The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) is breaking Brazilian law by using public funds to finance projects that will destroy our lives and the river and forest we depend upon. Why don’t they finance projects that truly promote sustainable development for my region? - Sheyla Yakarepi Juruna
Where: Oslo (Feb 19-20), Geneva (Feb 23-24), Paris (Feb 25) & London (Feb 28-Mar 2)
When: February 20 – March 2, 2011 ending with a protest at BNDES London Office
Who: Amazonian indigenous leaders representing communities affected by large dams in the Amazon, including:
- Sheyla Yakarepi Juruna, representative of the Juruna People of the Xingu River Basin, Brazil
- Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, leader of the Suruí People of the Madeira River Basin, Brazil
- Ruth Buendia Mestoquiari, President of Central Ashaninka People of the Ene River, Peru
- Representatives from Amazon Watch, International Rivers and the Rainforest Foundation
What: A two-week delegation of Amazon indigenous leaders and their allies to Europe will highlight socially and environmentally destructive mega-dams planned for the Amazon basin while highlighting greener alternatives for meeting Brazil’s energy needs. The delegation will engage European governments and dam builders and put pressure on one of the main financier of these projects – the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) – to refrain or withdraw their support. The delegation will help to advance the preservation of the Xingu, Madeira, and Ene River basins and demand respect for the rights of local populations whose livelihoods depend on these riverine ecosystems.
Background: Recent years have witnessed a growing expansion in the influence of the Brazilian government, the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES), and the Brazilian state electric utility Eletrobras in the planning, financing, and construction of mega-dams throughout the Amazon. The Brazilian government is planning to build more than 60 mega-dams in the Brazilian Amazon including in the Xingu, Madeira, and Tapajós river basins, and has signed an agreement to finance six dam projects in the Peruvian Amazon, including the Paquitzapango dam in the Ene river basin. While multi-lateral development banks in the region such as the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, Inter-American Development Bank have reduced their direct foreign investment in large scale dams in the Amazon, BNDES has emerged as the leading financier of such projects. BNDES is now a key lender in Latin America with over $70 billion in loans in 2010, more that the World Bank and IDB combined. Currently the BNDES has committed to financing 80 percent of the controversial Belo Monte Dam Complex in the Brazilian Amazon, as well as being a key financier of the Madeira dam complex.
While BNDES holds the Amazon Fund to finance projects to reduce emissions and deforestation, it simultaneously, funds large-scale infrastructure and extractive industry projects that increase emissions and deforestation, and also violate the right to water and indigenous peoples’ rights.
The delegation will be meeting with representatives of the Norwegian government (which provided initial funds to help launch the Amazon Fund), High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, investors and government officials. BNDES has declined to meet in London and referred the delegation to meet with the bank in Rio, Brazil. The delegation will be holding public events and press conferences, terminating at two major press events in London on March 1st and 2nd.
Interviews and more information available upon request.
For more information on BNDES and the financing of large-dams in the Amazon, please visit:
On behalf of the Juruna Indigenous people of the Xingu River Basin, I ask for your support to help stop the Belo Monte Dam. At any moment, the Brazilian government could break ground, causing irreparable impacts for our communities, the environment and the global climate. We are at a critical time in the campaign to stop the Belo Monte Dam and it is essential that the international community take action now to defend the Amazon and support indigenous peoples' rights.
– Sheyla Juruna, Juruna Tribal Leader