Apr 20, 2007

clashes with corporate giants

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:45 PM

Examples of small communities up against the corporate might.

Canadian polluter forced to pay

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM
Filed Under:

A major victory in the Canadian courts in 2003 upheld the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

In an attempt to dodge costs, Imperial Oil took the Quebec Minister of Environment to the Supreme Court of Canada alleging conflict of interest over a clean-up order.


While strongly supporting the polluter pays principle found in almost every environmental law across Canada, the Supreme Court decision also addressed the importance of inter-generational equity.


"This decision will affect how the more than 30,000 contaminated sites in Canada will be dealt with," said court intervenor Bea Olivastri of Friends of the Earth Canada.


Read about more campaign victories in our annual reports.

The European Investment Bank

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:50 PM
Filed Under:

The European Investment Bank is a public bank that many have not heard of, though this is slowly changing. Each year the EIB lends far more than the better-known World Bank. The EIB finances projects in environmentally and socially sensitive areas like fossil fuels and transport, without the clear guidelines or standards used by other banks.


Established in 1958 as the funding arm of the then European Economic Community the European Investment Bank was set up to finance physical infrastructure linking the national economies of the member countries, and to provide investment in less-developed regions.

Now the EIB's total lending is more than 40 billion a year and the bank finances projects outside the European Union: in South Africa, Asia, South and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.

The EIB finances, the environment pays the price !

The EIB's legal status remains unclear. It is bound by EU legislation, but not for its projects in borrowing countries like Chad or Cameroon.

The EIB employs only one environmental expert and the Board meets 10 times a year, approving 30 or more projects in a one day session.

The Bank hardly spends any time monitoring those projects. As the EIB communications department said: 'You can't monitor hundreds of thousands of projects and remain economic. We just don't have the staff. There would cease to be a point to the EIB.'

Friends of the Earth International wants the world to know about the institution. It urges the Bank to become publicly accountable and responsible and to serve people and the environment.

There is an urgent need for fundamental reforms in:

  • public access to information;
  • environmental guidelines;
  • recognition of a development mandate;
  • supervision and accountability.

This campaign is coordinated by Friends of the Earth International and the CEE Bankwatch Network and supported by more than 30 NGOs from all over Europe.

find out more



* October 2005: eib poster contest

A poster exhibition calling for profound changes within the European Investment Bank (EIB) greeted participants at the EIB’s Annual Meeting in Helsinki in October.

Activists from Friends of the Earth Finland and CEE Bankwatch Network, who organized the exhibition of posters designed by Central and Eastern European artists, called for long overdue institutional innovation within the EIB.

* eib's investments outside the european union revealed
Friends of the Earth International, the CEE Bankwatch Network and Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale have launched a new tool for exposing the activities of the European Investment Bank (EIB), because the EIB, the house bank of the European Union, remains one of the most secretive international financial institutions. The new web-based database describes all projects financed by the EIB in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean from 1994-2004.

read the new publication :  the european investment bank in the south in whose interest?
foei, bankwatch, weed, crbm 2006
read as pdf

Invisible Hands:
New film reveals Europe's hidden financial powerhouse

check out our new campaign – EIB: Public Funds for Public Benefits launched at the EIB Annual Meeting June 2nd 2005

fact sheets on the eib
EIB Annual meeting 2nd June 2004

briefing: undermining lives in laos
objections to the sepon project 2 copper mine expansion of oxiana ltd in lao pdr

something smells around here …european investment bank ignores right to know

June 3rd 2003 action at EIB annual meeting : Monkey Business at the EIB- More transparency is essential!

non agricultural market access

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:50 PM
Filed Under:

Governments including Japan, Korea, Mexico and the United States are planning to use new World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations to dismantle a wide range of national laws protecting the environment, social well-being and health. Legislation covering food, fisheries, timber and petroleum production, energy efficiency, chemical testing, recycling and standards in the electronics and automobile industries have all been raised as potential barriers to trade under the Non- Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations.

