Declaration of Temaca

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Endorsed at Rivers for Life:

The 3rd International Meeting of Dam Affected People and their Allies

Temacapulín, Mexico, 1-7 October 2010

Solidarity With Temacapulín, Acasico and Palmarejo

We, more than 320 people from 54 countries throughout the world affected by dams, fighters against destructive dams, and activists for ecological and equitable water and energy management, self-determination of peoples, defense of territories, environmental and climate justice, and respect for human rights, have come together in Temacapulín. We have met in a town that is threatened with inundation by the El Zapotillo Dam. We stand in solidarity with our generous hosts in Temaca and support their demand for the cancellation of El Zapotillo Dam. Temaca must live, and their struggle is our struggle.

We also stand in solidarity with the struggles of the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER), and with the communities, towns and cities from throughout Mexico that have recently suffered flooding, or been buried under mud because of dam breaks, or the sudden opening of dam gates. The climate crisis is unleashing its fury with torrential rains, overflowing rivers, and dams that are filled to their maximum capacity, threatening those living downstream. We therefore denounce the obsolete policy of unrestrained construction of dams.

Water for life, not for death! The call made at the First International Meeting of People Affected By Dams, held in Curitiba, Brazil, 1997, was echoed at the Second International Meeting in 2003 in Rasi Salai, Thailand, and gathered renewed force during the intense days of the past week in Jalisco, in the community of Temacapulín.

Our Achievements

Since Rasi Salai we have continued united, working to confront the dam industry and the governments and funders that promote their destructive activities. Our struggles have defeated dams and helped restore and protect rivers. We have also won important victories in the struggle for the right to informed consent over projects on our lands, and to just and dignified resettlement and reparation.

We are successfully implementing  equitable, effective and ecologically responsible community-based technologies and programs to meet our needs for energy, water, sanitation, and protection from destructive floods.

We have succeeded in creating and strengthening diverse regional networks and national movements against dams and for the rights of affected people. We are building a new model of energy production and use and water management that addresses people’s needs rather than the interests of national and transnational corporations.

Our Challenges

Ten years after the release of the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams, human rights continue to be violated by dams. Rivers are being dammed and diverted, forests flooded, fish and other species wiped out. In open violation of international agreements and national laws, indigenous and tribal peoples, ethnic minorities, and traditional communities, are disproportionately affected by the savage exploitation of their territories, lands and resources. In many places they have to fight to prevent their physical and cultural annihilation. Dams are also destroying the livelihoods and ways of life of riverine, small farmer, and urban communities.

Women suffer in particular from the breakdown in family and community life caused by dams. In many places they are discriminated against in the processes of resettlement and reparation. In addition, the influx of thousands of workers during construction is often accompanied by prostitution, disease and the deterioration of education and health services that directly and severely impact the lives of women.

Youth and old people are also particularly vulnerable to the economic, social and cultural changes caused by dams.

The repression of communities and organizations resisting dams, and the militarization of their territories, are flagrant violations of human rights. Our dead and persecuted tell us the sad story of dam builders’ violence and of the heroic fight of affected people and their brave decision to continue the struggle for a new way to manage water resources, and to produce and use energy in the service of people.

Privatization processes pushed by the World Bank and IMF have transformed the production of energy and water resources into big business. Corporations make exorbitant profits building dams, selling water, agribusiness and mining.  Many countries are reverting to a semicolonial situation to provide the resources for the consumerist capitalism that dominates present day society.   

Big dams reduce the ability of societies and ecosystems to adapt to global warming. The changing climate is causing grave harm to people and ecosystems and making dams even less safe, less economically viable, and shorter lived. Large reservoirs are a significant source of greenhouse gases.

We oppose the misnamed "Clean Development Mechanism,” promoted by powerful governments and private capital to enable them to offset their GHG emissions, including by building dams. We support the actions being organized by the global movement for climate justice within the framework of the UN climate conference, which will be held in Cancun, Mexico, later this year.

