After nearly two years of discussions, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries have reached an agreement on reducing their support to some coal plants through their export credit agencies (ECAs). The agreement comes a day after the G20 has reiterated its willingness to reduce inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and only 12 days before the start of COP21, the climate change conference. The agreement, which takes effect in 2017, still allows the most efficient “ultra-supercritical” plants, and less efficient plants in the very poorest countries.
The Pantanal, in the heart of South America, at the border of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, is the world’s largest freshwater wetland with an extremely rich biodiversity. Tourism and fishing are the main sources of income for the local population. This enormous natural area is invaluable for the water management of a large part of the continent, stretching all the way down to the Argentinian La Plata area, some 1,500 kilometres away. The area faces many threats and Both ENDS therefore already started actively supporting local organisations striving to protect the Pantanal in 1994.
For the past two months, large parts of the rainforests on Sumatra, Kalimantan and other Indonesian islands have caught fire. Each year, parts of these forests are burnt to the ground to make room for palm oil production. An illegal and completely unacceptable practice. This year, though, the fires have become even more violent than usual as the rainy season has not yet arrived. A gigantic amount of smoke has even reached and affected neighboring countries Malaysia and Singapore, and serious respiratory problems – as well as casualties - among the local population are some of the direct consequences of these forest fires. Paul Wolvekamp of Both ENDS has been closely involved in the problematic issues surrounding the production of palm oil.
A week ago, the twelfth ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP12) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) took off in Ankara, Turkey. This convention originated from the Rio Conventions of 1992 and specifically focuses on desertification and land degradation. Karin van Boxtel of Both ENDS was there, and today, together with several other organizations that also attended the conference, she launches a document with recommendations for policymakers about the financing of the so-called ‘Land Degradation Neutrality’-concept, one of the many topics that fueled the discussions during the convention. So what is it, and why is it so important?
26 Civil society organisations (CSOs), including Both ENDS, have joined forces and sent a position paper containing 11 recommendations to Minister Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The recommendations address access, sustainability, good governance and finance of clean drinking water and toilets.
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.