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After protracted efforts, the Vietnamese furniture factory Scanviwood, which is partly owned by the Norwegian businessman Arve Varleite, has acquired a so-called Chain of Custody certificate. This means that the factory can offer garden furniture which has been made from environmentally certified timber. As it turns out, however, furniture importers are reluctant to pay the extra costs implied by certification systems.
The Norwegian furniture supplier Riviera Gruppen sells garden furniture to the Maxbo chain and others. Last year, Riviera was reprimanded for having made its own FSC labels. This was the second year in a row that Riviera equipped its furniture with spurious environmental certificates.
Much garden furniture made from destroyed rainforest will be gone from the Norwegian market this season. In this regard, the campaign against imports of rainforest furniture has worked.
The Norwegian training ship Christian Radich has undergone extensive restoration over the past years. In connection with this renovation, the foundation which owns the ship has received NOK 8 million (almost USD 1 mill.) from the municipality of Oslo, and every year, the ship receives millions in gifts from the Ministry of Culture. The teak in the new decks, which were bought last year, comes from Burma. Thus, the restoration of the Christian Radich contributes both to rainforest destruction and to supporting one of the world's worst military dictatorships, in clear contradiction to the government's official policy.
Politicians and industry believe that money can buy development. Even some NGOs are calling for that kind of solution. If so, Norway, which is richer than ever, holds the key to a problem that afflicts millions, not to say billions of people. But what should we do?
The Government's 2001 budget increases the scope for industrial development in the context of aid. All financing of equity in Norwegian companies in developing countries is concentrated in Norfund. At the same time, this fund has seen its capital double to NOK 1.1 billion (USD 130,000,000).
More than 200 workers have been fired in the past months at the Norwegian-owned furniture factory Scansia Myanmar in Burma. The factory buys teak from the military junta's logging company, which holds a domestic monopoly on logging, and exports garden furniture to several European countries. The call for a boycott on all trade with Burma, however, has caused the factory to stop exporting furniture to the Scandinavian market. - The consequences of this policy are borne by poor Burmese workers, rages Scansia's Norwegian owner Arve Varleite.
Last year was a turbulent one for the Norwegian company Tree Farms, the self-styled largest afforestation company in East Africa. It all began with two NorWatch reports pointing out a number of objections to the company's "carbon projects" in Uganda and Tanzania (see NorWatch 5/2000 and 8/2000). The year ended with a collapse in climate change negotiations.
A two-man delegation, consisting of a former High Court judge and a human rights activist from Calcutta, visited the village of Maikanch after the shooting incident on December 16. They recently presented their report in a meeting with India's president and at a press conference, accusing Utkal Alumina of playing a part in what developed into a downright massacre. After the Maikanch massacre, the start of construction in the Utkal project has been postponed for yet another year.

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Tree-planting Project Threatens Food Security

03. mai 2012
The Norwegian company Green Resource has acquired vast areas of land for tree planting projects in Uganda. The company may earn good money from selling carbon credits, but local residents are losing their gardens and grazing fields to the plantation.

Considerable criticism has been directed at Norwegian authorities on development aid the past few years, due to their involvement with Norwegian business. The question that many people have raised is who is supposed to benefit from this aid, poor countries or Norwegian share holders. Led by the Minister of International Development and Human Rights, Hilde Frafjord Johnson, the recently stepped down government addressed the issue. An attempt was made to direct the aid focus away from business interests. At the same time, a non-acceptance principle in terms of corruption was introduced. Whether it is called bribes, financial incentives, or return commission, corruption is a widely used instrument in a number of countries where Norwegian aid funds are supporting Norwegian business involvement.

Scancem, a former Aker RGI company, are initiating activities in Bangladesh. They are helped along by Norad (Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation) and Norfund (Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries), who own a 25% share in the company. The cement is sourced from the island paradise of Langkawi in Malaysia. Scancem are optimistic regarding their future in Bangladesh. Still, the question remains whether this is an appropriate allocation of Norwegian aid funds?