Despite violence, 900 million euros in Dutch export support to Van Oord in Mozambique
Amsterdam, 19 May 2021 – On 25 March, a day after violent attacks in northern Mozambique, the Dutch state decided to provide dredging company Van Oord with export credit insurance worth 900 million euros for its activities in the country. The company is conducting dredging operations for a highly controversial gas project that, according to Mozambican interest groups, is playing a prominent role in the escalating violence in the region. Civil society organisations Both ENDS, Milieudefensie and Oil Change International and their Mozambican partners are alarmed about the situation and have called the Dutch government and Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB to account.
On 24 March, there was a violent attack in the town of Palma, which led to dozens of deaths and caused thousands of people to flee their homes. Employees of multinational companies like Van Oord and Total had to leave the area under armed escort. Total has provisionally suspended the project, claiming force majeure.
"State Secretary for Finance Hans Vijlbrief and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag decided a day earlier to approve the enormous export credit insurance", says Niels Hazekamp of Both ENDS. "Inconceivable and a slap in the face for all the residents of the area, who are the victims of the gas project. Unfortunately, despite our attempts to obtain information, the ministries and Atradius DSB themselves are anything but transparent. The insurance has now been approved with no further explanation – and for 900 million euros rather than the 600 million originally mentioned."
Human rights violations, climate damage and economic risks
Civil society organisations have been involved in discussions on this project with the ministries and Atradius DSB for several years and have warned from the beginning of the human rights violations, climate damage and economic risks it brings with it. Farmers and fishers have lost access to their fertile land and fishing grounds and have had to leave their homes. The gas extraction has fuelled the unrest and violence in the region. Since 2017, more than 2,600 people have been killed and half a million forced to flee their homes.
"The Dutch state should never have provided insurance for activities that violate human rights, exacerbate the climate crisis and create economic risks in the first place," says Laurie van der Burg of Oil Change International. "Van Oord should never have decided to invest in the project. The local people are left behind with all the destruction it has caused and are receiving help from no one, while Van Oord can now stop relatively easily because it can retrieve its losses from Atradius DSB – in other words, the Dutch state."
Fossil infrastructure is becoming worthless
"Almost a billion euros in export support for a fossil project not only goes completely against the climate goals of the Paris Agreement but also saddles Mozambique with an enormous fossil infrastructure – and the risks it brings with it", says Isabelle Geuskens of Milieudefensie. "With the whole world changing to sustainable energy, Mozambique would benefit much more from sustainable energy projects. There is enormous potential for such projects but this is not being taken advantage of, partly because of fossil investments. It is worrying that the Dutch state is giving priority to the short-term economic interests of Dutch companies at the expense of human rights, climate justice and a sustainable economy in Mozambique.
Such abuses have recently also come to light in other projects insured by Atradius DSB. Civil society organisations therefore call on the ministers and decision-makers involved to give account for this decision, to no longer provide support for fossil energy projects in the future and to come up with a plan to provide as much help as possible to the Mozambican people affected by this project. They are also demanding a plan to ensure that such projects are not provided with support in the future. "In terms of export support, too, the government is in need of new leadership," says Hazekamp. "Transparent, human rights to the fore, and fossil-free."
For more information
Read more about this subject
Gas in Mozambique
In 2011 one of the world’s largest gas reserves was found in the coastal province of Cabo Delgado, in the north of Mozambique. A total of 35 billion dollars has been invested to extract the gas. Dozens of multinationals and financiers are involved in these rapid developments. It is very difficult for the people living in Cabo Delgado to exert influence on the plans and activities, while they experience the negative consequences. With the arrival of these companies, they are losing their land.
News / 21 July 2020
Is the Netherlands insuring a controversial gas extraction project in Mozambique?
At the end of last week, oil and gas company Total announced that, through its export credit insurer Atradius DSB, the Dutch government is participating in a funding package for a controversial gas extraction project in Mozambique. The project, in which various Dutch and foreign companies are involved, is having a deep impact on the local population and the natural environment in the area. Which Dutch companies the government will be insuring is not yet clear.
Letter / 4 May 2023
Letter from NGOs to Dutch export credit agency: CSR policy must be strengthened
The Dutch government, through its export credit agency Atradius DSB (ADSB), provides export support to companies that undertake activities abroad. The state wants projects it insures to have no negative consequences for people and the environment and therefore sets requirements for corporate social responsibility (CSR). A consultation on CSR policy ran until the end of April, to which a coalition of thirteen social organisations from the Netherlands and abroad, including Both ENDS and Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth the Netherlands), responded.
Publication / 15 March 2023
External link / 17 November 2021
Stop export support for fossil fuel project in Mozambique
Julio Bichehe Erneste of Farmers Union Cabo Delgado Mozambique (UPC) on a side event of COP26 in Glasgow, speaking about the negative impacts of export support for fossil fuel projects for local people and their enrironment, and about the need to support renewable energy projects instead.
