On 10 October, we’ll sound the alarm against TTIP: the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. For years, the EU and the USA have negotiated behind closed doors to define the rules of the game for this bilateral treaty. Yet, it has only been a year since the Dutch are getting to know the consequences of TTIP.
TTIP means the disruption of existing regulation for the environment, labour and safety. Moreover, the promised economic growth is an illusion. Those are the clear-cut conclusions of various scientific studies.
Last week, the European Commission presented a proposal to reform the Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), which forms part of the draft text for Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the USA. Yet, it is fraught with problems, as those few adjustments do not even address the heart of the ISDS-problem.
Thanks to the negotiations about TTIP, the public debate about bilateral investment treaties (BITs) is slowly underway. Especially the ‘Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism’ (ISDS) of TTIP threatens to lower the norms to protect people and the environment. BITs make use of very controversial arbitrage systems (ISDS), which enable investors to bypass the national court to sue governments for their national policies and laws.
Why is Dutch public money used to sponsor the world’s largest chicken factory farm in Ukraine , when we don’t even accept the production of broiler chicken on our own soil? That was the central parliamentary question raised by the Party for the Animals (Partij voor de Dieren) in August 2012, just after Both ENDS and its Ukrainian partner NECU published the report Dutch money, strange meat. Now, three years later, the factory farms of Myronivsky Hliboproduct(MHP) keep expanding. And the massive slaughtering of more than 300 million chickens a year is still made possible by the Dutch tax payer through multilateral financial institutions and Dutch export credits.
'Water for development' was the topic of the annual World Water Week (WWW), which was held last week in Stockholm for the 25th time. Thirza Bronner, Sanderijn van Beek and Cindy Coltman of Both ENDS were present, together with partners Serah Munguti of ‘Nature Kenya’ in Kenya, and Suu Lam from the ‘Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD)’ in Vietnam. In light of this year’s theme, Both ENDS decided to invite these two outspoken women leaders to this conference to bring strong civil society voices to the table. They took part in a roundtable session that was marked by enthusiastic participation of policy makers, donors and NGOs. During the session, Munguti and Lam told us about their organisational objectives, their experiences and how ‘water for development’ translates into their practice.
This week, Both ENDS, together with 16 other environmental and human rights organisations from around the world issued a press release in response to the draft version of the ‘Safeguard policies’ of the World Bank. These are social and environmental criteria that a project must meet before it can be eligible for World Bank funding. An earlier draft version, released in July 2014, was strongly criticized by academics, experts from the United Nations, several banks and civil society organisations, because according to them the bank’s rules are becoming much too weak.
We have good news from our partner organisation Gram Swaraj in India! In light of the Ecosystem Alliance India Programme, Both ENDS and the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP) have nominated Gram Swaraj for the ‘Paul K. Feyerabend Award – A World of Solidarity is Possible’. This organization is committed to fighting for the rights of tribal communities in rural India. Due to increased mining and other industrial activities in India, the culture, living environment and overall existence of such communities are being threatened.
For Both ENDS, 2014 was a year of both looking back and ahead. We achieved valuable results with projects we have been working on for many years. At the same time, we also started a number of promising new activities. Together with our partners, we worked on more than 40 projects linked to the topics land, water and capital flows.
More than 20 NGOs co-signed a statement expressing their concern on the accreditation of Deutsche Bank as implementing partner of the Green Climate Fund. The signatories, including Both ENDS are disappointed about the lack of transparency of the accreditation.
These days, government leaders of the Eurozone meet again to discuss the Greek debt crisis. It is all or nothing; Greece’s future hangs by a thread. Greece cannot possibly meet its payment obligations, so the only way to help the country back on its feet is debt cancellation. Such is the view of a large number of organisations in Europe, including Both ENDS. Wiert Wiertsema of Both ENDS explains why.