|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
APRIL 27, 2004
|CONTACT: Friends of the Earth International
Janneke Bruil or Elias Dias Pena 202-49 22 154
World Bank Should get out of Oil and Mining, says Dutch Government
WASHINGTON / AMSTERDAM - April 27 - A statement made for years by non-governmental organisations has been adopted by Dutch Development Minister Agnes Van Ardenne at the recent annual meetings of the World Bank in Washington.
Her statement "Oil and mining do not belong to the core tasks of the World Bank," was warmly welcomed today by Friends of the Earth International and made the headlines in Dutch media but was so far ignored by English language media. 
The Netherlands represents a dozen countries within the World Bank and has a strong political influence there, where many of its initiatives are implemented.
The minister also stated that if the World Bank focused on sectors other than oil and mining, this would lead to a better contribution to poverty reduction.
"This acknowledgement is a very welcome and progressive step", said Janneke Bruil of the Amsterdam-based Friends of the Earth International. "We trust the Dutch government to be firm when this will be discussed inside the Bank in June".
"Oil exploitation and mining have not brought benefits to impoverished people, but rather led to human rights abuse, increased corruption, depletion of resources, environmental damage and climate change. We would welcome support for sustainable energy initiatives based on local community ownership", said Elias Dias Pena of Friends of the Earth Paraguay. "We commend the Dutch government for taking this position, and hope other governments will follow this example."
World Bank support for controversial gold mines, drilling and pipelines has been the topic of much debate in the past years. The World Bank's recently conducted Extractive Industries Review  recommends major changes in the way the Bank does business.
Respect for human rights, prior informed consent for indigenous peoples and affected communities, and a shift from oil to renewable energy are among the recommendations of the report. The World Bank is likely to discuss these recommendations in June.
The Dutch announcement follows international endorsements of the review recommendations from the Indonesian Government, The European Parliament, six Nobel Peace Prize winners including Desmond Tutu, church leaders, civil society, trade unions and the renewable energy industry. Although World Bank President Wolfensohn supports the general principles laid out in the recommendations, it is not clear to what extend the Bank is committed to implementing them.
 Statements by Dutch Development Minister Agnes Van Ardenne made the headlines on April 26 in Dutch language media such as ANP news agency, NOS, De Volkskrant and Het Parool. No English language media reported the news so far.
 Read more about the Extractive Industries Review at www.eireview.info