Friday 5 June 2009 was a tragic day for the future of the Peruvian Amazon. At least 31 people have died in clashes between the security forces and indigenous people in the Amazon region. Those killed included indigenous people and policemen. An unknown number of civil people are wounded, arrested or have disappeared. The fights took place at a jungle highway near the town of Bagua, as a result of an operation of Peruvian police forces to disperse the roadblocks formed by protesting indigenous people.
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.
"My idea of 'good' is that people can make decisions about their own development; that they are able to decide what happens to their environment. That we all respect the boundaries of our ecosystems and that women, just like men, are able to develop in the way that they want". Daniëlle Hirsch is responding to a question from the audience where she just gave a lecture on her views for a future sustainable economy.
It's October, time for the annual meeting of the World Bank in Washington DC in which the annual results and future plans will be presented to the outside world. It also gives NGOs from all over the world an oppotunity to talk with World Bank’s administrators and relevant staff on future policies. Pieter Jansen of Both ENDS travelled to Washington together with three representatives of local organisations in the South: Yu Chen of Green Watershed from China, Mayra Tenjo of ILSA from Colombia and Ram Wangkheirakpam of NEPA from India. Their main purpose is to highlight the importance of social- and environmental requirements that the investments of the World Bank should meet, the so-called 'safeguards'.
Our own Dutch development bank FMO recently introduced a complaints mechanism. This means that anyone adversely affected by a project supported by the FMO may file a complaint.
Amnesty International, Bank Track, Both ENDS and SOMO have contributed to the design of the complaints mechanism and have now issued a response to the final result.
Anouk Franck of Both ENDS has provided input into the complaints mechanism and explains why it is so important for institutions to have a good complaints mechanism.
On July 23rd the World Bank board of directors will discuss the Bank’s safeguards review: In the coming months, the World Bank revises its social and environmental safeguards and according to Both ENDS programme officer Pieter Jansen this offers opportunities to encourage the Bank to strengthen them . This would improve the level of protection of people and the natural resources they depend on in World Bank projects. But if the Bank decides to make the safeguards more flexible instead, its investments could have more negative consequences for local populations and their habitat. Civil society organisations have repeatedly expressed their concerns, and since it’s almost the 23rd, Pieter makes a last attempt to make the World Bank aware of its responsibility: on behalf of Both ENDS he sent a letter with recommendations to Frank Heemskerk, the Dutch executive director at the World Bank. Pieter explains.