Inter-American Development Bank

Letter to President of Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) re: Madeira River developments

International Rivers Network
July 13, 2006

July 13, 2006

To: Mr. Luis Alberto Moreno, President, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to express our extreme concern regarding news reports which indicate that the Inter-American Development Bank is planning to partially finance the construction of the Madeira River Hydroelectric Dam / Industrial Waterway Complex (reports in the Folha de São Paulo, June 4, 2006; Economist, June 1, 2006; Rondonotícias, May 26, 2006; Carta Maior, April 6, 2006; Gazeta Mercantil, February 17, 2006).

As you are aware, the Madeira is the second largest river in the Amazon basin, and
is a global hotspot of biodiversity. The damming of the Madeira would cause irreversible damage to this diversity from the upper Madeira to its mouth, and would even affect the Amazon River itself, given that the Madeira is its the principal source of sediments and nutrients. The ecological corridor of the Madeira River has 750 fish and 800 bird species. The loss of the fish species of highest economic value as a result of the building of the dam would affect fishing, a vital pillar of the regional economy and a source of survival for thousands of families. Food security and protein supplies would also be affected.

In 2004, Brazil’s National Economic and Social Bank (BNDES) stated it would support the Madeira River Complex to facilitate the expansion of agricultural monocultures in the region, which they said could extend to 30 million additional hectares in Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru as part of a series of projects known as the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America, or IIRSA. The IDB is part of the coordination of these projects, along with the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) and the Financial Fund for Development of the La Plata Basin (Fonplata). It is apparent that the Santo Antonio and Jirau dams are only the first of a series of dams and waterway engineering projects meant to implant an industrial waterway on the Madeira, Beni, and Madre de Dios Rivers.

The project’s cost, officially estimated at US $9 billion for the initial two dams, in addition to more than US$ 1 billion for an electrical transmission corridor to Southeastern Brazil, more than 2,000 km long, cannot be justified, given the fact there are economically more logical alternatives, principally involving the need for investment in energy efficiency. The World Bank judges, conservatively, that efficiency could replace 25% of the additional hydropower being planned for the country – about 20 GW, or more than three times what the two dams could generate. You should also be aware that the environmental impact studies for the project presented by the state company Furnas and private construction firm were considered inadequate by technical analysis of the Brazilian Environmental Institute (IBAMA), leading this federal government agency to solicit additional studies on various critical issues, among those the impacts we cite above.

In our view, a decision to finance the damming of the Amazon’s second largest river should not be taken without extremely careful analysis of the direct and indirect impacts the project would have, including its effect in increasing the area deforested in the Western Amazon.

It should also be remembered that the Amazon also has an enormous impact on global climate, and influences patterns of rainfall throughout South America; it is also a source of genetic resrouces, and possesses unique cultural and biological diversity. The IDB should not repeat its recent experience in financing hydroelectric dams in Brazil such as Cana Brava and Campos Novos, where the fundamental rights of dam-affected people have been violated by the companies operating the dams.

In closing, we wish to say that we are available at any moment to discuss and to provide
in greater detail information regarding the consequences of the projects being planned for the Madeira River.


(please reply to International Rivers Network, 1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley California 94703, fax 1.510.848.1155, e-mail


Mr. Demian Fiocca, President, BNDES

Enrique García Rodríguez, Executive President, CAF

Mr. John Briscoe, Director, World Bank, Brazil

Waldemar Wirsig, Representative IDB, Brazil

Private Brazilian banks signatories of the Equator Principles


Fundación PROTEGER
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Josie Lee, Co-International Liaison Officer, Friends of the Earth, Friends
of the Earth Melbourne,
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Alípio Valdez, CER-DET Amigos de la Tierra Bolivia

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Ricardo Verdum,
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Filippin, Liga Ambiental, PR, Brasil

Marco Antônio
Trieveiler, Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens, Brasil

Ferreira, Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens, Rondônia, Brasil

Paim, Núcleo Amigos da Terra / Brasil

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Grainne Ryder, Policy
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Juan N. Rojas, Coalicion Anti Represas en los Rios Torola y Lempa CARTYL, El

KoBra – Kooperation Brasilien e.V., Bundesweiter Zusammenschluβ der
Habsburgerstr. 9
79104 Freiburg i. Br.

Dirk Oesselmann, Projektstelle entwicklungspolitische Ökumenische Bildung
Comenius Institut
Schreiberstr. 12
48149 Münster, Germany

Mirian Miranda, Comité Ejecutivo, La Organización Fraternal Negra
Hondureña, OFRANEH, Honduras

Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group
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Rosa Filippini, Presidente, Amici della Terra Italia (Friends of the Earth Italy)

Adrian Pereira, Peoples Communications Centre, Malaysia

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Comité ProDefensa de Arcediano AC, Jalisco, México

Educación para la Paz A.C. (EDUPAZ),
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Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario A.C. (IMDEC), México

Kupuri AC, Nayarit, México

Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos, (MAPDER), México

Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos, Nayarit
(Mapder), Nayarit, México

Dr. Francisco Valdés Perezgasga, Presidente,
Prodefensa del Nazas, A.C., Duraznos 1326, Col. Ampliación Bellavista, Gómez Palacio, Durango, México

Johan Frijns, Coordinator, BankTrack, Boothstraat 1c 3512 BT Utrecht, The Netherlands

Nicole Walshe, Both ENDS, Nieuwe Keizersgracht 45, 1018 VC Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Kåre Olerud (s), Head of Information, International Coordinator, Norges
Naturvernforbund / Friends of the Earth Norway, P.O.Box 342
Sentrum, 0101 Oslo, Norway

Damien Ase, Principal Lawyer, Center for Environmental Law and Community Rights Inc.,
Friends of the Earth-Papua New Guinea

Oscar Rivas, Coordinador general, SOBREVIVENCIA,
Amigos de la Tierra Paraguay, cc 1380
ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay

Joan Carling, Chairperson, Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Philippines

Samuel Martín-Sosa Rodríguez, Responsable de Internacional, Ecologistas en
Acción, Marqués de Leganés 12, 28004, Madrid, Spain

Ed Matthew, Friends of the Earth England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, 26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ, United Kingdom

Nicholas Hildyard, The Corner House, Station Road, Sturminster Newton, Dorset DT10 1YJ, United Kingdom

Aaron Goldzheimer, Environmental Defense, United

David Waskow, Friends of the Earth, United States

Paula Palmer, Executive Director, Global Response, United

Glenn Switkes, International Rivers Network, United

Noah Madlin, Director, Rainforest Action Group for Indigenous
Peoples, 2505 E.Orvilla Road, Hatfield, PA 19440, United States

Nadia Martinez, Co-Director, Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
(SEEN), United States

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