Many people in the desertifying Sahel region have to choose: claim their land back from the desert, or leave their farms behind. In 2017, Both ENDS started a new project here, introducing a method for regreening the landscape: Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). It has proven itself in Niger, where we worked on FMNR for 15 years. By 2017, 15.000 ha of dryland had been regreened.
November 2017. A delegation of the Dutch dredging company Van Oord listens to fishermen from communities around Suape harbour, Brazil. For the fishing communities, the meeting meant a long-awaited breakthrough in their efforts to have their grievances heard. Their fishing grounds have been damaged ever since Van Oord started deepening the sea access channel to the port seven years ago.
In 2017 Both ENDS stepped up its efforts to stop the Dutch government from supporting the fossil fuel industry. Phasing out fossil fuels is key to achieving the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement. To Both ENDS, there is another reason: fossil fuel-related projects often have disastrous effects for the poorest people in the Global South.
For several years now, Both ENDS has been drawing attention to the downsides of existing Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) between the Netherlands and countries in the Global South. In 2017, an important step was taken, when Uganda decided to terminate its BIT with the Netherlands, as advised by Both ENDS and our local partner SEATINI.
It was minus 20 degrees Celsius when 2.000 women gathered at the main square of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to voice their distress about the terrible smog in the city caused by three large power plants. Soon after, the women were invited to speak about the problem of air pollution with the minister of environment.
Although the human rights to water, food and a healthy environment have been incorporated in international legal instruments, in many countries these rights are violated on a massive scale. Women suffer disproportionally, because it is mostly still their role to feed the family and fetch water, but also because they lack decision-making power over the use of natural resources.
Sometimes things must go terribly wrong before big players start to move. In March 2016, Honduran activist Berta Cáceres was murdered because of her leading role in the protests against the Agua Zarca hydro dam, co-financed by the Dutch FMO. One and a half year later, FMO changed their policies to prevent such events in the future.
This week, the African Development Bank (AfDB) holds its 2018 Annual Meetings. A large group of African civil society organisations calls on the bank to ensure social and environmental protection, to involve civil society, to pay attention to gender issues and to make sustainable choices in their energy access ambitions.
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?