Arrest of DESA staff member for murder of Berta Cáceres seems last straw for FMO
The Dutch development bank FMO and the Finnish FinnFund announced this week that they are seeking ‘a responsible and legal exit’ from the Agua Zarca project in Honduras. Last week, it was reported that four suspects had been arrested in connection with the murder of human rights activist Berta Cáceres, who opposed the project for many years. One of those arrested is the manager for social and environmental affairs of DESA, the company implementing the Agua Zarca project. Because the company is a direct client of FMO and FinnFund, the banks consider the arrest good reason to take action.
Foto: BankTrack.org - Agua Zarca militarization
Many years of protest
FMO's statement is a step in the right direction for the bank. The organisation led by Berta Cáceres, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), has been protesting against the controversial hydro project since the plans were first revealed in 2013. Together with other organisations, including a number of Dutch NGOs, COPINH has been calling for investors in the project to withdraw their support for DESA.
Intimidation and repression
The Agua Zarca project, in de Gualcarque River, is being implemented without the approval of the local population being acquired according to international standards for Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC). Since 2013, communities and groups that oppose the project have been silenced and protests have been violently crushed, resulting in several murders. The murder of internationally known human rights defender Berta Cáceres – according to COPINH, one of the six murders directly related to Agua Zarca – has increased the pressure on FMO and other investors to withdraw from the project.
Import role for the Netherlands
We expect FMO to see its decision through and terminate its involvement in Agua Zarca project speedily, responsibly and definitively. Together with the Dutch government, the bank must help ensure that local communities and families of the victims receive fair compensation. The Dutch government has also taken on the important role of ensuring through diplomatic channels that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights conducts an independent enquiry into the murders of Cáceres and the other victims. In addition, it is important that the Netherlands continues to exert pressure on the Honduran government to put a stop to the recurring violence and human rights violations. The violence continues; since the last reports by FMO, people have found themselves in immediate danger and thus have to be protected.
No business as usual
FMO’s withdrawal from Agua Zarca is a first sign that the bank realises that funding projects in areas where human rights are systematically violated can no longer go on as ‘business as usual’. After the bank’s definitive withdrawal from the project, it needs to make radical changes in policy to prevent similar situations, not only in Honduras, but everywhere the bank invests.
Together with its main shareholders, including the Dutch government, FMO needs to examine whether its activities are still in line with its development mandate. What kind of development most closely responds to the needs of the people the bank ultimately aims to help? How can it involve these people in its decision-making processes? And what social and environmental criteria need to underpin those processes to prevent violations of human rights and damage to the environment? Only if these questions are at the centre of policy can FMO really achieve its mission of sustainable and inclusive development.
update 20 May 2016: Letter from BankTrack, Both ENDS, Oxfam Novib and SOMO to FMO's sharoholders.
9 May 2016: FMO's statement
Earlier news items on this site about the Agua Zarca-project:
5 March 2016: Brave human rights defender Berta Cáceres murdered
Read more about this subject
Event / 28 May 2022, 13:00 - 14:15
Afrikadag: Future of food and farming in Africa: the role for small-scale agroecological food production
Join us this Saturday the 28th of May for an inpiring session about the role of agro-ecology in the trasformation to a future proof food and farming system on the African continent (and beyond).
Press release / 25 May 2022
Award of export support for controversial project in Manilla undermines the Netherlands’ environmental and CSR ambitions
Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB announced yesterday that it is to provide export credit insurance worth 1,5 billion euros to Dutch dredging company Boskalis for a controversial land reclamation project in the Philippines. According to Dutch and international organisations, including Both ENDS, CARE Netherlands, IUCN NL, Kalikasan PNE and Oceana Philippines, the award of export credit insurance for this project runs contrary to the Netherlands' ambitions in the areas of environment and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
News / 19 May 2022
Both ENDS and 95 other organisations* today sent a letter to State Secretary for Finance Marnix van Rij and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher calling on them to implement the Glasgow Declaration in full. In this agreement, which the Netherlands and 33 other countries signed at the Glasgow climate conference, the signatory countries pledge to stop all public funding for fossil projects by the end of 2022.
