fair tomato

Our awareness of problems with human rights arise mainly from the textile chains. But working conditions in other chains, such as the tomato chain, are also under pressure. The Dutch Central Bureau for Food Trade (CBL) and the Dutch trade union FNV are planning to conduct research into the production chain of the canned tomato trade. The research focuses on Italy, a major supplier of tomatoes. The aim is to identify by the end of July the specific risks of human rights violations in the tomato chain and which improvements are needed. Recommendations have been drawn up on how the Dutch participants in the chain can initiate positive change.

Various studies and risk analyses show that the tomato chain is a so-called high-risk chain. Jos Hendriks, director FNV Food Industry: “We are investigating the supply chain of canned tomatoes to determine the risks we face when it comes to violations of human rights, trade union rights and the environment and to identify who is involved. But the most important part comes after the research: how do we ensure that the guidelines of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and United Nations with regard to people and the environment are applied in the cultivation, harvesting, transport and processing of the tomatoes?”

Guarding human rights

The CBL agrees with the importance of tackling the risks. Jennifer Muller, Sustainability Manager at CBL: “Dutch supermarkets find it essential that human rights are safeguarded throughout the chains. It is therefore important to investigate possible social abuses in the Italian tomato chain and to gain insight into the operational perspective of the parties involved. Collaboration is crucial for thorough research. We are therefore happy to join forces with the FNV to bring about positive change.”

Research into the share of Dutch producers and buyers

An important part of the research is mapping the share of Dutch producers and buyers in the Italian tomato chain. In this way, it is possible to better see in which component steps can be taken to improve the position of employees. This includes investigating the role played by supermarkets, manufacturers and organizations that issue quality certificates.

lng terminal

A proposed boom in new LNG import and export terminals is increasingly going bust, according to a new survey and report by Global Energy Monitor. Coming on the heels of the IEA’s recent call for a halt to new gas, oil, and coal investments, the report finds that more than one-third of proposed new global LNG terminal capacity is facing financing and project delays.

The report, “Nervous Money: Global LNG Terminals Update 2021,” includes the following highlights:

  • Worldwide, at least 26 LNG export terminals totaling 265 million tonnes per annum (MPTA) of capacity report final investment decision (FID) delays or other serious disruption—38% of the 700 MTPA of export capacity under development worldwide. In the US, at least 10 LNG export terminals totaling 123 MPTA of capacity report FID delays or other serious disruption—39% of the 314 MTPA under development.
  • Total’s declaration of force majeure for the Mozambique LNG Terminal, following an attack by insurgents, has highlighted the vulnerability of terminals priced in the tens of billions of dollars.
  • The cost overruns, scheduling delays, and high outage rate that plagued the LNG sector were further exacerbated in the past year by Covid-related workforce disruption.
  • Once regarded as a potential climate solution, the LNG sector is increasingly seen as a climate problem, particularly for European buyers. According to the IEA, inter-regional LNG trade would need to decline rapidly after 2025 under a 2050 net zero scenario.
  • Globally, only one LNG export project has reached FID in the past year, Costa Azul LNG terminal in Mexico.
  • North America accounts for 64% of the global export capacity in construction or pre-construction. North America also has the most troubled projects, with 11 of the 26 LNG export terminals reporting FID delays or other serious disruption.
  • Aggressive expansion of capacity in low-production-cost Qatar and the Russian Arctic has increased risks to U.S. LNG export developers.
  • Despite the rise in delays in development of LNG export capacity, global LNG import capacity continues on an aggressive expansion path, with enough projects in construction or pre-construction to increase global capacity by 70%. Of the capacity in construction or pre-construction, 32% is in China, 11% is in India, and 7% is in Thailand. Outside Asia, Brazil is a hotspot with 13 LNG import terminals in construction or pre-construction.

“LNG was sold to policymakers and to investors as a safe, clean, secure bet,” said Lydia Plante, lead author of the report. “Now all those attributes have turned into liabilities. The sheer size of the projects has exposed investors to catastrophic losses. And the recent IEA 2050 scenarios show that LNG has no place in a climate-safe energy future. The industry has lost its climate halo, and the only question is whether the Biden Administration will waste precious political capital propping up potential white elephant projects.”

“Those who are accustomed to thinking of infrastructure as a ‘safe’ investment may be in for a rocky ride with LNG terminals,” said Ted Nace, Executive Director of Global Energy Monitor. “The opportunity has narrowed for more export capacity to be built, and North American projects have fallen behind for several reasons. They’re rightly seen, especially by European buyers, as particularly dirty, due to their reliance on fracked gas. In addition, Qatar and Russia both have access to cheaper gas, and they’re not about to relinquish market share.”

Read the report here.

Image: photographic services, Shell International Limited.

ecocide

Commissioned by the Stop Ecocide Foundation, an expert drafting panel of 12 highly renowned international criminal and environmental lawyers from around the world has just concluded six months of deliberations.  The result: a legal definition of “ecocide” as a potential 5th international crime, to sit alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide, chaired by barrister and author Philippe Sands QC (UK) together with UN jurist and former prosecutor Dior Fall Sow (Senegal), was convened in late 2020 at a powerfully symbolic moment, 75 years after the terms “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” were first used at Nuremberg.  The project emerged in response to a request from parliamentarians in the governing parties of Sweden.

