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Groups Protest Inter-American Development Bank

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Friday, April 4, 2008

MIAMI BEACH – Representatives from Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and several other environmental and social justice groups from the U.S. and South America held a rally today to protest the lending practices of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) outside the bank’s 49th annual meeting at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

“As a major source of financing for economic and social development in Latin America, the IDB has a responsibility not to fund environmental destruction and human rights abuses,” said Andrea Samulon of Rainforest Action Network. “The IDB is shirking that duty, and its mechanism for accountability on these issues is practically nonexistent.

The groups called on the bank to adopt needed environmental safeguards in its lending practices. One mega-project the IDB is currently financing is the Initiative for the Integration of South American Regional Infrastructure (IIRSA). Intended to establish roads and other industrial infrastructure throughout South America, including the Amazon rainforest, the mega-project will displace Indigenous communities and cause more deforestation at a time when the practice accounts for approximately 20 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, the bank has already approved $45 million in loans and technical cooperation funds to finance agrofuel projects and is now considering another $3 billion for private sector loan projects. Studies have shown that agrofuel production can result in more greenhouse gas emissions than traditional fossil fuels and has led to the displacement of millions of Indigenous peoples and small farmers around the world. The IDB has also failed to adopt the international benchmark of free, prior and informed consent for Indigenous communities that may be affected by its projects. More information on IDB project financing is available at http://www.amazonwatch.org/documents/IDBWatch_Issue2.pdf.

Today’s protest was part of a coordinated effort throughout the meeting to push the IDB to reform its lending practices. Groups that endorsed and participated in the rally included: Amazon Watch, Friends of the Earth Brazil, International Rivers, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, Center for Human Rights and the Environment (CEDHA), Derechos Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR), Asociacion Labor Civil, and Global Local Links.

SUPPORTING STATEMENTS

Juan Carballo, Center for Human Rights and the Environment (CEDHA): “The Inter-American Development Bank’s promotion of IIRSA, a series of megaprojects designed to foster regional integration of South America, does not comply with its institutional social and environmental policy. IIRSA represents a double standard, as evidenced by the IDB’s lack of transparency and exclusion of stakeholders most impacted by massive regional development.”

Maria Lya Ramos, Amazon Watch: “The IDB is an unaccountable institution with unsustainable policies. There is a clear relationship between the Bank’s lack of transparency and that much of its funding supports corporations rather than responding to the needs of citizens, who need sustainable development rather than the export-oriented plundering of their natural resources.”

Vanessa Cueto, Rights, Environment and Natural Resources (DAR): “It is necessary for the IDB to take the social and environmental impacts caused by the Camisea Gas Project into account befote implementing Camisea II. As a result of better conditions and policies for Camisea II, local communities should receive socioeconomic benefits and impacts and Indigenous peoples should not get worse.”

Patricia Patron, Civil Labor Association: “Civil society should participate in the decisión making process for the portfolio of IIRSA projects. The IDB made commitments to create spaces for civil society participation to discuss IIRSA. Until now, however, this has not happened in the countries where all of the decisions for these projects are taking place. These decisions are being made behind closed doors with little information and understanding of the social and environmental consequences on the local populations for the long term.”

Lúcia Ortiz, Friends of the Earth Brazil: “The IDB must stop financing agrofuels, as they are a false solution to climate change, raise land and food prices, displace small farmers, and lead to the conversion of rich ecosystems. Instead, support should be provided for agroecology and local food production, which is now threatened by the expansion of these plantations due to the boom of worldwide demand for agrofuels.”

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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org

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