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Indigenous Peoples And Industry Water Users: Mapping The Conflicts Worldwide

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Alejandro Jimenez (Stockholm, Sweden), Maria F Molina , Moa Cortobius
Stockholm International Water Institute1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 9: Water allocation among competing uses and users,
AbstractIntroduction Much of the world´s remaining unexploited minerals and hydroelectric energy sites are located in environmentally and socially vulnerable areas, many of which lie on land inhabited by indigenous people. Reports of devastating consequences of extractive and energy industries on water ecosystems in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples around the world confirm that large scale development projects have become one the greatest challenges to the exercise of the rights of indigenous people. With indigenous peoples' concerns gaining worldwide visibility and the recognition at the international level that they have distinct rights and interests, there is a growing expectation that governments and companies will work actively to avoid potentially significant adverse impacts of water resources use and development. To advance in the knowledge around these issues, a mapping exercise was conducted with the aim to determine the characteristics of conflicts over the water resources between governments, private industrial users and indigenous peoples' stakeholders. The results allowed to visualize i) the global trends on competing claims over water use and ii) promising processes of water management and governance in the intersection of Indigenous Peoples Human Rights (IPHR). Methods A mapping of conflicts related to energy extraction and water in indigenous peoples was undertaken, based on secondary sources, mainly the Environmental Justice Atlas database, the Centro Documentazione Conflitti Ambientali (CDCA), Conflictos Mineros en Latinoamerica ( and Dams in the Amazon ( databases. Further, the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs' (IWGIA) annual reports were reviewed; this source was of particular importance for the local scale events, where little information is made publicly available. Finally, the work by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was consulted and all the cases from this database included in the analysis. Other sources included academic articles (Jiménez, Cortobius, & Kjellén, 2014). 384 cases were mapped with an average of five sources per case. The spatial coverage is global with interest in all territories inhabited by indigenous peoples. The time period covered extended from 1960 to present times. Under each identified conflict, three main elements have been codified: a. The impacts that the project causes on indigenous peoples: The impacts were categorized in a list adapted from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA, 2011). b. The intensity of conflict and or cooperation, through a modified cooperation-conflict scale from the Freshwater Transboundary Dispute Dataset (TFDD) for intranational events c. The outcome of the process, whether the project is a) terminated or cancelled, b) redress or temporary suspension, c) ongoing, d) planned Results Distribution of Cases We have identified and analyzed 384 cases: 186 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 99 in Asia, 51 in Africa, 41 in Europe and North America, and 7 in the Arab Region (figure 1). Mineral Extraction and Hydropower are the type of projects that most predominantly affect indigenous peoples. Figure 1. Cases Distribution per Sector (Number of Cases) Classification of Impacts The impacts of development projects on indigenous communities were identified from peoples' manifestations encoded in press releases, environmental justice data bases and human rights and environment reports. The most relevant impacts for Mining projects were the degradation of water quality, followed by deforestation. Human rights violation due to lack of previous consultation is recorded as the most prevailing impact regarding hydropower. The conflict-cooperation scale We have used the conflict-cooperation scale employed by Eidem (2012) from Oregon University, which we simplified to record 7 possible states (Figure 2), ranging from violent actions to full cooperative actions (compacts or official agreements between the parties). In aggregated terms, today 84% of cases fall in the conflictive side of the scale, with only 2% of cases in the full cooperation situation. It is important to highlight that the situation of an event in this scale is dynamic, so many events might transit from a more negative to a more cooperative scale or vice versa. Figure 2. Conflict-cooperation situation of events (%) Legend: a-3: Small scale acts of violence, protests, vandalism; -2: Litigations, appeals of administrative actions, fines, proposal and permit denials, halting negotiations; -1: Petitions, withdrawal of third-party support, delays, report reviews, voicing opposition, editorials; 0: Judicial rulings, no comment statements, announcements; 1: Voicing opinions of approval, court-forced negotiations, editorials, meetings, third-party support, negotiation requests; 2: Permit approvals, fixing violations, negotiations begin, lawsuit settlements, regulation approval, management transfers; 3: State bill passage, compacts or official agreements The outcomes of the projects When considering the outcome of the projects, the majority of projects are ongoing, or kept in plan. However, in the most recent complete decade (2000-2010), around 40% of the projects display some kind of redress, temporary suspension, and even cancellation. This tendency of increased conflict seems to be also consistent into the present decade, in contrast to what happened in the past. Conclusions and Way forward This research gives a global overview on the type of conflicts between energy related projects and indigenous peoples, and the different intensity and outcomes of those conflicts. Mining and hydropower are the most conflictive type of projects so far. During present times, some 40% of projects are under examination or even cancellation. The enforcement of legislation such as the ILO Convention No 169 or the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, might have a bearing on these ongoing conflicts. The way forward for the present research is to find out patterns and approaches for successful cases of increasing cooperation. References Jiménez, A., Cortobius, M , and Kjellen, M. "Water, sanitation and hygiene and indigenous peoples: a review of the literature". Water International, 39:3, 277-293 US-EPA (2011). EPA's Technical Review Guidelines: Energy Generation and Transmission; . Non-Metal and Metal Mining . Retrieved from EPA's Web site:
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