The Social & Environmental Impacts of Foreign Development Finance in the Western Amazon

Scores of dams are being built in the upper headwaters and tributaries of the Amazon River. The consequences for the Amazonian ecosystem are poorly understood, but are likely to include changes in migration patterns and the cycling and distribution of nutrients. The dams will affect river-dependent people and could worsen flooding in some areas, while generating substantial methane emissions. Other megaprojects, notably petroleum drilling and mineral excavation, raise similar concerns. Increasingly, these endeavors are funded by new international powerhouses such as Chinese financial institutions and the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES). Whereas civil society has won reforms to boost transparency and citizen participation for projects backed by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, these new players (and the projects they fund) operate largely in a vacuum of oversight and accountability. Bill and Veronica will focus their reporting on two Andean-Amazonian countries, Ecuador and Peru, following the money, analyzing the politics, and exploring the potential environmental and human costs.

Born in Peru, Veronica has lived in Brazil for more than two decades. She served as a correspondent for news agencies like Dow Jones and mergermarket (owned by The Financial Times), covering the Brazilian economy and financial markets. She was the Brazil Editor of the Chile-based magazine AméricaEconomía and a researcher for the Intelligence Unit of the Chile-based news agency, Business News Americas (BNA), focusing on infrastructure, energy, biofuels and logistics. She was president of the Brazilian Foreign Correspondents Association (ACE) from 2000 to 2009, and co-editor of the books “Guerra e Imprensa. Um olhar crítico sobre a cobertura da Guerra do Iraque” (São Paulo, Summus, 2003), about the coverage of the Iraq War, and “Brazil dos Correspondentes” (São Paulo, Merito, 2008). Today, she teaches journalism at ESPM, São Paulo. Since 2002, she has been the Brazil correspondent for ABC, a Spanish newspaper.

Bill Hinchberger (@hinchberger) is a Paris-based freelance writer, communications consultant and educator. A native of California, he lived in Latin America for over two decades, reporting for media such as The Financial Times and Business Week. He served as president of the São Paulo foreign press club and founded the online travel guide His dispatches from the Amazon have appeared in venues such as Science, National Wildlife, EcoAméricas, De Financieel Economische Tijd, and Courrier International. In 2013 he produced a series of reports about cross-boundary watershed management issues in the Andes for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUNC). Bill studied at Berkeley and has taught at CELSA, the Sorbonne’s graduate school of communications. Assignments have taken him to over 30 countries, from Cuba to Egypt, India, Kenya, Turkey, and beyond.