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Vi jobber for en rettferdig verden i økologisk balanse

Certain signs that spring has come over us, are the annual advertisements for tropical wood garden furniture. The furniture chains follow each other in trying to explain how friendly their chairs are to the environment. While some of them withhold information on the origin of their products, others deliberately lie and present false or self-produced environmental certificates.
Many representatives of commercial enterprises have been surprised by NorWatch's argument that Norwegian companies are responsible for the activity of their subcontractors, and for the end use of their own products.
In the middle of Sumatra in Indonesia, on the border between the provinces Riau and West Sumatra, the construction of the disputed dam Koto Panjang was finished in 1997. The dam has flooded 124 km2 of forest and fertile land. A brutal process of threats and corruption has forced 23,000 people to resettle. Many of them have not received any compensation. The project has ruined areas which were important to the Sumatra tiger, threatened by extinction, and to elephants. Kværner was still working in the area to fulfil the contract of turbine deliveries when NorWatch visited the area in November 1998. In periods, the power plant has only been partly in production, and there have been enormous flooding problems in the area. Local groups have taken legal action to get compensation.
The Indian company Tata withdraws from the Utkal project. At the same time, the NGOs involved in the case are put under heavier pressure from the authorities than earlier. Amnesty International is concerned about the conditions which organisations in Orissa work under.
While Norwegian shipping companies sell their discarded ships for scrapping in Asia, Norwegian authorities doubts the value of the Basel convention which regulate the export of waste. So far this year, four Norwegian shipping companies have sold ships to Asian ship-breakers and middlemen. After The Norwegian Veritas published a report on the environmental conditions in scrapping yards in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, Norwegian authorities want to follow up this issue in the maritime organisation of the UN, IMO.

KOMpakt was intended to be a consultative body for the government in matters regarding Norwegian business, the environment and human rights abroad. In the committee are representatives from NGOs, research institutions, the business community, and the involved ministries.

Two researchers at the Norwegian Meteorological Office (DNMI) in Oslo, who were engaged by the environmental technology company Oceanor in connection with the company's Seawatch project in Indonesia and Thailand, are now voicing severe criticism against Seawatch. According to the researchers, the project has failed in many ways because the recipients and the potential users of Oceanor's Seawatch technology in South-East Asia do not have the necessary competence to make use of the meteorological models which are part of the NORAD-financed project. Oceanor, on the other hand, rejects the criticism, and accuses NorWatch of working politically to stop this kind of technology transfers to developing countries. In a written commentary the company claims that the DNMI management does not support the researchers' criticism, and that the researchers - who speak as private persons - will withdraw their criticism.
In early November last year Kværner made a contract with Southern Peru Ltd. (SPL) for comprehensive modernising and extension of the company's copper activity in the town Ilo in the southern part of the country. SPL is facing several lawsuits for their activities in the area during the past 40 years, and the local population has asked to have the Environmental Impact Assessment, which is the basis of the extensions, rendered invalid. Kværner is unwilling to assess the totality of the project, they only refer to their own deliveries.
NORAD's forestation project in the Turkana district in Kenya in the 1980s is now facing criticism from the local population in the area. The planting of the imported, fast-growing tree Prosopis has led to fear of an uncontrolled spreading which may upset the vulnerable ecology in the dry area and ruin the livelihood of the nomads in Turkana. Researchers from Oslo University confirm the problem of Prosopis spreading, and say that people they have talked to in Turkana ask NORAD to come and remove the exotic trees.
The NorWatch project is now entering its fifth year, and if we should sum up our activity so far, we must conclude that the necessity of focusing on Norwegian business life in the South has not decreased during this period of time.
NORAD faces strong criticism for its financial support to the construction of a port in Vietnam, partly owned by Norsk Hydro. The reason is that the aid was allocated even though no complete environmental impact assessment of the port had been carried out, and in spite of the fact that it implies devastation of the vulnerable mangrove forest in the country. Experts refer to this as "extremely irresponsible". NORAD, on the other hand, justifies the assessments made before support was granted.
The work schedule of the Utkal project has been changed, and Hydro will not make an investment decision until the year 2000. This implies further postponements and delays in Hydro's prestigious bauxite and alumina project, which originally should have been started already in the summer of 1996.