D-day for the Aguan biogas project in Honduras linked to human rights abuses (Newsletter #15)

The issue of human rights violations linked to CDM projects (and how to address them) has been highlighted by the Aguan biogas project in the Bajo Aguan region of Honduras. The project is linked to serious human rights violations. Five people have allegedly been killed by the project developer´s own security forces. The project is currently seeking registration under the CDM. It intends to reduce emissions by collecting biogas from methane emissions to replace the use of fossil fuels for heat generation in a mill of a palm oil plantation of Grupo Dinant’s subsidiary Exportadora del Atlantico. It is a relatively small project in the context of the CDM, forecasting an annual reduction of about 23,000 tonnes of CO2 that could generate about US$2.8 million between 2010 and 2017.

CDM Executive Board members will decide whether to register the project at their 62nd meeting starting on 11 July 2011. CDM Watch has written several letters to the CDM Executive Board about the human rights violations associated with this project. We have highlighted that the local stakeholder process was not conducted properly because affected communities were not given sufficient notice about the consultation meeting which hampered their participation.

We ask the CDM Executive Board to reject the Aguan biogas project and to initiate actions against the performance of the auditor (DOE) who issued a positive validation despite clear concerns about the adequacy of local stakeholder consultation.

The CDM was created by the international community to contribute to sustainable development. However we have witnessed many cases where it is creating negative consequences for local populations and the environment. The damages caused by CDM projects are often direct violations of the obligations countries have undertaken in other international treaties such as the UN’s human rights treaties or the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The UN’s human rights regime requires nation states to respect, protect and fulfill their inhabitants’ human rights, and to prevent private actors (such as CDM project participants) from committing human rights violations. It is also stipulated that people affected by political decisions have to be adequately consulted in advance.

We believe that the international community therefore has a responsibility to ensure that the mechanisms it creates are consistent with achieving the protection of human rights. The Conference of the Parties recognised this obligation in Decision 1/CP.16, which stipulates that “Parties should, in all climate change related actions, fully respect human rights”. It is now the responsibility of the CDM Executive Board (EB) to put this into practice for the CDM.

The Aguan case also highlights the need for an appeals procedure that provides remedies in cases where fundamental principles, such as the right to public participation have been violated. The following two articles focus on these topics.