Changing how we build hydropower infrastructure for the common good: lessons from the Brazilian Amazon




Hydropower. Dams. Social impacts assessment. Environmental impacts assessment. Deforestation. Resettlement.


Infrastructure projects like roads and hydroelectric dams are meant to help achieve national economic development goals in Brazil and the Amazon. In the case of hydropower dams, they have a very specific goal: that of producing energy from water sources. Unfortunately, that objective is frequently associated with environmental and social damages that result from the construction of dams. In the Amazon these damages are more serious in terms of the impacts on biological and cultural diversity. The research for this paper is based on 5 years of study by an interdisciplinary team using survey and ethnographic methods, both qualitative and quantitative. This history is repeated frequently, and it becomes necessary to ask what types of changes would be necessary to hydropower projects to begin to have social and environmental positive results. This paper explores the causes of the problems posed by dams and suggests solutions in the process of approval, construction and operation of hydropower dams that could lead to better outcomes for the common good of society.

***Mudando a maneira como construímos a infraestrutura hidrelétrica para o bem comum: lições da Amazônia brasileira***

Projetos de infraestrutura como estradas e hidrelétricas são usados para o desenvolvimento econômico e nacional no Brasil e na Amazônia. As hidrelétricas, em particular, têm um foco na produção de energia de fontes hídricas. Infelizmente, frequentemente, esse objetivo está associado a danos ambientais e sociais que resultam da construção das barragens hidrelétricas. Na Amazônia tais danos são ainda mais sérios em termos dos impactos sobre a diversidade biológica e cultural. Esta pesquisa de cinco anos envolveu uma equipe interdisciplinar usando métodos de survey, etnográficos, qualitativos e quantitativos. Esta história se repete com frequência e torna-se necessário questionar quais alterações seriam necessárias para que projetos hidrelétricos possam gerar resultados mais positivos em termos ambientais e sociais. Este trabalho explora as causas dos problemas causados pelas hidrelétricas e sugere soluções de melhorias dos processos de aprovação, construção, e operação desses empreendimentos a fim de alcançar o bem comum da sociedade.

Palavras-chave: Hidrelétricas. Barragens. Avaliação de impactos sociais. Avaliação de impactos ambientais. Desmatamento. Reassentamento.


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Biografia do Autor

Emilio Federico Moran, Michigan State University (MSU), East Lansing, MI

John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations and Dept. of Geography, Michigan State University (MSU), East Lansing, MI, USA.


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Como Citar

Moran, E. F. (2020). Changing how we build hydropower infrastructure for the common good: lessons from the Brazilian Amazon. Civitas: Revista De Ciências Sociais, 20(1), 5–15.



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