Export Development Canada finances Calgary-based Parex Resources in Colombia
Earlier this month, Peace Brigades International signed this letter that highlights: “The activities of [public development banks] have repeatedly exacerbated poverty, widened inequalities and fuelled human rights violations (such as reprisals, land grabbing and forced evictions) without access to any useful remedies for affected communities.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has further commented: “We call on leaders and governments to recognise that climate change and environmental degradation severely undermine the human rights of their people, particularly those in vulnerable situations – including the generations of tomorrow.”
Despite the climate crisis and its related human rights implications, Export Development Canada (EDC), the Government of Canada’s export credit agency, provides on average nearly fourteen billion dollars in support to oil and gas companies each year.
For instance, EDC has provided financing and support to Calgary-based Parex Resources Inc. in Colombia including: $50-100 million (27-05-2019): $50-100 million (22-02-2019); and $25-50 million (07-05-2018).
This despite concerns raised by the Yariguíes Regional Corporation Group of Extractive, Environmental and Social Studies of Magdalena Medio (CRY-GEAM) has raised about the Aguas Blancas oil field operated by Parex in the municipality of Simacota, Santander in northeastern Colombia.
In January 2017, CRY-GEAM posted this video on Facebook noting concerns about the absence of needed environmental documents and in April 2017 this photo of a truck on Facebook with concerns about runoff into the Colorada River.
In April 2017, CRY-GEAM also posted this video on Twitter with the text: “Parex in Simacota, Campo Aguas Blancas, without archaeological management plan, without environmental permit, above the law and communities. Who responds?”
Beyond the concerns expressed about Parex and Aguas Blancas, Reuters reported in March 2019: “At least five companies are interested in six fracking blocs in Colombia…” In that article, Colombian Mines and Energy Minister Maria Fernanda Suarez named Parex as one of the companies interested in the fracking blocs.
Additionally, Claudio Ramirez, the senior trade commissioner for Global Affairs Canada in Bogota, highlighted in this EDC blog: “Colombian resources are depleting fast, so there’s a push to increase exploration through the auction of new blocks. Technologies related to oil recovery and mature fields are much sought after, as well as in the development of unconventional resources, like fracking and deep-water exploration.”
Colombian human rights defenders have expressed concern about the social and environmental harms, as well as the political repression, that can be expected should these fracking pilot projects proceed as planned in 2021.
The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) outlines state and corporate responsibilities to protect human rights.
The UN’s Guiding Principles include: “In order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts, business enterprises should carry out human rights due diligence. The process should include assessing actual and potential human rights impacts, integrating and acting upon the findings, tracking responses, and communicating how impacts are addressed.”
It is unclear how Parex understands their responsibilities under the UN’s Guiding Principles in relation to the fracking pilot projects in Colombia.
In advance of the Finance in Common summit this coming November 10-12, PBI-Canada affirms this call for EDC to end its financing of the extraction of fossil fuels and to deny support to any corporation with a record of human rights violations.