CEDHA and Bellona vs. Nordea
|Date filed||28 June 2006|
|Issue||Botnia's Orion pulp mill project in Uruguay|
|Summary of the case||CEDHA’s complaint alleges that Botnia’s Orion pulp mill project will impact local communities’ economic livelihoods and human rights. The complainants maintain that the project is plagued with environmental problems, including the company’s failure to collect and provide reliable information about the project’s real and foreseeable impacts. The complaint also states that the project is straining regional diplomatic relations between Argentina and Uruguay.
Nordea is a Swedish-Norwegian financial institution that is set to provide Botnia with a multi-million dollar package to finance the project The Nordea complaint alleges that the bank violated the Guidelines in two respects: first, through its partial financing of the Orion paper mill, and second, by refusing to provide information about its dealings with Botnia. Apart from providing $300,000 of its own funds towards the pulp mill, Nordea also helped arrange finance from other banks and financial intermediaries.
The Botnia case was filed with the Finnish NCP, while the Nordea case was submitted to the Swedish and Norwegian NCPs.
|Developments/Outcome||The Finnish NCP invited CEDHA to a meeting on 30 August 2006 in Helsinki to discuss this case and the two related complaints. In November 2006, the Swedish NCP, with support from the Norwegian NCP, accepted the complaint against Nordea.
In January 2008, the Swedish NCP responding for both Norway and Sweden, concluded the Nordea case by stating that the NCP found no “indications to support the complaints made about Nordea having violated the OECD Guidelines in its part-financing of Botnia’s pulp mill in Uruguay.” This conclusion was largely based on the dismissal of the Botnia specific instance by the Finnish NCP and on the IFC's decision to finance the Botnia project, but the Swedish NCP made efforts to gather information by maintaining contact with the parties throughout the process and facilitating dialogue meetings and information exchanges.
Key in the statement is the firm stance taken by the Swedish and Norwegian NCPs declaring "the Guidelines can and should be applied to the financial sector as well as to other multinational enterprises... [including], where practicable, business partners, including their suppliers and subcontractors, [and] to apply principles of corporate conduct compatible with the Guidelines". However, on the issue of transparency and access to information, a key focus point of CEDHA’s complaint, the NCPs did not take a strong stance, but encouraged "Nordea and other actors in the financial sector to practice as much transparency and freedom of information as possible," and that, "it is essential that companies be sensitive to the public's increasing demand for information."
Another interesting aspect of the NCP’s statement is the affirmation that NCPs should treat other CSR norms as applicable to companies if those norms are in the “spirit” of the OECD Guidelines.
|Relevant OECD Guidelines||
|Case keywords||Supply chain, Human rights, Environment, Financial sector, Investment nexus, Parallel (legal) proceedings, Disclosure of information, Multiple NCPs|
|NCP name||National Contact Point Sweden|
|NCP address||Gustav Adolfs Torg 1 103 33 Stockholm, Sweden|
|Other NCPs involved|
|Company address||Smalandsgatan 17
SE-105 71 Stockholm
|Company in violation||Oy Metsä-Botnia|
|Country of operations||Uruguay|
|Other companies involved||
Timeline of developments
|1 January 2008||National Contact Point Sweden||statement||In January 2008, the Swedish NCP concluded the Nordea case. Based on the dismissal by the Finnish NCP of the Botnia complaint, the Swedish NCP, supported by the Norwegian NCP, concluded that there was no indication that Nordea had violated the Guidelines. The NCP conducted no further examination.||download pdf (25Kb)|
|17 November 2006||Center for Human Rights and Environment||press release||Swedish OECD National Contact Point Accepts Complaint Against Nordea for Possible Financing of Controversial Botnia Pulp Mill Project in Uruguay||download pdf (14Kb)|
|15 November 2006||National Contact Point Sweden||accept||The Swedish NCP, with support of the Norwegian NCP, accepted the complaint against Nordea.||download pdf (72Kb)|
|28 June 2006||Center for Human Rights and Environment||file||A case was filed by CEDHA and Bellona against Nordea for financing the Botnia paper mill project||download pdf (167Kb)|