We also join in solidarity with the struggles of La Via Campesina for food sovereignty, which is inseparable from community control of water and energy. We also join in solidarity with those struggling against mining and the privatization of water.

Our demands

Our shared experiences and our five days of rich exchanges have led us to agree:

  • We reaffirm the principles and demands of the declarations of Curitiba and Rasi Salai.
  • We oppose the construction of all socially and environmentally destructive dams. We oppose the construction of any dam that has not been approved by those affected through a decision-making process that is informed and participatory, and that does not meet community-prioritized needs.
  • Governments, funding institutions, and corporations must respect the right of affected people both up- and downstream to public acceptance and informed consent, as recommended by the WCD.
  • Services provided by existing dams must be optimized, and their social and environmental harm minimized and compensated, before the construction of any new project.
  • We demand full respect for the traditional knowledge, and customary management of territories of indigenous and tribal peoples, traditional communities, and small farmers, and their collective rights to self-determination and free, prior and informed consent in water and energy planning and decision-making.
  • Reparations must be made through negotiations to the millions who have suffered because of dams, including through the provision of funds, land, housing and social infrastructure. Dam funders and developers and those who benefit from dams should bear the cost of reparations. Also, there should be community controlled plans and programs for social and economic rehabilitation and development. 
  • We reject the militarization of our territories and the military use of water and dams. There must be a halt to the use of all forms of violence and intimidation against people affected and threatened by dams and organizations opposing dams. 
  • We demand that governments and international organizations respect and protect human rights and cease the persecution of human rights defenders.  
  • Gender equity must be upheld in all water and energy policies, programs and projects.
  • Actions, including dam removal, must be taken to restore ecosystems and livelihoods damaged by dams. All dam operators must put aside funds to pay for the eventual decommissioning of their projects.
  • We oppose the privatization of water and energy provision. We demand democratic, accountable and effective public control and appropriate regulation of electricity and water utilities. Water and energy must not be commodified since they are a public good. As has been recognized by the General Assembly of the UN, water is a human right.  Governments must therefore ensure universal access to adequate and clean water and the protection of water sources from contamination.
  • Policies on water and energy must be submitted to an open and democratic public consultation.  In some countries, multi-stakeholder dialogues on implementing the WCD recommendations may make an important contribution to this.
  • Governments must protect the safety of people downstream of existing dams and upstream of reservoirs including through sufficient investments in dam safety, responsible and participatory dam operation, and the development of participatory plans for warning and evacuations in the case of dam failure, or emergency water releases. 
  • People affected by dams built in another country have the right to full consultation on their construction and operation. National and international river basin authorities must include social movements and NGOs and be participatory and transparent.
  • Governments must invest in research and implementation of just and ecologically responsible energy technologies and water management. Governments must implement policies which discourage waste and overconsumption and guarantee equitable distribution of wealth. 
  • We oppose subsidies for destructive hydropower projects from the Clean Development Mechanism, and we denounce all carbon trading mechanisms.
  • Waterways for navigation should follow the principle “adapt the boat to the river, not the river to the boat.”

We commit ourselves to:

  • Intensifying our struggles and campaigns against destructive dams and hydropower plants, for the rights of people affected or threatened, and for the full reparation of their losses, and river and watershed restoration.
  • Working to implement sustainable and appropriate methods of water and energy management such as rainwater harvesting and community-managed renewable energy schemes.
  • Campaign against consumerism and the consumption of energy-intensive products;
  • Continuing the discussion to collectively construct the principles and guidelines of a model of energy and water resources management, that is environmentally responsible, and in the service of the people.
  • Intensifying exchanges between activists and movements working on dams, water, energy, environmental and climate justice, including through reciprocal visits of affected peoples from different countries.
  • Strengthen our movements by joining with others struggling against destructive development and for global social and ecological justice.
  • Celebrate each year on March 14 the International Day of Action Against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life.

Our struggle against destructive dams and the current model of water and energy management is also a struggle against a social order dominated by the imperative to maximize profits, and is a struggle for a society based on equity and solidarity.

Another model of energy and water management is possible!



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