United States Senate asks the World Bank to maintain safeguards
The United States Senate has sent a letter to the US Treasury, calling for better enforcement of the World Bank’s social and environmental rules. These rules, the so called ‘safeguards’, are meant to prevent the World Banks projects from causing social and environmental damage. But these safeguards are not always adhered to, and are likely to become even weaker as the Bank’s Board is currently revising them. Therefore, Pieter Jansen from Both ENDS, together with different partners from civil society organisations from all over the world, informed Republicans as well as Democrats about the negative consequences of the investments of the World Bank on local communities. Successfully, as the letter shows.
Drama for local people
The projects the World Bank invests in often have unintended negative consequences for people and their environment. The Anuak population in Ethiopia, for instance, used to live in wide stretched natural lands, but now have to live in refugee camps because this land was taken away from them. The social-economic project which was started by The World Bank in Ethiopia, resulted in the Ethiopian government confiscating Anuak-land to give it away to the Tigray, the dominant ethnic group in the country. The Anuak were denied access to their land, their natural resources and their food supply. For years, Okok Ojuli, an Anuak himself, worked for the project executed by the World Bank in the region where he was born. The project turned out to be a nightmare: instead of helping people, it caused a lot of suffering.
Stronger safeguards, not weaker
After having resigned from the World Bank, Okok is now tirelessly drawing attention to the situation of his people. Unfortunately the Anuak are not the only people suffering from a World Bank investment: the Banks projects often lead to forced relocations of indigenous people without proper compensation. The World Bank Board has been reviewing its safeguards since 2012, to adapt them to the demands of present times. In practice, this means current safeguards will be further weakened and this will only worsen the position of local communities.
The demands of the US Senate
In its letter, the US Senate stresses that the World Bank should at least maintain the following safeguards: project developers have to hand in a decent environmental impact assessment before a project is accepted by the World Bank. Relocation plans – if necessary – should go hand in hand with plans to adequately compensate people affected, and should be made before starting a project. ‘The World Bank is planning on making its customers responsible for maintaining the safeguards’, says Pieter Jansen. ‘This is all very well, according to the Senate, as long as it is thoroughly checked. The World Bank would have to design a judicial frame in order to make this possible. This would also enforce the grievance mechanism of the bank and make it easier for people to participate in discussions about new projects, according to the obligatory Free Prior and Informed Consent.’
Big step ahead
The United States are a big shareholder in the World Bank and as such has a big influence on the Bank’s policies. The Senate’s letter is a big support for the work of many NGO’s around the world such as Both ENDS, who have been pledging for years to strengthen the safeguards and promote their enforcement. Both ENDS will continue these efforts, to prevent local people from suffering the way the Anuak and many other communities did and unfortunately still do.
Links to more info about World Bank Safeguards on our website
5 August 2015: World Bank standard no. 5 - Forced evictions
22 december 2014: US Congress against weaker safeguards World Bank
Read more about this subject
Video / 8 November 2019
The Athi River Community Network is made up of communities who live along the Athi River watershed. Members of the Athi River Community Network promised to join forces with the Friends of Ondiri Wetland to ensure that this critical wetland is restored and conserved for the sake of current and future generations.
News / 8 November 2019
On Thursday November 7th, a group of European NGO's including Both ENDS, sent a letter to Vice-President of the EU Frans Timmermans, in which they ask him to support the phase out of European Investment Bank’s fossil fuel financing by the end of 2020.
News / 5 November 2019
After a complaint filed by women's groups from Ixquisis, Guatemala, the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) has started an investigation on several policy violations, amongst which the Gender Equality policy. This is a unique chance to create a precedent, because complaints on the IDB's gender policy are very rare. The women from Ixquisis are fighting for their rights with support of the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA).
News / 31 October 2019
Earlier this month, we learned that Golfrid Siregar, an Indonesian environmental lawyer working for our partner organisation WALHI died under suspicious circumstances. We call for a thorough and transparent investigation and have brought the case to the attention of the Indonesian embassy in The Hague and to the Netherlands' embassy in Jakarta.
