Egypt: "Dredging in the Dark" report calls for human rights due diligence from firms that were involved in Suez Canal project - companies respond

In March 2016, SOMO and Both Ends published "Dredging in the Dark".  As the report summary states: "Two Dutch dredging companies and the Dutch government played a major role in the recent effort to widen and deepen the Suez Canal. SOMO and Both ENDS analysed whether the Dutch companies and government abided by international standards for responsible business conduct during their involvement in the Suez project. The conclusion is clear: the Dutch dredgers and the government prioritized commercial interests over human rights and failed to uphold international social and environmental standards."

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the four companies involved in the Challenge Consortium (Van Oord and Boskalis of the Netherlands, National Marine Dredging of UAE and Jan de Nul of Belgium) to respond, as well as the Dutch Export Credit Agency Atradius to respond to the report.  Atradius' response, a joint response by Van Oord and Boskalis and a follow-up statement by SOMO and Both Ends are below.  We will indicate whether National Marine Dredging and Jan de Nul also respond.

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NGO rejoinder
19 April 2016

SOMO/Both Ends rejoinder to Atradius and Dutch dredging companies regarding "Dredging in the Dark" report

Author: SOMO / Both Ends

SOMO and Both Ends sent the following statement, following responses by Atradius, Boskalis and Van Oord to the report "Dredging in the Dark".

Atradius DSB – operating on behalf of the Dutch Government – follows the principles of the OECD agreed Common Approaches for Officially Supported Export Credits and Environmental and Social Due Diligence, and applies these ‘Common Approaches’ in its own CSR policy for all transactions it provides an export credit insurance for. In accordance with this policy all high risk (Cat A) projects require a full Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to be made publicly available at least 30 days before the final decision making. While the expansion of the Suez canal project was classified as a Cat A project, in this case Atradius DSB issued an export credit insurance policy without such an ESIA being made available....

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Company response
14 April 2016

Atradius response to "Dredging in the Dark" report

Author: Atradius

...

The report ‘Dredging in the Dark’ by SOMO & Both ENDS contains factual inaccuracies and misunderstandings both on project and on policy level. For a response on this report by the Dutch Government, we would like to make reference to two recent letters to the Dutch Parliament from resp. the State Secretary for Finance and the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation: 

...

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Company response
13 April 2016

Boskalis and Van Oord response to "Dredging in the Dark"

Author: Boskalis and Van Oord

...The project was executed according to these principles and we took our responsibility as demonstrated by taking additional steps to establish the environmental and social impact of the project by commissioning an environmental impact assessment executed by a reputable independent international engineering company...

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Report
1 March 2016

Dredging in the Dark - An analysis of the Dutch dredging industry’s failure to identify, prevent, and mitigate adverse impacts in dredging the Suez Canal

Author: Niels Hazekamp, Gisela ten Kate, Wiert Wiertsema and Joseph Wilde-Ramsing - SOMO and Both Ends

Two Dutch dredging companies and the Dutch government played a major role in the recent effort to widen and deepen the Suez Canal. SOMO and Both ENDS analysed whether the Dutch companies and government abided by international standards for responsible business conduct during their involvement in the Suez project. The conclusion is clear: the Dutch dredgers and the government prioritized commercial interests over human rights and failed to uphold international social and environmental standards...

Read the full post here