Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences


Environmental Management

First Advisor

Stephanie Siehr


Since 2015, the Amazon experienced an infrastructure boom with more than $70 billion in infrastructure projects planned in the coming years. Large-scale projects have resulted in detrimental environmental and social impacts in the region over the last fifty years. This paper uses policy analysis and case studies to examine the evolution of financial institutions and their safeguards over time and how this evolution has affected the environmental and social impacts of hydroelectric dams in the Amazon. The case studies of two hydroelectric projects, the Coca Codo Sinclair Dam in Ecuador and the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil, highlight that the dams caused extensive environmental and social damage, including deforestation, loss of biodiversity, displacement and loss of livelihoods, among others. The safeguard approach of the financial institutions in these cases had little effect at mitigating the impact of the dams, demonstrating that the evolution of safeguards over time has not resulted in less environmentally and socially harmful hydroelectric projects in the Amazon. Financial institutions with minimal safeguards, mainly the national development banks from Brazil and China, have emerged as dominant actors in the region with little concern for the consequences of their financing. In order to protect this vulnerable ecosystem, governments of Amazonian countries should not develop any more large-scale hydroelectric dams and the Brazilian and Chinese national development banks should implement their own safeguards in order to approve new projects for funding.