Vote for fair, sustainable and international leadership
The Netherlands is facing an important choice this week. On one side, there are political parties that want to shut the country off from the outside world and let climate change advance unchecked. On the other side, there are parties calling on the Netherlands to once again take the lead in areas like climate change, fair taxes and sustainable trade. Both ENDS believes that such leadership is crucial now more than ever.
We cannot achieve sustainable development without the rest of the world. But the reverse is equally true: the rest of the world cannot move forward without the Netherlands. As the world's 17th largest economy and a member of the largest trade block, the Netherlands is a leading global player. This week, the people of the Netherlands will choose whether we are going to take on that leadership role or close our doors and retreat behind our dykes.
From taxes to climate: choose clarity
The Netherlands is well placed to take on that leadership role. Many seeds have been sown in recent years. We have helped strengthen tax authorities in developing countries so that they can collect taxes more efficiently, and have reviewed a number of tax agreements with developing countries to make tax evasion in those countries more difficult. We are helping people in vulnerable regions to adapt to climate change. And in the area of free trade, too, the Dutch government has taken the initiative with the establishment of the Breed Handelsberaad (a broad platform of government, the private sector and civil society set up to discuss trade agreements), and getting companies to sign the voluntary textile agreement.
At the same time, however, we are still the second largest tax haven in the world. Thanks to the Netherlands' 'favourable' tax regime, multinationals can avoid paying taxes on a large scale. We are also a long way behind other EU member states in terms of sustainable energy, and invest heavily in the fossil fuel industry beyond our borders. And we support companies that want to do business abroad, but do not make a great effort to ensure compliance with human rights.
Sustainable development requires coherent policy
The Netherlands has great potential to take the lead within and beyond our national borders. That leadership calls for coherent policy. Both ENDS believes that the most important opportunities lie in four themes:
- Fossil-free investments
The Netherlands has signed the Paris Agreement on climate change. That means that we must make every effort to reduce our CO2 emissions. And not only in the Netherlands, but also abroad. Currently, public money is still being used to fund investments in fossil fuels. Both ENDS considers that incompatible with the agreements reached in Paris and is working with many others on the divestment of our own pension and tax contributions from the fossil industry.
The choice is clear: we should vote for political parties whose programmes acknowledge that climate change can no longer be postponed and have adopted concrete measures to tackle it in the coming period of government.
- Citizen participation: exporting the 'polder model'
The Netherlands has a wide variety of provisions in place to ensure that citizens can participate in discussions on developments affecting their immediate surroundings. Plans are made public, local participation meetings are organised, and the authorities have to acknowledge and respond to all objections. Every person in the Netherlands can participate and lodge objections freely and safely.
The Dutch government must continue to propagate this 'polder model' of participation and consensus. Leadership by the government, combined with a development budget that supports the participation of people and civil society organisations in political and decision-making processes are essential to ensure that people in other parts of the world are also able to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
Parties that believe that international cooperation is not only about strengthening the Netherlands' trade relations but, more importantly, about strengthening democratic decision-making processes and protecting human rights are the best proponents of our polder model.
- Fair taxes
Tax competition between countries has led to progressively falling tax rates for large companies, making it an all-out race to the bottom. The Netherlands is taking the lead in this race, and citizens here and abroad are footing the bill. As a member of Tax Justice NL, Both ENDS has joined the call for a fair tax system.
More and more parties are acknowledging that the Netherlands is playing a pivotal role in tax evasion worldwide and that this is one of the main obstacles to increasing global equality.
- Social and sustainable trade agreements
It is now widely accepted that CETA and TTIP can have a negative impact on people and the environment, because they give priority to the trade interests of the private sector. This also applies to bilateral agreements. People in developing countries often suffer the negative effects of such agreements. Both ENDS wants to see human rights and sustainability given the greatest priority in concluding trade agreements.
Some political parties oppose trade agreements because they want the Netherland to turn its back on the rest of the world. But there are also parties that, like Both ENDS, are critical of the form and content of the current agreements and call for international trade to be structured in a way that is good for people and the environment, both in the Netherlands and abroad.
