Comments to TÜV SÜD on Baba Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project (Ecuador)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Comments on the proposed CDM project: Baba Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project (MBHP)


International Rivers submission to the project validator TÜV SÜD

September 15, 2008 (resubmitted October 15)

Summary of Comments

MBHP should not be positively validated for the following reasons:

  • It is most likely non-additional. The draft CDM Validation and Verification Manual (VVM) guidelines by the CDM Executive Board lead to a negative assessment of the additionality of this project.
  • Previous violence and intimidation against members of communities affected by the project does not allow for open stakeholder consultants as is required for all CDM projects, since community members could likely not state their honest opinions on the project without fear of repercussion. Further, stakeholder consultations requirements have not been met, since very few project stakeholders were invited to attend public consultations.
  • The Environmental Impact Assessment still ignores many of the expected project impacts.


There are a number of indicators that the project is non-additional:

In the section "Consideration of CDM Benefits", the project design document (PDD) states the date that the PDD was written and modified, but does not argue or provide evidence that the CDM was a deciding factor in the development of the project. According to the draft VVM "If the DOE establishes that the CDM was considered in the decision to proceed with the project activity it shall then undertake an assessment to determine whether or not this consideration was serious, i.e. whether or not the project activity would have been undertaken without the incentive of the CDM." (Paragraph 127). The PDD does not make such an argument. The guidance instructs that the Designated Operating Entity (DOEs, or validators) should judge not whether the CDM was considered in the decision to build the project, but whether it was a deciding factor in make a project go forward, that would not have gone forward without the CDM.

Also, the project start date was November 2006, almost two years before the start of project validation. The VVM states "If there is a significant gap between the start date of the project activity and the commencement of validation the DOE shall query how it was possible for the project participant to commit funds to the project in advance of receiving a positive validation opinion." (ibid.) This means that if a project started before a positive validation assessment, the project should be deemed non-additional, except for an unusual case in which there is strong and clear evidence as to how the CDM was a necessary deciding factor in the decision to start the project.

One more indication that the project is non-additional is that President Lucio Gutiérres Borbúa of Ecuador declared under Article 2174 on 2004 that the Multipurpose Baba Project (the Baba hidroject and the Baba-Daule Peripa Transvase) is a national priority project. National priority projects are not likely to be influenced much by a small and uncertain increase in project revenues.

Stakeholder consultations:

Any case where there is intimidation or the violent suppression of protest, , , the public consultation requirements can not be considered as met, for the people "participating" are fearful of the repercussions of expressing their true views about the project. Such a project should be negatively validated, as not having met the public consultation requirements. In the case of this project activity, the intimidation seems to have been extreme. The comments submitted by AIDA, Earthjustice and ECOLEX to TUV SUD on this project document that some community members who spoke out against the dam have received anonymous death threats, and some have been charged with criminal charges without evidence. One community organizer who spoke out against the dam was murdered, and his body was found dumped at the dam site (; see also El Universo news article).

There are other ways that the stakeholder consultations for this project do not meet the minimal stakeholder consultation requirements for all CDM projects (see Guidelines). These guidelines state that "An invitation for comments by local stakeholders shall be made in an open and transparent manner...". In the case of this project, according to the PDD, only 35 people were invited as "stakeholder representatives" for interviews and the public consultation session. Instead, it is required that all local stakeholders be invited to give comments and their concerns taken into account.


Guidelines for Completing the Project Design Document (CDM-PDD), (see Guidelines) require: "If environmental impacts are considered significant by the project participants or the host Party, please provide conclusions and all references to support documentation of an environmental impact assessment undertaken in accordance with the procedures as required by the host Party." The environmental impacts of this project have been documented as significant[1]. TÜV SÜD should consider these potential impacts in evaluating if the EIA requirements have been met, including:

  • The EIA states that the number of people who would be affected by Baba is 191, but German NGO FIAN estimates that there are close to 20,000 people who would be affected, including urban and rural populations living downstream and upstream of the proposed dam site whose livelihoods are based on subsistence agriculture and fishing, and those who work for large agricultural plantations.
  • Adequate information to predict impacts on water quality downstream of the reservoir are absent from the studies. The EIA does not analyze the potential for the concentration of heavy metals and inorganic or organic compounds in the reservoir area. The potential concentration of chemicals such as iron, manganese, nickel, lead, mercury and arsenic could affect the water quality downstream, making it unsuitable for agriculture or domestic consumption.
  • The environmental and social management plan provides a list of proposed mitigation measures, but there is no budget for the plan and no mention of who will be responsible for funding and implementing the measures.


Barbara Haya

Consultant, International Rivers

[1] Monti Aguirre et al., Letter to Inter-American Development Bank from International NGOs regarding Baba Hydroelectric Project, April 26 2007.