chapter  5
40 Pages

Environmental and social safeguards for infrastructure projects in the southern Peruvian Amazon

WithJuan Luis Dammert

This chapter analyzes the effectiveness of environmental and social safeguards in infrastructure projects financed by development banks in the southern Peruvian Amazon. An in-depth analysis of the process to build segments 2, 3, and 4 of the South Interoceanic Highway (CVIS) shows that environmental and social considerations were not relevant in the project’s decision-making, which was supported by a broad coalition of actors interested in the construction of the road. The subsequent transformations of the landscape – mainly deforestation and illegal gold mining – also show that the applied safeguards were insufficient to contain the processes of migration and exploitation of resources triggered by the highway. The analysis of CVIS is complemented by a comparative analysis of the failed attempt to build the Inambari dam, one of a series of hydropower projects to be built under an energy agreement signed by Peru and Brazil in June 2010. The Inambari project was cancelled in the midst of local protests against a construction that would have flooded 40,000 hectares, including 100km of CVIS. A comparison of both cases shows how different proposed land uses facilitate the formation of different coalitions supporting or contesting infrastructure projects, and also how coalitional politics influence the ways in which safeguarding mechanisms are implemented, affecting their effectiveness.