By: Carla Garcia Zendejas (Center for International Environmental Law)
The way in which our partners access the information and the resources available through the Early Warning System has evolved and become more flexible during the past year. While the first way envisioned for outreach was project alerts, we have realized that we must respond to the needs of partners and organizations who are working in the field. To this end, we have relied much more on established alliances with friends and colleagues throughout the world who have regional expertise that can direct the need for information.
This is the experience we had with partner organization Earth Rights International Peru. After sitting down with Ximena Warnaars of ERI Peru in Lima some months ago, we were able to pinpoint the potential risks to communities from high risk development projects by identifying cities and locations by name within EWS project lists. Ximena’s firsthand knowledge of indigenous communities and territories in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia allowed us to direct our research to specific projects.
With this direction from Ximena, we were able to prepare detailed project analysis about several proposed road projects in Bolivia that were potentially linked to a high risk project that has threatened the territory of an indigenous community for years now. ERI Peru has been engaged in litigation to challenge a road project that would potentially cut through the Territorio Indigena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure, known as the TIPNIS. This controversial road project has been questioned and challenged by indigenous communities through litigation, advocacy and perilous direct action for several years.
Ximena and ERI-Peru believed that information about these new road projects identified by the EWS in Bolivia could be used in their ongoing litigation on behalf of these indigenous communities. As it happened, none of these projects is connected to the TIPNIS struggle. This was a relief for all of us.
By providing access to information regarding proposed development projects we can not only support communities that may be directly at risk, but also provide critical information for ongoing advocacy and litigation efforts that are essential to protect the environment and human rights.
We can only thank Ximena for being open to this deeper collaboration with the EWS. She also joined us in sharing this experience with partners during an EWS Workshop carried out in Lima, Peru during the month of October.