February 10, 2009
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- While we're waiting for the G20 Summit to begin here in Los Cabos on Monday, let's recall some of the commitments G20 leaders made last year towards investing in large infrastructure. By and large, all the commitments boost public sector spending in order to lower the risks of private sector participation in highly risky sectors, including hydropower.
- The business sectors of the G20 countries – known as the B20 – presented their policy recommendations today for "green growth" at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. The B20 recommendations include some forward-looking steps, including a recommendation to partially eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and to price carbon. However, the recommendations endorse a regressive, business-as-usual approach to hydropower that would cause huge impacts on freshwater river ecosystems.
- Today's final G-20 declaration may have weak language, if any, on the sustainability of Earth's natural systems, in distinction to Earth's natural resources, from which growth and jobs may be created.
- Tuesday's G-20 Leaders' Declaration, and a progress report from the G-20 Development Working Group, brought no surprises. Both note support for the implementation of eleven large infrastructure projects, among them the massive Grand Inga Dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More worrisome, however, is that these projects could be "pre-approved" for public and private financing before even feasibility studies are completed.
- G-20 leaders released their Plan on Infrastructure, which recommends building what would be the world's largest hydropower scheme, the controversial Grand Inga Dam on the Congo River, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Civil society organization International Rivers immediately criticized the project as neither inclusive nor green, stating that donors have already spent billions in aid dollars for dams and transmission projects on the Congo River, yet 94% of the country's population still has no access to electricity. International River’s new report, entitled Infrastructure for Whom?, calls on the G-20 leaders to change course on the controversial infrastructure strategy.