Minister Liesje Schreinemacher for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation recently made her first working visit, to Kenya and Uganda. With this visit, the minister made a flying start in honouring the pledge in the new government's coalition agreement to formulate a 'targeted Dutch Africa strategy'. Such a strategy is desperately needed as, too often, our foreign trade is conducted at the expense of people and the environment, including in countries in Africa. The new strategy presents a perfect opportunity to ensure that the 'trade and aid' agendas are closely aligned.
TotalEnergies and the Chinese National Offshore Oil Cooperation (CNOOC) are currently developing an oil extraction and transportation project in Uganda: East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). The project – the construction of a heated pipeline (EACOP) of no less than 1445 kilometers through Uganda and Tanzania to export crude oil, is increasingly causing human rights violations and environmental damage. This is a matter of great concern to civil society organisations in Uganda and beyond. This week, Both ENDS, together with partner organisations in Uganda, sent an urgent letter to twelve pension funds and asset managers with investments in TotalEnergies and CNOOC.
In the coming months, new EU regulation on deforestation-free products will be discussed in the Dutch and EU parliaments. The goal is that no more products related to deforestation in whatever way, will be imported into the EU . A very good and important initiative, but according to many civil society organisations, including Both ENDS, the bill that has now been drafted is far from sufficient.
The new year has barely begun but already record high summer temperatures are being reported in parts of South America, especially Argentina, Paraguay and Southern Brazil. The latest heatwave, with temperatures of up to 45C, arrives on top of two years of severe drought which had a devastating effect on the entire region. It is a painful reminder of the immediacy of climate change and emblematic for what happens when vital ecosystems are not protected and for the catastrophic consequences as much on already endangered wildlife as on the local communities who depend on them for their livelihoods. One of the most affected areas are the regions wetlands – unique ecosystems, which are crucial ecological pressure points, vital for the regulation of river systems and huge carbon sinks. Their loss not only has ecological impacts but affects thousands of local communities which depend on their health for fishing, tourism and local agriculture. The threat to them by for example droughts and fires, can be directly linked to the large-scale production of soy, produced mainly for export. This in turn means responsibility for what is happening in the region needs to be acknowledged and shared by leaders around the world, and especially large importers such as the Netherlands.
Ondiri wetland in Kenya will host the official national World Wetlands Day
celebration on the 2nd of February. This news was received with much joy by the residents of Kikuyu Town and conservationists. For many years, Ondiri Wetland was
polluted and degraded, especially due to encroachment and greenhouse farming. But thanks to sustained and concerted efforts by the residents together with a broad range of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, the conservation of this critical wetland is now being secured. Violet Matiru from Kenyan organisation Millennium Community Development Initiatives (MCDI), finds it a great honor that Ondiri was selected for the celebrations. "The cherry on the pie!"
The Wetlands without Borders programme aims to preserve the biodiversity of the La Plata Basin and the sustainable livelihoods of its communities. Preservation of the La Plata Basin is essential for protecting the region from flood and drought, and preserving the quality of life of its inhabitants. Click here for the programme's website and for the latest information.
"The mangroves were choking, gasping for air. When the dam was partially opened, they could finally breathe again. It was the breath that the animals, the fish in the rivers, the crabs, shrimps and oysters had all been craving."
On the northeast coast of Brazil, activities have been underway since 2007 to develop and extend the port of Suape. The port is being developed partly to support oil drilling along the Brazilian coast. The project is controversial because of the disastrous impact it is having on the natural environment, the rivers, the mangroves, marine life and the people who have lived in the region for many generations. Together with Fórum Suape, specially set up to combat the development of the port, Both Ends has been working for almost ten years to protect the rights of local communities in and around Suape. Now there has been a breakthrough – literally. In August of last year, a controversial dam in the Rio Tatuoca that was destroying the mangroves and the aquatic life in the area was partially dismantled. We spoke to Mariana Vidal,* project coordinator at Fórum Suape, about how that came about and what changes have taken place in the area since.