Nr. dodgy deals
Tribes Dispute Greenwashing by Dam Builders
Conflict of Interest at Heart of Sustainability Guidelines, Says Environmental Group
Foz do Iguaçú, Brazil, Jun 16 2011
Indigenous people from Brazil's vast but shrinking Amazon region yesterday interrupted the Congress of the International Hydropower Association, claiming that the Belo Monte Dam was approved illegally by the Brazilian government, vowing to fight as long as it takes to stop the dam. At the same event, environmental activists dismissed a new voluntary environmental tool as an effort by the dam industry to greenwash its practices.
Sheyla Juruna of the Juruna tribe, which
would be directly impacted by the Belo Monte Dam as it reduces access to
water on the Xingu River, surprised the director of Brazil's Eletrobras
while he was giving a presentation in which he claimed that the
Brazilian government received consent to build the dam from the region's
most important indigenous leaders. Ms. Juruna, who was joined by Mr.
Patxon Metuktire, grandson of legendary chief Raoni of the Kayapó tribe,
gave detailed accounts of the reunions with indigenous leaders, in
which government representatives set up photo opportunities and
expressed the monetary compensation that the tribes would receive, while
never receiving their final consent.
Juruna, whose tribe would suffer directly from reduced access to water
as 80% of the Xingu river is diverted into two reservoirs, stated that
"Norte Energia's avoidance of its requisite social and environmental
duties are representative of a larger problem in the hydropower
industry. Dam builders don't comply with their legal responsibilities,
in order to avoid paying higher costs. It's a shame that the industry
pretends it has obtained consent from affected indigenous people, when
there is glaring evidence that it has not." The statement echoed recent
opinions by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and by
Brazilian academic associations, which have requested a moratorium on
the dam until the matter of indigenous consent is resolved. The
Brazilian government reacted harshly against the decision of the IACHR,
threatening to remove its representative from the multi-lateral body.
Hurwitz, International Rivers' Policy Coordinator, stated that "there
is a conflict of interest at the heart of the Hydropower Sustainability
Assessment Protocol. While it's necessary for industry to learn how to
do sustainability in the right way, the Protocol substantially increases
the risk that hydropower companies will be allowed to greenwash a
project while they continue to cut corners behind closed doors. The new
guidelines essentially put the fox in charge of the hen house."
For more information about the IHA's Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol: http://www.internationalrivers.org/en/node/6563
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