India terminates bilateral investment treaties (BITs)
Recently, India has terminated its bilateral investment treaties (BIT) with 57 countries, including the Netherlands. This means Dutch companies in India, and Indian companies in the Netherlands, can no longer make use of the controversial arbitration procedures called ISDS. According to Burghard Ilge from Both ENDS, India's action is a step in the right direction. However it is a missed opportunity that the Dutch government did not agree with this termination. This way, old investments stay protected for 15 years under the former BIT.
BITs are often detrimental for developing countries, as they provide extensive protection for foreign investors through the ISDS arbitration procedures. Investors who believe they are effected by policy changes can claim billions from the state. "This gives businesses an undesirable power position," says Burghard Ilge. "Companies can put pressure on governments and frustrate legislation, which is often urgently needed to better protect people and the environment."
By unilaterally canceling 57 BITs, not only with the Netherlands but also with the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain, India has taken significant steps to mitigate this ISDS system. With consent of the Netherlands, the risky old investment treaty could have been completely disabled. As the Netherlands have failed to do so, the old treaty remains valid for another 15 years for investments done before December 2016. This was a bad surprise for Burghard Ilge: "Previously, the Dutch government stated that such BITs are undesirable. By agreeing to the termination of the treaty between India and the Netherlands, we would have dismissed the whole contract at once."
Meanwhile, negotiations are being held about a new investment treaty between India and the European Union, which has taken over this responsibility from the member states. India has set up a new model BIT, which is a significant improvement, according to Burghard Ilge. "Yet, the changes are not enough. It still contains ISDS in some way, and in Both ENDS' view ISDS should be taken out completely. A new approach in investment treaties is necessary. We will continue to watch the negotiations and share our analysis of the treaty with policymakers and NGOs in both the Netherlands and India when necessary. We would rather not see any new agreement in this form."
Read more about this topic:
- Launch of new book 'Rethinking Bilateral Investment Treaties' (16 March 2016), Both ENDS
- What do bilateral investment treaties actually offer us? (21 september 2015), Both ENDS
- To change a BIT is not enough (21 September 2015), Both ENDS
- Socialising losses, privatising gains: how Dutch investment treaties harm the public interest (January 2015), SOMO, Both ENDS, Milieudefensie, TNI
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).
Blog / 27 May 2022
and Abigail Kyomuhendo*
This week the annual shareholder meeting (AGM) of TotalEnergies took place. Whilst the shareholders celebrated their profits, Ugandan people were being evicted from their lands, thousands of kilometers away, for Total's East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
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.
Press release / 19 May 2022
122 CSOs warn signatory countries they have only six months left to meet COP26 commitment to end international public finance for all fossil fuels
Today, 122 civil society groups are releasing letters to eleven government signatories to the Glasgow Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition, laying out the actions they must take as soon as possible to meet their commitment. In this joint statement at COP26, 35 countries and 5 public finance institutions committed to end their international public finance for 'unabated' fossil fuels by the end of 2022, and instead prioritise their "support fully towards the clean energy transition."
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.