police forced their way into my residence on Sunday January 27th, 2013, through one of my bedrooms. Previously I had actually reported to the police that I was in need of protection by reason of some of the things I heard and perceived around. "
Both ENDS and Forest Peoples Program have formally requested the European Parliament, Commission and Council and the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, to consult indigenous and local communities impacted by EU trade in palm oil and other agricultural commodities in formal EU policy deliberations on these topics. Why did we decide to do so and what's it all about? Our colleague Michael Rice sheds some light on the matter.
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.