COP Out? Peru Pulling the Plug on Environmental Oversight in View of COP 20

Peru was selected to host the COP 20 this December, widely considered to be the paramount meeting on global climate change strategy. Yet only recently, the Peruvian Minister of Energy and Mines, Eleodoro Mayorga Alba, announced that a new Peruvian law would potentially eliminate submission and approval of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for oil and gas companies during the seismic testing phase. This means that already haphazard and irresponisbly enforced oversight practices required for petroleum companies would be further undercut, no longer requiring participatory environmental research prior to exploration.

The news has caused a firestorm of protest from scientists, civil society organizations, and indigenous groups. With COP 20 hovering on the horizon, this is not the kind of leadership demonstrated by a nation purporting to be on the forefront of sustainable development.

Leading indigenous organization, AIDESEP, claiming to represent more that 1,400 indigenous communities in the Amazon, echoed this sentiment in their statement, titled ”21st Century Oil and Gas Firms with 18th Century Laws?’: “And don’t respond to us with the stupid claim: ‘You’re opposed to development.’ You’ve been ‘developing’ us for 40 years along the Pastaza, Corrientes, Marañón, Ucayali and Urubamba Rivers and we’re now worse off, although the amount of cement, alcohol and AIDS has increased. What we request is a respectful, well-supported debate and agreement that will benefit Peru.”

Alianza Arkana along with 34 other civil organizations and 30 individuals has signed a statement demanding that the Peruvian government respect environmental law and not use economic investment as an excuse to undermine environmental management. Here is the translation of that statement:

STATEMENT
WE DEMAND THAT THE STATE AND BUSINESS SECTOR RESPECT ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND NOT UNDERMINE INSTRUMENTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND THEIR INSTITUTIONS CLAIMING A NEED TO ATTRACT INVESTMENT
The undersigned organizations and individuals from civil society show our deep concern over recent statements made by the Minister of Energy and Mines, Eleodoro Mayorga, on March 6, 2014 at the presentation of the White Paper of the Peruvian Society of Hydrocarbons, where it was noted that in the context of changes to the Regulation for Environmental Protection in Hydrocarbon Activities that is developed by the state ” they will eliminate environmental impact studies for seismic activity”, which has been ratified by the Ministry of Energy and Mines – MINEM in its Press Release 451-14 which notes “that seismic exploration in oil blocks may be made through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that it is more a expeditious and simple procedure than an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).”
In that sense , we believe that what is indicated by the State would mean a serious setback to strengthening and upholding the National System of Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA), a violation of the Law 27446 (art. 3) and of the principle of indivisibility of the environment evaluation for the whole hydrocarbon exploration stage (SEIA Regiment Law art. 3 lit. a). The EIA is a tool that seeks to identify in advance the environmental and social impacts, proposing mitigation measures for the respect of the constitutional rights to life and health of the [local] populations, as well as the right all Peruvians have to an adequate environment.

Facing this, we express the following:
a) That the Peruvian State must respect, fulfill and ensure the highest environmental and social standards in the processes of exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons. The EIA should be strengthened, not eliminated. An EIS is not sufficient in case of exploration projects for hydrocarbons, since this instrument does not require an environmental and social baseline, taking into account additionally that the State does not have these comprehensive studies completed and updated , nor does it require economic valuation of the environmental impacts of exploration activities , nor necessarily processes of citizen participation.
b) The need to promote investment does not mean weakening the mechanisms created to identify and mitigate environmental and social impacts of hydrocarbon activities. It is necessary that you respect and strengthen the institutional framework of the National System of Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA), whose governing body is the Ministry of Environment. Furthermore, it is necessary to ensure the participation and binding techniques of specialized parties such as the National Service of Protected Natural Areas by the State, the National Water Authority, the National Forest and Wildlife Service and the Ministry of Culture.
c ) The weakening of the regulatory framework and environmental institutions , the consequent weakening of associated governance processes will not generate a favorable investment climate, rather it weakens the country and its “country risk” classification.
d ) Peru being the host of the COP -20, the country must show its commitment to strengthening the environmental management tools. In this regard, the reduction of environmental standards is a bad image for our country that has been promoting alternatives and agreements to combat climate change.
e ) The State , through the MINEM and MINAM must log spaces for dialogue, debate and consultation on policy instruments such as the Environmental Protection Regulations for Hydrocarbon Activities, which so far has not received input from representatives of the civil society, indigenous peoples , academia , despite the public announcement of its near approval, which would result in the breach of the terms of citizen participation.
Therefore, confronting these initiatives that seek to undermine the regulations and socio- environmental standards, WE DEMAND:
1. To the President and his cabinet, that respect for the rule of law set forth in our regulatory framework and respect for environmental and social institutions be secured.

