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Human rights violations now form a dark cloud over Aker's cement activities in 9 African countries. Through its subsidiary Scancem International, this Norwegian industrial giant owns production companies in countries with regimes way worse than Nigeria in terms of brutality. In most countries the cement companies are owned in partnership with the authorities. Thus ruling elites strongly criticized by Amnesty International benefit from investments of millions of Norwegian kroner.
Borregaard was strongly criticized when the company in November last year started the production of the toxic pesticide carbofuran in China. The substance is banned in Norway, said critics.
Statkraft and Kværner's new power plant in Nepal has been given the go-ahead and financial support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) in spite of the fact that the assessments have not been carried out by independent experts. This is a breach of NORAD's guidelines.
24 organizations and political parties have joined a letter campaign demanding that Norsk Hydro pull out of the Utkal project in India and stop further development plans concerning the mining company MRN in Brazil.
Norwegian trade and industry is expanding; increasingly more companies establish operations abroad. This particularly applies to countries in the South, where a growing market, cheap labor and proximity to raw materials make it attractive for companies to set up shop.
This past year Indian groups of indigenous people have repeatedly used civil disobedience to protest against the Utkal Aluminium Project - a project in which Norsk Hydro has a 33% holding. The tribal people have blocked roads, prevented work from being carried out and even destroyed machinery in their efforts to stop the planned bauxite project. They protest against forced relocation and the fact that their livelihood is threatened, but the authorities react in the Indian manner by having the police arrest protesters.
Boa Vista has as the first quilombo community received land rights right next to the area owned by the mining company MRN in Amazonas. The 600 indigenous people - all descendants of African slaves - were forcibly relocated when the MRN started the extraction of bauxite in the middle of their traditional land. Norsk Hydro owns 5% of the controversial mine.
Explosives produced by Hydro's Industrial Chemical Division in Sweden are being used in El Cerrejon, South America's largest coal mine. The mine is located in the northeastern part of Colombia, at the Venezuelan border. Both the Wayuu and the Guijaros Indians, as well as the miners have suffered greatly as a consequence of the mining activities. The authorities have declared a number of areas uninhabitable.
In the debate following Prime Minister Brundtland's opening of Borregaard's carbofuran factory in China in November last year, the company presented incorrect information. The company claimed that carbofuran was not banned in Norway, and this turns out to be wrong. However, Borregaard says this is not relevant for its production in China.