Honduras: Protected Areas and Water Resources Threatened by the Granting of Licences for Hydroelectric Plants

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Paris, Tegucigalpa, 31 May 2017- The Cuyamel II hydroelectric plant project risks causing irreversible harm to Protected Areas in the Pico Bonito National Park and to the Cuyamel River micro basin, the main source of water for nearly 7000 people in the San Francisco municipality, Atlántida. Today, FIDH, CEHPRODEC and FUPNAPIB release a report alerting on regulatory gaps and weaknesses in the current system that make it possible to build hydroelectric plants in protected areas, and without adecuate community information and participation. Our organizations call on international, regional and national financial institutions to act with enhanced due diligence when directly or indirectly financing this type of projects.

The Cuyamel II Project is part of an energy-supply transformation process in Honduras which is driven by the fight against climate change and in which local, national, regional and international actors have converging financial interests. This has gone hand in hand with the weakening of human rights and of environment protection mechanisms, and with an increase in violence and the criminalization of human rights and environment defenders. The project was approved in a context of regressive reforms to the protection mechanisms provided for in law, of misconduct among the competent government authorities, and of lack of corporate responsibility.

«The Cuyamel II Project is emblematic of the urgent need to give precedence to the protection of the water resources and human rights of communities over investment projects.»

Javier Mujica Petit, mission delegate and president of FIDH’s member organization in Peru EQUIDAD

Similar hydroelectric plant projects that have been approved for construction in protected areas. Our organizations call on the State of Honduras to strengthen national laws so as to provide for adequate human rights protection for the affected communities. International, regional and national investment and financing institutions must conduct enhanced human rights due diligence for the selection and assessment of projects in order to avoid contributing to human rights violations. Companies must meet their responsibility to respect internationally recognized human rights in all circumstances; this includes using participative processes to conduct robust impact assessments to identify negative impacts.

The main potential impacts associated with the Cuyamel II run-of-the-river project are the loss in the quality and the quantity of water available for human consumption. Furthermore, this unique ecosystem could be irreparably harmed by the cumulative envionmental effects. These harms include the extinction of species of flora and fauna and an increase in soil erosion.

«Our greatest desire is to have the entire San Francisco population united to defend the municipality’s natural resources so that they can be handed down to future generations.»

Adalid Mendoza, President of the San Francisco Water Board

The risks related to the right to water have increased with the decrease in fora and mechanisms for citizen participation and with the lack of access to project information. This has led the community to strongly oppose the project via legal means and public demonstrations to try halting the project. Judicial and administrative claims brought on behalf of the community have either not been investigated or the claim filing process has been delayed, which points to the impairment of the right to effective remedy.

Furthermore, the Fourth Infantry Battalion, which has moved into the area and built military installations without obtaining permits or conducting the required assessment, currently arbitrarily impedes access to the micro-basin and thus poses a threat the community’s water supply system.

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