2. To the Congress of the Republic, that through its power of political control it promote surveillance activities.

3. To the Ombudsman, that action be taken to ensure the fundamental right of all Peruvians to enjoy a healthy and balanced environment.

4. To the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Environment, that correct and consistent process be ensured for adapting environmental regulation for the hydrocarbons sector as designated by the National System of Environmental Impact Assessment (the law and its regulation) with a transparent process of citizen participation.

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS AND NETWORKS:
ACCION POR LA BIODIVERSIDAD (ACBIO, ARGENTINA)
AGENCIA DE INVESTIGACIÓN AMBIENTAL / ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY (EIA)
ASOCIACIÓN ARARIWA
ASOCIACIÓN CIVIL ALIANZA ARKANA
ASOCIACIÓN NACIONAL DE CENTROS (ANC)
ASOCIACIÓN PARA LA CONSERVACIÓN DE LA CUENCA AMAZÓNICA (ACCA)
ASOCIACIÓN PRO DERECHOS HUMANOS (APRODEH)
ASOCIACIÓN PROYECTO AMIGO
ASOCIACIÓN SERVICIOS EDUCATIVOS RURALES (SER)
ASOCIACIÓN SOLIDARIA PARA EL DESARROLLO COOPERACCIÓN
CENTRO AMAZÓNICO DE ANTROPOLOGÍA Y APLICACIÓN PRÁCTICA (CAAAP)
CENTRO DE DERECHOS Y DESARROLLO (CEDAL)
CENTRO PARA EL DESARROLLO DEL INDÍGENA AMAZONICO (CEDIA)
CENTRO PERUANO DE ESTUDIOS SOCIALES (CEPES)
COLECTIVO TARPUY MITA
COLEGIO DE BIÓLOGOS – CONSEJO REGIONAL X LORETO
COMISIÓN DE DERECHOS HUMANOS DE ICA (CODEHICA)
COMITÉ DE DEFENSA DEL AGUA-LORETO
COMITÉ EJECUTIVO NACIONAL-CONFEDERACIÓN CAMPESINA DEL PERÚ (CEN-CCP)
DERECHO, AMBIENTE Y RECURSOS NATURALES (DAR)
FEDERACIÓN NACIONAL DE TRABAJADORES DEL AGUA (FENTAP)
FOROS CIUDADAES PARA LA VIDA
FORUM SOLIDARIDAD PERÚ (FSP)
FUNDACIÓN ECUMÉNICA PARA EL DESARROLLO Y LA PAZ (FEDEPAZ)
INSTITUTO DE DEFENSA LEGAL (IDL)
INSTITUTO DE DEFENSA LEGAL DEL AMBIENTE Y EL DESARROLLO SOSTENIBLE (IDLADS)
INSTITUTO NATURA
MOVIMIENTO CIUDADANO FRENTE AL CAMBIO CLIMÁTICO (MOCCIC)
OXFAM
PAZ Y ESPERANZA
PROGRAMA DEMOCRACIA Y TRANSFORMACIÓN GLOBAL (PDTG)
RED AGUA, DEMOCRACIA Y DESARROLLO DE PIURA – REDAD
RED DE PROPUESTAS Y ACCIÓN RED MUQUI
RED MUQUI NORTE
RED PERUANA POR UNA GLOBALIZACIÓN CON EQUIDAD (RED GE)
SERVICIOS EN EDUCACIÓN INTERCULTURAL (SERVINDI)

Deborah Rivett

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