Blaming the weather, blaming the people
Vanessa Boanada Fuchs
(University of St.Gallen)
Paper short abstract:
Bypassing socio-environmental safeguards and democratic participation in dam construction leads to social conflicts and food insecurity. Decision making which in the Brazil has outsourced blame to changing weather conditions and "undeveloped" people tend to obfuscate evidence-based considerations.
Paper long abstract:
The governance of natural resources is intrinsically linked with the governance of people. However, in practice, social aspects are often viewed as secondary to more technical and pressing issues in the implementation of projects such as dams. The use of water for electricity production in Brazil is a cas d'excellence that exemplifies how the bypassing of socio-environmental safeguards and democratic participation of affected people leads to conflicts. Decision making which outsources blame to changing weather conditions and "undeveloped" people tend to obfuscate evidence-based considerations. These conflicts delay infrastructure works, such as the more than 69 dams planned for the Amazon region, that were said to be crucial for the equilibrium of the regional electricity supply. Recently, social manifestation have become the scapegoat for the sector's crisis. This paper expands on earlier fieldwork and discusses the "electricity crisis" from a historical policy analysis perspective which considers not only energy needs but the triple nexus between food-water-energy. It concludes that the present disregard for social and environmental procedures is a self-inflicted sector disease that only contributes to the longer-term state of conflicts in the expansion of the electricity sector in Brazil.
Dams, development & decision-making