Ecuadorian Indigenous community’s complaint against meat company advances
Stop Financing Factory Farming
17th November '23
Complaint filed with the Inter-American Development Bank’s Independent Investigation Mechanism demands that PRONACA pay for health, environmental damage.
Washington, DC – Late yesterday the Inter-American Development Bank’s Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (MICI) formally accepted a complaint by an Ecuadorian Indigenous community and the country’s leading environmental network demanding redress for the harmful social and environmental impacts of the IDB Invest’s loan for PRONACA. The complaint seeks for the Bank and meat company to address health and environmental harms caused by PRONACA’s operations.
Procesadora Nacional de Alimentos C.A. (“PRONACA”) manages more than 115 industrial pig and poultry factory farm facilities across the country. In 2020, the Inter-American Development Bank granted PRONACA $50 million USD in loans to help the company expand its factory farming operations in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas and other regions of Ecuador.
The complaint, which was formally filed in Spanish by the Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas community on September 18th, outlines the health and environmental harm that PRONACA is currently causing to the Indigenous community, including:
- Health impacts: Residents living in this industrial livestock zone are experiencing higher rates of stomach, lung and skin cancer than people in other provinces with similar climatic and biodiversity characteristics but which are not home to industrial farms or slaughterhouses.
- Water and soil contamination. Testimony from many residents of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas shows that PRONACA’s operations have negatively and severely polluted the water and other ecosystems in that area.
- Air pollution: Odorous emissions from PRONACA’s intensive pig and chicken breeding and slaughtering operations continue to harm the tourism industry and quality of life, causing negative health and economic impacts to surrounding communities.
“Multilateral development banks like the Inter-American Development Bank must uphold their commitment to sustainable development and respect for Indigenous rights,” said Natalia Greene, who leads Defense of Nature and the Environment (CEDENMA), an environmental organization based in Quito, Ecuador. “The impacts of PRONACA’s operations on the Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas community are emblematic of the broader issues associated with factory farming. It’s time for these banks to reevaluate their priorities and consider the true cost of their investments on local communities and ecosystems.”
The complaint also highlights the lack of transparency around the loan’s consideration. IDB Invest granted the loans, despite a history of environmental damages caused by PRONACA and without effective engagement with the impacted local communities. In 2020, when the community learned about the loan, it requested that the IDB Invest provide access to basic information including the purpose of the financed project, the potential locations of the new factory farm expansions, and environmental permit information. More than three years later, the community has still not received an adequate response from the Bank. This lack of engagement with the affected community violates IDB Invest’s own Environmental and Social Policy standards, including Policy Standard 1 which pertains to the “Assessment and Management of Environmental and Social Risks Impacts,” as well as the Bank’s operational guidelines for Indigenous Peoples.
By accepting the complaint, the MICI commits to facilitate a dispute resolution process between the complainant and the company to address the main concerns and harms highlighted in the complaint. If this fails, the next step will be a formal investigation to assess IDB’s Invest compliance with the Sustainability Policy.
In addition to the local community impacts outlined in the complaint, industrial livestock operations have also come under increased scrutiny as a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and biodiversity loss, directly undermining the global fight against climate change.
“PRONACA’s harmful impacts on Indigenous Ecuadorian communities highlights the urgent need for financial institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank to start prioritizing environmental and community interests in their lending operations,” said Ashley Schaeffer Yildiz, Friends of the Earth US, a leader in the Stop Financing Factory Farming coalition. “This complaint sends a clear message that communities affected by industrial farming operations will no longer tolerate the disregard for their health and environment in the name of corporate profits.” You can read a case study (in English) about the project’s impacts here, the complaint here and listen to community members’ testimony in this video.
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