[Human Rights] in the CDM

 

After this weekend’s CDM reform workshop, ECO has new hope for the CDM’s ability to address human rights. For the first time in the history of the CDM, Parties had an open dialogue about the impacts of CDM on human rights. It is important to recall that Parties agreed to “fully respect human rights in all climate change related actions.” The review of the CDM Modalities and Procedures provides a critical opportunity for the CDM to make this a reality. 

A case in point…The Barro Blanco project is a hydroelectric dam that is currently under construction on the Tabasará River in western Panama. Once completed, the dam is projected to flood homes, schools, and religious, historical and cultural sites in Ngäbe indigenous territories, threatening the Ngäbe’s cultural heritage. In addition, the dam will transform the Tabasará River – critical to the Ngäbe’s physical, cultural, and economic survival – from a flowing river to a stagnant lake ecosystem. This will severely affect the Ngäbe’s lands and means of subsistence, and result in the forced relocation of many families.

CDM rules require investors to consult with local stakeholders and to take their comments into account during the registration process. However, the company did not consult the Ngäbe communities regarding the Barro Blanco project and its impacts. In February 2011, the Ngäbe, in collaboration with civil society groups, submitted comments to the CDM Executive Board. The comments documented the Ngäbe’s concerns, in particular the fact that the Ngäbe were not given notice of the consultation process and were never consulted. Despite concrete evidence that the Barro Blanco project violated CDM rules on stakeholder consultation, in 2011, the CDM Executive Board registered the Barro Blanco as a CDM project. 

Now that Barro Blanco has been registered, there is no process that allows the Ngäbe to raise their concerns regarding the project’s social and environmental impacts. Over the past two years, the SBI has been negotiating an appeals procedure that would allow stakeholders to challenge registration decisions under the CDM. However, ECO is dismayed that, as discussions currently stand, this procedure would not provide a means of recourse for affected communities once a project is under construction or operational.

More than 6,500 projects are registered under the CDM, and these projects will be operational for many years to come. ECO calls on Parties to revise the CDM Modalities and Procedures to: establish international safeguards to protect human rights; strengthen requirements on how to conduct local stakeholder consultations; establish a grievance process that allows affected peoples and communities to raise concerns about harms associated with CDM projects; and develop a process to deregister projects where there are violations of CDM rules.

To learn more, join us at a side event on CDM and human rights TODAY at 6:30 pm in Room Solar. You will meet on Monday at 6:30 pm, wWeni Bakama, a Ngäbe activist, and other panelists who will discuss how we can integrate human rights protections in the CDM.

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