"The mangroves were choking, gasping for air. When the dam was partially opened, they could finally breathe again. It was the breath that the animals, the fish in the rivers, the crabs, shrimps and oysters had all been craving."
On the northeast coast of Brazil, activities have been underway since 2007 to develop and extend the port of Suape. The port is being developed partly to support oil drilling along the Brazilian coast. The project is controversial because of the disastrous impact it is having on the natural environment, the rivers, the mangroves, marine life and the people who have lived in the region for many generations. Together with Fórum Suape, specially set up to combat the development of the port, Both Ends has been working for almost ten years to protect the rights of local communities in and around Suape. Now there has been a breakthrough – literally. In August of last year, a controversial dam in the Rio Tatuoca that was destroying the mangroves and the aquatic life in the area was partially dismantled. We spoke to Mariana Vidal,* project coordinator at Fórum Suape, about how that came about and what changes have taken place in the area since.
Today an alliance of more than 150 organisations, trade unions and social movements in countries across Europe is launching a joint programme against unfair trade and investment agreements, and especially against the controversial Investor-to-State-Dispute-Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. Under ISDS, investors can bring complaints against states whose social and environmental legislation pose a threat to their profits.
Both ENDS calls on the government only to provide export credit insurance to sustainable projects that cause no social and/or environmental damage in the countries where they take place.
Two projects insured by Atradius DSB in the Brazilian port of Suape have caused serious social problems and environmental damage. Both ENDS is helping the local people to obtain justice.
Atradius Dutch State Business (Atradius DSB) remains responsible for observing social, environmental and human rights, also after providing export credit insurance. That is the conclusion of the Dutch National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines in its final statement, which was published today. Both ENDS issued a press release about this.
Last week the NCP, the Dutch National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines (on corporate social responsibility) issued a press release titled "Parties come to understanding in the POSCO case”. What is the issue, what agreement is reached and between whom? We ask our colleague Wiert Wiertsema, who has been involved in this case from the beginning.
South Korean company POSCO uses violence against the local population and violates human rights in a controversial mining project in India. Dutch pension fund ABP has shares in POSCO and should therefore put pressure on the company to act according to the rules. This is argued by Fair, Green & Global, an alliance of Dutch civil society organizations. The alliance has therefore submitted a complaint about POSCO violating the OECD Guidelines (on corporate social responsibility) for multinational companies.
It has been planned for several years, but had so far been postponed: the Korean steel company POSCO wants to build and operate on a large scale in Orissa, an Indian state. Local people, environmental organizations and experts strongly resisted the plan, with all the consequences that entailed. Local police and militias cracked down the protests and recently there were four deaths. Wiert Wiertsema points out the responsibility of ABP, the Dutch pension fund that invested in POSCO. Wiertsema and ABP talked recently about the issue following an official complaint by the FGG Alliance on violations of the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises.
Global public support for coal is decreasing. Obama has pledged to stop American support for public financing of new coal plants outside the U.S., the World Bank has announced to phase out support for coal projects and some large private banks are withdrawing from fossil fuels. But what about export credit agencies (ECAs)? Until now, ECAs have not withdrawn from coal projects. On the contrary: while other investors gradually cease their support to coal projects, export credit agencies are investing in coal more than ever. On June 11, an alliance of 50 NGOs, including Both ENDS, published a recommendation to the OECD calling for an end to export credit support for coal.