Participants were appalled to hear that the widely accepted international standards for Social and Environmental Impact Assessments (SEIA) were not upheld.
The participants attended the recently concluded Southeast Asia Renewable Energy People’s Assembly (SEAREPA) held in Sandakan, Sabah.
In their declaration, participants stressed that they had discussed renewable energy concerns across the region and were deeply concerned by the construction of 12 planned mega-dams to power polluting industries in Sarawak.
“Across Southeast Asia, we have witnessed the inefficiency, failure and destruction caused by similar mega-dam projects.
“We have also witnessed the potential of community-based renewable energy projects and unanimously believe that instead of continuing to develop these mega-dams, there are many energy alternatives that are more efficient, environmentally friendly and socially and culturally inclusive.
“We have been deeply moved to hear the struggles of indigenous peoples of Sarawak. We are appalled to note that their rights continue to be overlooked and abused in the creation of these mega-dams and polluting industries,” participants said in their joint declaration which was emailed to FMT.
In a second declaration, SEAREPA participants, who were in Sandakan from Oct 29 to Nov 2, also unanimously voted to reject the ongoing development of the 944 Megawatt Murum Dam in Sarawak that will forcibly remove Penan and Kenyah Badeng indigenous villages, displacing 1,600 people.
Participants expressed disappointment that the widely accepted international standards of the Equator Principles that state the need for Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) for large scale projects at the planning stage were not upheld.
“The SEIA for the resettlement of the Murum Dam was only released after 75 per cent of the dam was completed.
“We call upon the Malaysian state of Sarawak to subscribe to guidelines as listed under the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that Malaysia is a signatory of.
“We also urge the government of Sarawak and international investors to consider the benefits of community-based renewable energy alternatives that are more efficient, environmentally friendly and culturally and socially inclusive.
“We stand in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Sarawak currently struggling to protect their lands from impending destruction as a result of the construction of the Murum Dam,” participants said.