What do parties say about human rights, development and climate?
If you don't know which party deserves your vote, and share our wish for fair, sustainable policies: fill out the various voting tools listed below (in Dutch) and choose which party best suits your ideas.
- Groen Kieskompas by Greenpeace, IVN, Friends of the Earth NL, Natuur & Milieu, de Vogelbescherming and WWF NL
- MVO Kieswijzer by MVO Platform
- Fairkiezingswijzer by Fair Politics
- Kieswijzer duurzame economie by Duurzaambedrijfsleven.nl and De Groene Zaak
Read more about this subject
News / 22 October 2017
More than six months after the Dutch elections took place, a long period of debates, negotiations and incertainty has finally come to an end. The new coalition of center-rightwing parties was sworn in last Thursday the 26th of October. Having Sigrid Kaag of the liberal-democratic party D66 as the new Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the third Rutte government (Rutte III), we can look forward to where the opportunities lie in the new coalition’s plans to make the world fairer and more sustainable. The Coalition Agreement, which tries to build a bridge between the political centre and the centre-right, is a smart piece of work in terms of reaching compromises. In the current international climate of societies progressively growing apart, that is a striking achievement.
Event / 10 March 2019, 13:00 - 16:00
On Sunday the 10th of March 2019 Both ENDS will be taking part in what is expected to become the largest climate march in The Netherlands as of yet. The march is organised by Milieudefensie, Greenpeace, Oxfam Novib, FNV, De Goede Zaak and the Woonbond and supported by Both ENDS and a large number of diverse civil society organisations. Together, we demand a safe future for ourselves, our children and for all people whose lives have already been or will soon be made almost impossible because of the effects of climate change such as droughts, disease, floods or food shortages.
In 2015, the member states of the United Nations committed themselves to the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs recognise the importance of equality within and between countries, of decision-making processes in which all people are included and heard, and of legal systems that are independent and accessible to all.
News / 22 May 2018
On Friday, the long awaited policy note by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag was published. The note was the outcome of a process of consultation, scientific analysis and much discussion within and outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We searched for the spirit underlying it: What trends does this minister consolidate and deepen? What is new? Are those new aspects a superficial change of discourse or a genuine break with the past? On what issues is the paper silent and what do those silences tell us?
Blog / 29 January 2019
The climate debate in the Netherlands is bogged down in what we can change at home and does not touch on our actions abroad. And that is a missed opportunity. Precisely because our international trade model is both so influential and, at the same time, such a widespread cause of pollution, changes in that policy can have an immediate effect.
External link / 22 May 2018
On Friday, the long awaited policy note by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag was published. We searched for the spirit underlying it: What trends does this minister consolidate and deepen? What is new? On what issues is the paper silent and what do those silences tell us? Both ENDS' director Danielle Hirsch published her reflection on the policy note on the website of Vice Versa (in Dutch).
News / 14 December 2018
During the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) of the UNFCCC taking place in Katowice, Both ENDS partner Raju Pandit Chettri – director of Prakriti Resources Centre in Nepal - was one of the selected Southern leaders to meet with the Dutch Minister of Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Sigrid Kaag. We asked Raju about his expectations, messages, Kaag's responses and his experiences of the meeting.
News / 8 December 2015
Both ENDS has, as a member of the RSPO, participated in a dialogue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Netherlands is the largest importer of palm oil in Europe and wants to promote sustainable trade and production chains.
News / 7 October 2018
We are very proud that our director Daniëlle Hirsch has been included again in the ‘Sustainable 100’ (an annual ranking list published by Dutch newspaper Trouw), and has gone up more than 40 spots compared to last year! Danielle was included in the list because of the many things she does with her organisation as a whole, but she got the higher ranking for the way she combines her criticism of the destructive role of the Netherlands as a trading nation and large cause of CO2 emissions in the world (often supported by the Dutch government), with a constructive attitude when it comes to finding alternatives and solutions.
