Indigenous peoples demand transparency and no more corruption in public tenders and megaprojects in indigenous territories of Latin America and the Caribbean

In the Panamazónic Social Forum framework, held in Tarapoto from April 26th to May 1st, 2017

 Tarapoto, May 1st, 2017

 

For the public officials, leaders and national and international authorities:

Indigenous peoples demand transparency and no more corruption in public tenders and megaprojects in indigenous territories of Latin America and the Caribbean

 

Currently, Latin America and the Caribbean countries have been weakening their environmental and social policies in order to promote investment. This strategy of deregulation, flexibilization of socio-environmental standards and systematic violation of the rights of our peoples, includes the weakening of transparency channels, access to public information and participation. Countries continue to promote large investments, in detriment of our territories. But has the benefits reached our native and peasant communities located in the areas of influence of the projects in the Amazon and the Andes?

In addition, the speedy expansion of Chinese and Brazilian banks, offering fewer institutional control, fewer requirements and shorter deadlines to get their projects approved, is a model that all multilateral banks seem to have adopted by making their safeguards more flexible. This has led to socio-environmental conflicts in the projects funded, without adequate mechanisms for participation, transparency and access to information. All this has ended up facilitating corruption, showing green light to officials to favor business groups and themselves, undermining social and environmental institutions, to the detriment of the environment and indigenous peoples mainly.

Therefore, transparency, access to information and participation are fundamental rights, which allow indigenous peoples to be well informed to enforce our collective rights, but above all to defend our territories from environmental pollution of companies and be vigilant when any irregularity occurs in the projects. While more transparent and accessible key information we have, it will be allowed the adequate  monitoring, control and supervision of mining and infrastructure activities. Thus, the people would be part of the decisions made by the State and the benefits obtained from these activities.

Our villages and dozens of environmental defenders continue to be killed, also too many environmental disasters remain unrepaired: the risks to our lives are clear. In this way, our right to life, health, environment and the territory continues to be breached. Therefore, we, the indigenous peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean demand greater dissemination of socio-environmental information with an intercultural approach and a new standard in investment projects that includes:

  • Guarantee the fulfillment of the right to prior consultation, consent, territory and intercultural policies for indigenous peoples in the countries we live in.
  • Pre-feasibility studies and strategic environmental assessments that more rigorously estimate the risks and socio-environmental costs of investment projects.
  • Public policies that ensure the resources from investments, serve to constitute remediation insurance in case of environmental disasters and sustainable local development programs.
  • Investments with participatory processes and timely information, allowing indigenous peoples to influence decision-making in public tenders, contracts and evaluation processes of environmental impact studies (EIS).
  • Fulfillment of fundamental rights such as participation and access to information throughout the project cycle from the planning of a public tender, approval and audits.
  • Increased transparency in project tenders to avoid corruption situations that resulted in dire outcomes for the environment and indigenous populations.
  • Strengthen government control agencies in their prevention, control and supervision functions for their participation in bidding processes for investment megaprojects.
  • Rigorous EIS evaluation processes with citizen participation in at least three moments and prior consultation for indigenous peoples prior to the EIS approval.
  • Participation of indigenous peoples in international forums such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to The Environmental Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean (Principle 10) to strengthen the monitoring work, self-government, protection of territories and indigenous rights.
  • Timely and updated publication of all the documents from the administrative records of the EIS environmental assessment process by the competent authorities.
  • Incorporate the dissemination of systematized socio-environmental information (fines, impacts, sanctions, compliance of the companies about their environmental commitments, etc.) within international initiatives such as EITI, OGP and Principle 10.
  • Disaggregate by company, the penalties and fines from environmental control agencies of our countries to avoid environmental contamination at indigenous territories and the impunity of companies regarding fines and sanctions.
  • Participation of international human rights organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in discussion spaces that concerns us, such as the EITI, AGA and Principle 10, so that they may make government comply with our rights and transparency in the processes of public bidding for extractive megaprojects and infrastructure.

The necessity to lure investment cannot continue to be the excuses that continuously expose us to serious damage to our rights and territories, the environment and even systems of corruption on a continental scale. Let us a reform now with greater socio-environmental transparency, a new regulations on investment projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the participation of indigenous peoples to achieve a real sustainable development in the region.

See adhesions here.

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