In 2015, the member states of the United Nations committed themselves to the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs recognise the importance of equality within and between countries, of decision-making processes in which all people are included and heard, and of legal systems that are independent and accessible to all.
On Friday, the long awaited policy note by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag was published. The note was the outcome of a process of consultation, scientific analysis and much discussion within and outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We searched for the spirit underlying it: What trends does this minister consolidate and deepen? What is new? Are those new aspects a superficial change of discourse or a genuine break with the past? On what issues is the paper silent and what do those silences tell us?
The Netherlands is facing an important choice this week. On one side, there are political parties that want to shut the country off from the outside world and let climate change advance unchecked. On the other side, there are parties calling on the Netherlands to once again take the lead in areas like climate change, fair taxes and sustainable trade. Both ENDS believes that such leadership is crucial now more than ever.
Last June, President Obama called upon the national and international community to give no more public support to foreign coal. Shortly after this, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank EIB followed the example, setting stricter criteria for loans to energy companies, which will make it nuch more difficult, if not impossible for new coal plants to get financing from these banks.
This week the European Investment Bank (EIB), or ‘Europe’s house bank’, presented a concept policy note which outlines future policies on loans in the energy sector provided by the bank. Network organisations CEE Bankwatch and Counter Balance, both of which Both ENDS is a member, monitor policies and investments of the EIB. They find the new proposal very disappointing and have therefore sent a press release. Huub Scheele from Both ENDS, who has been working with our colleagues from CEE Bankwatch and Counter Balance for years, explains why.