Should governments succeed in eliminating these non-tariff barriers' they would undo a wealth of legislation designed and implemented to protect people and their environment around the world.



EU uses WTO to blackmail developing nations

Full scale of WTO challenge to health and environment revealed (press release 24 May 05).

Environmental laws lined up for removal by new trade talks (press release 18 April 05).

Trade negotiations threat to environment and development: new FoEI briefing on NAMA (pdf, 540kb).

wto deal endangers environment, development
e.u. and u.s. demanded high price for empty concessions

FoEI's Analysis of Notifications of Non-tariff barriers in Non-agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations of the WTO can be viewed at: www.foe.co.uk/resource/media_briefing/ntbsanalysis.pdf (in spanish)
and the Database of Selected Notifications which can be viewed at: www.foei.org/trade/NTBs.xls (use this to search the database)
www.foe.co.uk/resource/evidence/non_tariff_barriers.pdf (use this to print the database)
Environmental laws lined up for removal: Analysis of Notifications of Non Tariff Barriers in Trade Talks
New! website NAMA Watch

Costa Ricans take to the street to protest against CAFTA

by HelenOlney — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM
Filed Under:

On September 30, 2007, members of Friends of the Earth Costa Rica joined between 100,000 and 150,000 people on the streets of San José in a peaceful march that stretched for over a kilometer. The aim: to encourage people to vote against CAFTA (the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the US) in the referendum on October 7.

CAFTA protest in Costa Rica

Similar uprisings were seen earlier this year in February and last year in October. In a small victory for anti-CAFTA demonstrators, Costa Rica's Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) decided to call a referendum on CAFTA instead of putting it to vote at the National Assembly, where pro-CAFTA forces have a majority. This referendum will be the first time any population has voted on a free trade agreement. Costa Rica is the only signatory who has not yet ratified the agreement.


The goal of CAFTA is the creation of a free trade zone. If passed, tariffs on about 80% of US exports to the participating countries will be eliminated immediately and the rest will be phased out over the subsequent decade. There are worries that CAFTA will force local businesses to close. It´s predicted that poverty will increase as Central American countries prematurely open markets to US agricultural goods which are subsidized, making local farmers unable to compete with imports. These countries simply do not have the resources to support even short-term unemployment.


CAFTA also faces opposition due to provisions outlining "test data exclusivity" for pharmaceuticals. Test data exclusivity could enable multinational pharmaceutical companies for a limited time to hold an effective market monopoly on various medicines, including those used to treat AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Critics say that this provision would prevent many poor people from receiving life-saving medications.


In 1948 Costa Rica became the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish its army and instead dedicated the military budget to security, education and culture. The CAFTA agreement includes importing war weapons and arms, tax-free in Costa Rica.


¨Next Sunday we will reject the CAFTA and continue building the country that we want¨ asserted Isaac Rojas, Friends of the Earth, Costa Rica.


No Public Money for Corporate Power

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM
Filed Under:

International Finance Corporation (IFC) aims to weaken its environmental and social policies

The International Finance Corporation (IFC - the private sector arm of the World Bank Group) is in the process of revising its environmental and social policies, its technical pollution standards and information disclosure requirements. The revised standards will become the new benchmark for international financial lending practices for other private commercial banks, such as the Equator Banks, as well as Export Credit Agencies and other International Financial Institutions. Three different revision processes are underway, each with a different time frame. More information (www.grrr-now.org).


The IFC's policies were intended to protect people and the environment against the harmful impacts of IFC investment. Although the policies have improved over the past years, implementation has been feeble, with the policies being regularly violated.


But rather than addressing these fundamental deficiencies, the IFC opted to launch a review that would recognize and institutionalize this failure to implement standards.

The proposed Performance Standards would be only be voluntary, with the new proposal backsliding from existing inadequate policies.


The IFC review process itself is questionable for several reasons. In September, a letter was sent by 180 NGOs, including a number of Friends of the Earth groups, demanding:

  • more time,
  • more translation,
  • more explanation,
  • and more clarity.

