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1 Apr 2023

Below ground: Human rights and renewable energy value chains in the Andes


South America's Andes region is at the crosshairs of the global energy transition. As the mining and renewable energy industries rapidly expand to facilitate a swift transition to clean energy, significant deposits of essential minerals such as lithium and copper mean the region will play an ever more crucial role in renewable technology value chains. Yet, without due attention to human rights, such an expansion risks repeating a centuries-long model of harmful extractivism and exploitation of Indigenous and peasant communities in Latin America, driving a new form of “green colonialism”.

This report looks at examples of alleged rights abuse linked to mining operations in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, with research carried out by our partner organisations Acción Ecológica, Corporación Geoambiental Terrae and Derechos Humanos y Medio Ambiente (DHUMA).

Building on in-depth analysis carried out by our partner organisations, we identified allegations of attacks against human rights defenders; environmental issues such as air, soil and water contamination; failure to comply with environmental standards and failure to address harms; and lack of respect for Indigenous Peoples’ and Afro-descendants’ rights.

The allegations and mines covered in this report provide an instructive snapshot of the risks to local communities, the environment and the energy transition at large if respect for human rights and effective due diligence is not urgently embedded in the transition mineral sector.

Transition minerals and renewable energy in the Andes

Explore all our resources on transition minerals and renewable energy in the Andes region