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?
On Friday, the long awaited policy note by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag was published. We searched for the spirit underlying it: What trends does this minister consolidate and deepen? What is new? On what issues is the paper silent and what do those silences tell us? Both ENDS' director Danielle Hirsch published her reflection on the policy note on the website of Vice Versa (in Dutch).
Today, three representatives of the Honduran indigenous people's organisation COPINH, together with the family of environmental activist Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in March 2016, announced that they are preparing to press charges against the Dutch development bank FMO. COPINH accuses the FMO of complicity in human rights violations in connection with the controversial Agua Zarca hydroelectric project.
Both ENDS and Forest Peoples Program have formally requested the European Parliament, Commission and Council and the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, to consult indigenous and local communities impacted by EU trade in palm oil and other agricultural commodities in formal EU policy deliberations on these topics. Why did we decide to do so and what's it all about? Our colleague Michael Rice sheds some light on the matter.