Belo Monte Noncompliant with Conditions for Operation, says Environmental Authority

Publish Date: 
Thursday, September 24, 2015

In their technical analysis of the Belo Monte Dam released yesterday, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) concluded that the conditions required to approve Belo Monte’s Operating License have not yet been met. Ten of twelve conditions identified by IBAMA as pending compliance are considered essential for granting the license. Until the operating consortium, Norte Energía, addresses these conditions, the project will be delayed and the dam’s reservoir will not be flooded.

“We welcome IBAMA’s thorough evaluation of Belo Monte, a project that has already had severe impacts on the environment and human rights,” said Astrid Puentes Riaño, co-director of AIDA. “Moving forward, it is crucial that all conditions are met, and measures to protect the people and environment of the Xingú River basin are fully implemented before the license may be granted.”

The Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) has for more than 5 years supported indigenous and local communities and organizations in their fight to denounce the irregularities of the Belo Monte project. The conclusions outlined by IBAMA reinforce the arguments of those who have long opposed the dam for its negative socio-environmental impacts.

“If the Brazilian government approves Belo Monte’s operating license without first guaranteeing the protection of the environment and human rights, they would be violating their international commitments,” said María José Veramendi Villa, AIDA attorney.

AIDA and partner organizations have long argued that conditions do not exist for the approval of licenses for Belo Monte. Essential services that would guarantee minimum rights to the displaced population remain outstanding, including potable water and health and sanitation services.  In 2011, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights granted precautionary measures in favor of affected indigenous communities. The severity of the project’s human rights violations have been reinforced in a report by the Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA) of Brazil, to which AIDA contributed, as well as in information gathered by the health and indigenous protection authorities and the Brazilian Public Ministry. 

AIDA expects that IBAMA’s technical report will be taken into consideration when making the final decision on the dam’s operating license. The outright denial of the license would serve as a paradigm for future mega-projects planned in the Brazilian Amazon, as well as other parts of the region, sending a clear message that economic development projects must not engage in human rights violations.