A word from our board and director

Both ENDS was pleased to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2020. As we reflected back on the organisation’s history, we were struck by the organisation’s consistency. At the heart of Both ENDS, then and now, is our commitment to our partners, to connecting and collaborating with organisations and individuals around the world to realise our shared vision of a world where the environment is protected and human rights are respected.

It is this commitment that remains at the centre of our new five-year strategy 2020-2025. The new strategy, which was developed through a rich dialogue with our global network of partners, is organised around three strategic objectives, with activities geared to realising our ambitions and indicators to keep us on track. Next to a strong civil society that can make its voice heard and systemic change at all levels, the new strategy emphasises the importance of the many planet-friendly, gender-just and inclusive initiatives that our partners have developed with us. There are a whole range of examples, from inclusive water governance to the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Program. It is high time that these transformative initiatives receive the financial and policy support they deserve. They need to be scaled up and scaled out, to become the ‘new normal’. Going forward, Both ENDS aims to give these practices more visibility and to explore innovative sources of finance for them. We want to identify investors who share our goals and understanding that environmental sustainability, human rights and gender justice are the starting point of transformative change.

The new strategy reflects the urgency of the multiple crises the world faces. It was in the works well before the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the faults in the system. To those who did not already see it, the pandemic made clear what we have long known: the current model of trade and development is bankrupt. Global value chains do not give people security. Our current trade system causes extreme inequalities.

Both ENDS responded to the challenge of the pandemic in multiple ways. First and foremost, we focused on our partners and the communities with which they work. For them, the pandemic came on top of what were already difficult circumstances. We assured our partners of the flexibility of existing funding and freed up additional funding for them to deal with urgent issues. We also discussed with donors the need of environmental justice and women’s organisations for sustained and flexible funding. Significantly, our partners didn’t want to change what they were working on. They just wanted to be able to continue. So we at Both ENDS knew we also needed to persevere.

Both ENDS quickly shifted to remote working. In the midst of the lockdown, we managed to move to a new digital workspace which provides improved security in a context of increased risk for our partners worldwide. We also managed to move to a new physical office, a beautiful, historic building in Utrecht. The decision-making process behind the office move, which was coordinated by a team of Both ENDS staff, was a really successful proof of concept for Both ENDS’s self-steering structure. We tried to adapt to the challenging work situation, to focus on what really matters and avoid overburdening each other.

We also responded to the crisis with analysis and recommendations for policymakers and donors. Among other things, we highlighted the effectiveness of small grants funds in ensuring that crisis funding actually reaches those in need. We also underscored the need to use public money to kick off a just transition by investing in green infrastructure.

2020 was an important year in terms of our two partnerships with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Fair, Green and Global Alliance (FGG) and the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), both of which were renewed. The fact that the Ministry, for the first time ever, included trade as a topic within its civil society funding framework is a testament to the success of awareness-raising by FGG. And the fact that the GAGGA Alliance, which is led by a women’s organisation, was moved from the gender department to the environmental department reflects the progress GAGGA has made in demonstrating that climate and gender justice are intertwined.

It is with great pride that we look back on 2020 and the response of Both ENDS to the challenges of COVID-19. We stood in solidarity, with purpose and flexibility, with our partners and with each other. Throughout the crisis, we were very clear that this was our priority. As we reflect back, we can say with confidence that what we do, we do well.

Danielle Hirsch, Director
Paul Engel, Chair of the Board

Our achievements in 2020

To achieve our vision of a sustainable, fair and inclusive world, Both ENDS works to empower civil society, to change the system so it prioritises people and the planet, and to support transformative practices. The numbers and successes below together show the broad variety of our achievements along each one of the three pathways.

STRONG CIVIL SOCIETY

Both ENDS works with civil society organisations around the world. We support them financially, but also engage in joint strategising, mutual capacity development and collective advocacy efforts. Our partner network embraces the whole world. The map below shows where our partners are situated; their activities might cover even more countries:

SYSTEMIC CHANGE

In order for systems to prioritize people and the planet, Both ENDS and partners aim to change the system step by step, policy by policy. Where policies are already strong, they need to be implemented, and where they are absent, we advocate for new ones to be enacted, on all levels:

TRANSFORMATIVE PRACTICES

According to Both ENDS and partners, transformative practices are the future. There are many of these bottom-up, planet-friendly practices. Below some numbers of a selection of practices that many of our partners work on. Also important is to take into account the gender aspect of these practices, in order for men and women to benefit equally:

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SOME EXAMPLES OF OUR IMPACT IN 2020

STRONG CIVIL SOCIETY

  • Our long-term relationships with our partners, based upon trust and solidarity, helped us to act quickly when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Together we continued to work towards our goals and where necessary adapted our plans and budgets to the new situation.
  • Together with five partners from Ghana, Togo, Nigeria and Uganda, we have published a report about the impact of export credit agencies (ECAs) on a just energy transition in these African countries. A huge effort and success, given the COVID-related difficulties that arose during the research period and the general lack of transparancy of ECAs.

  • After several years of close collaboration with our Asian and African partners in an informal network on inclusive land governance, we organized a follow-up skill-sharing workshop in Zambia and published a guidebook on Inclusive Land Governance. These activities have fostered South-South linking and learning and helped partners in their daily work and lobby activities towards governments at different levels.

  • Current and former grantees of the Joke Waller-Hunter Initiative continued to unite in an online platform where they meet, share ideas, work together and network with each other. In 2020, in over 100 young environmental leaders participated in 8 meet-ups and webinars where they could learn from each others experiences, and from several distinguished guest from the world of climate justice and sustainable development.

SYSTEMIC CHANGE

  • In the fight against global deforestation, Both ENDS and partners achieved some successes at different levels. Our call for a strong deforestation law was clearly heard by the European Commission, while at the same time in Peru, Indonesia and Liberia our partners’ long-term struggles resulted in some remarkable victories concerning local land rights.
  • After intensive advocacy by Both ENDS and a broad coalition of civil society organisations from the EU and MERCOSUR countries, European Parliament adopted a resolution against the EU-MERCOSUR treaty. This is an important sign that also the EU parliament finds the human rights and environmental standards in this treaty insufficient.
  • After many years of advocacy by Both ENDS and partners, Dutch pension fund ABP in 2020 took the first steps toward divestment from fossil fuels by setting out exclusion criteria on coal and tar sand companies and to implement this policy change in its investments by 2025. Although Both ENDS would have liked to see ABP go even further, this is a significant first step in the direction of a fossil free financial system.