Press release / 24 October 2019
Press release 24 October 2019
Starting today, investors can use five criteria to test whether companies in the fossil sector are actively working on phasing out their fossil activities. Too many investors still seem hesitant to switch to a profitable future of sustainable energy and these criteria should help them do this. The organisations DivestInvest Network, Sustainable Energy (Denmark) and Both ENDS (the Netherlands) publish the report "Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Businesses" today, which describes these five criteria. The criteria aim to help investors choose investments that are in line with the Paris goal "stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius warming." The recommendations are presented at the World Pension Summit deliberately, because pension fund investors in particular can take more responsibility in this.
Publication / 24 October 2019
News / 11 October 2019
In Indonesia, US-based mining companies succeeded to roll back new laws that were meant to boost the country’s economic development and protect its forests. This is the level of impact that investment treaties can have on social, environmental and economic development and rights. Why? Because of the ‘Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) clauses that are included in many such treaties.
News / 11 October 2019
Indigenous communities in Paraguay saw their attempts to regain their ancestral lands thwarted by German investors. This is the level of impact that investment treaties can have on social, environmental and economic development and rights. Why? Because of the ‘Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) clauses that are included in many such treaties.
Indigenous communities in Paraguay saw their attempts to regain their ancestral lands thwarted by German investors. In Indonesia, US-based mining companies succeeded to roll back new laws that were meant to boost the country’s economic development and protect its forests. This is the level of impact that investment treaties can have on social, environmental and economic development and rights. Why? Because of the ‘Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement’ clauses that are included in many such treaties.
Publication / 4 October 2019
Event / 27 September 2019, 13:00
On Friday 27 September, Both ENDS joins the Dutch Climate Strike and the march in The Hague.
This way we let our government know that there is no more time to waste and that it must take significant action in all policy areas to stop climate change.
More information on the Dutch Climate Strike can be found on https://klimaatstaking.nl/english/
News / 25 September 2019
52 charity organisations, community groups, foundations and NGOs, many of whom are not primarily concerned with climate change, have come together to express their concern about the dangers of climate change for everyone and everything in a joint declaration. They call for urgent action and support the Climate Strike this Friday 27 September in The Hague.
Press release / 23 September 2019
Amsterdam, 23 September 2019 - The world's 5th largest pension fund, with assets of over €430 billion, Dutch ABP is continuing to invest in companies that are on a collision course with the Paris climate goals, such as coal and oil companies.
Publication / 23 September 2019
News / 20 September 2019
We are shocked and alarmed by the news of a planned raid into the headquarters of an environmental organisation in the Philippines. Although the raid has not materialised until now, we are deeply concerned for their wellbeing.
Event / 20 September 2019, 19:30
Last June, after months of negotiations in five different 'climate roundtables', the Dutch government presented its Climate Agreement . Negotiations had taken place in a roundtable for 'industry', for 'built environment', for 'electricity', 'mobility' and for 'agriculture and land use'. Climate measures that the Netherlands can take within its borders are pretty much covered by these climate roundtables. But the Netherlands also has a huge climate footprint outside its borders. It seems we have forgotten about the 'International' Climate Roundtable.
Blog / 19 September 2019
Reward high-risk international business projects investing in a green future and stop support for the international fossil industry
The climate is 'hot'. Everyone is talking about it. 'Everyone needs to do something' calls the government in its recently started public campaign. Good plan. Let's really do something. For a start, we can stop supporting international trade in fossil energy by our own multinationals. That would free up 1.5 billion euros which we could use to combat climate change on an international scale and at the same time give our own innovative businesses a boost. Today's Vergeten Klimaattafel (Forgotten Climate Roundtable) will discuss the opportunities for the Netherlands to have a real impact. And those opportunities are enormous. Because our big money and our influence lie beyond our borders.
News / 17 September 2019
On September 20 and 27 the global climate strike takes place. Both ENDS joins the Dutch Climate Strike on September 27 in The Hague. This is why.
Event / 12 September 2019, 08:00 - 10:00
At the UNCCD COP14 in India, which is taking place from 2-13 September 2019, Both ENDS is co-organising a number of side events.
The rising demand for soy is having negative consequences for people and the environment in South America. Both ENDS reminds Dutch actors in the soy industry of their responsibilities and is working with partners on fair and sustainable alternatives.