Peru's Oil Exploration Violates UN Guidelines on Uncontacted Tribes

Peru continues to approve oil and gas projects despite previous exploration leading the death of half the Nahua tribe.

Take this as a counterpoint to what I wrote about yesterday, how Peru is the only nation in the world successfully meeting the UNDP definition of high human development while still consuming a globally sustainable level of natural resources. It's a well-timed example of how, well, no place is perfect in the details, even if in aggregate things look good.

Literally minutes after I wrote the Peru post, Survival International sent me a press release on how oil and gas exploration in the nation continues in violation of UN guidelines for the protection of uncontacted tribes—who definitely seem to want to remain that way, and are getting the short pointed end of the industrial stick right now.

Instead of backing the UN’s landmark report, which supports the tribes’ right to be left alone, Peru is allowing the country’s largest gas project to expand further into indigenous territories known to house numerous uncontacted Indians.

The new UN guidance makes clear that uncontacted tribes’ land should be untouchable, and that ‘no rights should be granted that involve the use of natural resources’.

The expansion plan adds to existing controversies around Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol and its notorious Camisea project in southeast Peru.

Survival International then quotes a member of the Nahua people, who lives close to the development:

The company should not be here. All the time we hear helicopters. Our animals have left, there are no fish. For this, I don't want the company. No! No company.

Well, no place is perfect...
Similar examples can certainly be found in other countries very nearly hitting the sustainability sweet spot WWF Global defined.

Though Cuba is very nearly in that sweet spot in terms of resource usage and development, the politics of the nation certainly leave much to be desired in terms of political freedom and political dissent. I for one applaud the nation for its organic agriculture transition, health care and other issues, but not for one second on its constrained (to put it mildly) domestic politics.

Ecuador and Colombia, also just about hit the mark in terms of ecological sustainability, could just as easily and justly be poked at for other important issues, or in how well lofty environmental rhetoric is actually implemented.

Suffice it to say that no place is perfect, nor can be, even if they've managed, wittingly or unwittingly, to be great statistical examples of where we need to go in terms of balancing human development and resource consumption.

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