  • After joint lobby and advocacy by a network of Northern and Southern CSOs including Both ENDS and SEATINI, the Energy Charter Treaty decided to halt its expansion to include new member states. This means those states will keep the freedom to develop their energy policies in the public interest and to proceed with the necessary energy transition.

TRANSFORMATIVE PRACTICES

  • As part of the GAGGA programme, our partners Keystone and NTFP-EP are working to address some of the gender gaps in harvesting, managing, trading and accessing Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs). They provided small grants to strengthen women-led NTFP initiatives, coupled with capacity building activities.
  • The partners from the Wetlands without Borders programme have reached considerable success in the promotion of agroecology throughout the whole Rio de la Plata basin. Despite difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they have reached more than a thousand people with agroecological trainings, supported 46 farmers in their agroecological activities and expanded the area under agroecological production by 22 hectares.

  • The Drynet Podcast Series “Good Food for a Better Normal” explores some of the most pressing environmental challenges that relate to life on land, and the people who use the land to produce food. The COVID-19 crisis has clearly exposed the failure of modern food systems, and the podcast provided an opportunity for Drynet members and experts to share their visions on fair and sustainable food systems in a time it was impossible to meet.

  • In Niger, a presidential decree has been adopted, which actively and exclusively promotes Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) and recognizes the rights of farmers to their trees. This is the first of its kind in the world, and a huge win for our Nigerien partners in the Regreening the Sahel-programme.

  • After an Analog Forestry training in March 2020, communities from two Liberian counties have gained more confidence they are not going to lose their land to palm oil plantations, due to a better understanding of their different options and of the value of their land.

  • Government officials in Bangladesh acknowledged Tidal River Management as the only way to save Southwest coastal Bangladesh from climate shocks and sea level rise. This is an important paradigm shift, necessary for TRM to be implemented as an inclusive, community-based approach in the Bangladesh Delta Plan (BDP2100).

Women’s rights and Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs)

Forests are critical to the health of the planet and the well-being of people everywhere. About one in every six people, particularly women, directly rely on forests for their lives and livelihoods, especially for food. The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic showed just how important local food production and short food value chains are, particularly during times of crisis. In India, where a lockdown sent millions of people back from the cities back to the countryside, wild foods and other non-timber forest products (NTFPs) proved essential to hungry migrants.

As a source of food, water and income, and for their cultural and spiritual meaning, forests and NTFPs help ensure community resilience. Both ENDS has a long history of collaboration with partners such as the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP) and Keystone Foundation, which support forest communities in promoting the NTFP concept for forest conservation and livelihood enhancement.

Addressing the gender dimensions of NTFPs

Both ENDS aims to showcase and accelerate the massive upscaling of practices that are based on collective participation, healthy ecosystems, gender justice and a capacious vision of well-being. In recent years, Both ENDS, NTFP-EP and Keystone have collaborated as part of the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action to strengthen and unify the women’s rights and environmental justice movements.

NTFP-EP and Keystone are advancing understanding of the gendered aspects of harvesting, managing, trading and accessing NTFPs. A new research report on the topic looked at a variety of NTFPs in India – tamarind, yams, greens and wild honey to name a few – and explored the gendered division of activities, access and control over these resources. Among other things, the report showed that most processing of NTFPs is done by women and that women tend to have greater access and control over NTFPs that can be collected easily, like leaves and berries. In most cases, women did not have control over the income from NTFP sales, and their access to formal or distant markets was limited due to social norms that restrict their mobility. Insights from the report will be used to improve the design of future NTFP-related programmes.

As part of the GAGGA programme, Keystone and NTFP-EP are already working to address some of these gaps. NTFP-EP and Keystone are providing small grants to strengthen women-led NTFP initiatives. For example, a grant from Keystone supported indigenous women’s groups across India to develop common packaging and branding of honey. The new packaging not only helps provide better income but also establishes the women’s rights over resources. It has become a powerful tool to promote solidarity of indigenous women across the country and their collaborative work on NTFPs.

In Indonesia, a grant from NTFP-EP made it possible for members of the Bangkit Bersama Women Group and Dara Kunci Women Group to participate in trainings that were held virtually, due to the pandemic. The training focused on organisational management, financial management, and online marketing to maximise the potential of the women’s cashew nut harvest.

Funding the nexus of women’s rights and transformative practices

NTFP-EP sees grantmaking as a tool which works best when coupled with capacity building activities. The group’s community workshops and exchanges have been crucial for helping build the skills and confidence of women to self-organise, develop their own initiatives and strategies, and engage with government officials. NTFP-EP’s involvement in GAGGA over the last five years has enabled the organisation to better operationalise its commitment to women’s rights. In a new report by Both ENDS, Embedding gender justice in environmental action: where to start?, NTFP-EP and other partners shared experiences and recommendations for environmental organisations, and made the case for dedicated programming and funding for work at the nexus of gender and environmental justice.

Both ENDS and our partners aim to expand the policy space and funding for transformative practices like NTFPs. Research, advocacy and lobbying by NTFP-EP led to important progress on this front in 2020. At the behest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Working Group on Forest Products Development, NTFP-EP led a consultative process to develop guidelines on sustainable harvest and management of NTFP resources. In October 2020, the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry adopted the new ASEAN Guidelines for Sustainable Harvest and Resource Management Protocols for Selected Non-Timber Forest Products. The guidelines will serve as a primary reference for NTFP management protocols in the ASEAN region and help guarantee the sustainable management of NTFP resources.

 

Forest dependent communities led by the women in Rejang Lebong, Indonesia map out their territory to delineate their livelihood and conservation sites © NTFP-EP

Digital storytelling workshop for women leaders in the Philippines © NTFP-EP

Different Non-Timber Forest Products from India

 

 

Protecting forests: a global fight at all levels

Both ENDS works to bring about the systemic change needed to ensure unconditional respect for human rights and planetary boundaries. Systemic change entails dealing with issues at all levels, from the local to the global. Our aim is to help strengthen the power of local communities, while simultaneously working to tackle the key drivers behind social and environmental harm. Both ENDS plays a key role in drawing the links between practices and policies in the Netherlands and internationally to their impacts in communities across the world.

Systemic change is urgently needed to protect the Earth’s forests and the rights of forest peoples. Deforestation and forest degradation are driven by global demand for products like palm oil and soy. Tackling the problem requires not reduced demand and better policies and practices at international levels, but also improved recognition of community land rights – a key focus of our work with partners in 2020.

