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Investors urged to consider human rights in renewable energy investments

Author: Laurie Goering, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Published on: 2 May 2017

Last year, a planned $150 million Kenyan wind park was cancelled after protests and land disputes, according to a report by the London-based Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and two investor group partners. Another wind farm in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, similarly, has been stalled for years after a dispute over access by local people to project land. Such conflicts, which are on the rise as countries rush to meet clean energy goals under the Paris Agreement on climate change, can result in losses for investors – and slowdowns in getting renewable energy online – unless investors take care to ensure communities and local rights are protected, the report said. "We see a very strong need for renewable energy to tackle climate change, but we want to make sure that the renewable energy sector and investors don't make the same mistakes as past energy (investors)" in things like coal and oil, said Eniko Horvath, a senior researcher with the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre...Currently only five of 50 wind and hydropower companies surveyed around the world appear to have a clear focus on respecting the rights of indigenous people and ensuring their projects have been given what is known as "free, prior and informed consent" by local people, said Phil Bloomer, the centre's executive director...some investors are becoming aware of the potential risks – including high legal costs and damage to reputation – when clean energy projects are slowed or cancelled as a result of protests. But they remain a minority..

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