Nicaragua: Social, environmental concerns associated with Chinese firm HKND Group's major canal project


The Interoceanic Canal, concessioned to the Chinese Company HKND Group [Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development] is a $50 billion project.  The canal, which will be approximately 278km long and would reportedly pass through 282 communities' lands, has led to concerns by indigenous communities, environmentalists, and other parts of Nicaraguan society. These groups are concerned about potential environmental impacts, displacement, lack of transparency and other human rights abuses.  Protesters have reportedly faced harassment and repression. 

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited HKND Group to respond to these concerns.  Response provided below.

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Author: Chris Kraul, 中外對話

... 這項由中國商人王靖提議、造價為500億美元的運河工程獲得了尼加拉瓜政府的全力支持... 該運河工程獲得了許多尼加拉瓜人的支持...另一些尼加拉瓜人和國內外科學家們則認為這項工程將帶來一場環境災難,威脅該國大量的生態系統。此外,由於運河將穿過原住民的領地,因此包括原住民在內的數以萬計的尼加拉瓜人將失去家園... 頻繁往來的超級油輪和貨船將威脅到敏感的海洋生態系統,包括面積為250平方英里的 哥倫比亞生物圈保護區 ,這裡有加勒比海第二大珊瑚礁系統...

對大多數尼加拉瓜人來說,運河的環境影響只是很不起眼的次要問題,首要的問題還是運河帶來的經濟刺激... 尼加拉瓜國會通過的特別法律授權HKND公司可以在事先被界定為半獨立的土地上進行建設。關於運河導致的移民人數有各種各樣的估算,從3萬到10萬以上不等... 大自然保護協會的科學家喬·基耶塞科指出,運河項目缺少一個深入、獨立的環境影響評估...

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10 May 2015

Nicaragua: Inter-ocean canal could cause major social, environmental harm, says expert – previous response by HKND provided

Author: Chris Kraul, Yale Environment 360 & Chinadialogue


“Nicaragua Canal: A giant project with huge environmental costs” 5 May 2015

…[P]reliminary work has already begun…before the….environmental impact assessment…Nicaraguans, as well as…scientists, say the canal would be an environmental catastrophe…it would also displace tens of thousands of Nicaraguans, including indigenous people…Some skeptics think that rather than building the canal, Wang Jing [from HKND] has set his sights on building nine “sub-projects”...Researchers were concerned that the lake dredging…would compromise the lake’s water quality…Scientists worry…about…what the environment could do to the canal. Nicaragua is the scene of frequent seismic and volcanic activity and…hurricanes…“By international standards, HKND hasn’t presented even 1 percent of the information to the public that it should…”[according to expert]…

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre previously invited HKND Group to respond to concerns related to the canal construction; the response is available here‏.

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25 January 2015

Experts say canal would pass through 282 communities & could have significant environmental impacts

Author: Lucas Laursen, Nature (USA)

“Nicaragua defies canal protests”, 27 December 2014

…An [independent] assessment…concluded that the canal would cause “very significant environmental impacts”, and probably would not have been approved under Nicaragua’s usual rules…The Humboldt centre estimates that the canal zone will pass through or near 282 communities, including a large tract of indigenous communal land. The canal concession gives HKND the right to seize this and other land, and Nicaraguans far from the canal route have reported visits to their land by Chinese surveyors accompanied by Nicaraguan military escorts…

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25 January 2015

Opponents & journalists reportedly harassed & abused by police

Author: Lindsay Fendt & AFP, The Tico Times (Costa Rica)

“Journalists harassed, detained in latest chapter of Nicaragua canal saga”, 7 January 2015

Canal protesters aren’t the only ones clashing with police in Nicaragua…[J]ournalists…have been harassed, detained and even robbed by police... El Tule was one of the sites of recent violent protests by landowners who fear their properties will be seized and other canal opponents. Some were severely beaten and spent days in jail…[P]ressure..has been coupled with a glaring lack of transparency regarding many details of the massive project. Already weeks into initial construction, HKND has yet to release any of the required environmental or social impact assessments to the public...

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25 January 2015

Thousands protest against canal raising concerns about lack of adequate compensation for land

Author: BBC (UK)

“Nicaraguans protest against canal plans”, 10 December 2014

Thousands of people have marched through the streets of Nicaragua's capital, Managua, to protest against a canal project that will link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans…The demonstrators said their land was being taken away to make room for the planned $50bn…project…The waterway will be 278km (172 miles) long and will be deeper and wider than the Panama Canal…There have been questions raised about the finances underpinning the project and allegations that Wang Jing, the Chinese businessman behind the plan, lacks experience in developing and financing big infrastructure projects...

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Company response
22 January 2015

HKND Group response

Author: HKND Group

[W]e are developing the project based on the principles of legality, transparency and fairness…[W]e have encouraged all the stakeholders to express openly their concerns and questions in a respectful and harmonious way. HKND Group strongly condemns the events that have developed into acts of violence and that have equally put at risk the life of civilians, policemen and our workers…The resettlement work will be based on the principles of being equitable, fair, public and transparent…The Advance Report of the Feasibility Studies and the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of the Project is available on our website…

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