Improved regulation of the palm oil industry

In February, Both ENDS and the Forest Peoples Programme convened a meeting in Malaysia of representatives from some 25 environmental justice, human rights, women’s, youth and indigenous peoples’ organisations from countries across Latin America, Africa and South East Asia. All are working to address the negative impacts of the palm oil industry. In a collective statement that came out of the meeting, the groups highlighted the role of palm oil companies in land-grabbing and deforestation, with particular emphasis on the impacts of women, who play a vital role as custodians of indigenous culture and repositories of knowledge about forests, plants, nutrition, traditional medicine and the like. The groups called on governments of both palm oil-producing and consuming countries to improve regulation of the industry and ensure protection of human rights.

Alongside pressing for regulation, Both ENDS uses its influence as a board member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to improve the sector’s implementation of RSPO’s strong global standards meant to diminish the harm of palm oil production. In 2020 we contributed to greater attention in the RSPO to the gender dimensions and gender-specific risks in relation to palm oil production, when RSPO finalised their practical guidance on gender inclusion and compliance.

Land rights for palm oil affected communities

Both ENDS’s partners work hard to support communities in their struggles to preserve and secure their land rights in the face of powerful economic and political actors, including palm oil companies. Some long-fought struggles of indigenous peoples and local communities resulted in important victories this year.

In the Peruvian Amazon, Both ENDS and several international organisations have been supporting FECONAU, a local organisation that represents a number of indigenous communities in their struggles against the spread of palm oil. Years ago a company illegally acquired large swathes of their territories, cut down the rainforest and planted palm oil, destroying not only vital primary forest but also the indigenous peoples’ livelihoods, which depended on an intact ecosystem. After years of lobbying the local Santa Clara de Uchunya government, FECONAU succeeded in securing recognition of the indigenous peoples’ rights to 1,500 hectares of the illegally grabbed land. The community also achieved a significant victory in its struggle against a palm oil company when the country’s environmental regulator ordered the company to suspend its operations and pay a $2.5 million fine for environmental damages.

In Liberia, our partners celebrated a hard-won victory when the government adopted a new Land Rights Act, which promises improved land security to indigenous peoples. The new law includes strong protections for community customary land rights and is considered one of the most progressive in Africa. The next step is to put the law into practice. Both ENDS’s partners are currently supporting communities in preparing a land claim for one million hectares of village forest to protect it from being cleared to make way for monoculture palm oil plantations and other developments. A similar effort is underway in Kalimantan, Indonesia, where Both ENDS’s local partner is supporting communities to secure their lands (50,000 hectares) under Indonesia’s social forestry law using customary title provisions, such as Hutan Adat and Hutan Dessa. Their claim is currently being processed by the District Authorities.

Long-term advocacy to stop Europe’s imported deforestation

The pressure on local communities’ forests and land – in Peru, Liberia, Indonesia and many other countries – is directly linked to Northern demand for soy and palm oil. Both ENDS and our Southern partners have been advocating for years to push the European Union for strong legislation against ‘imported deforestation’ – deforestation caused by products imported to the EU.

In 2020 the EU finally began the process to draft such legislation by launching a public consultation. The campaign #Together4Forests, led by several international NGOs and backed by more than 160 environmental groups, including Both ENDS, encouraged people to engage in the public consultation and to insist that the EU tackle the forest footprint of its consumption. More than a million European citizens responded by demanding a strong EU law to protect the world’s forests and the rights of people who depend on them.

In the Netherlands, Dutch Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten admitted that the response was a signal that cannot be ignored. Both ENDS, along with the other Dutch organisations involved in the campaign, called on the Minister to take the lead in Brussels in pushing for strong legislation and to encourage other EU member states to join her. In this process, Both ENDS aims to create space for the voices of locally affected peoples, their concerns, experiences and solutions, and to ensure that European decision-makers hear the wake-up call and are inspired to act.

 

Community members receive ownership rights of their rice fields. Kalimantan 2020. Photo by GEMAWAN

The community of Santa Clara de Uchunya receives its land title. Photo by FECONAU

Dutch minister Schouten receives the 1.2 million signatures for a strong deforestation law

 

 

Solidarity in the face of a global pandemic

Both ENDS collaborates with civil society organisations (CSOs) worldwide to pursue the structural changes they believe are needed and to amplify the voices of the communities they work with. Building strong, trusting relationships with our partners around the world is absolutely crucial to realising our vision. It is at the core of everything we do. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we immediately responded by reaching out to partners to show our solidarity and to ask them about their challenges and needs.

At the local level, the impacts of COVID-19 and measures to address it were severe, particularly for women. They faced food shortages, loss of access to water, loss of income due to closing of markets, intensified pressure from family members and children at home, increased threats due to policing and militarisation. The standard work of Both ENDS’s partners – communication and meeting with communities, organising, mobilising, monitoring and participating in decision-making processes – became incredibly difficult or impossible. More often than not, policy processes became even more inaccessible and secretive. Lockdowns required people to stay at home, while companies were allowed to proceed with business as usual. The voice of civil society was effectively muted in diverse policymaking forums, from local decisions about mining licenses to negotiations of the World Trade Organization.

Flexible support to partners

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Both ENDS assured partners of flexible and sustained support to carry on their vitally important work. When it was clear that the pandemic would endure, funds that had originally been allocated for meetings and travel were made available to partners to deal with the challenges brought on by the pandemic and lockdowns. Among other things, as part of the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), Both ENDS helped set up a one-time funding initiative, the Autonomy and Resilience Fund, to address the urgent needs of women environmental defenders and their communities. In total, €255,000 was quickly distributed to 41 women-led community-based organisations and seven NGOs in 21 countries around the world for diverse initiatives, including many to strengthen local food and water systems, traditional medicine, and community well-being.

A grant to Colectivo CASA, a women’s collective in Bolivia, supported the group to implement a community garden based on an ancient system of work sharing and exchange, known as ‘Ayni’. The main objective of the garden was to foster solidarity production and exchange of products among women in the community, with the aim of safeguarding biodiversity and strengthening food sovereignty as a measure of resilience to the crisis. The grant covered the costs of seeds, organic fertilizer, and rental of a tractor, as well as inputs for water harvesting. In addition, the grant supported an ancient ritual of thanks to promote solidarity, as well as respect and gratitude for Mother Earth and her fruits.

