The past months, weeks and final hours were without a doubt exciting. Last Friday afternoon, the announcement finally came in: the proposals for partnerships that were submitted by Both ENDS, have both been approved by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are incredibly happy that we can bring this great news to our colleagues from Southern partner organisations, who are dedicated to making the world a better place to live in.
Almost 150,000 organisations and individuals who participated in a public consultation on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) of the European Commission, made a strong statement. According to EU's own reporting, 97% does not want the controversial investor-to-state-dispute settlement (ISDS)-mechanism to be part of the trade deal. Worldwide, more than 3000 international investment agreements with ISDS exist, of which the Netherlands has more than 90s - predominantly with developing countries. Many of these countries have suffered damage caused by ISDS. This has started to set off the alarm bells in Europe and should definetely also have consequences for the already existing agreements.
After months of lobbying of a group of NGOs, including Both ENDS, the United States Congress has opposed weakening of the investment criteria, the so-called ‘safeguards’ of the World Bank. The Congress sent a letter to the US Treasury, stating that the Banks’ social and environmental criteria for investments should not be weakened and the Treasury should oppose this. This is a great success for civil society organisations from around the world - including Both ENDS – which have been working for years to maintain and even improve the current investment criteria of the World Bank.
Sophia lives in a small village in Puncak, along the river Ciliwung, around 500 km upstream from Jakarta where it flows into the ocean. The river is her life: she drinks from it, cleans in it, cooks with it and uses it to water the crops on her small plot. But many others want to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the cool climate as well. The forests and land surrounding Sophia’s village are being cleared for villa’s, restaurants, tea plantations and new settlements. The increased amount of waste and a lack of sanitation have polluted the river. For Sophia it’s getting harder and harder to find any clean water nowadays. People in the villages further down the stream are complaining about the plastic waste that ends up on their riverbanks, the reduced
While in The Netherlands November 10 was cold and grey, a heated discussion took place in Suape, Brazil. On this day, local residents of the area – which has been claimed by the port of Suape – gathered for a meeting with the chairman of the Bar Association (BA) of Pernambuco, Mr. Pedro Henrique Alves Reynaldo. Though it is likely that the Bar Association will file a complaint against the port authority of Suape, a clear picture of the situation will first have to be constructed. For this reason as many people as possible were invited to share their stories.
On Wednesday November 5th, Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Environment, Mansveld, and Minister for Agriculture, Dijksma, issued a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives. This letter was their reaction to the ‘Advice Sustainability Food Sector’, which was drafted at the request of the Cabinet by the Commission Sustainability Issues Biomass – or Commission Corbey in short. Paul Wolvekamp of Both ENDS is member of this commission and gave his opinion on the letter.
Finally, some good news from Suape, Brazil! The Fórum Suape, an association of affected local people, has gained support from the official Bar Association in Pernambuco. The human rights commission of the Bar Association has decided that there is enough reason to file a complaint against the Suape Port Authority. On November 10, the first public hearing will be held to give impetus to the case.
The Netherlands does not reach target for responsible soy
The Dutch Soy Coalition (consisting of eight development and environmental organisations*) finds that in 2013 only a quarter of the 2.4 million tons of soy used in the Netherlands is responsibly produced. The social or environmental impacts of the production of the other three quarters of Dutch soy imports are not at all clear or accounted for. The target set by the Netherlands is to purchase 100 percent responsible soy by 2015. This will be almost impossible to achieve at this point.
The port of Suape in Brazil is currently being expanded and dredged, with damaging implications for the local population and environment. The Dutch dredging company Van Oord executes a large proportion of the dredging-work, supported by export credit insurance from the Dutch export credit insurance agency Atradius DSB. Correspondent Katy Sherriff has made several reports in the area, which will be aired on Dutch radio in ‘Reporter’ on Sunday. Her story will be accompanied by live commentary from the studio, from Dutch political party PvdA-member Jan Vos and Both ENDS’ own Wiert Wiertsema.