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peru: challenging camisea: campaign targets devastating gas project

Possibly the Amazon’s most damaging fossil fuel development, the $1.6 billion Camisea Gas Project has pushed two pipelines through a globally-significant Amazon biodiversity hotspot. It aims to extract gas inside the Kugapakori-Nahua State Reserve, where Indigenous peoples live in voluntary isolation from society.

 

peru camisea campaignPeru’s government lacks the capacity to adequately supervise or monitor the project, or to ensure its revenues fund sustainable development. Moreover, the gas is to be exported, rather than used to enhance Peru’s energy security. This makes the project’s developers (Hunt Oil of the USA, Pluspetrol of Argentina, Repsol of Spain, and others) its main beneficiaries, leaving Peruvians to suffer the costs.

Working to oppose the Camisea Gas Project since 2005, Friends of the Earth Peru / Asociación Civíl Labor has sought to inform the public about their social, environmental and cultural rights in the face of Camisea’s development. They also aimed to expose the Peruvian Government and Interamerican Development Bank’s (IDB’s) flawed appraisal of the project, and to raise social and environmental standards for the companies involved.

what happened: FoE Peru is facilitating a coalition of Peruvian NGOs, called Citizen’s Action on Camisea (Acción Ciudadana – Camisea; www.accionciudadanacamisea.org), to pressure the state, international financial institutions (IFIs) and companies involved to raise the project’s standards. The first months of FoE Peru’s project consisted of research and analysis, leading to  reports on: affected Indigenous peoples’ vulnerability; Peru’s fossil fuel policy; and national energy security. This information was presented to the IDB during an August 2007 public hearing on human rights in Lima.

FoE Peru also carried out a public education campaign throughout 2007 in Cuzco, located in the region where Camisea gas is to be extracted, during the period that new loans were being negotiated for Camisea’s second phase. FoE Peru sought to inform the public about the advantages of using natural gas domestically (rather than exporting it), and why gas is preferable to more costly and polluting oil. Their media and arts campaign pressured local authorities to undertake a cost-benefit analysis on gas use in Cuzco.

what is changing: The campaign generally increased awareness about Camisea Phase II, both nationally and internationally. Parliamentarians, IDB officials, Peruvian engineers and civil society said that they benefited from FoE Peru’s information. In Cuzco this translated into local people wishing to gain control over Camisea’s gas, and to see Peru’s national oil and gas policy reflect social and environmental imperatives.

FoE Peru also ensured that the voice of local communities was heard, by reflecting their opinions in proposals to the IDB, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the Peruvian state and the companies involved. Importantly, this work resulted in the condition that a Peruvian Environment Ministry be created, and a commitment made to undertake studies to safeguard national energy security. Citizen’s Action on Camisea, coordinated by FoE Peru, is now a recognized and respected entity which participates in various high-level fora, including IDB Hearings and parliamentary meetings.

The Congressional committee tasked with investigating Camisea integrated parts of FoE Peru’s reports into their Pipeline Audit. The group’s reports were also used at an October 2007 hearing at the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights. However, this commission will likely fail to extend precautionary measures to protect affected Indigenous peoples, to denounce irregularities on pipeline audits, or set conditions for the IFI loans extended to build Camisea Phase II.

Through this project FoE Peru developed a series of new allies, and a deeper understanding and analysis of the importance of using natural gas domestically in the southern region. The project also strengthened their capacity to carry out advocacy campaigns, fortified their alliances with local groups across the country, and built the capacity of civil society to deal with emblematic cases like Camisea.

what we learned: Due to an unforseen political situation which led to demonstrations and strikes in Cuzco, FoE Peru had to postpone its public awareness campaign there. This was a lesson on the importance of flexible planning in the face of a changing political context.

with thanks to our funders: the c.s. mott foundation

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