Last week in Bonn, representatives from the Peruvian Amazonian indigenous federation AIDESEP, the Pan Amazonian federation COICA and the Climate Alliance organised a forum to expose the serious dangers presented by the proposal to dredge the upper reaches of the Amazon River as part of the Hidrovía Amazónica project. This project proposes to widen and deepen the upper reaches of the river to create an inter-oceanic road and river ‘highway’.
AIDESEP’s vice-president, Richard Rubio, claimed that the project would affect 424 indigenous communities and 14 indigenous peoples in Peru. He warned that by eliminating the curves and meanderings that characterise the river its velocity would increase, destroying islands, sand banks and beaches that are the habitat of the wildlife on which indigenous peoples depend for their livelihood. He also criticised the Peruvian government’s proposal to organise a consultation process before the final engineering studies have been completed. Evoking the precautionary principle, Rubio demanded that the government cancel the project.
Dr Mariana Montoya, biologist and Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Peru, explained that altering the river’s behaviour would be risky because of our limited knowledge of the consequences, especially in a context of global climate change. She also claimed that there are serious gaps in the impact study’s methodology, that the river’s sediments had not been researched properly, and that the study relies on out-of-date feasibility studies.
Finally, the Mayor of Cologne argued that this information and the associated concerns about the possible impacts on indigenous peoples along the banks of the Amazon should be disseminated and the debate included in the agenda of COP25.