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Forum Suape et al. vs. Van Oord

Case overview

Date filed 1 June 2015
Current status Pending
Issue Adverse impacts of Van Oord’s dredging operations in Brazil
Summary of the case 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 complaint against Atradius completed in November 2016.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point Brazil
NCP address Sector da Autarquias Sul Quadra 03 70079 - 900 Brasilia DF, Brazil
NCP website
Other NCPs involved



Company Information

Company responsible Van Oord Marine Ingenuity
Company address
Company website
Company in violation Van Oord Marine Ingenuity
Country of operations Brazil
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Some developments are only visible to logged in users.
Date Actor Action Description Document
3 December 2015 National Contact Point Netherlands accept The NCP accepts the complaint against Atradius DSB download pdf (128Kb)  
3 July 2015 National Contact Point Netherlands letter The Dutch NCP translated the complaint into English. download pdf (137Kb)  
3 July 2015 National Contact Point Netherlands file The Dutch NCP translated the accompanying letter in English. download pdf (99Kb)  
1 June 2015 Associação Forum Suape Espaço Socioambiental file The complaint (in Portuguese) was filed simultaneously with the Brazilian and Dutch NCPs. The Dutch NCP has confirmed receipt and indicated it will translate the complaint from Portuguese into English. download pdf (125Kb)  

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