Day 1 | Dec 6   10.45 - 12.15

How international finance and socio-environmental standards in infrastructure projects in Latin America impact Amazon rainforests

FUNDAR, Centro de Análisis e Investigación (Mexico), Fundación para el Desarrollo de Políticas Sustentables – FUNDEPS (Argentina), Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad – AAS (Colombia)


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Presenters looked at the current state of infrastructure financing in Latin America, from traditional banks such as the World Bank/IFC and the emerging bank of the BRICS countries. A comparative analysis was made of four externally funded projects in Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, assessing impacts on the Amazon rainforest and the instruments (safeguards) for managing social and environmental risks.

A special case was made of the negative example of Brazil and the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES). The BNDES that funds projects outside of Brazil as well, has been blamed for its lack of transparency, of clearly defined social and environmental standards, and of a mechanisms to ensure compliance with national laws.

It is feared that the recently created BRICS bank will also not put enough emphasis on  rules to protect the environment and society in its application process. This reality is affecting the policies of traditional banks like the World Bank or the International Development Bank (IDB). Countries seeking to attract more investment will also react to the changes in international financing that is available. Big infrastructure projects that disregard environmental concerns, such as CVIS (Peru), Mocoa Pasto (Colombia), Coca Codo Sinclair (Ecuador) and TIPNIS (Bolivia), are proof of that.

A panel of experts on climate change, mega-projects, governance (transparency, participation, risk management) discussed the principal ideas and the progress of the above mentioned analysis. The session also gave some time to the audience to get involved in the discussion.

Key questions addressed:

  1. How can banks apply safeguards in financing projects in Latin America to prevent social conflicts and environmental disasters?
  2. What is the role of new national and regional banks in the financing of regional infrastructure?
  3. How do the weakening standards of financing in the region affect countries systems? How can they react to the new challenges?

Background reading:

Mega-Development Projects In Amazonia. A geopolitical and socioenvironmental primer

Brazil, BNDES and investment projects with implications in the Amazon region

Guidelines for discussion. Implementation of an Information Access Policy for the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES)

Paradigmatic cases of investment and National Economic and Social Development Bank of Brazil (BNDES) in South America (Spanish)

Ambiente y Energía en la Amazonía. Gobernanza, Río+20 y economía verde en discusión