WASHINGTON, DC (USA) / AMSTERDAM (THE NETHERLANDS) – A statement made for years by non-governmental organisations has been adopted by Dutch Development Minister Agnes van Ardenne at the recent annual meetings of the World Bank in Washington.

Her statement “Oil and mining do not belong to the core tasks of the World Bank,” was warmly welcomed today by Friends of the Earth International and made the headlines in Dutch media but was so far ignored by English language media. [1]

The minister also stated that if the World Bank focused on other sectors this would lead to a better contribution to poverty reduction.

“This acknowledgement is a very welcome and progressive step”, said Janneke Bruil of the Amsterdam-based Friends of the Earth International. “We trust the Dutch government to be firm when this will be discussed inside the Bank in June”.

The Netherlands represents a dozen countries and has a strong political influence within the World Bank, where many of its initiatives were implemented.

“Oil exploitation and mining have not brought benefits to impoverished people, but rather led to human rights abuse, increased corruption, depletion of resources, environmental damage and climate change. We would welcome support for sustainable energy initiatives based on local community ownership”, said Elias Dias Pena of Friends of the Earth Paraguay. “We commend the Dutch government for taking this position, and hope other governments will follow this example.”

World Bank support for controversial gold mines, drilling and pipelines has been the topic of much debate in the past years. The World Bank’s recently conducted Extractive Industries Review recommends major changes in the way the Bank does business.

Respect for human rights, prior informed consent for indigenous peoples and affected communities, and a shift from oil to renewable energy are among the recommendations of the report. The World Bank is likely to discuss these recommendations in June.

The Dutch announcement follows international endorsements of the review recommendations from the Indonesian Government, The European Parliament, six Nobel Peace Prize winners including Desmond Tutu, church leaders, civil society, trade unions and the renewable energy industry.  Although World Bank President Wolfensohn supports the general principles laid out in the recommendations, it is not clear to what extend the Bank is committed to implementing them.


In Washington DC Janneke Bruil or Elias Dias Pena +1 202 49 22 154

In Amsterdam Paul De Clerck + 31 6 29593877


[1] Statements by Dutch Development Minister Agnes van Ardenne (on April 25) made the headlines on April 26 in Dutch language media such as ANP, NOS, De Volkskrant. No English language media reported the news so far.