The proposed definition will now be made available for states to consider, and will henceforth be visible on the newly launched Ecocide Law website, an academic and legal resource hub co-managed by the Stop Ecocide Foundation and the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law.

Jojo Mehta, Chair of the Stop Ecocide Foundation and convenor of the panel, said: “This is an historic moment.  This expert panel came together in direct response to a growing political appetite for real answers to the climate and ecological crisis. The moment is right – the world is waking up to the danger we are facing if we continue along our current trajectory.”

 The drafting work, she explained, “was high-level, collaborative and informed by many experts as well as a public consultation comprising hundreds of legal, economic, political, youth, faith and indigenous perspectives.  The resulting definition is well pitched between what needs to be done concretely to protect ecosystems and what will be acceptable to states.  It’s concise, it’s based on strong legal precedents and it will mesh well with existing laws.  Governments will take it seriously, and it offers a workable legal tool corresponding to a real and pressing need in the world.”

Rebecka Le Moine, Member of Swedish Parliament, who initially approached the Stop Ecocide Foundation with a request for a definition of ecocide, said:

“I welcome this definition, as it makes the term ecocide more concrete and clear, it also makes it a lot easier for me as a politician and a lawmaker to find support for criminalization of it.”

ifad sslrp

All over the world, it’s small scale farmers who suffer severely from climate change. Effects can differ locally, but hit the poorest hardest. In South Sudan, IFAD set up a support program, investing almost 20 million US dollar which will affect some 40,000 local households of small-scale food producers.

A new US$19.9 million project will bring much needed help to 38,800 rural households facing the impacts of poverty, food insecurity and climate change. The South Sudan Livelihoods Resilience Project (SSLRP) will empower rural people to boost productivity, food security and nutrition, and resilience. At a time when the COVID-19 crisis and climate change could further push the 85 per cent of South Sudanese who live in rural areas into deeper poverty, SSLRP will target the most vulnerable, food insecure and small-scale producers, engaged in fishing, cropping and livestock production.

In South Sudan, poverty is higher in rural areas, with 80 per cent of the population living below the poverty line and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Therefore agriculture is key to defeating poverty and hunger. However, South Sudan, a resource-rich country and the youngest nation in Africa, remains the third most fragile in the world.

Conflict and poverty

Its agriculture sector’s potential is not fully exploited to due to a long conflict and prolonged instability, and poverty and food insecurity remain challenges. Irrigation and water harvesting technologies are inadequate, and there are poor post-harvest and value addition facilities. Adverse weather conditions and flooding are also challenges to small-scale production and access to markets.

In SSLRP, 70 per cent of beneficiaries will be youth and 60 per cent will be women, including returnees, women-headed households and persons with disabilities, who will receive particular attention to facilitate their integration into agricultural production and rural economy activities.

In South Sudan, farmers continue to bear the brunt of climate change, and the project will address their need for access to drought tolerant and early maturing seeds, drought tolerant agroforestry fodder species, water conservation and management, afforestation, mangroves rehabilitation and conservation, solar and other renewable energy sources. SSLRP will also rehabilitate and construct water infrastructure, rural roads to give access to markets, and processing and storage facilities. To build and strengthen the capacity of the beneficiaries and the government during the implementation phases, SSLRP will partner with the African Development Bank (AfDB), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Bank.

 

delivery bicycle for sustainabler impact

ABN AMRO is proud to announce the Sustainable Impact Fund (SIF), a fund investing in companies accelerating the transition towards a sustainable and inclusive society.

ABN AMRO SIF will make private equity investments of 4 to 30 million euros in companies that have a proven business model and that are ready for the next phase of their growth. The fund will also make venture capital investments ranging from 500,000 euros to 4 million euros in companies with a proven concept. Three themes have been selected for these investments: the circular economy, the energy transition and social impact. The fund, which is owned and funded by ABN AMRO, has its own investment policy and will pursue a combination of social and financial returns.

Equity capital

Rutger van Nouhuijs of ABN AMRO’s Executive Committee explains, “Our bank finances countless sustainable initiatives, in the form of loans and credit. However, in some situations, companies need equity investments. Our new fund is able to offer this as a solution. Companies that link sustainable returns to a strong business plan can apply to ABN AMRO SIF.”

Smartglasses, wind turbines and sustainable urban logistics

The new fund made its first two venture capital investments last month, in Envision and Foodlogica. Envision is a Dutch company that develops software for ‘smartglasses’. Combined with an app and innovative AI technology, the glasses translate images and written text into sound to make life more accessible for the visually impaired. Foodlogica solves the challenge of last-mile transport of refrigerated food in densely populated cities with a sustainable fleet that is free of greenhouse gas emissions. Fiberline Composites A/S also recently received private equity funding. This Danish company is developing a specific technology to increase the size of rotor blades for wind turbines. This investment was made by the Energy Transition Fund, which becomes part of ABN AMRO SIF.

The Netherlands and other countries nearby

In terms of geography, the new fund will focus on the Netherlands, but also companies from other countries in Northwestern Europe are eligible for investments. The fund reflects ABN AMRO’s strategic direction, which includes sustainability and a European focus as its key components.

New and mature companies

With the fund investing both private equity and venture capital, early-stage enterprises as well as established companies qualify for investment through this fund. Rutger van Nouhuijs adds, “What we want is to provide a solid financial basis for companies with potential that will help to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable society.”

To find out more about ABN AMRO SIF’s team, investments and investment criteria, visit www.abnamro.nl/SIF.