Please send a letter of protest to WestLB. Write your own if you have time or else add your name and address at the bottom of the sample letter below and mail, fax or email it to them.
You can add the address of the WestLB office in your own country.
To send the letter by e-mail you can copy the following e-mail addresses into the e-mail header:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Full addresses, telephone and fax numbers appended
It is with great concern we learn that WestLB is leading a consortium
of banks that is planning to finance the construction of the new Heavy Oil
Pipeline (Oloedocto de Crudos Pesados OCP) throughout Ecuador, by
means of a $900 million loan.
The OCP is designed to transport up to 450,00 barrels daily of heavy oil that will be extracted from protected areas and indigenous territories in virgin tropical rainforest in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This activity could potentially cause the disappearance of ethnic minorities such as the Huaorani and Zapara peoples.
This pipeline will cut through eleven protected areas of the utmost ecological importance. The construction of the OCP will have catastrophic ecological, social, and economic consequences for more than a million Ecuadorians, destroying their way of life. This constitutes a violation of the fundamental and environmental rights of the affected peoples. Through this loan, WestLB would be playing a part in these violations.
I am writing to invite you to make a personal visit to the cities, villages, communities and protected ecosystems along the route of the new heavy crude oil pipeline OCP and to the pristine rainforests in the Amazon region in Ecuador where the oil will be extracted, to prevent a social, economical and environmental tragedy.
I object to you financing the OCP project having merely paid lip-service to consulting the population effected by the project in a process which was seriously flawed and meaningless, and without ever having visited the region which is in grave danger due to this project.
It is totally unacceptable that the public bank WestLB and the government of the Federal State of NRW decide from their offices in Germany - far away from the project area in Ecuador - about a US$900 million project with such severe social, economic and environmental effects on the basis of two environmental impact assessments which have been paid for by the very companies that will benefit from the project.
It is a travesty of justice that WestLB and the government of NRW want to finance a project that would never be approved in Germany or in the EU because of its uncontrollable danger to the life of the population and its catastrophic effects on environment. The population effected by the project has never been consulted about this project. The existing SOTE pipeline (with a route similar to the OCP one) is in an earthquake zone and has ruptured on 48 occasions causing the death of 30 people and spilling 74 million litres of crude oil into rivers, forests and farmland.
The rainforests are the womb of life, home to half of the world’s species of plants and animals. If this pipeline goes through it will DOUBLE the amount of oil extracted from the Ecuadorian Amazon headwaters leading inevitably to a proliferation of oil wells in the Yasuni and Cuyabeno National parks and the Panacocha Protected Forest. The route chosen for the pipeline will also devastate the Mindo Cloudforest Reserve on its way over the Andes to the coast.
The days when financial institutions could finance the destruction of nature
with impunity are drawing to a close. Please see the appended article from The
American Banker: "Pay Attention to Activists Or Pay in Money and
I urge you to immediately end all loan disbursement to the OCP project and stop financing oil exploration and production in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
I respectfully await your prompt response,
[Date, your name and address]
The American Banker
Pay Attention to Activists Or Pay in Money and Grief
June 15, 2001
By Ricardo Bayon
Financial institutions have escaped the wrath of nonprofit environmental organizations for many years, but they'd better be careful. Unlike their colleagues in the oil business, financiers have rarely faced the threat of
boycotts and activist protests. However, the situation is changing rapidly, and it could cost them billions of dollars and much bad publicity.
In the 1990s activist groups became increasingly interested in the work ofthe multilateral financial institutions -- publicly financed banks and
organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. As a result they began learning about global financial flows, banking, lending, underwriting, and their impact on
Years of campaigns finally came to a head during the huge protests inSeattle and the nation's capital last year that made the front pages ofmajor newspapers around the world. What has not been front-page news, however, is that a similar process is now under way, and this time the
activists are targeting private financial institutions.
In many ways this was to be expected as the logical extension of campaigns against the World Bank or the WTO. Sooner or later activists were bound to
realize that most of the money flowing to developing countries comes not from multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, but from the private financial sector.
