Oct 6, 2020

Highlighting the Differentiated Impacts on Women

Women have long played a fundamental role in the conservation and defense of the planet. Past and present struggles for environmental justice and the defense of animals have been, to a large extent, led by women. Yet the close relationship between women and the environment has not escaped the inequalities that characterize today’s societies. Poverty, exclusion, and inequality are intertwined with environmental degradation and the climate crisis. Women, in general, suffer these plagues in a differential and aggravated manner.

In recent months we have participated with our local partners in La Oroya on the consolidation of a report for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The report highlights the differentiated impacts on women as a result of environmental degradation caused by extractive activities in Peru.

In our work in La Oroya we are seeking that the gender focus—defined as the mechanism developed to guarantee holistically valuing the impact any action has on men, women, and those who identify between those categories—becomes a fundamental basis to making asymmetries visible, overcoming barriers of discrimination, and removing scenarios of exclusion that impede women’s ability to enjoy their right to equality. 

The gender focus, as a tool, seeks to ensure that differentiated challenges are included in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of each intervention on a political, economic, and social level. This perspective is indispensable to empowering the leadership of women, which is proving increasingly vital in the struggle for environmental justice.

In effect, the development of ecofeminist theories offers the world new and transformative alternatives to the ways of thinking that are bringing about the destruction of our environment and negatively affecting the lives of men, women, and other living things. Women are more than simply the most affected by the climate crisis, and particularly in La Oroya, the most affected by the toxic metals pollution. They are also active participants with a vital role to play in preserving nature and seeking solutions for the health of our planet.

In addition to the preparation of the report on women, we continue supporting the Platform of People Affected by Toxic Metals and the Environmental and Human Health Roundtable in Peru. We have been participating in the virtual coordination meetings, especially with regard to international issues, in order to contribute to the international advocacy and strategy of the platform's cases, focused on the La Oroya case. We have supported the consolidation and dissemination of messages on the platform’s social networks.

Finally, in response to the increased vulnerability of the communities in La Oroya due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, we are supporting the drafting and filing of a request for a country hearing before the Inter-American Court for its December session titled: "Situation of the right to health of people affected by toxic metals due to environmental contamination caused by mining and oil extraction in Peru, aggravated in the context of COVID-19”.

Jul 22, 2020

Safeguarding a World Heritage Site

Oliver Cook, AIDA
Oliver Cook, AIDA

Earlier this year, as part of AIDA’s role in the Cabo Pulmo Vivo Coalition, we participated in the process of appointing the new coordinator of the Coalition. We helped with the revision of applications and provided assistance in the selection of the final candidate, who joined the Coalition in April brining a strong background in biological sciences.

The Coalition is dedicated to protect the Cabo Pulmo Reef National Park, a 20,000-year-old ecological treasure in Baja California Sur, Mexico, that hosts many of the 800 marine species in the Sea of Cortez. Developers repeatedly try to build enormous tourist resorts at Cabo Pulmo and the coral reefs there are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of these poorly planned development. AIDA has been instrumental in defeating these projects, and continues to work alongside local partners to protect this critical marine area.

During April and May we played an active role in the integration process of the new coordinator, working in collaboration with him to review and update the Coalition’s guidelines and present the work and activities that AIDA has been doing to strengthen the Coalition.

Due to the current pandemic most of the work has been transferred to virtual platforms. In order to continue the ongoing activities and strategy, we’ve had our coordination meetings online instead of in person, ensuring not only the safety of all participants but also the ability to continue the work and, from the AIDA team, being able to provide the much needed legal and scientific assistance to the local communities and partners.

One of the key pieces of the work that is being coordinated during these meetings is the follow up of a letter and report on the current situation in Cabo Pulmo National Park that was sent in January to the UNESCO, RAMSAR and IUCN authorities. At the end of April, we received the response from the Ramsar Convention's Councilor for the Americas who stated that the Mexican authorities had been informed of the documents submitted by the Coalition.

AIDA is coordinating the follow up meetings and we requested a hearing with the Ramsar Convention's focal point in Mexico, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), to continue the request of revision of the documents.

Jul 21, 2020

A great victory for Human Rights in Brazil

Maira Irigaray - Amazon Watch
Maira Irigaray - Amazon Watch

Today I want to share great news on our work representing communities affected by Belo Monte:

On May 13, the Norwegian oil fund, managed by the public bank Norges Bank Investment Management and considered the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, excluded twelve companies from its investment portfolio for ethical reasons, including Brazil's Eletrobras for its participation in the Belo Monte hydroelectric project. 

The fund follows the recommendations made each year by the Council on Ethics to ensure that investments meet certain criteria. In this case the Council’s recommendation was due to the participation of the Brazilian state-owned company in the project, which is associated with serious human rights violations against indigenous peoples.

AIDA - as part of a joint civil society effort - informed the Council of the situation of the indigenous and riverine populations affected by the project, its social and environmental impacts, the operational situation of the dam, and the current status of national and international legal actions brought against the project.

The Council noted that the Belo Monte project, run by the Norte Energia consortium - of which Eletrobras is a part - caused "greater pressure on indigenous lands, the disintegration of the social structures of indigenous peoples and the deterioration of their ways of life" with the forced displacement of some 20,000 people.

We believe the Council's decision should be applauded because it discourages the continuation of unsustainable and ill-named development projects that threaten the survival of indigenous and traditional peoples, as is the case with Belo Monte.

It is essential that banks, international financial institutions and monetary funds take into account the likely impacts of the projects they finance. Supporting socially and environmentally sustainable projects instead of initiatives that prioritize economic benefit over the protection of human rights and the environment demonstrates responsible and ethical investment.

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