Large-scale infrastructure and extractive industry projects like dams and highways in the Amazon and Greater Mekong basins are often poorly planned, plagued by corruption, and move forward with limited opportunities for affected communities to participate. Alternatives to these harmful projects are usually not adequately assessed, and the economic benefits of the mega projects are often over-estimated. Affected communities depend on natural resources like rivers and forests for their livelihoods and culture but these projects fail to properly mitigate environmental impacts or maximize opportunities for community-driven development. There are well-documented cases of projects reducing food supplies, displacing people without adequate compensation. Further, when communities object, government and business stakeholders repress them.
These large-scale projects are often funded by international financial institutions (IFIs) or regional financial institutions from emerging countries, such as China and Brazil. As a result, the ruling elite often captures the benefits of these development projects, while the environmental and human rights repercussions are experienced by many on the ground.
We help communities access project information, obtain independent scientific analysis, facilitate community research, and work with lawyers to ensure the projects meet local and international laws and standards. In addition, we educate policymakers on these issues to improve the implementation of laws, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA).
Campaigns and Cases
Budha Ismail Jam et al v. IFC (India/United States)
Fishing communities and farmers in Gujarat, India, filed suit against the International Finance Corporation, the private lending arm of the World Bank, for its role in funding the Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant project, which has affected the health and livelihoods of the communities.
Peruvian communities filed a request for constitutional protection for earth rights defenders affected by the Chadin 2 Hydroelectric Power Project.
EarthRights works with local civil society organizations and impacted communities to raise local voices and to bring this case to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT).
Don Sahong Dam (Cambodia)
This dam, which is currently under construction on the Mekong River, threatens local livelihoods, food security, and environments, EarthRights has worked with impacted communities to assert their rights through a complaint to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM).
Environmental Impact Assessments (Mekong/Myanmar)
We are working directly to strengthen communities, campaigners and lawyers by organizing opportunities for them to understand and design their own campaigns around Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes in the Mekong region and Myanmar.
EarthRights works with researchers to monitor the health and environmental impacts of this project, and with a network of Thai organizations (Extraterritorial Obligations Watch or Thai ETO-Watch) to track this and other Thai investments in the region.
Koh Kong Sugar Plantation (Cambodia)
In Koh Kong, Cambodia, violent land grabs associated with a sugar plantation have claimed over 10,000 hectares and pushed 500 families off their land. EarthRights has worked with the impacted communities to advocate for their rights through judicial and non-judicial mechanisms.
Lower Sesan 2 Dam (Cambodia)
This dam, which began operation in early 2017, has flooded communities and jeopardizes the food security and environments of the Mekong Basin. EarthRights has partnered with communities to demand that developers consult local populations and provide remedies when their rights have been violated.
Sambor Dam (Cambodia)
This proposed hydropower project on the mainstream of the Mekong River could displace as many as 19,000 people. EarthRights is monitoring the development of this dam.
Son La Rubber Plantation (Vietnam)
As this rubber plantation threatens to displace 100,000 people, EarthRights supports efforts by ethnic Dai communities in this area to determine their own future and access information and remedies.
Special Economic Zones (Myanmar)
EarthRights supports communities in Myanmar’s three SEZs – Dawei, Thilawa and Kyauk Phyu – to raise concerns about these development projects and to speak out against what they see as land grabs, abuse, and exploitation on the part of investors and project managers.
Tipnis Highway (Bolivia)
Bolivia’s Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) are threatened by a major highway development project. We’ve worked with Bolivian indigenous leaders on legal advocacy, supporting them to assert their rights.
Xayaburi Dam (Laos)
This dam, under construction on the mainstream of the Mekong River, threatens the livelihoods and environments of communities across the river basin. EarthRights works with communities affected by the project to amplify their voices and support their organizing efforts.