Human, humble and holy: A reflection on the Ecojesuit event in Bonn

By Pedro Landa and Alicia Aleman Arrastio

Gratitude is what comes first out of our hearts when we think of our experience in the city of Bonn. We went there as representatives of the core group of the Justice in Mining Network, invited by our sister network Ecojesuit. The place and the event were impeccable, the reflections and calls into action particularly appealing, and the combination of pessimism, despair, hope and joy made the event particularly human. Human, humble and holy at the same time.

We were representing the fights of peoples and communities particularly affected by the extractive industries in several continents of the world. We provided data about the widespread violations of human rights linked to the extraction of natural resources, the gross environmental and social impacts left by extractive industries, displaced people, broken communities, terrified souls: extraction, destruction and criminalization. And no great evidence that the negative trends are reversing. Human, very human.

And we talked about the resistance of indigenous populations and other communities, international solidarity, deep accompaniment, small victories in legislative and judiciary processes, better governance of mining sites, and initiatives to create a space and time of hope. Humble, but firm. Humble, because we are aware about our size and the size of the challenge. But also firm; we are gaining clarity regarding what can be done, with whom and when. We can walk a path with other catholic organisations such as CIDSE towards a binding treaty on business and human rights that can end up with impunity in cases of human rights violations where extractive industries have been involved. We can also walk the path of ethical investment and divestment with the Global Catholic Climate Movement and promote among our Jesuit constituencies such as the one decided by the Australian, Canadian and the Italian provinces and institutions such as Georgetown University; we can join hands with Ecojesuit to raise awareness about attitudes and lifestyles that care for the common home, such as the conflict minerals campaign. We can identify opportunities for research, advocacy, education and experiences that promote hope.

The Ecojesuit event in Bonn was also holy. Holy, because we were deeply thankful that Laudato Sí came to us as a blessing to confirm our own worst intuitions: that we were right in our diagnosis of the throwaway culture, the technocratic paradigm and the cry of the poor that lies behind the extractive waves. Holy, because it gave us hope in a simpler life, a new culture of solidarity, a new model of production and consumption and the consolation of beauty.

Human, humble and holy as it was, the event in Bonn ratified our commitment to join hands to work for the protection of human rights and the environment and care for our common home.

Pedro Landa and Alicia Aleman Arrastio are members of the Justice in Mining core leadership group, representing Latin America and Europe respectively.

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