Event / 18 May 2022, 10:45 - 12:15
UNCCD-COP15: Monitoring Tree Cover and Enhancing Decision Making Tools Across Africa’s Great Green Wall
Join us for an open space for a reflection and exchange on a new dataset, developed by WRI, to monitor regreening efforts, and its applications in the Sahel.
In the drylands of Africa, land degradation threatens the livelihoods of millions of people. Fortunately, there are promising initiatives emerging all over the continent that are turning the tide. Throughout the Sahel, for example, vast tracts of land along the Great Green Wall have been restored by local communities. They have nurtured the plants that spontaneously spring from the soil, protecting young sprouts from cattle and other hazards.
Event / 16 May 2022, 13:00 - 15:00
UNCCD-COP15: How funders can best support agroecological initiatives by local communities in drylands
Join our dialogue on how to set up more and better financial mechanisms that can support agroecological initiatives of local communities living in drylands.
The land degradation neutrality (LDN) response hierarchy of Avoid > Reduce > Reverse land degradation is an overarching principle for LDN implementation, which guides people in planning interventions to achieve LDN. The hierarchy articulates which interventions should be prioritised based on their potential to maximise the conservation of land-based natural capital, recognising that avoiding or reducing land degradation is generally more cost-effective than efforts to reverse past degradation. As value for money is highest in the Avoiding and in Reducing Land Degradation response, a smart way to spend money is to support sustainable land management approaches like agroecology that work with nature, not against it.
Event / 16 May 2022, 13:00 - 15:00
Join our event, providing space for an interactive discussion among COP15 participants on multi-actor collaboration and the financing of community-based restoration
Letter / 15 May 2022
Both ENDS Comments and recommendations on the Bank Group’s Environmental and Social Policy of the AfDB Integrated Safeguards System
This letter by Both ENDS to the African Development Bank is a comment written in reaction to a draft version published by the Bank of its Environmental and Social Policy as part of a formal public consultation held by the Bank. This comment was sent to the bank along a joint submission letter with other CSOs, and specifically responds to the overarching Policy.
The bank's flexible requirements for clients and national standards for risky projects dilute safeguards. Project approval should be predicated on specific and binding targets for compliance and reflect input from communities involved.
Letter / 15 May 2022
Joint Submission of comments and recommendations to the Public Consultation on AfDB Integrated Safeguards System
Together with 29 other CSO's, we've submitted our comments and recommendations in the Public Consultation on the AfDB Integrated Safeguards System. These include that the Bank should prioritize community-led development and human rights-based approaches; protect natural resources and tackles environmental and climate crises; raise the bar on access to information, transparency and accountability; facilitate participatory processes in policies, programmes and projects; and end inequality, poverty, and the cutback and privatization of vital services.
News / 10 May 2022
From May 9 to 20, the 15th Conference of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (UNCCD COP15) will take place in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d'Ivoire. Governments, policymakers, civil society organisations and scientists from countries all over the world will discuss the problems around drought, land degradation and desertification that are increasing. Colleagues Nathalie van Haren and Stefan Schüller will be there, as will a large number of representatives of organisations with which Both ENDS has been working together for decades. But what is the purpose of the meeting, what is discussed and why is it important to be present? We asked Nathalie and Stefan.
News / 29 April 2022
Both ENDS mourns the death of Khadija Catherine Razavi, founder of CENESTA – Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment in Iran.
Event / 26 April 2022, 10:00 - 11:30
Both ENDS and the Land Portal Foundation invite you to the first webinar in the Whose Land? - Inclusive Pathways to Land Governance series, which aims to provide a platform for stakeholders engaged in land governance to exchange on the importance of inclusivity and meaningful participation of all relevant actors in both formal and informal land governance processes.
