Around the Region

Sarayaku get high-court help in oilfield-explosives removal

Ecuador’s highest court has given the government of President Daniel Noboa a six-month deadline to comply fully with an international tribunal’s ruling that the country remove explosives that have been buried on Indigenous land since the 1990s. The Ecuadorian Constitutional Court decision addresses a 2012 ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), the regional tribunal created by the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1979. In that ruling, the IACtHR ordered the Ecuadorian government to address the danger posed by charges of pentolite explosives buried on rainforest territory of the Sarayaku people in the 1990s to enable seismic testing in connection with oil exploration. In all, 1,433 kilos (3,159 pounds) of pentolite were buried in 463 exploratory wells drilled by Argentine oil concessionaire General Fuels Company (CGC) on 20 square kilometers (7.7 sq. miles) of territory of the Kichwa Sarayaku people in the Ecuadorian Amazon province...

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Chile praised for high-seas treaty ratification

In January, Chile became the first country in the world to ratify the 2023 United Nations High Seas Treaty, also known as the agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) or UN Ocean Treaty. The marine agreement sets rules for governance of 95% of the world’s oceans, effectively half of the Earth’s surface. Its major advance is to provide for the establishment of marine reserves in international (high seas) waters to help achieve the global objective of protecting 30% of the oceans by 2030. Currently, just 1% of the high seas is protected. Other aspects of the treaty include a framework for fair and equitable sharing of monetary and non-monetary benefits derived from marine genetic resources, as well as financing, capacity-building, and marine technology transfer for developing countries. For the agreement to take effect, 60 countries must ratify it in advance of the next UN Ocean Conference, to...

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Study points up hydro dams’ effects on river communities

Brazil’s Amazon-region hydroelectric dams have made news in recent months as punishing drought has depressed river flows and hydropower production, fueling doubts about the dams’ long-term effectiveness in an era of climate change. The attention, deserved though it is, overshadows research into ongoing environmental problems involving Amazon dams. These include the ecological consequences of the blockage of downstream sediment flows and—as highlighted in a study published last year—the dams’ socioeconomic effects on riverine fishing communities. The study focused on seven communities affected by two dams built little more than a decade ago on the western Brazilian Amazon’s Madeira River, along with a 576-sq.-km (222-square-mile) reservoir between them. The 3,568-megawatt Santo Antônio Dam and the 3,750-megawatt Jirau Dam, located 125 kilometers (78 miles) upstream, are among the Brazilian Amazon’s four biggest hydropower facilities. They were completed in 2011 and 2012, respectively...

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