News / 20 February 2023
Almost 60 organisations send a letter about fossil export support to Dutch Parliament
Today, a letter, undersigned by almost 60 organisations from countries that face the consequences of fossil fuel projects or stand in solidarity, has been sent to the Dutch Members of Parliament. This Thursday, a debate about the export credit facility and the policies around it, will take place in the Dutch Parliament. The coalition calls upon Dutch politicians and policy makers to stand up against any form of export support for fossil fuel projects that are to be executed by Dutch companies abroad, expecially in the global South.
Publication / 17 November 2019
News / 8 November 2021
The Netherlands will stop export support for fossil fuel projects, after all
Today, the Netherlands announced that it will join a leading group of countries, including the United States, Canada and Italy, which declared that they would stop international support for fossil energy projects. At the day of the launch of the declaration at the climate summit in Glasgow on the 4th of November, the Netherlands had no intention of joining, but because of pressure from civil society and political parties, the responsible ministries decided to sign after all. Both ENDS, together with organizations at home and abroad, has been pushing for this for years, and we are very happy with this step. We will of course continue to monitor developments.
News / 12 July 2021
WOB applications relating to export support for gas project in Mozambique
At the beginning of this year, the Dutch government provided Dutch companies with export insurance worth 903 million euros to enable them to participate in a gigantic natural gas project in the north of Mozambique. Together with partners from Mozambique and the Netherlands, Both ENDS has been conducting a dialogue with export credit agency Atradius DSB and the responsible Ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs on the possible financial, environmental and social risks of the gas project.
News / 22 November 2021
E3F, 'Export finance for Future' is a great opportunity for the Netherlands
Export support – and especially that to fossil projects – has been in the spotlights quite often recently. This is a positive development, because the Netherlands alone provides fossil export support worth 1.5 billion euros per year. At the climate summit in Glasgow, the United Kingdom launched a statement promising to stop providing export support to fossil projects by the end of 2022. After having denied at first, the Netherlands decided to join the statement after all – which now has already been signed by nearly forty countries and financial institutions.
News / 4 May 2021
Is the Netherlands’ export credit insurance support for fossil projects legal?
Today, two independent experts brought out a legal opinion on the obligations of countries and their export credit agencies under international law in relation to export support for fossil fuels. According to the report, emissions by fossil fuels and the related infrastructure need to be reduced urgently.
Letter / 20 February 2023
Letter of international CSO's to Dutch Parliament: close gaps in Dutch policy on limiting public finance to fossil fuels
In October 2022, the Dutch government published a policy to implement the COP26 statement in which it promised to stop public finance for fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of 2022 . The proposed policy, unfortunately, has quite some 'loopholes' that make it possible for the Dutch government to keep supporting large fossil projects abroad for at least another year. These projects often run for years and will have a negative impact on the countries where they take place for decades to come.
Paris Proof Export Support
Almost two-thirds of the export credit insurances that Atradius DSB provided in the 2012-2018 period went to the fossil energy sector. That is contrary to the climate agreements that the Netherlands signed in Paris.
News / 15 April 2021
New initiative to phase out export support for fossil fuels lacks ambition
On Wednesday, April 14, seven countries, including the Netherlands, launched an initiative called Export Finance for Future (E3F), in which they set a number of ambitions with regard to phasing out export support for the fossil sector. Many NGOs worldwide, including Both ENDS in the Netherlands, have been calling for such an initiative in recent years and we are therefore pleased with this step. However, to achieve results and contribute to the Paris climate goals, countries will have to commit to much more ambitious goals than those now set. Concerned civil society organizations, including Both ENDS, therefore prepared a statement detailing the weaknesses they felt in the policy proposed by E3F, supplemented with recommendations for improvements.
News / 1 April 2021
Gas extraction worsened already dire situation in the North of Mozambique
Both ENDS is shocked by the dramatic news in the past days coming from Palma, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. Our thoughts go to those who lost their lives or who are still missing, and their loved ones. Both ENDS is in close contact with our local partners to support them wherever we can. Many people are still missing, among whom members of farmers union UPC.
Publication / 29 August 2022
Press release / 18 November 2019
Press release: Government undermines its own climate policy with export credit insurance
The Netherlands provides export credit insurances and guarantees worth 1.5 billion euros annually to Dutch companies active in the oil and gas sector abroad. This support amounts to one and a half times the annual amount that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Rutte mobilises for climate initiatives worldwide. The intended effects of Dutch international climate policy are more than offset by this fossil export support. That is the conclusion of a new report from Both ENDS which is published today.
Publication / 11 November 2020
Publication / 18 June 2017
Event / 4 November 2021, 16:45 - 18:00
UNFCCC COP 26 side event ‘Aligning export finance with the Paris Agreement: high time to phase out fossil fuels’
Many countries heavily support fossil fuel investments abroad through their export credit agency (ECA). This contributes to carbon lock- in, whereby companies or even countries commit themselves to a certain amount of greenhouse gas emissions for the lifetime of the infrastructure — oftentimes years or even decades. This seriously delays the transition to renewable energy sources, and is certainly not in line with Art. 2.1c of the Paris Agreement.
Highlighting the impacts caused by export finance in the global South, this side event will provide concrete recommendations to decarbonize export credit agencies.