Target: President-Designate of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Jin Liqun, Chairman of Brazilian Development Bank Luciano Coutinho
Goal: Minimize the environmental damage occurring from infrastructure development in the wilderness of developing countries.
Large areas of wilderness across the Amazon, Asia and Africa are under threat from road building projects and the accompanying effects of large-scale infrastructure development. Estimates place the length of new roads to be built by 2050 at 25 million kilometers, with roughly 90 percent of these being built in developing countries.
Infrastructure projects in these countries, which are home to some of the world’s last remaining wildernesses, tend to skirt around the law regarding environmental issues. In the Amazon, for example, roughly 95 percent of forest destruction takes place within 5km of a road, and for every 1km of road there is roughly 3km of illegal roads attached.
In the Congo, more than 50,000km of roads have been paved into the rainforest, which has led to increased logging and poaching activity in the newly cleared areas. The practice has contributed to the rise of the illegal ivory trade as well, with poachers killing approximately two thirds of forest elephants that used to live there in the last decade.
Around $60 – $70 trillion will be spent on the construction of these roads and systems over the next 15 years by the G20 nations, with a large portion of the funds coming from international development banks. One of these banks, Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), has already funded some damaging infrastructure projects such as dams in the Amazon which have flooded forested areas, and related road construction that has led to further deforestation. Another institution, The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, is a new entity mostly financed by China, which has a bad track record when it comes to international environmental concerns relating to business.
Other methods of infrastructure development are possible in these areas, such as using existing waterways or improvement of already-existing roads. Sign this petition to convince these financial institutions that further destruction of our planet’s wilderness areas can only end in environmental disaster.
Dear President-Designate Liquna and Chairman Coutinho,
The last pristine wildernesses of the developing world are under threat from road building projects that will be financed in part by your development bank. With some 25 million kilometers of new roads proposed to be built, and $60 – $70 trillion estimated to be spent, the temptation to ignore environmental concerns in the name of economic progress must be great. However, I must implore you to look at the bigger picture.
In these developing nations, the rule of law is not closely adhered to when there are issues regarding damage to the environment. In the Amazon, there are three times as many illegal roads through the forested areas as there are legal, with 95 percent of the deforestation and accompanying damage occurring within 5 kilometers of these roads. In Africa, the development of roads through rainforests has directly contributed to the decline of elephant populations and unsustainable logging, along with increased ivory smuggling and bushmeat trade.
Ignoring these concerns will be devastating to the planet in the long run, and other methods do exist for the development of transport systems in these areas. I urge you and your peers in financial institutions around the world to set aside the short-term drive towards economic growth and exploitation of natural resources at the expense of the planet, and to consider alternative, less-damaging options when it comes to infrastructure and development.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Hayden