EO and Indigenous Group to Host Historic Forum for Responsible Oil and Gas Development in Peru

Indigenous confederation AIDESEP and EO are co-hosting a first-of-its-kind forum that could shape the future of oil and gas development in Peru for the better. Financial support for the event comes from the U.S. DOI and USAID.

UPDATE October 22 – The forum us about to begin! Follow EO’s Twitter account for live updates. The final event agenda is now available. View agenda: English | Spanish.

UPDATE October 13 – With just over one week remaining until the Forum, we’re pleased to announce that two speakers with extensive and valuable experience with the development of oil and gas resources in indigenous territories in the U.S. have confirmed their participation in the Forum.

Joanie Horn, Director of Oil, Gas, and Minerals for the Crow Nation oversees natural gas development on Crow land. The Crow have been producing natural gas through cooperation with the private sector and the U.S. government since 2009.

Dennis Bodenchuk is the Geology Branch Chief at the Division of Energy and Mineral Development within the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) Office of Indian Energy and Economic development in Denver, Colorado. A trained geologist with over 30 years of experience in energy development in the United States, Mr. Bodenchuk supervises the Division’s work to assist Tribes and Allottees in the responsible development of their energy and mineral resources.

Ms. Horn and Mr. Bodenchuk have previously worked together on a number of oil and gas projects, and bring important perspectives on best practices and Indigenous Rights in the context of oil and gas development to the Forum. For more information about the Forum program, refer to the updated agenda. View agenda: English | Spanish.

UPDATE October 2 – Peru’s Vice-Minister of Interculturality, Patricia Jacquelyn Balbuena Palacios has confirmed her participation in the opening session of the forum on Thursday October 22nd. The panel session, “Opportunities for Social and Economic Development” will explore how oil and gas development can provide benefits to and support the social and economic advancement of indigenous communities. The Vice-Minister works within the Peruvian Ministry of Culture, and her role in the Vice Ministry of Interculturality includes the promotion of equality and inclusion for all cultural groups within the country and ensuring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Vice-Minister Balbuena will share the panel with representatives from AIDESEP, the Hydrocarbon Society industry association, and a representative of the Crow Nation in the U.S.

ORIGINAL POST September 24 – Drawing on its roots in the Amazon Basin, EO will be co-hosting an unprecedented meeting of stakeholders in Peruvian oil and gas development to lay the groundwork for responsible development operations in the country and better outcomes for Indigenous Peoples and the environment. Working with its long time partner AIDESEP, EO is organizing a forum in Lima, Peru on October 22nd and 23rd titled “Indigenous Communities and Extractive Industries: Standards for Quality and Generation of Opportunities Under Equitable Conditions.” Presenters and attendees will include representatives of indigenous communities, government agencies, industry, NGOs, and international development organizations. For the first time in the history of Peruvian oil and gas development, these diverse stakeholders will engage in productive dialogue aimed at setting parameters for responsible future development that minimizes negative social and environmental impacts and maximizes benefits to affected communities. The event has been made possible by funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Initiative for the Conservation in the Andean Amazon and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) International Technical Assistance Program.

More information on the event is available on the official invite to the forum and the official agenda (currently in draft form and subject to change). We will continuously update both the invite and the agenda, and provide updates about who is participating in the event here–so check back on this page for new information as the event approaches. View invitation: English | Spanish View agenda: English | Spanish.

The forum comes at a critical time for oil and gas development in Peru and the economic development of the country as a whole. While the oil and gas sector represents only a small fraction of Peru’s GDP, it is widely recognized as a major obstacle to the country’s efforts to eradicate poverty and promote overall development. Oil production has been in decline since the late 1980s, and oil imports continue to increase as a result of economic growth, making Peru a net importer of hydrocarbons. This status has a significant negative impact on the nation’s trade balance. In this context, increased development of domestic oil and gas resources has the potential to bring notable economic benefits to Peru as a whole.

However, past extractives development in Peru has caused severe environmental degradation and social conflict. An extreme example of this conflict is the 2009 clash between Indigenous peoples and the Peruvian government over oil development in the Amazon. For several months, Indigenous groups vigorously opposed government-sanctioned development projects through political action and civil disobedience. This opposition culminated in an armed confrontation between Indigenous Peoples and the national police force that left 73 people dead and 150 injured.

Proceeding with future oil and gas development in Peru under the status quo risks repetition of violent conflicts with Indigenous Peoples and other opponents of development, as well as transmission of diseases to Indigenous communities in voluntary isolation and environmental damage.

The Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva (AIDESEP), a coalition of indigenous community organizations in the Peruvian Amazon, was at the forefront of the 2009 movement to resist oil and gas development. EO has entered into a cooperation agreement with AIDESEP and conducted a series of workshops with the local indigenous organizations in the areas where future oil and gas projects overlap with Indigenous territories.

The agreement represents AIDESEP’s endorsement of the EO100 Standard for best practices in social and environmental performance in energy development. The purpose of the agreement is the promotion of the E100 Standard as a tool for Indigenous Peoples to ensure that oil and gas development that takes place in their territories conforms to the highest international standards for social and environmental performance.

A gathering of diverse stakeholders at the forum before an expected upswing in oil and gas development in Peru offers an ideal venue for sharing and discussing how the EO100 Standard could be applied to best effect. With the opportunity for stakeholders, particularly communities and companies with development interests, to set expectations and come to an understanding on accepted practices for responsible development and benefit-sharing, comes the possibility of a new future for Peruvian oil and gas development that departs from a past fraught with pollution and conflict.

Of course, the forum does not come with any guaranteed agreements or other outcomes. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Peru will see more oil and gas development in the future, much if it in places of high environmental sensitivity and indigenous territories. Within that reality, a historical gathering of stakeholders for productive dialogue is valuable and promising first step toward more transparent, responsible, and equitable development practices in Peru.