The numbers could not be clearer: According to the World Bank and the IMF, before 1990, 80% of the money flowing to developing countries was coming from governments, while 20% came from the private sector. After 1991, however, government money began to dry up and private financing grew at an astonishing rate. By last year those numbers had been reversed. Now 80% of
the money flowing into developing countries comes from the private sector, the rest from government sources. The implications of this shift have not been lost on the activist groups.
To deal with the fact that the projects they cared about were being financed by the private sector, and not the World Bank, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) began learning more about the way money was moved and projects were financed. They produced training sessions on finance, published booklets on project finance, and organized campaigns targeting major banks.
All of this has culminated in major initiatives aimed at global institutions including Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Coincidentally, two of these relate to projects in China.
The first campaign stemmed from environmental and social concerns surrounding the construction of the world's largest hydroelectric project, Three Gorges Dam in China, which environmentalists have seen for years as a
major threat to the local environment. Some have even dubbed it the "Chernobyl of hydropower."
At first NGOs used their usual tactics -- they lobbied the World Bank, contacted the Chinese government, etc. The World Bank soon announced that it would not provide money to this project, but it became clear that the
Chinese government was impervious to the NGOs' attacks. So they revised their tactics. They began finding out where China was getting the money to build this dam.
This brought them rather quickly to Wall Street. They saw that in 1997 Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., Salomon Smith Barney (now part of Citigroup), and BancAmerica Securities (now part
of Bank of America Corp.) underwrote a bond worth $330 million issued by the state-owned Chinese Development Bank. Part of this money, they saw, was to be used to finance construction of Three Gorges.
So the activists began to see if they could influence the work of these capital sources.
They began by writing letters and making phone calls. When this didn't work they resorted to shareholder activism. They built alliances with institutional shareholders, socially responsible investors, and others to
put forward shareholder resolutions at the companies' annual meetings. As a result of these campaigns, several of the financial companies agreed to talk to the NGOs. The pressure was so strong that several financial institutions
sought (and were given) assurances from the Chinese government that money they helped raise would not be used for Three Gorges.
The dialogue around Three Gorges continues to this day. More important, the groups began to see that financial activism gave them considerable leverage, so they began looking into major private banks' involvement in other
development projects around the world.
Eventually this research led to a campaign targeting Citigroup coordinated by the California-based Rainforest Action Network, which called for people to boycott the company and mail it their cut-up Citigroup credit cards. Make no mistake: These campaigns can cause substantial damage, and not just in public relations. Consider the case of Goldman Sachs and PetroChina. Last year Goldman Sachs was chosen to help underwrite the sale of American
depositary receipts in China's restructured state oil company, PetroChina. A source close to the deal said Goldman had initially hoped that the IPO would raise $4 billion to $5 billion.
As it turns out, numerous environmental groups, human rights activists, and labor unions were concerned with China's human rights record and with PetroChina's activities in Tibet and Sudan. To make their point, they
contacted institutional investors and asked them not to invest in PetroChina. They picketed meetings at Goldman Sachs, filed shareholder resolutions, and had their colleagues write letters to the company.
In the end, partly because of these activities, the PetroChina IPO raised $3 billion, over $1 billion less than had originally been projected. In other words, being in the activist spotlight cost the deal anywhere from 25% to
40% of its original value and turned out to be an embarrassment to China and the bulge-bracket investment banking firm. Not good for company PR.
For activist groups, on the other hand, PetroChina provided a taste of the power and leverage that was to be had by targeting banks and other financial institutions.
The Three Gorges, Citigroup, and PetroChina campaigns are likely to be the first of many. Financial institutions may have flown underneath activist groups' radar in the past, but they need to realize that these groups have upgraded their radar systems. Bankers should learn to manage NGO campaigns or else be prepared to lose money and face a steady dose of boycotts and protests.
Mr. Juergen Sengera
Head of Executive Board (CEO)
Phone: ++49-211-826-2210 or ++49-211-826-3072