World Social Forum

World Council of Churches addresses mining issues 

at the World Social Forum 2013

Source: Sahat Doloksaribu

The WCC participated in the World Social Forum held at the El Manar University in Tunis from 26 to 30 March 2013, focusing on mining and other extractive industries which generate a tremendous social and ecological debt.

Together with civil society partners, the WCC organized a workshop entitled “From Eco-debt to Eco-justice: Mining, Reparations and Defending the Global Commons.”

During the workshop, Nicolas Sersiron from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt or CADTM in France discussed the links between financial debt and extractivism: debt is forcing countries in the South, and more recently and increasingly in the North, to pursue an ecologically destructive development path based on the extraction and exploitation of natural resources.

Father Dario Bossi (Brazil), from Justiça nos Trilhos and the International Network of People Affected by Vale Mining, pointed out that in many communities, mining is being made out as the only way to survive despite its terrible ecological costs, namely, deforestation, contamination of water sources, air pollution and climate change – all of which threaten the well-being, health and lives of human and other living beings, present and future. He stressed that, increasingly, the state has failed to protect human rights as well as the rights of nature.

Rev. Suzanne Matale, representing the Christian Council of Zambia and the Economic Justice Network of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa, called on churches to deepen community organization, research and advocacy on mining activities in their countries and regions.

Carmencita Karagdag (Philippines), coordinator of Peace for Life, highlighted the criminalization of people’s movements protecting ecology: in the last two years alone, nine ecological defenders, including indigenous leaders and church workers, have been killed for their resistance against large-scale mining in the Philippines.

Antonio Tricarico (Italy) from Re-common pointed out that reparations for ecological debt such as those accrued from mining cannot be reduced to monetary compensation, especially given the massive human rights violations involved.

Finally, Delphine Ortega (Spain) from the Observatory of Debt from Globalization proposed the use of mapping as an important tool to document as well as build critical awareness on mining and extractivism.


WSF Extractives Assembly calls for “Global Frackdown Day”

on 19 October 2013

An assembly of civil society organisations and movements working on issues around mining and extractivism was convened on the last day of the WSF. It addressed the collusion between state and extractive industries within weak regulatory frameworks leading to significant tax losses, capital flight, massive displacement, and large-scale land-grabbing for mining, oil extraction, plantations and mega-dams.

As one of the opening speakers, Athena Peralta of the WCC-Poverty, Wealth and Ecology Project, emphasized widening socio-economic inequalities in and the intensifying militarization of mining zones. She also stressed how mining and extractive activities, accompanied by heightened militarism and myriad ecological consequences, have a disproportionately heavy cost on women in the communities.

The political declaration observes, among other things, that:  “International financial institutions are encouraging extractivism as the major engine to fuel economic growth.  On the back of the financial crisis, financiers and investment bodies are looking for new areas for profitable investment, mainly financialized forms of profit making, with natural resource extraction representing a site for rapid and substantial accumulation.”

As a joint action, the assembly agreed to hold a “Global Frackdown Day” on 19 October 2013 against mining and extractivism as a destructive model of development. Organizations and movements present also agreed to conduct a mapping exercise of sites of major mining and extractive operations and people’s resistance against such activities.

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