"The world must know what is happening here, they must perceive how destroying forests and indigenous people destroys the entire world."  Kayapó indigenous leaders

eraGlobal is collaborating with Amazon Watch to build public support in resisting the Belo Monte dam on the Amazon's Xingu River. Together, we have worked to encourage the Brazilian government to seek more productive alternative forms of energy to the Belo Monte dam that won’t displace peoples, destroy the rainforest, or drive species to extinction.

We are thrilled and assured by the recent court-ruling in Brazil. On August 14, a high-level court suspended construction of the Belo Monte dam citing overwhelming evidence that indigenous people had not been properly consulted prior to government approval.

A group of judges from Brazil's Regional Federal Tribunal upheld an earlier decision that declared the Brazilian Congress's authorization of the project in 2005 to be illegal. The decision concludes that the Brazilian Constitution requires that Congress can only authorize the use of water resources for hydroelectric projects after an independent assessment of environmental impacts and subsequent consultations with affected indigenous peoples.

The ruling means that Brazilian Congress will have to consult with affected indigenous peoples of the Xingu River, including the Juruna, Arara and Xikrin tribes about the impacts of the dam.

about Belo Monte

The Belo Monte dam would be the world’s third largest hydro-electric dam on the Xingu River in the heart of the Amazon. While Belo Monte promises to increase electricity production, it comes with no small cost. The price would be ecological destruction of the world’s rainforest and displacement of indigenous people that have lived there for centuries.

ecological cost

The dam would divert up to 80% of the Xingu River, causing a permanent drought on the river's "Big Bend," and directly affect the Juruna and Arara indigenous peoples. It would require the excavation of two huge canals (500 meters wide by 75 km long), unearthing more land than was removed to build the Panama Canal! The two reservoirs and canals would flood a total of 668 km2 of which 400 km2 is standing forest.

societal cost

The flooding would force more than 20,000 people from their homes in the municipalities of Altamira and Vitoria do Xingu. Besides displacing thousands, the dam would destroy agricultural land and endanger the survival of fish species, threatening the livelihood of surrounding Indigenous peoples. The construction of Belo Monte would attract 100,000 migrants to the region but was only estimated to create 40,000 jobs at the height of construction, and only 2,000 long-term jobs. The remaining labor pool would be driven to illegal logging and cattle ranching, the two main causes of deforestation in the Amazon.

energy production

Belo Monte would be one of the most energy inefficient dams in the history of Brazil. It would produce only 10% of its 11,233 megawatt (MW) installed capacity during the 3-5 month-long dry season, an average of only 4,462 MW throughout the year, or 39% of its nominal capacity. To guarantee a year-round flow of water, the government would need to construct a series of large dams on the Xingu and its tributaries that will gravely impact forests and forest peoples.

This project is highly contentious since it has been touted as a form of clean energy. However, Philip Fearnside of the National Amazon Research Institute (INPA) calculated that the forests flooded by the dam’s reservoirs would generate enormous amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than CO2.

eraGlobal and Amazon Watch at Rio+20

eraGlobal provides strategic advice and identifies key alliances for Amazon Watch. Most recently, eraGlobal aided Amazon Watch in the Rio+20 side-event titled "The Symposium on Clean Energy Solutions for Brazil’s 21st Century." The mission of the symposium was to chart a road-map for renewable energy strategies in Brazil to replace the proposed Belo Monte dam and provide clean energy for Brazil without harming the Amazon and displacing tens of thousands of indigenous people.

To find out more please visit http://amazonwatch.org/.