GLOBAL ECONOMY

Indigenous group pushing for Brazil to end financial backing of mega-projects

SAO LUIZ DO TAPAJOS, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 27:  A members of the Munduruku indigenous tribe holds a young child wearing traditional face paint during  a "Caravan of Resistance'" protest by indigenous groups and supporters who oppose plans to construct a hydroelectric dam on the Tapajos River in the Amazon rainforest on November 27, 2014 in Sao Luiz do Tapajos, Para State, Brazil. Indigenous groups and activists travelled by boat from communities along the river to express resistance to the proposed 8.040- MW Sao Luiz do Tapajos mega-dam, which is one of a series of five dams planned in the region that will flood indigenous lands and national parks. The United Nations climate conference is scheduled to begin December 1 in neighboring Peru. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

SAO LUIZ DO TAPAJOS, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 27: A members of the Munduruku indigenous tribe holds a young child wearing traditional face paint during a "Caravan of Resistance'" protest by indigenous groups and supporters who oppose plans to construct a hydroelectric dam on the Tapajos River in the Amazon rainforest on November 27, 2014 in Sao Luiz do Tapajos, Para State, Brazil. Indigenous groups and activists travelled by boat from communities along the river to express resistance to the proposed 8.040- MW Sao Luiz do Tapajos mega-dam, which is one of a series of five dams planned in the region that will flood indigenous lands and national parks. The United Nations climate conference is scheduled to begin December 1 in neighboring Peru. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)  (2014 Getty Images)

A group representing Amazon indigenous people urged Brazil's National Development Bank on Wednesday to stop financing projects that cause environmental damage.

After meeting with bank representatives, leaders of the Ecuador-based group known as the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin said in a statement that they also asked the bank to adopt policies that safeguard the rights of indigenous to ancestral lands.

The group wants a say in decisions involving large scale projects in the Amazon rain forest, COICA president Edwin Vasquez Campos said.

One such project is the 11,000-megawatt Belo Monte dam under construction on the Xingu River in Brazil's jungle state of Para. The dam would be the world's third-largest hydroelectric energy producer behind China's Three Gorges dam and the Itaipu dam, which straddles the border of Brazil and Paraguay.

The government has said Belo Monte will be a source of clean, renewable energy and is fundamental for the economic development of the country. It says the dam was designed to minimize environmental damage, but environmentalists and indigenous groups say it would devastate wildlife and their livelihoods.

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"We have never been consulted," Campos said in the statement. "Megaprojects like hydroelectric dams and highways affect almost 100 percent of indigenous lands."

COICA represents 390 indigenous groups in Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela and French Guiana.

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