Report links the expansion of the Colombian airport financed by IDB with the damage to human health

a-Contenido informativo propioReport links the expansion of the Colombian airport financed by IDB with the damage to human health

The Inter-American Development Bank’s Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (MICI) released an investigation report confirming that the Bank violated policies designed to protect communities from serious harm when it funded the expansion of El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá, Colombia. Accountability Counsel has been supporting a local community-based organization, Comunidades Unidas, throughout this investigation process.

The report reads like a laundry list of failures to recognize the human cost of the expanded airport.

  • The Bank and its client, the company OPAIN, failed to recognize the scale and complexity of the noise risks. Fontibón, a locality adjacent to the airport, has a population of more than 300,000 people and many of its residents live directly on the margins of the airport. The Bank and OPAIN failed to evaluate the impact that increased noise generated by the expanded airport would have on the residents there.
  • The Bank and OPAIN failed to meaningfully consult communities before the project was approved and as it was implemented.
  • The Bank and OPAIN failed to ensure that appropriate systems were in place to protect communities from the relentless noise. They failed to ensure that there was adequate, complete and effective noise insulation in their homes: insulation that Aerocivil – the government project partner – is required by the airport’s environmental license to provide.
  • Noise levels in the Fontibón neighborhood have frequently exceeded national legal noise limits. Yet the Bank had no system in place to monitor or respond to these violations, and therefore had no way to ensure that the project it was financing complied with national law.
  • These failures are linked to the health and stress impacts that communities are suffering. Studies have found that at least a third of Fontibón residents suffer from chronic insomnia and that reports of hearing damage are higher in areas with greater exposure to the noise. Children are particularly vulnerable, with studies finding a relationship between long-term exposure to aircraft noise and developmental delays.

However, despite the strength of these findings, the Bank does not plan to take any meaningful steps towards fixing the problems in Bogotá. The loan taken by OPAIN was repaid early and there is no longer a contractual relationship between the Bank and the company. The Bank failed to adopt MICI’s recommendation that the Bank work with relevant Colombian authorities to analyze ways to improve the sustainability of the airport, claiming that such action is out of its control.

Please support communities as they demand a robust response to MICI’s report from airport operators and investors