Worrying new developments around Barro Blanco
Three days after the first homes were flooded as a consequence of the Barro Blanco dam, the government of Panama signed an agreement about this dam with a number of representatives of the Ngäbe-Bugle people. The affected communities however have still not been involved in the process. Both ENDS is worried about these developments.
Affected communities don't support the agreement
The construction of the Barro Blanco dam, partly financed by the Dutch development bank FMO, is strongly opposed by the inhabitants of the area surrounding the dam. Nevertheless, on August 22nd an official agreement was signed between the government of Panama and representatives of the indigenous Ngäbe-Bugle people, including regional chief Casica Carrera. The government presents the agreement as a great success, whilst in the meantime some communities are being flooded. These communities, some of which are represented by the local group M-10, are still not involved in the process and do not support the agreement. During the signing ceremony they staged a fierce protest.
Three days before the signing of the agreement, the water level of the Barro Blanco reservoir began to rise quickly. The water level now is higher than ever before. Houses have been inundated and people are forced to leave their possessions and land. Without any compensation and alternative shelter, they are now homeless. Furthermore, some communities seem to be completely isolated as access roads have been flooded, as well as their source of drinking water and the pyroglyphics, which are of great cultural value to the Ngäbe-Bugle.
Just like the initial, so-called 'test flooding' in May the continued filling up of the reservoir occurs without consent or even prior warning of the affected communities. Adding to the fact that the filling of the reservoir was resumed three days before the signing of the agreement, this will even further undermine the confidence that local communities might still have had in the official consultation processes. Probably it will also further impede their approval of the agreement of the 22nd.
Financiers should take responsibility
Both ENDS continues to be worried about the further rising of the water level and the violation of indigenous rights during the construction of the Barro Blanco dam. Dutch and international financers, like FMO, should make the participation of affected communities their top priority. Both ENDS considers it unacceptable that indigenous people have to leave their land without consent or warning.
Previous news about Barro Blanco:
• 2 June 2016: Indigenous land submerged by illegal clusure of dam
• 1 June 2015: FMO did not follow its own rules in financing Barro Blanco dam
• 18 May 2015: Dutch FMO pushed Panama to continue construction Barro Blanco dam
• 6 May 2015: Construction of Barro Blanco dam will be resumed
• 11 Feb 2015: Construction Barro Blanco dam finally suspended
Both ENDS has been involved in Barro Blanco since the beginning.
Read more about this subject
The Barro Blanco dam project in Panama, which has Dutch financial support, is causing indigenous lands to disappear under water. Both ENDS is working to protect the rights of indigenous communities living near the dam.
News / 28 June 2022
On Tuesday 28 June, the Honduran organisation COPINH and the Global Justice Association filed a complaint with the public prosecutor in the Netherlands against Dutch development bank FMO. For COPINH, this is part of their continued efforts to bring to justice those involved in the murder of their leader Berta Cáceres. FMO financed the Agua Zarca project in Honduras in 2014. The new complaint is based on documents indicating that FMO's money has been used improperly.
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News / 10 June 2022
In a new Position Statement on Financial Intermediary (FI) Lending, Dutch development bank FMO argues for limited responsibility over the outcomes investments that are channeled through commercial banks, investment funds, and other financial intermediaries, representing by far the bigger sector of its portfolio. In doing so, FMO is undermining its development mission, including the protection of human rights and addressing the climate crisis. FMO intends to delegate these key responsibilities to its FI clients only, falling short of best practices of peer financial institutions. In a joint submission prepared by Both ENDS, Oxfam Novib, Recourse and SOMO, we argue that FMO can do much more to ensure the protection of human rights, the environment, and to measure the development impact of its indirect investments.
Letter / 10 June 2022
Both ENDS, SOMO, Oxfam Novib and Recourse sent in a submission to FMO's public consultation on its Position Statement on Financial Intermediaries. In this position statement, FMO only takes limited responsibility for the consequences of its investments through so-called financial intermediaries. We call upon FMO to publish a position statement that focuses on protecting human rights and the environment and take full responsibility for this.
