Panama: Dutch & German development banks failed to adequately assess risks to indigenous rights & environment at Barro Blanco dam, says NGO report
The Dutch and German development banks, FMO and DEG, each invested $25 million in the Barro Blanco hydropower project in Panama. In 2014, indigenous people and NGOs filled the first complain to the Independent Complaints Mechanism of the FMO and DEG. The independent panel, found that FMO and DEG, violated their own policies by failing to adequately assess the risks to indigenous rights and the environment before approving a loan to GENISA, the developer of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project. The Development Banks have acknowledged some of the recommendations and will search further opinion.
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In April 2014, indigenous people used DEG’s and FMO’s complaints mechanism to file a complaint against the project. This mechanism ensures that individuals and organisations who believe they are adversely affected by a project funded by DEG will be heard and can submit a complaint. An independent body known as the Independent External Panel decides on the admissibility of each complaint and is responsible for its handling. The Panel examined this complaint, accepted it and carried out a compliance review to consider DEG’s and FMO’s compliance with the IFC’s international Environmental and Social Performance Standards. One particular challenge was that the loan agreement with GENISA had been signed in 2011, before the complaints mechanism was established. Also against this backdrop, the Panel commented positively on the participation of all those involved.
[To see the full response in the original German version, please click here]
- Related stories: Panama: Dutch & German development banks failed to adequately assess risks to indigenous rights & environment at Barro Blanco dam, says NGO report
- This is a response from the following companies: DEG (part of KfW)
A summary of the Independent Complaints Mechanism’s findings on Barro Blanco and FMO-DEG management response
Author: SOMO & Both ENDS
…The [Independent Complaints Mechanism] ICM finds that the banks were not in the position to assure themselves that the Barro Blanco was fully compliant with Performance Standards 1 (on Social and Environmental Assessment and Management Systems), 5 (Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement), 6 (Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Natural Resource Management), 7 (Indigenous Peoples) and 8 (Cultural Heritage)…FMO/DEG’s Response[d]: “With regard to land…we will strive for a more elaborate formal opinion from lawyers or other experts, with defined expertise in indigenous peoples’ rights and the local legal context…and we will structurally consider this recommendation for future investments.”
Independent report: Dutch and German development banks failed to comply with environmental and human rights standards in financing the Barro Blanco dam in Panama
Author: SOMO, Both ENDS, Movimiento 10 de Abril, AIDA, Carbon Market Watch, Urgewald & CIEL
…[A] report by an independent panel, found that FMO and DEG, the Dutch and German development banks, violated their own policies by failing to adequately assess the risks to indigenous rights and the environment before approving a US$50 million loan to GENISA, the developer of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project in Panama. FMO and DEG’s response to the findings, while acknowledging some deficiencies in their assessment, does not commit to any measures…The banks claim that they are “facing limitations in their influence” over government processes to come to a satisfactory agreement with all stakeholders involved…
Author: SOMO, Both ENDS, Movimiento 10 de Abril, AIDA, Carbon Market Watch, Urgewald y CIEL
…[U]n informe…concluyó que los Bancos de Desarrollo de Holanda y Alemania (FMO y DEG…) violaron sus propias políticas al no evaluar adecuadamente los riesgos para el ambiente y los derechos de los pueblos indígenas antes de aprobar un préstamo de US$ 50 millones para GENISA, empresa a cargo de desarrollar el proyecto hidroeléctrico…En…2014, el Movimiento 10 de Abril…presentó la primera queja ante el Mecanismo Independiente de Quejas (ICM) del FMO y el DEG…arguye que la represa Barro Blanco afectará parte del territorio indígena Ngöbe-Buglé…[E]l FMO y el DEG reconocieron, en su respuesta oficial al informe del ICM, que "no realizaron una valoración total en la aprobación del crédito"…