Julie Edwards, leader of the Justice in Mining Network, reports from the Thematic Social Forum on Mining and the Extractivust Economy which is running in Johannesburg 12-15 November.
The Justice in Mining core group started the day with a meeting with Churches and Mining, a group started in Latin America to address criminalisation of leaders and advocates, and to counter the efforts of big mining companies to co-opt the church to their agenda.
We see real opportunities and benefits in working closely with Churches and Mining. A few areas for shared work are divestment, ensuring the mining companies do not co-opt the church for their agenda, and aligning efforts to protect the ‘Lungs of the earth’, focusing on the Amazon and including Asia and Africa. It was a very positive meeting and were keen to strengthen this relationship.
We then heard back from the ten groups that met yesterday, hearing about the key struggles being faced Eg criminalisation of advocates and leaders; particular impacts of mining on women, indigenous people, the poor; the need for a gender focus across all concerns; immoral/illegal practices of mining companies including violence and dividing communities; ocean grabbing as the emerging field for plundering of natural resources.
Today’s meeting then focused on identifying strategic actions in relation to key issues – including ‘Right to say NO’ campaigns; role of multilateral bodies in driving the extractive agenda; using international treaties and legal to advance our struggles; developing alternatives to the extractive economic model; community struggles.
There is convergence on many issues. The reality of challenges, including the absence of a clear picture of what ‘just transitions’ might look like, was recognised. Nevertheless, it was acknowledged that we need to move forward discovering answers together.