When the IFC did not meet these requirements, Friends of the Earth and others decided not to participate in the review and called a boycott.

news :

foei involved in ifc safeguards review (december 2005)
The controversial review of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) environmental and social safeguard policies or ‘performance standards’ is drawing to a close. The IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm, is attempting to dilute its environmental and social standards to make them easier for private companies to implement, and to encourage private banks to sign up to the Equator Principles. FoEI Chair Meena Raman has written to World Bank executive directors outlining FoEI’s concerns with the proposals. Of particular concern to FoEI, aside from the weakening of the standards, is the continued lack of coherence of World Bank policy with on the ground project practices, and until this is addressed, policy details are of little value.

IFC review drags on (26-02-2005)
In response to a boycott, the International Finance Corporation has extended the timeline for public consultation on the review of social and environmental safeguards and the information disclosure policy. The revised timetable was to see the publication of an guidance notes end January. Public comment on the disclosure policy will be received until 31 March, and on the safeguard policies until 29 April. The IFC expects the performance standards, which will replace existing Bank safeguard policies, to come into effect in January 2006.
In spite of high-profile boycotts carried out by FoE groups and others in Rio, Washington, Manila, London, Paris and Nairobi, the IFC claims to have received "substantial and diverse input" from various stakeholders throughout the consultation period since September. FoE groups are taking up the importance of the IFC policies with their government representatives. Groups have sent letters to the Executive Directors, Ministries and the IFC heads and met with ministry officials, who were often surprisingly unaware of the debates. Documents were also distributed to other national organizations, explaining the risks and threats of the current review, and making ambitious proposals.


Many private banks and ECAs cite World Bank and International Finance Corporation safeguard procedures in their efforts to avoid or mitigate environmental and social impacts. Read the civil society demands at www.grrr-now.org and read about FoE groups’ activities at www.foei.org/ifi/ifc_boycott.html .

world bank's new lending safeguards still weak (october 2004)

World Bank draft environmental standards for private sector activities are still too weak. The World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) guidelines are relevant for all its lending activities, including risky pipelines, mines and large dams. Pressure from commercial banks to relax the standards has led to a review process. But in a recent consultation in Rio de Janeiro , civil society walked out in protest at the IFC's new proposals.


'The environmental and social guidelines were established to protect people and the environment from negative impacts generated by the institution's projects… But the new draft standards seem to be geared at protecting private sector profits rather than anything else' said FoEI's Longgena Ginting.

ifc under fire (november 2004)

More than 200 civil society organisations and socially responsible investors called on the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, to protect the interests of the poorest and the public when setting rules governing global private investment. The “Platform for Rights, Rules and Responsibilities” was released as groups boycott the IFC's latest public consultation on its “safeguard policy review” in Paris . The consultation is seen as ill-prepared, rushed and untransparent, “The revision process has no credibility and we do not wish to participate in such a flawed consultation here in Paris . Friends of the Earth and other groups boycotted this process worldwide over the past few months, including in Brazil , in the Philippines , in the US , in the UK , in Germany and in Ghana ,” said Sebastien Godinot of FoE France . The IFC is in the midst of a major revision of its environmental, social and disclosure policies, moving from binding rules to flexible and subjective standards. The IFC process has been criticized for both the direction of the new policies and the problems with the consultation process by civil society, investors, and even industry. Delegates representing hundreds of organizations have chosen to boycott and walk out of the consultations in protest.

world bank group responds to ngo boycott (december 2004)
After months of civil society protest, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is reportedly planning to significantly revise its consultation process on new social and environmental standards. According to a reliable source, various demands made by NGOs on the timeline and available information will be complied with. The decision comes after a three-month civil society boycott of IFC consultations in Brazil , Manila , London , Nairobi and Istanbul by groups from around the world. “These developments are a welcome signal that the IFC took note of our concerns. The institution agrees now that policies that took years to develop cannot be discussed through a rushed process where relevant information is not available. It is curious however that these issues could only be resolved after a boycott,” said Janneke Bruil, FoEI IFIs programme co-coordinator.