Changes along the road to Dilma – reflections after the IWECI Summit

By Bronte Hogarth

As some of you might know, I came to Brazil for love, but also with a big idea to meet the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. As the International Correspondent for 1 Million Women, I wanted to talk with her, introduce her to 1MW, and maybe make her part of it!

After attending the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit (IWECI) in New York this past week with 1 Million Women, I have rethought what I would say to Dilma if I were to meet her now!

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Me blogging away at the IWECI Summit in New York.

The IWECI Summit went for 3-days and brought 100 women delegates from all around the world together to discuss a women’s action agenda on climate change. 26 year old Mayalu Waura Txucarramae from Xingu, Brazil attended as a delegate and spoke of the Amazon where she lives. She spoke of what’s happening in the Brazilian Amazon and how the Brazilian Government is building the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River, which is one of the Amazon’s major river systems.

There are 19 lawsuits against the Belo Monte Dam monstrosity, which is designed to divert 80% of the Xingu River’s flow. This would cause unthinkable damage to the surrounding land, rainforest and the indigenous people who live there. It would result in the forced displacement of between 20-000 to 40-000 people if it continues to go ahead and yet the voice of Indigenous Brazilians, activist groups and organisations are not being heard, or are just being ignored by the Brazilian Government.

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Mayalu Waura Txucarramae and Maira Irigaray

Belo Monte is being promoted as a green project and a form of clean energy but there is nothing green or clean about this hydroelectric plant that will cause serious human rights violations and irreversible environmental damage.

President Rousseff has already backtracked on policies protecting the Amazon with her decision in 2012 not to veto the Forest Code. This allowed amnesty to landowners in the Amazon who illegally deforested areas before 2008 and reduced obligatory forest cover for current landowners in the Amazon to 50 percent from 80 percent.

bm_dilmapare_bmillikan_061612_300x225Not only that, but the plans for the Belo Monte Dam are based on lies, lies that say that no indigenous peoples will be displaced. Research has also shown that to make the Belo Monte Dam a viable investment for its many dirty investors means the Brazilian government has to build even more dams close by. President Dilma Rousseff blocked the creation of an extractive reserve for local groups and communities upstream of Belo Monte because it would obstruct other dam constructions in the future. What is evident is that the full destruction Belo Monte will cause is still unknown.

These are the things I would talk about with Dilma Rousseff if I were to meet her now.

I would ask her why the Brazilian Government is not meeting their responsibilities to the environment and to the Brazilian people, to the land, to nature, to the rights of the Indigenous and to the lives of future generations! The Amazon is the heart and lungs of this earth, and its continued harm will have an impact on all of humanity.

I would tell her that it’s an environmental crime to go ahead with the Belo Monte Dam, a project fueled by the greed of big corporates interested in unsustainable practices. It’s wrong. You can’t put a price on nature! You can never put a price on nature! and I would demand her to reconsider, because it’s too late for simply asking!

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This project should be ended. The future of energy is renewable energy, not megadams. If Brazil were to invest the billions being spent on the Belo Monte Project into renewable technologies they could address their growing energy needs more sustainably. It’s not just a solution for Brazil, but for the entire world.

I am a young woman trying to do my part to live better for the planet. I do not have the financial power behind me of a big company, or the political power of a government, or the individual following of a celebrity. What I do have is personal power and the collective power of everybody in this movement seeking a better and more sustainable world. Oh and I also have 1 Million Women behind me!

I hope I get to meet President Dilma Rousseff, and that I get to tell her what I think. I hope she will know that you can’t hide an environmental crime so large, not when the world is watching.

Follow me on twitter @brontehogarth

We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.au