New ways of sharing information

Although many 2020 activities had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, some activities simply took on a new form. A Southeast Asia Regional Coastal People’s Assembly, organised in September by Solidaritas Perempuan with support from Both ENDS, consisted of three sessions over three weeks that combined both online and face-to-face group participation. The first session, ‘How Small-Scale Fisheries Feed the World: A Reflection from the COVID-19 Crisis’, had some 75 participants online and was attended physically by another 70 participants in three villages in Indonesia. The unique format enabled broader participation from local fisherwomen. Moreover, a video recording of the sessions was converted into campaign material used for discussions with communities in other coastal areas.

One of the top priorities for our partners during the lockdowns was to maintain communication with communities. With flexible support from Both ENDS, partners could invest in digital infrastructure to stay in touch despite travel restrictions, and could continue to share vital information, for example through radio programmes and text message recordings. Similarly, for us at Both ENDS, good communication with partners was of utmost importance as the crisis unfolded. Our central message was: do what you need to do as an organisation and as an individual, and above all, take care of yourself and each other. 2020 proved to us that strong, long-term relationships and flexible support are not only the key ingredient for achieving the change we seek in the world, but also for enduring crisis.

 

Community garden. Photo by Colectivo CASA

Session at the Regional Coastal People’s Assembly. Photo by Solidaritas Perempuan

When visiting communities, partners often had to bring goods due to collapsed transport systems. This is a boat expedition by partner GAIA, an organisation working with communities in the Pantanal. Photo by Eduardo G. Oliveira

 

Interview with Sjef Langeveld

‘You can only solve the great issues in the world together with the people directly involved in them’

Sjef Langeveld in 2020

Sjef Langeveld was the director of Both ENDS from the end of 1999 to the end of May 2008. He looks back on an eventful decade, in which Both ENDS slowly came of age. Start from the strengths that are already there, that was and is Sjef Langeveld’s motto: ‘I took the gold in the organisation as my starting point.’

Sjef, you came straight into Both ENDS as director, and were also new at that time in the sector of international cooperation. What did you know about Both ENDS and what appealed to you about the job?

That’s right, I had a background as landscape architect, urban and rural planner, ecologist and researcher within the Netherlands. I had always had the ambition and motivation to work internationally. I didn’t become involved in international projects until I went to work at Wageningen University.

I didn’t know Both ENDS, but when I heard that they were looking for a director, I contacted them and they asked me to come in to talk about it. Then I knew immediately that the job fitted me like a glove.

It was what I really wanted to do. I wanted to work on issues relating to water and land for the people – farmers, citizens and local residents – who use them every day. That was exactly what Both ENDS did, and still does. You can only solve the great issues in the world together with the people directly involved in them. You have to take their rights and their energy as your starting point.

What kind of organisation was Both ENDS when you started as director? What did you need to start working on straight off?

I wanted Both ENDS to be recognised as an organisation that mattered, that legitimation was very important to me. That appreciation was already there, of course. I saw that as soon as I walked in the door. I call that ‘the gold of Both ENDS’, but there was no certainty. So that’s where I started: securing the basic funding with the help of Cordaid, paying people a decent salary, and generating recognition from the outside world.

When were asked in 2002 whether we wanted to take over Inzet, the international organisation of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA), that was confirmation for me that we were on the right track. Both ENDS was appreciated for its work and that brought financial security. We obtained more funding from the Ministries of Environment and Foreign Affairs.

Besides that recognition for Both ENDS within the Netherlands, what was for you the most interesting aspect of the organisation’s work in your period as director? Where was that ‘gold’?

I found the Drynet programme very interesting. We started it back then, first in the Sahel and then expanding it to other regions. Is that still going?

Yes, it’s now a CSO network, with the secretariat in South Africa.

So that was a success, excellent! It was a fundamental response to degradation: stopping degradation by reforestation, using the land differently, starting with local residents themselves. I thought the Negotiated Approach was very exciting, too, but that was already in place. Drynet was really new.

What I also found very interesting was forest garden products. That was a joint programme with Cordaid that enabled the products of ‘forest dwellers’ to be marketed in Europe. And the Joke Waller-Hunter Initiative, set up with Joke’s estate, is also very special. I never met her myself but she was very important to Both ENDS from the beginning.

After Joke’s death, the executor of her will asked me to take responsibility for her estate. She had left instructions for the money to be devoted to develop international leadership among young people working for NGOs. I immediately told Irene Dankelman [who was a board member at that time, ed.] and, when I got back to the office, she was there with all our colleagues. I told everyone about Joke’s wishes, and they were all very moved. For a moment, it seemd like Joke was there is the room with us. It was very special.

Langeveld pauses, lost in though. Then:

If you look at the varied patchwork of Both ENDS’ work, you wonder where the consistency comes from. But if you have a patchwork, you have all the stitches that hold it together. Those stitches are our basic values. Human rights and the environment, linked, joined together.

But if you ask me what the most important parts of our work were from that period… I want you to mention, besides Drynet, the Negotiated Approach.

What is so special about the Negotiated Approach?

It’s about the value of water, the involvement of local residents in how that water is managed, and the guarantee that they are in control. But that is extremely difficult! It is their water and their concern and their resource but it is distributed, with dams and irrigation, to the benefit of those in power.

We had a project with seven river basins around the world, and everywhere they were trying to give people control over their water. After everything I had experienced in the Netherlands, with how water was managed and the changes in the Dutch water sector, the mergers of the small water authorities into a few very large ones, I found that very strange. With all my water experience in the Netherlands, I couldn’t understand why we were increasing the distance between residents and their water here, while in the seven regions in the project the movement was in the opposite direction.

To conclude the project, all the partners came to the Netherlands and I arranged a visit to the water authority and dyke warden at Alblasserwaard. When our bus arrived at the water authority offices, the dyke warden opened the doors and told us that the offices were empty. The authority had been incorporated into a larger one. The water authority that I wanted to show the visitors, how it was set up, with an entrance for the local residents and so on – it was all gone!

On the way back, Vijay Paranjpye [from India, one of the founders of the Negotiated Approach, ed.] said ‘We have made a big mistake in this project. We should have included the Rhine basin in it. The management has been handed over to a large bureaucratic body. You could have learned a lot from us!’ He had a good point there.

Working together with the people who are directly involved: that’s how you approached your work at Both ENDS, but it also applies to Markdal, where you live and have been involved in for a number of years now. I see a close similarity there to the Negotiated Approach.

