[Campaign update] More EBRD cash for Georgia dams should be cautionary tale for other development banks
The European Investment Bank is set to decide on the billion dollar Nenskra dam project during its board meeting today.
Petr Hlobil, Campaigns director | 5 February 2018
EIB staff receive cups of water with a message of solidarity for the people of Svaneti during the bank's annual meeting with civil society.
On 31 January the EBRD approved a loan of USD 214 million and USD 15 million in equity for construction of the Nenskra hydro power plant. It is a disappointing decision for those who care about the rights of local communities and about the people of Svaneti . The board had been made well aware of the incomplete environmental and social impact assessments, about the flawed project consultation, conflicts with the Bern Convention and the concerns of local people about natural hazards like lands slides. And yet they listen to bank staff and believe the arguements of the project sponsor arguments that these issues can be address later.
What will happen if those issues are not properly addressed? Will Svans in the Nenskra and Nakra valleys be able to hold accountable the EBRD and those responsible for the project? Locals have no reason to believe in the Georgian court system, and it is not surprising that the EBRD, together with other development banks, is fiercely opposed to any suggestion that their actions could be reviewed by independent courts. However bad this decision, it does not mean that we will stop looking to explore new avenues for redress, including those within the EU.
There are still another four development banks yet to decide on the Nenskra project – including the EIB on Tuesday 5 February – and it will be interesting to see how much their boards will honour the policies of their respective institutions and insist that staff ensures that these policies are fully applied before an investment decision on the project is made.