In November 2015, the failure of the Fundão tailings dam at the Samarco mine in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, resulted in severe environmental, economic and social damage, as well as 19 deaths. The tailings spill ran approximately 650 km, from the mine through the Doce River to eventually reach the Atlantic Ocean.
Since then, Samarco, which is jointly owned (each with 50% interest) by BHP and Vale, has focused on responding to the needs of the affected communities, repairing and maintaining the existing dams, assessing the environmental and socio-economic impacts from the accident and initiating substantial remediation and compensation programs. Last year, the companies created the Renova Foundation to implement this work.
In 2016, IUCN was asked by the Renova Foundation to consider creating an Independent Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (ISTAP) that could provide technical guidance for the major restoration underway in the Rio Doce watershed. IUCN sought input on the development and design of the panel from relevant stakeholders, including representatives from the local communities, NGOs, government and academia in Brazil and elsewhere.
In June 2017, IUCN announced that Yolanda Kakabase would serve as Chair of the Rio Doce Panel. A globally recognised environmentalist and former President of IUCN, Ms Kakabadse was selected for the post through an open and competitive process. (See the announcement here.)
As Chair of the panel, Ms Kakabadse’s initial task will be the selection of the panel members. The application process for panel members is now open until 6 August 2017. The full Application Package in English and Portuguese can be downloaded in the right-hand column of this page.
The Panel is expected to hold its first meeting and site visit later this year.