Yes, there is, isn’t there? And that’s very necessary in this country. Degradation is just as bad here as everywhere else. The soil is over-fertilised and depleted, biodiversity has decreased alarmingly. That overloading of the original system is apparent all around the world. In the Markdal, we want to create a natural environment, allow the river to flow freely and lush vegetation to return, so that biodiversity increases again.

Sjef Langeveld with the project manager of the municipality in Markdal. Still from video by OMOOC, 2017

You have seen solutions all around the world for degraded catchment basins and to combat soil degradation. Did you learn lessons at Both ENDS that you can now apply in Markdal?

Yes, the solution lies with those who are responsible for the land, who use it and extract water from it. At Markdal, we’ve made a deal with the provincial authorities: let us, as residents and land-owners, strengthen the natural environment ourselves and get the river flowing freely again, within the limits set by your administrative aims. We discovered that local farmers wanted the same. Then you’ll find a solution together on how to do that. There are no standard ways of approaching it. It’s a matter of trial and error, and the Negotiated Approach is a good guiding framework.

The strategy you choose can then be repeated over and again: people trust each other, give each other space. But there can still be problems, such as language. The farmers are tired of the way they are spoken to and about. The provincial authorities say ‘bottom up’ instead of ‘from within’, and an ‘area-based process’ rather than ‘a society-based process’. If you speak of ‘bottom up’, that means that the farmers and residents are at the bottom of the ladder. And in our work, society is the base, we start from the original value that that area has. From within.

You still follow Both ENDS closely. Where do you feel our legitimacy lies? Where is our gold these days?

That you show solidarity, that you provide a strong helping hand for others that need it. Standing shoulder to shoulder is important. We have the advantage of a good social context here. That gives us a responsibility to show solidarity with people in other parts of the world who are grappling with the same challenges that we face. Then you’ll see that they do the same for us. That reciprocity is at the core of the fight for human rights and for the environment.

“I want to be part of a generation that is more responsible”

Julius Mbatia

Julius Mbatia is one of the more than 300 young environmental leaders from Asia, Africa and Latin America that received support from the Joke Waller Hunter Initiative (JWHI). For our 30 year anniversary, we talked to this inspiring young Kenyan about the present and future of local and international climate policy, environmental policy and human rights.

At just 27 years old, Mbatia’s accomplishments include co-founding the Youth for Sustainable Development Goals Kenya, coordinating the climate finance work of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and leading the establishment of devolved climate finance institutions at local community level. He has represented African CSOs in numerous Green Climate Fund (GCF) meetings, serves on the Steering Committee of GCF Watch and represents developing country civil society organizations as an Alternate Active Observer to the GCF. In addition, he works as a policy advocacy officer at an African think tank based in Kenya. He is now using his grant to obtain a Master’s degree in Environmental Planning and Management at the University of Nairobi, where he plans to conduct research on climate change governance that supports action at the local level.

Another leadership needed for structural transformation

As Mbatia sees it, the grim realities facing the world call upon us to rethink leadership and governance. Countries in the global South continue to barrel down a development pathway that replicates the trajectory of the global North and doesn’t serve the majority of the population: ‘If you look at Kenya, only a small proportion of the population benefits from our economic growth and our natural resources,’ says Mbatia. ‘Just about 10% of the population controls the wealth of the nation, so you can imagine what is happening to the 90%. Our systems and structures are not speaking to the present challenge of inclusive and sustainable development. We need to ask ourselves what kind of leadership can bring about the structural transformation we need.’

Mbatia sees the need to forge connections and better decision-making across economic, social and environmental spheres in Kenya. He points out that ‘most of the damage to the environment is made as a result of decisions outside the environmental sector’. Addressing this discrepancy is one of the motivations behind his academic work. He hopes to come out of his master’s programme with increased knowledge for analysing the politics of development and for centrally placing the environment within that politics.

Julius Mbatia in action during youth consultation on National Climate Change Action Plan development in Nairobi

Julius Mbatia at the Fridays for Future Climate March in Germany, June 2019, during the UNFCCC SB 50

The youth climate movement

When asked about the importance of young leadership, Mbatia underscores the importance of inclusive decision-making generally. He highlights the fact that he speaks not just as a young person, but as someone who has ‘done his homework’ and formed his own analysis. That said, he does think that young people are more aware of – and more interested in – the shifts that are already happening and those that need to happen. ‘I have the ambition of being part of a generation that is more responsible, more inspired and more fulfilled. That is the change that I want to bring to the table.’

In recent years, young people’s climate activism has received significant political and public attention, including from world leaders. For Mbatia, the challenge ahead is to ensure that young people get a role in decision-making. ‘At COP 25, the 2019 UN climate talks, we had youth movements from around the globe calling for a different world. We showed the power young people have,’ says Mbatia. ‘But it’s not enough for policymakers to mention young people or give them a stage. They have to pull back and create processes to allow young people – those who are demanding climate justice and climate action – to be part of the solution. That would mean, for example, giving young people access to climate finance to deliver tangible and practical action with transformational potential. There are more spaces being created for youth, such as in UN committees, but it is important to give them the technical support for that role.’

Both ENDS: connecting young leaders for “crazy potential”

Mbatia applauds the work of Both ENDS and the Joke Waller Hunter Initiative to that end. ‘Joke Waller Hunter had a vision of young people who are not just supported, but who make a difference in the world. Providing influential young people with practical support and investing resources in them is really important.’

With an eye to the future, Mbatia hopes to see Both ENDS step up its support for young people’s movements. Daan Robben, who coordinates the Joke Waller Hunter Initiative, shares this aim. Robben is working on developing a community platform for past and present JWHI grantees. Recent activities include webinars with experts. ‘We know youth are important but they are often in that back of our minds. We have a beautiful young leadership programme, but I think we can do a much better job connecting it to our other programmes.’

Julius Mbatia sees a role for Both ENDS that goes beyond supporting young leaders’ education and other immediate capacity building needs. ‘Through the Joke Waller Hunter Initiative, Both ENDS has a big opportunity to strengthen connections among the world’s young environmental leaders. Together, we have crazy potential to make a difference.’

 


About Joke Waller-Hunter

The legacy of Joke Waller-Hunter is colossal. She was not only a key figure in the founding of Both ENDS, but a world leader in sustainable development. Following her important work at the Dutch Ministry of Environment, she became the first UN Director for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in 1994. She went on to become Director of the OECD Environment Directorate and subsequently Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where she oversaw the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol. Waller-Hunter died prematurely in 2005, but not before arranging to pass the torch of sustainable development to a younger generation. She bequeathed her estate to Both ENDS for the purpose of fostering leadership development, education and expertise among tomorrow’s environmental activists.

