Tribes Dispute Greenwashing by Dam Builders

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Conflict of Interest at Heart of Sustainability Guidelines, Says Environmental Group

Foz do Iguaçú, Brazil― 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.  

The two indigenous representatives also described to an audience of concerned industry figures and politicians from across the world how the Brazilian government recently approved a construction license for the dam, despite the Norte Energia consortium never having fulfilled the 40 social and environmental prerequisites mandated by Brazilian legislation to prepare the region to face Belo Monte’s impacts.

For more information about the Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre: (Portuguese)

International Rivers is an environmental and human rights organization with staff in four continents. For over two decades, International Rivers has been at the heart of the global struggle to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them.