In just six hydroelectric projects in the region, more than 60,000 people have already had to leave their homes or have had their life and/or food security threatened.
Brazil, November 22, 2023 – More than 270 civil society organizations, experts and environmentalists have come together in an urgent appeal to government authorities, including President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Minister of the Environment Marina Silva, Minister of Mines and Energy Alexandre Silveira, and the governors of the Amazon states, for a moratorium, i.e., the immediate suspension of new hydroelectric dams in the Amazon, until national energy plans and national climate change and energy transition programs are revised. The document draws attention to the harmful and irreversible impacts that previous hydroelectric dams have had on the environment and local communities in the region, and expresses concerns about new projects being proposed in the Amazon region.
The statement emphasizes the tragic history left by previous hydroelectric projects, citing specific examples, such as:
- The construction of the Balbina Dam resulted in the genocide of more than 2,600 indigenous Waimiri-Atroari people and accelerated deforestation, harming the aquatic ecosystems of the Uatumã River basin.
- The case of the Tucuruí Dam, which forced the displacement of more than 27,000 people, including riverine and smallholder farmers, led to the advancement of deforestation and the alteration of the natural dynamics of the Tocantins River and its tributaries.
- The widespread impacts of the Jirau and Santo Antônio Dams; which resulted in increased deforestation, the displacement of thousands of families, and negative impacts on indigenous lands and isolated groups.
- The impact of the Teles Pires River hydroelectric complex, which transformed a powerful river into a series of lakes, affecting aquatic life and causing mass fish deaths, as well as compromising the food security of the Kayabí, Apiakas, and Munduruku Indigneous Peoples, and the disappearance of sacred sites of the Munduruku people.
- The case of the Belo Monte Dam, which displaced more than 30,000 people, drastically reduced water flow in the Big Bend of the Xingu River and increased deforestation, resulting in the reduction of fish stocks and the food security of local communities.
The document denounces that it was not only the large Hydroelectric Power Plants (HPPs) that caused destruction in the region, also exposing the negative impacts of Small Hydroelectric Power Plants (SHPs) and Hydroelectric Generation Centers (HGCs) in the area. For instance, a cluster of SHPs in the same basin can generate an impact four times greater than an HPP due to the disruption of the natural flow connectivity of rivers. The text draws attention to the abusive quantity of these types of projects in the Juruena River basin. Currently, in the Juruena River basin alone, there are a staggering 179 SHP and HGC projects in various stages of implementation – including those already built, under construction, and in the planning phase. If all these projects are approved, there will be a 21% aggravation in the loss of river flow connectivity in this basin, further impacting the communities inhabiting the region.
The document also highlights the urgent need to adopt truly sustainable practices for energy development, taking into account significant environmental and social impacts. It appeals to federal and state governments in the Amazon region to implement a moratorium on new hydroelectric dams until national energy plans, climate change programs, and the energy transition are reassessed and restructured in line with international commitments related to climate and biodiversity preservation and human rights. Furthermore, the signatories emphasize the importance of incorporating the voices of local communities and the most vulnerable groups in the process of reviewing these plans and programs, as well as in the planning and execution of energy infrastructure projects.
The declaration was drafted and organized by the Coalition for Rivers, a group with over 60 organizations, established to contribute to and propose public policies for the protection of rivers and aquatic ecosystems, which are essential for the preservation of populations and biodiversity.
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