After the mud: reflections about a socio-environmental accident with large impact

  • After the mud: reflections about a socio-environmental accident with large impact

    As part of the methodology, a field study was also carried out in the region immediately affected by the dam’s failure in November 2015. The results – notwithstanding temporary positive effects on education and health indicators, the low diversification of economic activities, and the small proportion of government budgets assigned to environmental management – show the lack of sustainability of the current local development model in the medium and long term. There is still some social and environmental damage that has not been measured, and this interferes strongly with strategies for reparations and compensation for affected individuals and groups. The authors identified the following failures that may have contributed to the accident: flawed inspections following the issuing of environmental licenses; a lack of technical analysis by the environmental regulator of reports submitted by the company; and a lack of thorough analysis of requests to adjust the dam’s license conditions. Local residents affected by the accident have experienced a context of “social stigmatization” in Mariana, as many people in the region believe they are the main cause of the shutdown of Samarco’s activities and the consequent local economic crisis. Thus, the authors infer that the sustainability of development has not been a priority for local public managers. Furthermore, the study presents an analysis of all the stages in environmental licensing, and it shows how instruments for evaluating social and environmental impacts are fragile in Brazil. Based on their research, the authors suggest that the regulatory authorities invest their efforts in more rigorously applying preventive instruments, such as properly conducted environmental licensing, appropriate ecological and economic zoning, and high-quality environmental impact assessments. The study identifies the urgent need to examine productive alternatives for Mariana and other municipalities affected by mining activity in Minas Gerais and across Brazil. It also shows the need to rethink the model of implementing and operating large projects, which is currently applied disproportionately in Brazil, without considering the different groups involved in a coordinated way.

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  • Paulo Augusto Franco de Alcântara

    PhD in Cultural Anthropology from UFRJ, Master in Sociology and Law from UFF and Bachelor of Law from UFOP. He is currently a researcher at the Center for Research in Law and Economics (CPDE) at FGV’s Rio de Janeiro Law School (FGV Direito Rio). He is a researcher at the Center for Research in Culture and Economics (NuCEc) and also at the Center for Visual Anthropology and the Center for Research in Anthropology (CRIA-Portugal). He has experience in the areas of Anthropology and Sociology through his interactions with Economics, Law and Image Studies, with emphasis on rural studies, working mainly on the following topics: ordinary economic practices; credit / debt; daily life in and through memory; Brazilian social thought; images and representations of the family peasantry in the national culture; private files; images (in particular, visual culture in rural areas).

  • Antônio José Maristrello Porto

    Law Degree from the Octávio Bastos Teaching Foundation, Master of Laws (LL.M.) from the University of Illinois, Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) from the University of Illinois. He is currently associate dean of FGV’s Rio de Janeiro Law School (FGV Direito Rio) and coordinator of the Center for Research in Law and Economics (CPDE) of FGV Direito Rio. He is the representative of CPDE in the Council of Economic Analysis and the State of Rio de Janeiro.

  • Bianca Borges Medeiros Pavão

    PhD student in Public Policies and Sustainability from the UnB Sustainable Development Center. She holds a Master's Degree in Environmental Planning and Management from UFRJ’s Postgraduate Program in Geography, specialization in Environmental Management from UFRJ and Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from UFRJ. She currently discusses the political-institutional design of water regulation in Brazil and water crisis scenarios.

  • Laura Meneghel dos Santos

    PhD student and Master in Public Policies, Strategies and Development from the UFRJ Institute of Economics. Graduated in Economics from Unicamp. She was a research assistant at the Center for Research in Law and Economics (CPDE) of FGV’s Rio de Janeiro Law School (FGV Direito Rio) and was a trainee at Unicamp's Nucleus of Food Studies and Research (NEPA), where she conducted research related to the evaluation of public policies. She completed a student exchange semester at the University of Porto. She has experience in multidisciplinary research in the areas of Economics, Law, Public Policy and Environment.

  • Natasha Salinas

    Doctor and Master in Law from USP. Graduated in Law from USP, specializing in Political, Administrative and Financial Law, and Master of Laws (LL.M.) from Yale University. She was also a Visiting Researcher at Yale Law School and Fellow at FGV’s Rio de Janeiro Law School (FGV Direito Rio). Exclusively dedicated professor at FGV Direito Rio. She was an Adjunct Professor at UNIFESP. She has experience in the area of Law and Society, with emphasis on sociology of institutions of public law. She is currently developing research in the areas of legislative design of public policies, impact assessment of legislation, partnerships between state and third sector entities, environmental regulation and transplantation of legal institutions under public law.

  • Rômulo Sampaio

    Doctor of Environmental Law and Master (LL.M.) in Environmental Law from Pace University. Master's degree in Law from PUC-PR and a degree in Law from PUC-PR. He is currently a permanent professor of the Master's Degree in Regulatory Law and Undergraduate Degree in Law at FGV’s Rio de Janeiro Law School (FGV Direito Rio) and an adjunct professor at Pace University in New York. Visiting Professor at the Georgia State University College of Law in Atlanta. He leads the CNPq Law and Environment Research Group within the scope of FGV Direito Rio and also acts as coordinator of the specialization course in Environmental Regulatory Law. He has experience in the area of Law, with an emphasis on Environmental Law, working mainly in the areas of sustainability, environmental governance, climate change and right to water.

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