Since 2007 the Joke Waller Hunter Initiative (JWHI) has supported more than 300 young environmental leaders form the global South to pursue academic studies, internships and trainings that advance their professional goals.

 

Joke Waller-Hunter (center), UNFCCC’s Executive Secretary at COP10 in 2004. Photo by IISD

 

 

 

Oil spill, Ogoniland, Nigeria. Photo by Luka Tomac/Friends of the Earth International on Flickr

30 years of struggle in the Niger Delta

In January 2021, in a Dutch courtroom, an enormous breakthrough was achieved for all the people of the Niger Delta, who have suffered many decades of destructive pollution of their environment. The ruling of the Dutch judge in the legal proceedings brought against Shell by four Nigerian farmers and Dutch environmental organisation Milieudefensie is the first time that a Dutch court has called on the oil giant’s mother company to take responsibility for the consequences of its activities outside the Netherlands. The judge recognised the suffering of the four farmers and their families and communities, giving them the real prospect of compensation. The ruling, the outcome of thirteen years of legal proceedings, is also important for many other people who bear the impact of investments and activities by companies with their head offices registered in the Netherlands. The case shows that multinationals registered in the Netherlands must take responsibility for the decisions taken by their subsidiaries.

This case, entirely the initiative of the Nigerian plaintiffs and Milieudefensie, is the result of three decades of suffering, work and frustration. It has put the problem back on the agenda.

International attention

This struggle of the local people, the Ogoni, against Shell has actually been going on since 1990, when the they protested against pollution caused by oil extraction and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa set up the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). In 1995, the protests in Nigeria became world news when Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists were executed by hanging. Saro-Wiwa and others who had fought the pollution from their villages knew better than anyone that they could expect no help from their own government. So they conducted their campaign by challenging international companies like Shell to take on their responsibilities. The executions were the sad cause of a wave of international attention for the Niger Delta. Nigerian activists and the international environmental movement took the opportunity with both hands to create an international stage for their cause. Within the environmental movement, it soon became clear that the situation in Nigeria was also causing concern in other countries.

At that time, Both ENDS had just been set up to strengthen the environmental movement in the South. In response to the horrors in Nigeria, Both ENDS started a campaign together with Milieudefensie and IUCN-NL to draw attention to the work of the Nigerian activists, partly by supporting the ‘Lawyers on the defense team for the Ogoni leader Ken Saro Wiwa’, Oronto Douglas and Uche Onyeagucha. In England and the Netherlands, they called for attention for the disaster that had taken place in their villages. In 1996, together with activists from other countries who were dealing with similar disasters, we set up the international Oilwatch network to get this problem on the radar of companies, governments and financiers.

Protest in Quito in 1996, when Oilwatch was established in Ecuador. With Both ENDS-employee Tamara Mohr on the right.

Children in the Niger Delta demand clean air and water

Call to Divest

Besides the legal proceedings, the Nigerians fighting for justice have since the very beginning called for investors to stop investing in oil companies. “They drill and they kill!” said Oronto during a visit to the US. He appealed to people to invest with their hearts and minds. The divestment movement has only really gained momentum in the past decade or so. In the Netherlands, too, the call for fossil-free pension funds is increasingly loud and the climate movement is asking the government to stop funding the fossil industry. The Paris Agreement is also very clear on this issue; one of its three main goals is to make financial flows fossil-free. It really matters where we invest our money and what we spend our taxpayers’ money on.

Women join the fight

In the meantime, the pollution of the Niger Delta continues. Both ENDS remains involved in the local people’s struggle against the consequences of oil extraction. For a number of years, we have also been working mainly together with women’s groups. Women are hit hardest by the scarcity of water and food and by health problems (e.g. miscarriages and ovarian cancer) caused by the pollution. This is because the traditional gender division of labour places the responsibility of household water management on women, and they also manage many family gardens. Yet their voices are not taken into account when addressing solutions. Community women often do not have the opportunities to participate and speak in International Forums and platforms, to engage with governments and corporations and to speak though advocacy platforms and media.

Every year on December 19th, local womens groups organise the Niger Delta Womens Day of Action for Environmental Justice. This is a panel at the 2019 event.

Oil spills have severely damaged the environment of the Niger Delta. Clean up is progressing only slowly. Photo by Sosialistisk Ungdom on Flickr

Within the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action, women’s organisations from Port Harcourt and Ogoniland are campaigning and raising their voices to demand a thorough clean-up of the Delta, and an end to gas flaring. In 2020, decades after the fight against Shell began, a representative of local communities spoke at Shell’s Annual Shareholder Meeting. Members of the women’s organisations are also in dialogue with Dutch pension funds to share their concerns about their continued investments in Shell, thus echoing the call of lawyer Oronto in the 1990 to divest.

From local to global

The history of the Niger Delta shows what Both ENDS’s work is all about: connecting local struggles to larger systems, multiplying local messages to global audiences, and connecting those local activists to the international decision-making platforms where they deserve a seat at the table. That is what Both ENDS did in the 1990s, it is what we do now and what we will keep on doing as long as it is necessary.

 

*header image: Oil spill, Ogoniland, Nigeria. Photo by Luka Tomac/Friends of the Earth International on Flickr

Messages from around the world

We’ve asked you, our partners, friends, allies from around the world to share with us your dearest memories of our cooperation, and your wishes for the years to come. Below you find a selection of responses. Thank you all for your contributions! Without you, our network, we wouldn’t be able to reach our goals.


Solange Ikeda, Brazil
GAIA Institute:

In 2012, Both ENDS got to know our fight and they are always on our side. In 2014, we were together at an event of the Pantanal Network and at the Day of the River Paraguay in Caceres, Brazil. During an expedition of the Pantanal Network through the waters of the Paraguay River to the Taiamã Ecological Station in 2014, we discussed the need to join efforts for the conservation of the Pantanal. 
 
Both ENDS people have gained our friendship and trust. Currently we work together in the Wetlands without Borders Program. We at the Gaia Institute hope to always be together in defense of the Pantanal and the wetlands!”

