Water Lecture on Extractivism and the (mis-)management of water resources: Examples from Brazil

September 20, 2016 | 17:30 h - 19:00 h

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, dear colleagues,

We kindly invite you to our next Bonn Water and Resource Lecture, focusing on “Extractivism and the (mis-)management of water resources: Examples from Brazil”

with Gustavo Tostes Gazzinelli (Brazilian environmental counselor, journalist and activist) and Bruno Milanez (Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil)

Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 5.30 - 7.00 p.m.

Venue: right conference room, Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung, Walter-Flex-Straße 3, 53113 Bonn

Moderator: Wolfraum Laube (Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung, ZEF)


Abstract of the lecture:

Brazil is a major provider of raw materials for the global market and the profits of this trade have been the major source for nation-wide economic growth and social “development” in the last decades. However, because of the overarching importance of natural resource extraction for the Brazilian economy overall, local, regional or social as well as environmental externalities have often been neglected.  This has led to severe tensions and conflicts over land and natural resources on the ground. Using the example of mining, in this public lecture, we aim to highlight its impact on water resources and the social and environmental perils it entails. Mining, as well as processing ore, managing mining residues, and transporting ore in pipelines, are industrial processes that have large hydrological and environmental impact. Large mining water demand generates competition and conflict with domestic and agricultural needs. Furthermore, toxic mining waste frequently contaminates water bodies.  A very sad example was the devastating SAMARCO disaster, in Mariana, Minas Gerais in 2015. Here, the flooding and breaking of a mining tailings dam containing mining waste cost many lives, contaminated the River Doce basin and the coastal areas around its estuary, and cut hundreds of thousands of Brazilians of their water supplies.

Two Brazilian experts, Dr. Bruno Milanez, industrial engineer at the Juiz de Fora Federal University (UFJF) and leader of the research group on ‘Politics, Economy, Mining, Environment and Society (PoEMAS)’, and Gustavo Gazzinelli, experienced civil society representative at the State Council of Water Resources, in Minas Gerais, will discuss how and to which effect, before and in the aftermath of the disaster, various actors (government agencies, companies, social movements, academics, etc.) negotiate the challenges posed by Brazil’s export-oriented mining over water resources management in the peculiar context of Brazil’s extractivist political economy.


About the speakers

Gustavo Tostes Gazzinelli is a journalist who has a large experience in environmental policies and mining industry advancement in Minas Gerais and in Brazil. Gustavo has been active in most relevant mining-related conflicts of the last twenty years, as consultant to communities affected by mining initiatives, as a member of the National Forum of Civil Society in River Basins Committees (FONASC), or yet as one of the founding members of MovSam (Movement for the waters and mountains of Minas), which was decisive to the creation of the Gandarela National Park, in Minas Gerais. Gustavo has extensive experience as a councilor in several environmental agencies at the state and municipal level, as in the State Council of Water Resources, (CERH-MG), legal and institutional technical chamber of CERH-MG; Work Groups on water regulations in CERH-MG, municipal environmental councils of Belo Horizonte (Coman) and Rio Acima (Codema). Finally, he has reviewed many studies and reports about environmental justice and health issues in Brazil, legal suits on the environmental permit of the Capão Xavier mining project, in Belo Horizonte, and carried out several studies about water uses and mining in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Bruno Milanez is a Lecturer at the Department of Industrial and Mechanical Engineering, Juiz de Fora Federal University, Minas Gerais, Brazil and leader of the Politics, Economy, Mining, Environment and Society Research Group. After finishing his Ph.D. in Environmental Policy (2006), at the Lincoln University, New Zealand, he has worked as a consultant for local communities struggling with mining impacts and has several publications related to extractive industries and conflicts.


About the Water Lecture Series:
The Water Lecture series is a joint series organized by the Center for Development Research of the University of Bonn (ZEF), the United Nations Convention on Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the German Development Institute (DIE) and the Eco-Hydrology and Water Resources Management Department of Geography, University of Bonn (University of Bonn).


Wolfram Laube

Dr. Wolfram Laube


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