Target: Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega
Goal: Halt ‘mega-canal’ construction until environmental impacts and indigenous rights violations are independently assessed
A Hong Kong company, called HKND, has made a deal with the Nicaraguan government to construct a canal crossing 186 miles of Nicaragua. By connecting the Pacific with the Caribbean, the canal is expected to channel new tax revenues into Nicaragua’s developing economy. Nicaragua is expected to see an 8% boost to their GDP after the canal is completed. However, the canal’s construction was approved without an environmental impact assessment so the construction could cause serious problems for the local ecosystem.
Environmental scientists, writing in the journal Nature, warn that the current plan is estimated to destroy 400,000 hectares of rainforest and wetlands. If that were the only cost, it would be harmful enough to warrant investigation into alternatives. Rainforests account for 30% of the global carbon sink and are teeming with unique species. Therefore, the project could accelerate climate change while wiping out animal life.
However, the canal would also have additional environmental consequences. Its construction would cut off parts of viable animal migration routes, causing unpredictable changes to the surrounding area’s ecosystems. The canal would also threaten endangered native fish populations who are already losing food supplies to invasive species.
In addition to the environmental harm, the canal ignores promises made to the indigenous population of Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan Constitution clearly states that the land is owned by the indigenous people and that the indigenous people are autonomous. Nevertheless, the canal has sparked an amendment to the Constitution allowing for a plan to take the land and reimburse the native people without any form of indigenous participation.
Encourage the president of Nicaragua to place a temporary halt on construction of the canal to allow time for alternatives to be assessed and considered.
Dear President Daniel Ortega,
The 186-mile HKND canal connecting the Pacific to the Caribbean will improve many Nicaraguans’ quality of life. The economic benefits of the canal are undeniable.
However, reportedly 400,000 hectares of rainforest and wetlands would be destroyed in order to build the canal. Destruction of these habits on this scale would certainly constitute a significant climate change accelerant. The canal will also harm many native wildlife populations, possibly wiping them out.
In addition, this project breaks the government’s promise of autonomy and land ownership to the indigenous people of Nicaragua. The people deserve some input into the shaping of canal plans to minimize the damage to indigenous rights.
For these reasons, I urge you to halt construction of the Nicaraguan ‘mega-canal’ until a full environmental and indigenous assessment can be performed by independent experts.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Dozenist via Wikimedia Commons