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IIRSA: integration at risk

by UrskaMerc — last modified Aug 11, 2008 06:40 PM
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The initiative for the Regional Infrastructure Integration of South America.

the story of IIRSA - front page

The story of iirsa

new booklet: Latin American people versus mega infrastructure projects and trade negotiations with the European Union. May 2008. Download PDF (23,4 MB).


What is IIRSA?

The IIRSA initiative was created in the year 2000, during a summit of South American
presidents in Brazil. Its official goal is South American regional integration through infrastructure related to transportation, energy and telecommunications. This initiative is coordinated by 12 South American governments with the technical and financial support of the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) and the Del Plata Basin Development Fund (FONPLATA), as well as other development banks, likely including the European Investment Bank (EIB).


hidropower rio madeira project

The IIRSA initiative includes seven processes to harmonize regulatory frameworks among countries in the following sectors:

  • Instruments to finance physical regional integration projects
  • Energy integration
  • Facilitating border crossings
  • Information and communication technology
  • Operation systems for air transport
  • Operation systems for sea transport
  • Operation systems for multiple modes of transport


Why is IIRSA a risk for communities and the environment?


  1. Because its transport, waterways and agribusiness network projects crossing ecologically fragile areas, will have a negative effect on biodiversity. For example, the impact in the Andes, the Amazon Basin, the Mato Grosso, the Pantanal, and the Paraguay and Paraná rivers, will be significant, and in many cases irreversible.

  2. Because these projects are likely to put the products of peasant communities at a great disadvantage. IIRSA roads and waterways aim to facilitate the transport of export products like soy, while doing little to strengthen food security and sustainable livelihoods for local citizens.

  3. Because the mega- infrastructure projects have been drawn up with excessive focus on the needs of the private sector compared to the needs of the local economy and nearby communities.

  4. Because of the failure to incorporate appropriate environmental, social and cultural considerations in IIRSA’s large infrastructure projects.

  5. Because IIRSA projects are now set up to follow previous large infrastructure projects financed by international financial institutions. These projects continue to cause harm to indigenous communities (for example the Camisea gas pipeline) and the environment (Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline), and can rack up devastating national debts (Yacyreta hydroelectric plant).

  6. Because the role played by European transnational corporations in Latin America has already generated conflicts between consumers of public services, putting access to basic services (such as water, electricity, telecommunications) at risk, and promoting the privatization of public services. Giving these companies a greater role, as envisaged by IIRSA, is potentially very harmful.

  7. Because IIRSA offers little public access to information about their projects and related policy reforms.

  8. Because IIRSA does not have monitoring and evaluation programs in place to demonstrate that poverty will be reduced or that sustainable economies are being promoted.

  9. Because IIRSA does not make concrete connections between its projects and the reduction of poverty or improvement of the environment.

  10. Finally, and in summary, because IIRSA has a logic that is purely economic instead of a logic that is about sustainable integration and healthy local economies.


Read more about what our groups say (in spanish)...


    ...check our other resources in english...

    ...or visit the official IIRSA website

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