Tamara Mohr of Both ENDS, speaking at the Ecological Station of Taiamã, Pantanal, Brazil


Ana di Pangracio, Argentina
Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN):

I personally have been collaborating with Both ENDS for 10 years for my work at the Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN). What I value the most about Both ENDS is their great ability to listen, to respect our work and work history, to speak to us in our language, and help our organizations to continue developing our tasks and strengthening them. And I especially highlight not only the professional but also the human quality of all of its staff, it is something that all employees of Both ENDS have in common.”

Thanks to Both ENDS’s support through the Wetlands without Borders program, Ana participated in the CBD Women Caucus in with the aim to integrate a gender perspective into global and national biodiversity policies. Photo by Ana di Pangracio.


Ron Rosenhart and Wout Albers, the Netherlands
Global Justice Association:

We think that Both ENDS has a lot of added value! Thank you for working with us in the Berta Caceres case.”

 


Annemarie Schaapveld, the Netherlands
Former employee of Both ENDS:

I have been working at Both ENDS in 2011 and my dearest memories consist of learning so much about your amazing work, organizing teambuilding activities in Haarlem and diners with “friends of Both ENDS”. The reason for this was celebrating the 20th anniversary of Both ENDS, so its already 10 years ago! I have also spend many hours in the archive room, to sort things out :-). Worked together closely with Anne-Roos, who supported me in many ways.”

 


Bianca Nijhof, the Netherlands
Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP):

Both ENDS is a very active and passionate organisation in the water sector. They are a highly valued member of the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP). Their participation is visible in many ways, their director is representing the NGO’s in the NWP Board. And as part of the NGO Platform of NWP, Both ENDS not only discusses on the cutting edge, but is also reaching out to other NWP members as well. In other words, they can be critical, but in a more and more constructive way.

Each and every one of the staff members of Both ENDS NWP has worked and is working with, is really devoted. It is impressive and inspiring to see this devotion. And this devotion is needed, as we are in many ways not there yet.

Congratulations Both ENDS with your 30th anniversary. Looking forward to our continued collaboration.”

 


Lydia Mkandawire, Malawi
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation:

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation has been in partnership with Both ENDS since 2019. Our partnership was based on a solar power project in Malawi, being funded by FMO and MIGA. Both ENDS has given CHRR both technical and financial support, in terms of organizing affected community members, gathering information from community members and building capacity of community members on human rights, human rights violations, human rights monitoring, Gender Based Violence, international financial institutions and advocacy.

Our most profound memories with the support from Both ENDS, is the strength that affected communities have acquired through our engagement with them. This has enabled the communities to have constructive dialogue with the implementing agency JCM power and various government officials, involved in the solar project. Community members were also able to mobilize themselves and put together a community letter on the concerns that they had with the solar project.

However, more work needs to be done in order for community members to be meaningfully involved in the project and for their concerns to be addressed. We hope for continued support from Both ENDS to help the communities on engaging with the implementing agency, government officials and project financiers. We also note the challenge of most communities in Malawi not being aware of their right to be involved in development projects happening in their communities. Hence we would like more support from Both ENDS to scale up our efforts to other communities, by building their capacity on human rights and also community involvement in development projects.”

Meeting of community volunteers that help with disseminating information to community members and also document community concerns. Salima district, Malawi 2020. Photo by CHRR


Gemma Betsema, the Netherlands
Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO):

When I think of Both ENDS, I think of all the work they are doing to create more equal and sustainable land governance around the world. From the support to numerous grassroots organizations fighting for land rights in their countries, to initiating policy dialogues in the Netherlands. One specific activity I am proud to have been part of are a series of brainstorm sessions we organized between Dutch policy makers and Dutch academics and civil society on the importance of women’s land rights. The sessions led to concrete ideas on how to integrate women’s land rights in policies and practices at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

 


Lorena Gamboa, Ecuador/Costa Rica
International Analog Forestry Network (IAFN):

In 1995, I used to work with Accion Ecológica in Ecuador and was leading a campaign to save the forests, working with Indigenous peoples and Farmers to protect their forest threatened by extractivist companies. Tamara Mohr from Both ENDS was my first contact and supported our work in many ways. After a couple of years I moved to work promoting Analog Forestry as a way of ecosystem restoration and Both ENDS has been part and supporter of the International Analog Forestry Network, until now.”

 


Paul Osborn, the Netherlands
Former board member of Both ENDS:

Happy birthday sweet Both ENDS!

The oldest memory is the winter of 1985, when I lent office space in our building in the gardens behind the Tropen Instituut in Amsterdam to a young lad, Harry van der Wulp. He needed to do a feasibility study for IUCN. Some visionaries needed space to free their ideas, and marshalling ideas and options, the seeds were sown for something which was to become Both ENDS.

There is always someone who lends office space for a bird to learn to fly. We all know that. I just wonder which birds will be given such space at Both ENDS 2021 and encouraged to fly, fly, fly, a new flight.

The Joke Waller Hunter-Initiative is a splendid incubatory aviary. But ecotopes are screaming for more.”

 

The new paradigm of sustainable development

Pieter Lammers with his family in 2019

Pieter Lammers was development cooperation policy officer in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time Both ENDS was founded. He has been one of those people that was crucial for the development of Both ENDS during ‘the early years’, as he supported our view on equal partnerships with Southern actors and on the importance of sustainability. For Both ENDS’s anniversary, he looks back on the context of development cooperation in those early years.

‘At that time environment was not at all an issue in the development conversation,’ explains Lammers. ‘There was a very small unit on energy, with two of us, but not much happened for the first couple of years. The Ministry was not really interested in environmental issues. There was one ecologist in the whole Ministry.’

Environment and development

Yet awareness was growing. Lammers describes two emerging trends, both of which were critical to the founding of Both ENDS and ultimately reshaped the field: increased recognition of the need for sustainable development and the autonomous power of Southern civil society. In October of 1987, the UN published Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report, which helped introduce environmental issues into the global development agenda. From Lammers’s vantage point, the parliamentary election of 1989 and the appointment of Jan Pronk as Minister for Development Co-operation marked the turning point. Pronk proclaimed sustainable development a top priority, and gave Lammers and his environmentally-minded colleagues a key role in developing Ministry policy. Lammers was responsible for writing the sustainable development chapter of the Ministry’s new policy paper, where he brought the economic, social and environmental issues together into one conceptual framework.

The policy paper, Een Wereld van Verschil (A World of Difference), was finalised in 1990. ‘The Minister wanted to stress that things were going to be very, very different,’ says Lammers. At the global level, the Netherlands and a handful of other countries played a major role in pushing forward the sustainable development and climate agenda. ‘We had very good cooperation with the Ministry of Environment,’ says Lammers. ‘Fritz Schlingeman, Joke Waller [who later left her legacy to Both ENDS to found the JWH initiative, ed.] and a few other people – we closely cooperated in bringing the sustainable development agenda forward.’

