Damning the Amazon and Its People: The Risky Business of Hydropower
by Daniel Brindis
April 27, 2016
Greenpeace Brazil has published Damning the Amazon, a report profiling controversy surrounding the largest proposed megadam complex since the infamous Belo Monte.
© Fábio Nascimento / Greenpeac
Greenpeace Brazil recently published Damning the Amazon, a report profiling controversy surrounding the largest proposed mega-dam complex since the infamous Belo Monte.
The flagship dam in the project, the 7.5-kilometer São Luiz do Tapajós (SLT), threatens the heart of the Amazon rainforest — the Tapajós river — where the dam would drown nearly 400 square kilometers of pristine rainforest and lead to a further 2,200 square kilometers of deforestation.
The Tapajós River basin is not only one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, but also home to thousands of traditional forest communities like the indigenous Munduruku, who have lived there for generations. Thousands of these people would be displaced or fundamentally affected by this dam. They have been adamantly against the project but have not yet been consulted.
That’s why the Munduruku have begun to lead a global movement to prevent the construction of this dam and protect their way of life.
Behind the project are powerful political and economic interests inside and outside of Brazil. The project’s proponents spread mega-dam myths that exaggerate the environmental benefits and downplay the environmental and social consequences, including the human rights violations. Dams are not good for the climate, especially while a clean energy future in Brazil — one grounded in wind and solar — is affordable and possible.
This dam will not just be built in Brazil, but as the report outlines, it will be built around the world by companies outside of Brazil, like Siemens, Andritz, EDF and General Electric who stand to profit off this questionable project.
Yesterday, April 19, Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples day, the Munduruku marked a major milestone. The Brazilian Indigenous Affairs Agency (FUNAI), after over a decade of requests, finally recognized the Munduruku claims over an area along the banks of the Tapajós that include the Munduruku village of Sawré Muybu, which would be flooded out of existence by the dam.
This recognition is a big step towards the creation of a constitutionally protected area. Protecting this land could be a part of the solution of keeping this mega-dam out of the heart of the Amazon and keeping the Tapajós alive. Still, their land is under threat and the Munduruku need you to join their cause.