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Author:Linda Etchart (Kingston University)
Paper short abstract:
Ecuador avowedly upholds the Rights of Nature in its constitution, yet has continued to pursue environmentally damaging construction projects. An analysis of the decision to build the Coca Codo Sinclair dam illustrates the tension between environment and development.
Paper long abstract:
Two-thirds of the world's longest rivers are no longer free-flowing thanks to tens of thousands of dams. Industrialised and developing countries alike have dedicated vast resources to the construction of dams which have brought benefits in the form of energy, yet have caused widespread and lasting environmental damage to communities and to ecosystems, contributing to climate change.
While dams are being dismantled in North America, construction of dams in Latin America has continued, despite rivers having been granted personhood under Rights of Nature legislation, such as in Ecuador. Economic and political pressures have resulted in Environmental Impact Assessments having been ignored. Pressures on central governments to embark upon so-called "clean" energy production have been intensified by personal and political party interests, leading to decision-making having been swayed by opportunities to receive corrupt payments and to reinforce political power. Insufficient monitoring and control of dam projects has led in some cases to faulty construction, accidents and performance failure. Using case studies of the role of political influence in the construction of dams in Latin America, with particular reference to the Coca Coda Sinclair dam in Ecuador, this presentation examines the source and the role of corruption as a driver of crimes against the Rights of Nature in dam construction and operation.
The World Commission on Dams +20 years - revisiting dams, decision-making and development