PROMOTING RESPONSIBLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Snapshots of our work on natural resources
Heavy polluters vs local rights
Natural rubber is used in products ranging from car tyres to clothes. It is also one of the world’s worst water polluting industries.
In a project conducted in collaboration with Source International and Liberian Green Advocates International, Swedwatch investigated claims that global tyre giant Bridgestone Corporation and a subsidiary in Liberia caused environmental pollution around its rubber processing plant.
In the project, air and water samples from around the rubber processing site found dangerous levels of heavy metals in drinking water, and large dust particles in the air. Swedwatch and the project partners called on the company to urgently conduct human rights due diligence and a human rights and environmental impact assessment, to share results with local communities and to rectify any shortcomings.
Export credits up in smoke
Despite the climate commitments in the Paris Agreement, a Swedwatch investigation revealed how European state-backed export credits have contributed to expanding South Africa’s coal industry.
The Swedwatch report Up in Smoke also highlighted the adverse local impacts of the coal industry, and urged governments to stop export credits associated with coal projects and to increase transparency around state support to fossil fuels.
Swedwatch’s advocacy contributed to reducing support to companies exporting to the coal sector. During the course of Swedwatch’s work on the issue, Sweden’s export credit agency announced an end to all export credits to exploration, extraction and transportation of coal by the end of 2020.
Swedwatch has for many years worked to raise awareness in the investor community on how the lack of responsible exit strategies, when investors pull out of large-scale land projects, have resulted in severe human rights implications for local communities.
In one case Swedwatch engaged with Swedish development finance institution Swedfund over its withdrawal from an ethanol project in Sierra Leone which contributed to loss of livelihoods and nearly 3,000 jobs.
In related projects, Swedwatch has engaged both with government agencies and communities, advocating for stronger policies on exits, human rights due diligence processes and access to remedy in land investments.
Food imports and water scarcity
Large-scale agricultural projects often entail human rights risks, including effects on livelihoods and access to water.
Together with Peruvian civil society organisation Codehica, Swedwatch highlighted how excessive water use from commercial vegetable production severely affected communities in the Ica Valley of Peru.
As part of the collaboration, the report To the last drop called on companies importing produce from water-stressed areas to conduct human rights due diligence, while acknowledging the importance of vegetable production for local employment. After extensive dialogue with communities, civil society representatives, workers, producers and buyers, several companies pledged to ensure that conditions were improved.