Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Groups Appeal to UN to Stop Forced Evictions of Indigenous People for Mega-Dam Construction

Energy
Groups Appeal to UN to Stop Forced Evictions of Indigenous People for Mega-Dam Construction

Environmental and human rights organizations submitted an urgent appeal to United Nations Special Rapporteurs on behalf of members of the indigenous Ngöbe community—the community faces imminent forced eviction from their land for the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam project in western Panama. The eviction would force Ngöbe communities from their land, which provides their primary sources of food and water, means of subsistence and culture.

Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam under construction. Photo credit: Okke Ornstein /International Rivers

The urgent appeal, submitted by the Ngöbe organization Movimiento 10 de Abril para la Defensa del Rio Tabasará (M10) and three international NGOs—the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), the Center for International Environmental Law and Earthjustice, asks the Special Rapporteurs to call upon the State of Panama to suspend the eviction process and dam construction until it complies with its obligations under international law. Given that the project is financed by the German and Dutch development banks and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the groups also urge the Special Rapporteurs to call on Germany, the Netherlands and the member States of CABEI to suspend financing until each country has taken measures to remedy and prevent further violations of the Ngöbe's human rights.

The forced evictions of the Ngöbe are the most recent threat arising from the Barro Blanco project. These evictions raise imminent violations of their human rights to adequate housing; property, including free, prior and informed consent; food, water and means of subsistence; culture; and education. 

"Our lands and natural resources are the most important aspects of our culture," said Weni Bagama of the M10. “Every day, we fear we will be forced from our home."

Three Ngöbe children. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The appeal highlights the fact that the Ngöbe were never consulted, nor gave consent to leave their land. “Panama must respect the rights of the Ngöbe indigenous peoples and refrain from evicting them," said María José Veramendi Villa of AIDA. “Executing these forced evictions will constitute a violation of international human rights law." 

Also central to the appeal is the role of governments whose banks are funding the dam. "Under international law, States must ensure that their development banks do not finance projects that violate human rights, including extraterritorially," said Abby Rubinson of Earthjustice. “Forced eviction of the Ngöbe without their consent is reason enough to suspend financing of this project."

Barro Blanco's registration under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is another point of concern. "Panama's failure to protect the Ngöbe from being forcibly displaced from their land without their consent casts serious doubt on the CDM's ability to ensure respect for human rights under international law," said Alyssa Johl of CIEL. "CDM projects must be designed and implemented in a manner that respects human rights obligations."

Panama isn't the only place threatened by the construction of mega-dams. As reported on EcoWatch, the Puelo-Manso watershed in Chile is facing two hydroelectric projects which 45 women recently came together for a five-day cabalgata to call attention to the project.

[blackoutgallery id="322088"] 

Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY and WATER pages for more related news on this topic.

Pexels

By Jessica Corbett

A new study is shedding light on just how much ice could be lost around Antarctica if the international community fails to urgently rein in planet-heating emissions, bolstering arguments for bolder climate policies.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that over a third of the area of all Antarctic ice shelves — including 67% of area on the Antarctic Peninsula — could be at risk of collapsing if global temperatures soar to 4°C above pre-industrial levels.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Valley of the Gods in the heart of Bears Ears National Monument. Mint Images / Getty Images

By Sharon Buccino

This week, Secretary Haaland chose a visit to Bears Ears National Monument as her first trip as Interior Secretary. She is spending three days in Bluff, Utah, a small town just outside the monument, listening to representatives of the five tribes who first proposed its designation to President Obama in 2015. This is the same town where former Secretary Sally Jewell spent several hours at a public hearing in July 2016 before recommending the monument's designation to President Obama.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Pexels

By Anthony Richardson, Chhaya Chaudhary, David Schoeman, and Mark John Costello

The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Read More Show Less
"Secrets of the Whales" is a new series that will start streaming on Disney+ on Earth Day. Disney+

In celebration of Earth Day, a star-studded cast is giving fans a rare glimpse into the secret lives of some of the planet's most majestic animals: whales. In "Secrets of the Whales," a four-part documentary series by renowned National Geographic Photographer and Explorer Brian Skerry and Executive Producer James Cameron, viewers plunge deep into the lives and worlds of five different whale species.

Read More Show Less
Spring is an excellent time to begin bird watching in earnest. Eugenio Marongiu / Cultura / Getty Images

The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.

Read More Show Less