Impacts of the accident in Mariana require measures never seen in Brazil, which need reconciliation of dialogue, technical knowledge and emergency requirements
More than two years after the Fundao dam collapse in Mariana (MG), the repair of the damage caused by the disaster generates concerns by the affected communities, authorities and civil society. The questions portray the gigantic challenges in scale, time and knowledge that permeate the work.
The impacts require measures never seen in Brazil, which need to reconcile dialogue, technical knowledge and emergency demands, all with legitimate interests of the parties involved. There are no easy references to a situation with such a degree of complexity.
A tragedy of this proportion needs a response compatible with the seriousness of the scenario. To this end, an unprecedented model of governance was established in which local governments, river basin committees, and civil society representatives define actions and oversee their implementation, while the Renova Foundation, an autonomous entity, performs the repair and compensation measures. Those responsible for liabilities, Samarco and its shareholders Vale and BHP, bear the costs. All these parties are united in a Transaction and Conduct Adjustment Term (TTAC), which establishes 42 recovery and compensation programs, with more than R$ 11.1 billion of resources expected until 2030.
The format adopted, therefore, follows the most basic premise of environmental law: the principle of the polluter pays, in which the responsible for the damage must bear the costs of the repair. The state, in turn, ensures that legislation is being enforced and oversees actions, which gain more agility when conducted by a monitored foundation with an exclusive focus on reparation.
This model does not weaken the state. On the contrary, it allows it to join public policies from different areas. The fronts are so broad that the process demands the intense involvement of the most segmented performances.
Measures range from building villages to fishing programs and biodiversity monitoring, indemnification, infrastructure reconstruction, forest restoration, springs and economic diversification, support to indigenous peoples, among others. It covers a vast spectrum of performance – 39 municipalities, 600 kilometers of river with different environmental and socioeconomic scenarios – whereas scattered actions might not have the same effectiveness as when gathered in a single organization.
There is a lot of work being done and a lot to be done. We believe that dialogue is the only possible way to do this. Since it is a complex means, in which criticisms and disputes are part of daily activities, we have to face these difficulties.
This transformation will take at least ten years. And the essence of this process – which is for the wellness of society and not a specific organization – is to receive more and more participation from all. Renova has stimulated the involvement of researchers and universities who want to work on this cause. Therefore, it is not a matter of allying, or not, with the foundation, but with the social cause that involves the whole process.
We are hundreds of people involved in the largest environmental and socioeconomic recovery action in the country. We are part of a group formed by a sum of efforts. All gathered in the collective construction of a new future for the municipalities of the Doce River Basin, an unprecedented commitment in which all participation is needed and welcome.