Event / 12 May 2019, 20:00 - 22:00
Europe's future. What does it look like and, more importantly, what kind of Europe do we want?
News / 21 March 2019
We asked three of our partner organisations to tell us how climate change is already affecting the daily lives of the people they work with, what they are doing to turn the tide and if they think the Climate Court Case against Shell can be important in the context of climate change. Jahin Shams Sakkhar of UTTARAN (Bangladesh) talks about floods, salinity and (in)justice.
News / 19 March 2019
We asked three of our partner organisations to tell us how climate change is already affecting the daily lives of the people they work with, what they are doing to turn the tide and if they think the Climate Court Case against Shell can be important in the context of climate change. Ana di Pangracio, working for FARN (Argentina) tells us about climate threats to large wetlands, while these same wetlands are crucial in mitigating global climate change.
News / 19 June 2018
Today, Both ENDS sent a letter, signed by various civil society organisations, to Sigrid Kaag (Dutch Minister of Aid & Trade) reminding her of an important deadline and to urge her to terminate the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) that exists between the Netherlands and Burkina Faso. The treaty, which can be very harmful for a poor country such as Burkina Faso, will automatically be renewed for the next 15 years if it is not terminated before July 1st this year.
News / 11 December 2017
Yesterday, the French President Macron, the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, met with international leaders and committed citizens from around the world in Paris. According to the organisers, the aim of this gathering was to 'address the ecological emergency for our planet' as 'two years to the day after the historic Paris Agreement, it is time for concrete action.'
Press release / 27 September 2017
Despite climate agreements, the Netherlands supports the fossil sector with 7.6 billion euros a year
Although outgoing economics minister Henk Kamp stated in May of this year that fossil fuels are not subsidised in the Netherlands, a report out today shows that this is clearly not the case. The report. ‘Phase-Out 2020: Monitoring Europe’s fossil fuel subsidies’, by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-Europe), says that the Netherlands is supporting the fossil sector at home and abroad with more than 7.6 billion euros a year (1). The Netherlands made international agreements as long ago as 2009 (2) to ban subsidies for fossil fuels. Environment NGO Milieudefensie and Both ENDS – both members of CAN-Europe – call attention to these findings because they find it unacceptable that the government perpetuates our dependence on fossil fuels in this way.
News / 5 September 2016
By 2020, the EU wants a larger percentage of fuel used for transportation to consist of renewable sources, such as biofuel. Many European countries have therefore made the blending of biofuels in diesel and gasoline mandatory. A large proportion of this biofuel is now palm oil.
International trade agreements often have far-reaching consequences not only for the economy of a country, but also for people and the environment. It is primarily the most vulnerable groups who suffer most from these agreements.
News / 28 August 2017
Last June, Both ENDS published a report which showed clearly that, through export credit insurance provider Atradius Dutch State Business (ADSB), the Netherlands is supporting the fossil fuel sector on a large scale. Between 2012 and 2015, ADSB provided billions of euros in insurance and guarantees, on behalf of the State of the Netherlands, to fossil-related export projects. This support is completely out of line with the Paris Climate Agreement. On 20 June, members of parliament Lammert van Raan (PvdD) and Sandra Beckerman (SP) submitted questions to the State Secretaries for Finance and for Infrastructure and the Environment.
Press release / 14 May 2017
The Dutch pension fund, ABP, invested about two billion euros more in the fossil energy industry at the end of 2016 than the year before. This is announced by the report "Dirty & Dangerous: the fossil fuel investments of Dutch pension fund ABP," published today by Both ENDS, German urgewald and Fossielvrij NL. The report criticizes these investments because of the impact on the climate and the catastrophic consequences for the people in the areas where coal, oil and gas are being produced.
Pension funds have a lot of influence because of their enormous assets. Both ENDS therefore wants pension funds such as the Dutch ABP to withdraw their investments from the fossil industry and to invest sustainably instead.