After Dutch Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra had brought the fury of the Southern European countries down on his head on 26 March by blocking the European emergency fund, the Dutch were suddenly 'small-minded and selfish‘ (Parool) and we should ‘go on holiday somewhere else‘ (RTL News). The tone was set. The difficulties encountered in making agreements on support at European level contrast sharply with the speed with which the welcome support measures for employers, entrepreneurs and companies had been announced in the Netherlands two weeks earlier. We have learned nothing from our own past, while everyone benefits from greater priority for solidarity.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is often seen as an institution in crisis, powerless and no longer relevant, and especially after US president Donald Trump decided in 2019 to pull the plug on one of the WTO’s most important bodies (the one dealing with trade disputes). Now, more than 150 civil society organisations, networks and interest groups from around the world have signed an urgent letter to WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo, because they are seriously concerned about the state of affairs within the organization.
Since his previous government, prime minister Mark Rutte has wanted to create a green legacy with Invest-NL and Invest International, two new financial organisations. With the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, these organisations are more important than ever. Aiming to stimulate investment in sustainable and social projects, they will operate at a distance from the government so that they can act quickly and efficiently. With an initial budget of 2.5 billion euros, they will give financial support to companies active in sectors that the market avoids and which are at the heart of the transition. At Both ENDS, we see that as an essential step in closing the door for good on our old polluting lifestyle and putting sustainability at the centre of developments in the energy sector, in the organisation of our transport and mobility system, in how we produce our food and in the design of our cities.
In these past months, the world has been rocked by a new major threat, in addition to climate change: the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus. Large efforts are being made in many places to deal with this crisis and, understandably, the concerns about the climate have, faded somewhat into the background. We don't know what the future holds or when the COVID-19 crisis will be behind us, but unfortunately it is certain that global climate change has not stopped by then. This is why, even though so many urgent matters have to be dealt with, we continue to support global climate action.
This Friday April 3rd, global online climate actions will take place. We call on everyone to join and share these actions.
In many places in Latin America, access to clean water is under great pressure from overuse and pollution, often caused by large-scale agriculture or mining. This has significant impact, especially on women. In March, with International Women's Day on March 8 and World Water Day on March 22, they make themselves heard and claim their right to water.
In order to slow down and prevent the spread of the coronavirus as much as possible, Both ENDS has decided that from now on all employees will work from home. We want to take our responsibility and aim to prevent further burden on the healthcare sector. All activities we normally undertake from the office will be carried out from home in the coming weeks. Our virtual office remains open and we are accessible through the usual channels: email, (mobile) telephone and social media.
SEATINI Uganda is engaging women working in the palm oil sector in a campaign to improve their work situation. Around International Women's Day, March 8, they are organizing various actions to gain awareness for the situation and the rights of these women workers.
In Indonesia, with its many islands and long coastline, for many communities fishing is an important livelihood strategy for many, both men and women. However, officially the women are often not counted as fisherfolk. And this is not a minor detail. It makes that their interests are being neglected. Both ENDS' partner Solidaritas Perempuan works with these women to amplify their voices.
Civil society organisations from around the world condemn the statements by representatives of palm oil companies during a meeting with the Malaysian government. In this meeting, the company representatives called critical NGOs "toxic entities" and asked the Malaysian government to not let these NGOs into the country. Both ENDS' partners have published a reaction in which they defend their right "to expose the realities we face in their communities about the impacts of the palm oil sector".