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Issue: Adverse impacts of Van Oord’s dredging operations in Brazil

Description Communities of fishermen and shellfish collectors in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, along with Brazilian and Dutch NGOs, allege that the Dutch dredging company Van Oord and the Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB have failed to comply with the OECD Guidelines related to a dredging project in north-eastern Brazil. Van Oord has been active in the Port of Suape since 1995. Its most recent projects include dredging for the Promar Shipyard and the dredging of an ocean access channel to the Port of Suape. In November 2011, the official export credit agency of the Dutch government, Atradius DSB, provided Van Oord with an export credit insurance for its operations in Suape. The complaint is the first under the revised OECD Guidelines to be directed against an export credit agency.

According to the complainants, Van Oords dredging operations have caused numerous adverse human rights and environmental impacts. Extended sections of rocky ocean bottom have been blown up with explosives as part of the dredging process. Coral reefs, and mangrove forests have been destroyed seriously affecting local fish populations. Local water management systems are affected in such a way that people living in the port area increasingly suffer from floods. Traditional fishermen and small-scale farmers lost their homes and livelihoods, for which they have received insufficient compensation. The complaint further alleges that Van Oord and Atradius DSB, in collusion with the Suape port authority, failed to conduct appropriate human rights due diligence in order to prevent and mitigate human rights impacts, failed to provide local stakeholders with timely information about the projects adverse impacts, and failed to meaningfully engage stakeholders on business decisions that directly impacted them.

The complainants request that the Brazilian and Dutch NCPs jointly handle the case and that they facilitate a dialogue with Van Oord and Atradius aimed at bringing the activities of both companies into line with the OECD Guidelines. Specifically, the complainants request that Van Oord remediate the damage it has caused by rehabilitating damaged areas and ensure protection for other areas endangered by the dredging operations. The complainants also request that the loss of local livelihoods be remediated by establishing protected fish reserves. Finally, the complainants demand that both Van Oord and Atradius DSB undertake and communicate publicly about a process of due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and remedy impacts that they cause, or to which they contribute or are linked.

Developments/Outcome The complaint (in Portuguese) was filed simultaneously with the Brazilian and Dutch NCPs. Both NCPs have confirmed receipt. The Dutch NCP translated the complaint from Portuguese into English. The NCPs decided that the Brazilian NCP would take the lead in the cases against Van Oord and Complexo Industrial Portuário Eraldo Gueiros, whereas the Dutch NCP would take the lead in handling the complaint against Atradius DSB.

In August 2015, the Brazilian NCP accepted the complaint against Van Oord, but rejected the complaint against Complexo Industrial Portuário Eraldo Gueiros arguing that it is not a multinational enterprise.

In December 2015 the Dutch NCP accepted the complaint against Atradius DSB. Although Atradius and the Dutch ministry of Finance argued otherwise, by accepting the case the Dutch NCP confirmed that the export credit agency can be regarded as a company according to the OECD Guidelines. The NCP will proceed with facilitating mediation between the parties.

3 cases relating to 'Adverse impacts of Van Oord’s dredging operations in Brazil':

Title Issue Date filed Status
Forum Suape et al. vs. Complexo Industrial e Portuário Eral Adverse impacts of Van Oord’s dredging operations in Brazil 1 June 2015 Rejected
Forum Suape et al. vs. Van Oord Adverse impacts of Van Oord’s dredging operations in Brazil 1 June 2015 Pending
Forum Suape et al. vs. Atradius Dutch State Business Adverse impacts of Van Oord’s dredging operations in Brazil 1 June 2015 Concluded

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