This op-ed was published in Dutch newspaper Trouw on the 3rd of February this year
Abuses committed during the construction of an airport in the Philippines show the urgent need for legislation on corporate social responsibility here in the Netherlands, say Murtah Shannon of Both ENDS and Maartje Hilterman of IUCN NL on behalf of a coalition of Dutch and Philippine organisations.
The Dutch government, through its export credit agency Atradius DSB (ADSB), provides export support to companies that undertake activities abroad. The state wants projects it insures to have no negative consequences for people and the environment and therefore sets requirements for corporate social responsibility (CSR). A consultation on CSR policy ran until the end of April, to which a coalition of thirteen social organisations from the Netherlands and abroad, including Both ENDS and Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth the Netherlands), responded.
In October this year, the Dutch government published a policy to implement the COP26 statement in which it promised to stop public finance for fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of 2022 . In spite of this pledge, the Netherlands is considering granting an export credit insurance to a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel that will be used to produce oil and fossil gas in Brazil for a period of 30 years.
Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB announced yesterday that it is to provide export credit insurance worth 1,5 billion euros to Dutch dredging company Boskalis for a controversial land reclamation project in the Philippines. According to Dutch and international organisations, including Both ENDS, CARE Netherlands, IUCN NL, Kalikasan PNE and Oceana Philippines, the award of export credit insurance for this project runs contrary to the Netherlands' ambitions in the areas of environment and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Amsterdam, 29 August 2022 - A recent study by Both ENDS shows that, in the past decade, the Dutch government has provided on average a billion euros a year in insurance for fossil energy projects. At the end of last year, together with 33 other countries, the Netherlands agreed to stop providing this support by the end of 2022. Both ENDS calls on the government to formulate a resolute policy that leaves no room for exemptions that contribute to global warming by more than 1.5 degrees.
Both ENDS works with partners worldwide to amplify the voices of communities that are experiencing first-hand the devastating social and environmental impacts of unsustainable financial policies and practices – from climate change to pollution to forced displacement. For more than two decades, we have worked to draw attention to an obscure, yet hugely influential type of financial institution: export credit agencies (ECAs).
Both ENDS, together with nine other parties has expressed their concern on the development of a new airport off the coast in Manila Bay, Philippines, where the Dutch company Royal Boskalis Westminster has been contracted for the land development. In a joint letter of concern, different organisations and stakeholders describe the alarming situation around this contested airport that will be built on newly reclaimed land.
Today, a week before the international climate summit in Egypt, the Dutch Government has broken a major climate promise it made last year to end public financing for international fossil fuel projects. International and Dutch NGOs argue that the new policy published by the Dutch Government on restricting finance for fossil fuels has such significant loopholes, that it essentially means The Netherlands has reneged on its promise.
Export support – and especially that to fossil projects – has been in the spotlights quite often recently. This is a positive development, because the Netherlands alone provides fossil export support worth 1.5 billion euros per year. At the climate summit in Glasgow, the United Kingdom launched a statement promising to stop providing export support to fossil projects by the end of 2022. After having denied at first, the Netherlands decided to join the statement after all – which now has already been signed by nearly forty countries and financial institutions.