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.
Also see this video testimony of inhabitant Weni Bagama on Facebook or Twitter (Spanish spoken, English subtitles).
Read more about this subject
Indigenous communities threatened by Barro Blanco dam in Panama
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.
Publication / 15 March 2023
Press release / 5 December 2022
Groups react with dismay to FMO’s position statement on Financial Intermediaries, pointing to outstanding human rights and climate concerns
On October 13th 2022, FMO published the final version of its Position Statement on Impact and ESG for Financial Intermediaries (FI statement). As civil society groups which have engaged with FMO on this topic for more than four years, we are extremely disappointed with the result. In the statement, FMO does not show sufficient commitment to ensuring its investments into financial intermediaries – which represent the bank's largest investment sector* – do not violate human rights or contribute to environmental harms.
Finance for agroecology
The lion's share of public budgets for climate, agriculture and development still goes to conventional agroindustrial projects that contribute to the current climate, food and biodiversity crises. Both ENDS and our partners are calling for a transition to agroecological practices that are people- and environment-friendly.
Blog / 12 October 2022
Op-ed in Trouw: "Give more money to local sustainable food producers in developing countries"
The Dutch government and Dutch businesses spend a lot of money on food production in developing countries. But, according to Karin van Boxtel, policy officer at Both ENDS, far too little of that money finds its way to sustainable, nature-inclusive producers.
Press release / 5 October 2022
Independent research confirms FMO’s responsibility for destruction caused by Barro Blanco dam, recommends compensation
Utrecht, 5 October 2022 - Dutch development bank FMO bears responsibility for the destruction of livelihoods, economic losses and environmental damage caused by the construction of the Barro Blanco dam in Panama, according to a report by the bank's Independent Complaints Mechanism (ICM). Indigenous communities affected by the dam are pleased that their complaints have been confirmed and reiterate their call for apologies and compensation.
Publication / 23 August 2022
News / 22 August 2022
Complaint to development banks about the Nachtigal dam in Cameroon
Both ENDS partner IFI Synergy has filed a complaint to the World Bank on behalf of local inhabitants about the Nachtigal dam in Cameroon. The dam is causing considerable problems for local communities and local people feel that the compensation they receive is inadequate. They also feel that they were insufficiently informed and consulted before construction of the dam started.
News / 28 June 2022
In solidarity with daughter of murdered Indigenous leader
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.
Uganda’s Energy Future
Despite the existence of many hydropower dams, foreign investments and large government spending on energy, and new plans for hydropower, oil and gas projects, the vast majority of rural Uganda still remains without electricity. Together with our local partners we are striving towards a sustainable energy strategy for Uganda that starts from the needs and wishes of local communities.
News / 10 June 2022
FMO fails to meet best practices on financial intermediaries
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
Joint submission on FMO’s Position Statement on Financial Intermediaries
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
Today, 122 civil society groups are releasing letters to eleven government signatories to the Glasgow Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition, laying out the actions they must take as soon as possible to meet their commitment. In this joint statement at COP26, 35 countries and 5 public finance institutions committed to end their international public finance for 'unabated' fossil fuels by the end of 2022, and instead prioritise their "support fully towards the clean energy transition."
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 conversation with the Ngäbe-Bugle community in Panama, after five years of Barro Blanco-dam
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
Dutch development bank FMO's funding for Agua Zarca project possibly linked to malpractices
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
Welcoming step of FMO to phase out fossil fuels from their direct investments
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