Yesterday, a coalition of more than 130 civil society organisations from all over the world called upon the member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), to agree to a permanent exemption from the WTO rules on intellectual property rights for the least developed countries in the world. A group of about 20 NGOs (including Both ENDS) took the initiative for this letter, which was coordinated by the Third World Network. On June 9th and 10th the WTO Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council) will meet and although the agenda of this meeting is still secret, it is expected that this request will be discussed.
On June 3rd at De Balie in Amsterdam, ‘angry old man’ Yash Tandon presented his new book ‘Trade is War: The West’s War Against the World’ – a new perspective in the debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial trade agreement which the EU is currently negotiating with the US. In Europe, opponents of TTIP are mainly concerned about transparency, ever-increasing corporate power and the impact on the environment. But what does the treaty imply for North-South relations and what are the geopolitical dynamics behind it?
Dutch development bank FMO did not sufficiently take into account the rights of the local population and effects on the environment before approving a $ 25 million loan for the construction of the Barro Blanco dam in Panama. This is not in accordance with FMO’s own standards. This was revealed in the long-awaited report by the independent complaints mechanism (ICM) of the FMO and the German development bank DEG, released on May 29. The report was published in response to a complaint filed by the M-10, the movement representing the affected indigenous Ngöbe population, in May 2014. Both ENDS has been supporting the M-10 in its struggle against the dam for years, and was one of the organisations that supported the complaint.
During the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference next week in Bonn, Both ENDS,Transparency International, Human Rights Watch and Carbon Market Watch will host the side event “Environmental and social accountability for results based finance - Lessons learned and ways forward’’. This event will discuss how lessons from International Financial Institutions can inform the design and operation of appropriate redress mechanisms for the Green Climate Fund and other private and public climate finance flows.
The currently negotiated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU (TTIP) is higly controversial and has ignited the public debate about the costs and benefits of globalisation to society at large. In the Netherlands, concerns are raised on transparency, the growing power of big companies and the consequences for the environment. But how should we view TTIP in the bigger picture around global free trade, the relation between the North and the South and the geopolitical dynamics behind free trade agreements? Yash Tandon addresses this and related subjects in his new book 'Trade is War – The West’s War Against the World', which he will present on the 3rd of June in Amsterdam.
The Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO) has put pressure on the Panamanian government to proceed with the construction of the Barro Blanco dam. This was reported by the Dutch Newspaper ‘de Volkskrant’ on Monday the 18th of May. Construction works were suspended last February after the Panamanian environmental authority had found out that the company carrying out the construction – the Panamanian company Genisa – had violated environmental regulations and had failed to make proper arrangements with local Ngöbe communities. FMO is one of the investors in the project.
Earlier this week, EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström presented a set of proposals for reforming investment protection standards and the dispute settlement mechanism ISDS (investor-to-state arbitration). The Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B), of which Both ENDS is a member, thinks that Malmström’s proposed adjustments are not far-reaching enough. They will not significantly reform the ISDS system. The organisation has published an analysis report on this.
Although the Panamanian government decided to suspend the construction of the Barro Blanco dam in February of this year, it now appears that construction will be resumed after all. This has been announced by the government on Monday May 4th. The contract with the original developer, Genisa, will most probably be terminated, and other project developers will be sought. However, according to representatives of the indigenous Ngöbe Buglé community, new developers will not solve the problem: the dam will inevitably damage their territory and surroundings. Out of protest, they left the roundtable dialogue with the Panamanian government which started in February with the aim to find a solution to the problem of the controversial dam.
Currently, on the initiative of China, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is being set up. As the ‘Chinese alternative to the World Bank’, AIIB will focus on financing large-scale infrastructure projects in Asia. The bank promises to be ‘lean, clean and green’, or in other words: non-bureaucratic, non-corrupt and environmentally friendly. Nevertheless, civil society organisations fear there will be disastrous consequences for local populations and the environment, considering China’s poor track record in these areas. In a letter to AIIB and in a press release, our partner 'NGO Forum on ADB' calls on the bank to develop strong safeguards.
Our partner Local Environment Development and Agricultural Research Society (LEDARS) from Bangladesh has won third prize in the Water Showcase competition at the World Water Forum. We congratulate them with this magnificent result! Besides receiving a considerable sum of money, the award is an important recognition for LEDARS’ innovative approach. The seventh edition of the World Water Forum takes place in Daegu, South Korea.