May 14, 2001 – As the OECD opened its annual fair in Paris, the President of Friends of the Earth International, on behalf of a network of environmental and human rights NGOs, recognized the OECD, Germany, France and the United States for the hypocrisy of their export credit agency policies. A “Dishonorable Mention” was awarded to Spain for its recalcitrance at the Export Credit Group negotiations on common environmental policies.
Export credit agencies and the OECD
As a group, export credit agencies are the largest governmental institutions, some publicly-financed, backing large infrastructure projects in the developing world, far surpassing the World Bank. Most of them still have no environmental or human rights safeguards and operate in near-total secrecy. NGOs denounce the role of export credit agencies in fostering corruption, environmental destruction and social dislocation in recipient countries.
The OECD’s Hypocrisy Award
At the opening session of the Forum, Secretary General Donald Johnston received a hypocrisy award on behalf of the OECD for presenting “sustainable development” as its 2001 Ministerial theme while falling far short of achieving that goal in its working group negotiating environmental reforms for ECAs. “We are very disappointed that the OECD has not done more. What is this Forum about if the OECD can’t even get its member ECAs to stop supporting harmful and unsustainable projects?” said Ricardo Navarro, President of Friends of the Earth International, a network of NGOs in 68 countries working on sustainable development.
The Hypocrisy Awards for Germany, France and The United States
Germany also wins the award for feigning disapproval of the U.S. retreat from international climate change negotiations, while it is one of the countries that has most persistently blocked meaningful reform in the Export Credit Agency negotiations. Germany is also targeted for having supported the Three Gorges Dam displacing 1.8 million Chinese and considering the Tehri dam in India and Ilisu in Turkey. France claims its hypocrisy award as the “country of human rights” that finances investment in military dictatorships such as Burma and Chad. The U.S. was recognized for walking away from the Kyoto treaty on global warming claiming that it wouldn’t participate until developing countries did their share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?while at the same time being a leading guarantor and insurer of energy-intensive exports and projects in these countries.
Spain’s “Dis-honourable” mention
The Spanish delegation won a special recognition for refusing, in the OECD negotiations, to agree to public transparency and consultation requirements. “Access to environmental information and the consultation of affected communities constitute the heart of environmental assessment, and any agreement that fails to include provisions for these is wholly inadequate,” the NGOs highlight.
The ECA-Watch Campaign
The ECA-WATCH Campaign is an international network of environmental and human rights NGOs working to reform Export Credit Agencies. The reform platform can be found in the “Jakarta Declaration, ” supported by 347 NGOs from 45 countries www.eca-watch.org
To view the ECA-Watch archives or to see a directory of ECA-Watch members, visit the ECA-Watch website. Follow the simple registration instructions if you are not yet registered.
For more information, go to the Friends of the Earth stand at the Knowledge Fair or contact Emilie Thenard, at 06 78 24 12 21.
To find out more about the international campaign to reform Export Credit Agencies (ECAs), please see www.eca-watch.org.
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