Press release / 19 May 2022
122 CSOs warn signatory countries they have only six months left to meet COP26 commitment to end international public finance for all fossil fuels
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News / 23 December 2021
2022 is the year for FMO to make good on its promises and provide financial support only to sustainable development
2021 was a turbulent year for Dutch development bank FMO, to say the least. The bank has been under fire for many years for investments linked to human rights violations and suspected corruption. But in the past year, the Dutch press and media have reported on one new development after the other in ongoing cases involving FMO. Below we give a short summary of these cases and call on FMO to make the promised improvements in 2022.
News / 8 November 2021
Both ENDS and SOMO condemn violence against Indigenous community near the Barro Blanco dam in Panama
Members of the Indigenous Ngäbe Buglé people were brutally attacked by Panamanian police on Friday 29 October 2021 from a parcel of private land near the FMO-financed Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam. The victims, all members of the anti-dam movement M22, had peacefully occupied the land after their protest camp got dismantled in July this year.
Publication / 2 November 2021
News / 27 July 2021
In April 2021, the Dutch development bank FMO announced that it is no longer involved in the Barro Blanco project, a controversial dam in Panama. GENISA, the Panamanian company that built the dam, unexpectedly paid off the multi-million dollar loan early. The question is to what extent, now that the bank is no longer actively financing the project, FMO can still be held responsible for the damage and suffering that was caused when this was still the case.
News / 23 July 2021
The million-dollar loan that the Dutch development bank FMO provided to project developers of Honduran company DESA for the construction of the controversial Agua Zarca dam project in Honduras, may be related to gross corruption and malpractice. This is concluded in an article published today in the Dutch news paper Financieel Dagblad, based on information provided by COPINH, the indigenous organisation that has been opposing the construction of the dam for years. Several members of the organisation, including its leader Berta Cáceres, were murdered. DESA director David Castillo has recently been convicted of being involved in the assassination of Cáceres in 2016.
News / 4 June 2021
FMO's new position statement on fossil fuel investments commits to ending new direct finance in the downstream and midstream coal and oil sectors, whilst still allowing for investments in gas-fired electricity generation under exceptional circumstances only. Both ENDS welcomes this development as a step in the right direction.
Publication / 22 April 2021
News / 2 March 2021
Today it is 5 years ago that Berta Cáceres was shot in haar home in La Esperanza, Honduras, for defending the rights of indigenous people. The leader of indigenous organisation COPINH resisted the Agua-Zarca hydropower dam that was planned to be build in indigenous territory. The actual murderers have been convicted, but not so the intellectual authors of the murders.
Press release / 10 February 2021
The Dutch development bank FMO is not sufficiently transparent about the projects it finances and is therefore acting contrary to its mandate. This is evident from a new report published by the International Accountability Project (IAP) and the Foundation for the Development of Sustainable Policies (FUNDEPS), endorsed by 28 organizations including Both ENDS, SOMO, and Oxfam Novib. The research assesses FMO's disclosure and access to information practices for investments proposed between January 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020. Only in 25% of the cases was it disclosed what potential negative consequences an investment by FMO would have for people and the environment.
Publication / 26 November 2020
Publication / 11 November 2020
News / 10 November 2020
The Dutch development bank FMO has published a statement about fossil fuels to take steps in climate action. Both ENDS and partners are pleased that FMO is finally taking a stand regarding fossil fuels, but in our opinion it could be more ambitious. In order to really contribute to sustainability and equality, it is essential that development banks stop investing in harmful fossil projects.
Letter / 9 November 2020
Both ENDS and partners gave their input on FMO's public consultation on Climate Action Commitments and Fossil Fuel Statement. Both ENDS and partners are pleased that FMO is finally taking a stand regarding fossil fuels, but in our opinion it could be more ambitious.
News / 10 July 2020
Dutch development bank FMO is considering investing in the controversial Ficohsa bank in Honduras. The bank has close ties with the elite in Honduras, which holds considerable power in politics, the (para)military and the business community. Last Wednesday, a number of Honduran organisations, including the indigenous organisation COPINH – whose leader Berta Cáceres was murdered in 2016 – sent a letter to the FMO management. The letter, signed by forty organisations including Both ENDS, calls on FMO not to do business with this bank.