On Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011, Both ENDS Foundation is hosting a so-called 'Political Café, or debate, on the new international role of Dutch water utilities in Developing countries. The State Secretary for Development Cooperation, Ben Knapen, would like to see a more direct involvement of Dutch companies in development cooperation. The Netherlands is internationally well known for its water expertise and both the government and the private sector would like to make this a focal point of foreign policy in the realm of international cooperation. Dutch water companies such as Evides and Vitens are already working with water companies in Ghana, Mozambique, Vietnam and Suriname.
An order, issued by a Brazilian court against the construction of the Belo Monte dam, has been overruled by a higher court. The dam will have disastrous effects on the environment and the population in the area. Moreover, it is questionable whether the supposed benefits will outweigh the high costs and the damage done.
Various donors and funds promised to make donations to support the pan-African Great Green African Wall (GGW) against the desert. This became clear during a meeting of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in the last week of February. In sum, these donations could mount up to around 3 billion US dollars. The envisaged 15 kilometers wide and up to 8000 kilometers long wall consisting of plants and trees will cross 11 countries south of the Sahara. The difference between failure and success will depend on the way the project is executed.
On 28 February 2011, a letter signed by 120 NGOs was sent to the members of the Committee on International Trade. With this letter, the undersigned organizations call upon the European Parliament to support a more balanced investment policy.
The official Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB in November 2010 announced to consider support for the expansion of the Panama canal. According to the local Gatún Lake Defense Committee the project in its current shape will not only be uneconomic, but also very harmful to the environment. Recently Both ENDS informed Atradius DSB of these concerns. The ECA is currently assessing the significance of these concerns for its eventual decision to issue an insurance policy.
The European Commission is about to take important decisions about Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). These agreements are designed to protect corporations that invest in a foreign (often developing) country. These international agreements are binding, but often undermine the social and environmental regulations that developing countries want to implement. On march 3, the European Parliament will vote on reforming these policies.
Despite vehement protests from the local community and the ban from the federal government of the state Pará, on 26 Januari 2011 the Brazilian government gave its assent to the construction of the Belo Monte Dam in the River Xingu.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) disbursed an additional EUR 40 million for the Bujagali dam in Uganda while complaints from the local communities are still waiting for a response. The dam is controversial because of its tremendous social and environmental impact. "By neglecting its own complaint mechanism, the EIB proves that its policy is nothing more than a green washing machine", several civil society organisations state.
In April 2007, a number of environmentalists organized a demonstration in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. They were protesting against the Ugandan government's plans to grant a permit to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL), a sugar manufacturer, for the felling and exploitation of large parts of the ancient Mabira forest. The peaceful protest was forcefully put to an end by the Ugandan military and police, and protesters were charged. However, international media uproar forced the Ugandan government to withdraw the charges against the protesters and to nullify the logging concession.
Felsi Gonzales from Bolivia and Gamaniel Lopez from Peru both run the risk of losing their land because of the planned construction of large dams in the Amazon. They are part of a group of some twenty young indigenous leaders from Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia who participated in a training programme organized by Both ENDS and Cross Cultural Bridges, which forms part of a larger two-year course. The unique training programme was held from 19 to 29 November at a location near Santarém in the Brazilian rainforest. Sanderijn van Beek of Both ENDS briefly attended the event.