It sounds so logical: patents and other intellectual property rights protect investments in innovations, allowing more innovations to be made from which the whole world can benefit. Such as new medicines or drought-resistant crops. But in practice, these property rights often have the opposite effect, hindering access to innovations for those who need them the most.
News / 25 April 2022
The European Union (EU) continues to demand that countries of the South introduce plant variety protection rights according to UPOV 91 in free trade agreements. This is happening in the ongoing negotiations of the EU with Indonesia, trying to take away Indonesia's flexibility to implement a law that suits its own needs and priorities. We therefore call to sign our letters on this subject to the European Commission and the Indonesian government.
Letter / 22 April 2022
Both ENDS, also on behalf of FERN, NCIV and Milieudefensie, sent a letter to Vivianne Heijnen, the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, about the MTCS certificate. In practice, this Malaysian timber certificate appears to tolerate the violation of indigenous land rights and intimidation of indigenous organisations. The Netherlands should therefore suspend the approval of MTCS in its purchasing policy, among other things.
News / 15 April 2022
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has taken a unique decision to withdraw from the construction of two controversial dams in Ixquisis, Guatemala. Both ENDS has supported our partner AIDA for many years in its fight against the dams. Tamara Mohr and Pieter Jansen explain why this decision is so exceptional.
Publication / 12 April 2022
News / 31 March 2022
We are exited about the news that Ms MacKenzie Scott decided to entrust substantial funding to a wide range of small grants funds from Both ENDS' partner networks*. These small grants funds are unique as they are set up and led by people, often activists themselves, from the country or region in which the fund is based. Most mainstream conventional funders admit they have difficulties reaching community based organisations and grassroots groups themselves. Small grants funds know better than anyone how to reach local communities, who to support and what kind of financial as well as non-financial support is most needed. Thus, they bridge a wide funding gap. Both ENDS applauds this recognition of the important role of these funds in the funding landscape. We hope this encourages more funders to join!
Event / 25 March 2022, 16:00 - 17:30
What does feminist climate action look like and what does it lead to? Join us to hear from grassroots activists who will share their lived experiences and recommendations for equitable, just, and sustainable strategies to tackle the most pressing issue of our time. Global Greengrants Fund and the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) will formally launch our joint campaign commitment to support these frontline climate solutions alongside the UN Women Generation Equality Forum’s Feminist Action for Climate Justice Action Coalition. Register today to learn how to mobilize more and better support for feminist climate action.
News / 22 March 2022
These past weeks we have been joined the #WeWomenAreWater campaign to put the spotlights on just climate solutions of and for women, girls, trans, intersex and non-binary people around the world. The campaign started on International Women's Day (March 8th) and ends today, on World Water Day. Just climate solutions already exist but these initiatives are grossly underfunded, and the people implementing them are also those most impacted by climate change and climate-related water scarcity. Therefore, we would like to highlight, especially today on World Water Day, some of these solutions below. And we also have a special message from the colleagues at Both ENDS working on inclusive water governance.
News / 18 March 2022
Today is International Day of Forests. An ever more important day, as the amount of forest and forested area's on this globe is shrinking at a fast pace. One the main causes is our ever increasing demand for products such as soy and palm oil from area's that have been deforested for their cultivation. The current proposed EU-deforestation law to prevent this, is not strict enough and does not include the protection of other crucial natural areas such as grasslands, savannas and swamps, as well as the human rights of the millions of people living in these area's. During these past few weeks we therefore participated in the campaign #Together4Forests, calling on citizens to send a letter to their own responsible ministers. The campaign paid off: almost 54,000 letters were sent to European ministers across the European Union, demanding a strict forest law that guarantees the import of only deforestation-free products in Europe.
To celebrate this International Day of Forests, we would like to emphasise the great value of forests and other natural areas, directly or indirectly, for the livelihoods of at least 2 billion people. Below, we selected some examples that show how, throughout the world, local communities use many different ways to collect and produce food and other natural products in a sustainable way, while protecting and restoring the forests and forested area's they are so dependent upon.