News / 10 September 2009

30 September: Political Cafe – The Safe Harbour

Soy, sugar and wood - the Netherlands and Brasil are riding the wave. Thousands of ships transport millions of tons of merchandise from the Amazon to Rotterdam harbour every year. The Rio Madeira basin, one of the main waterways in the Brazilian rainforest, is threatening to become overwhelmed by the large roads, big dams, and new ports and polluting factories. This infrastructure is intended to stimulate export, but economic development here is fast becoming completely out of balance with social and ecological integrity. As a major trading partner of Brazil, what can the Netherlands do? Wednesday, September 30 from 17h30 - 19h30 Both ENDS is organising a Political Cafe at the Nutshuis in The Hague.


The Rio Madeira is the second longest tributary of the Amazon. The river reaches deep into the virgin rainforest. With its supply of fertile silt, fish and water, the river is an important food source to the people. Practices like damming and increasing the depth of the river has resulted in the flooding of thousands of people's homes and the eradication of most of their food sources. Opening up the area around the river has also facilitated in the loss of precious rainforest. The development of infrastructure along the Rio Madeira will undoubtedly cause damage to the social, ecological and cultural heritage of Brazil and neighbouring countries such as Bolivia and Peru.


International export is of great importance for Brazil's economic development. But to what extent does the local population benefit from the construction of hundreds of large dams in the Amazon? And, will the Amazon's unique ecosystems be protected?


The Dutch government likes to talk about sustainability. But is it also walking the walk? Far-reaching (trade) agreements relating to water, biofuels and port logistics exist between the Netherlands and Brazil. The Netherlands is an important trading partner for Brazil. Given its important trade position, the Netherlands should take responsibility and exert influence on Brazilian policy. How could the Netherlands work towards building a sustainable path to economic development? Join us in a debate.


Panel members are:

  • Mr. Pitou van Dijck, Associate Professor of Economics at the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA) in the Netherlands
  • Mr. Glenn Switkes, Director Amazon Program, International Rivers - Brazil
  • Mr. Brent Millikam, Friends of the Earth Amazon - Brazil
  • Mr. Paul Zwetsloot, DG Foreign Economic Relations (DGBEB) - Netherlands
  • Mr. Roberto Cazadilla Sarmiento, Bolivian ambassador for the Netherlands.

For the official invitation please click here.


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