Finnfund suspends disbursements to Honduran hydropower project

The Finnish aid-financed investment fund Finnfund is suspending disbursements to the controversial Agua Zarca dam project in Honduras, 12 days after the murder of Berta Cáceres, a leading opponent of the project.

The lead lender to Agua Zarca, the Dutch investor FMO, issued a press release Wednesday announcing it was suspending “all activities in Honduras effective immediately”, citing “ongoing violence”. The CEO of Finnfund Jaakko Kangasniemi confirms to Development Today that Finnfund is following the same line.

Cáceres was a coordinator of the indigenous rights organisation COPINH, which has spearheaded the opposition to Agua Zarca and called on both FMO and Finnfund to divest from the project.

“We are suspending disbursements to the project,” Kangasniemi says. He stresses that he does not believe there is any link between the project and the death of Cáceres, which he calls “shocking”. “We still believe that the people in the affected areas want this project. But at this juncture we have to take a look at the situation,” he says.

FMO has invested USD 15 million in Agua Zarca, while Finnfund, the B-lender, has a commitment of USD 5 million in the project. 

Kangasniemi says he will be part of a delegation consisting of officials from FMO and Finnfund that will travel to Honduras as soon as the situation allows. Asked whether they plan to meet with COPINH, he says: “We have always expressed a willingness to talk to COPINH … If it is possible to have a serious discussion and real dialogue, then we are keen to do so.”