The new policy led to a reorganisation of the Ministry and the creation of a new – and very well-funded – programme on environment and development. With palpable delight, Lammers recalls: ‘We went from being a very small unit with nearly nothing to being a very large organisation with lots of resources.’ It was during these same years that IUCN staff came to the Ministry with a proposal for Both ENDS, which was first funded by the Ministry as an IUCN project and subsequently as an independent organisation.

Strong civil society

Alongside the new focus on sustainable development was a shift in understanding about the role of civil society in the South. ‘There was a growing understanding that there could be no sustainable development, there could be no development at all, if you don’t have a strong civil society. There was a growing realisation that the classical, top-down model of development aid was not really the way to work together,’ Lammers explains. ‘NGOs in the South really came into the picture – not as before, not as ‘implementers’ of Dutch development aid policy – but as independent, autonomous NGOs. You need equality and a certain amount of reciprocity in order to be sustainable and effective. That’s where Both ENDS came in. The name says it: linking organisations in North and South that are working on the same issues and see how they can help each other.’

Sustainability agreements: reciprocity, equality and participation

Lammers played a leading role, along with Both ENDS and many others, in a groundbreaking initiative that tied together the new approaches to development and Southern civil society. Following the landmark UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992, more than 175 countries signed on to the Rio Declaration, which laid out the principles and path for sustainable development. Lammers and colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Environment were eager to put the Declaration in practice: ‘We wanted to find a way and a scale to make the Rio Declaration work.’ With the backing of both Ministers, an innovative cooperative process to develop reciprocal, sustainable agreements was launched. The process involved the Netherlands and three similarly small and environmentally-committed countries in each region of the South: Costa Rica, Benin and Bhutan.

‘The principles of the relationship were reciprocity, equality and participation. The participation part was very important. That’s where Both ENDS played a major role.’ The initiative began by inverting the traditional North to South approach to development aid: a Bhutanese delegation visited the Netherlands to reflect and comment on sustainability issues in the Netherlands. More exchanges followed, with Both ENDS playing a key role in ensuring participation by a wide range of civil society actors in the participating countries. The idea was to bring together a variety of people and perspectives, including government representatives, NGOs, labour unions, police, commercial organisations.

‘The approach was a complete departure from the classical development paradigm, which essentially promoted replication of the Netherlands’ historical path to development’, explains Lammers. The sustainable development paradigm, which defined the collaboration, was built on the understanding that the Netherlands, no less than Costa Rica, Benin and Bhutan, had to follow its own unique path in order to reach a common place of sustainable development. ‘The Netherlands is extremely ecologically unsustainable, while Bhutan is one of the only countries in the world that absorbs more carbon than it emits. You can’t copy each other, which means you needs a lot of dialogue and discussion. And that’s what we did.’

 

Pieter Lammers with his colleague Chris Enthoven, the Bhutan coordinator at Ecooperation, the agency responsible for the Sustainability Agreements. They are visiting the king of Bhutan, who has been cut off the picture because it’s inapproriate to spread his image. Bhutan, 1994. Photo: Pieter Lammers

Women on their way to a festival, Bhutan, date unknown. Photo: Pieter Lammers

 

Lammers describes Both ENDS as ‘instrumental in forging bonds with organisations’ in the countries involved. Both ENDS took part in all the visits and a staff person was assigned as a contact in each of the countries. ‘Twenty years later I still meet people in Bhutan who talk about how much the sustainable development agreements meant to them and to their organisations. It was an exciting time,’ states Lammers. Ultimately, the political winds shifted and when the agreements were formalised into treaties, complications arose. Decision-making was shifted to the embassies and, in Lammers’s analysis, created a heavy layer of bureaucracy that had not previously existed. ‘Instead of being a description of our relationship, it became a prescription. It became so solidified and we needed to keep things fluid.’

Southern civil society should play an independent role

Both ENDS’s approach – based on equality and respect for partners’ autonomy and expertise – was unique at the time. Most Dutch development aid was channelled through a handful of Dutch organisations with offices in Southern countries. In 2001, Lammers authored another influential report, ‘Civil Society and Structural Poverty Reduction’ which emphasised the importance of equality and independence of civil society organisations in the South. ‘The idea was that if you want civil society in, for example, Africa, to play their independent role, just like civil society in the Netherlands does, then they should be independent and equal partners to Dutch development organisations and the Dutch government. They should be able to pursue their own agendas.’ The report’s conclusions, which were strongly supported by Both ENDS, further articulated the new vision for international cooperation. Soon after, in 2004, Lammers left the Ministry. He was disappointed that the report’s recommendations weren’t taken up by the time he departed. ‘Everyone agreed, but nothing happened,’ he says with a chuckle.

Fortunately, the story does not end there. In 2015 all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ‘the shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future’. Sustainability and development are solidly fused together. Likewise, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs now invests significant resources in strengthening the lobbying and advocacy capacity of civil society in the South. Its current funding framework places particular emphasis on local ownership and equality in relationships between organisations in North and South. Both ENDS participates in two consortia, the Fair, Green and Global Alliance (FGG) and the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) respectively, which were selected by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as strategic partners for the coming five years. Where Both ENDS is the leading organisation in the FGG Alliance, GAGGA is being led by a southern organisation, the Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres (FCAM, Central-American Women’s Fund), based in Nicaragua.

Pieter Lammers can only appreciate this shift of power. “Civil Society Organisations anywhere should be able to act independently and autonomously from governments, and relationships between CSO’s in North and South should become ever more horizontal, equal and reciprocal. Both ENDS is an important actor in this development.”

Pieter Lammers speeching at a Milieudefensie protest, between 1975-1980

About Pieter Lammers

Pieter Lammers began his career in international development cooperation at the FAO in Rome, where he worked in the early 1970s in lieu of military service. When he returned to the Netherlands in 1975, he worked on energy issues at Milieudefensie. In the 1980s he worked as campaign manager on acid rain for Friends of the Earth International and staffed its International Secretariat. In his spare time, Lammers was active in the movement against nuclear power. In 1987 Lammers became a development cooperation policy officer in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a position he held during the founding of Both ENDS. He left the Ministry in 2004 to become an independent consultant and later a tour guide in Bhutan and other Asian countries.