A clear message is coming from mining affected communities the world-over: No More! In a statement released today by the growing Yes to Life, No to Mining movement – a global coalition of civil society movements and mining affected communities – voices from Colombia, Uganda, the Philippines, Spain, Scotland, South Africa and beyond are united in their call for No Go Areas against mining and extraction, a move to a circular economy and rapid disinvestment from fossil fuels.
The statement marks the launch of a website as a platform for the Yes to Life, No to Mining movement. A movement first conceived in 2012 to connect and make visible the growing number of people around the world standing in solidarity against the extractives sector and in protection of ecosystems, habitats and homes.
“The website seeks to provide a forum to elevate stories of resistance and to support mining-affected communities who want to say no, recognising that they are not a loan voice in their struggles, but rather, that communities across the Earth are facing the same plight and are coming together to find strength to safeguard life. There are tools to support communities with advocacy and to know their rights, plus a photo and pledge campaign to gain solidarity from the public,” said Liz Hosken from The Gaia Foundation.
Featured prominently on the homepage is a video message from Nnimmo Bassey, former Head of Friends of the Earth International and Right Livelihood Award winner. The Nigerian born activist, whose organisation Health of Mother Earth Foundation has been instrumental in inspiring the movement, speaks boldly to invite everyone to stand together to stop the violations of the extractives sector:
“You may not want to admit it, but our planet is in a serious crisis and if nothing is done to halt the speed at which we are extracting minerals, metals and fossil fuels, we are just simply digging a hole that will be impossible to escape. I call on you. I call on all of us, to stand together in solidarity and say Yes to Life and a definite NO to Mining. The time has come to send a strong message to the exploiters of our planet.”
This week at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, representatives from the Yes to Life No to Mining movement – mining affected communities from across Africa, South America and Mongolia – will be calling for No Go Areas for all extractives activities. Simon Mitambo from the African Biodiversity Network is attending the event:
“The World Parks Congress must make a serious commitment to securing No-Go status for all protected areas, sacred natural sites and territories, community conserved areas, food growing areas, water systems and all those places vital for the equilibrium of life on our planet. Sacred natural sites are areas of great cultural, ecological and spiritual importance for indigenous peoples and local communities around the world. We must re-value the critical role that they play, respect the role played by the traditional custodians of these territories and recognise them as no-go-areas for extractive industries and other forms of destructive development. We are living at a time when our Planet is at the verge of collapse. We all need concerted efforts to remedy this situation, and this time round, it should not be business as usual.”
The Yes to Life, No to Mining movement was conceived in 2012 by a group of individuals, organisations and networks, all concerned with the wellbeing of the planet in the face of the exponential growth of mining over the last decade. Allies across a global network were moved to take action against the increasingly devastating impact of the extractives industries since the global economic collapse of 2008 prompted greater investment in tangible ‘resources’. As easier to reach deposits are becoming exhausted, the extractives sector is turning its efforts to ever more pristine and fragile ecosystems; the homes and habitats of so many.
Additional comments from Yes to Life No to Mining partners who are attending the 2014 World Parks Congress in Sydney:
“Mining might give countries quick cash and provide a few local jobs, but in the end it will wreak far more damage than prosperity. It will pollute rivers, which are much needed by the downstream communities and livestock; it will release greenhouse gasses which will ultimately impact low income countries; and it will affect the wellbeing of local people by destroying their connection with their sacred natural sites and impact upon critical fauna and flora. It will infringe on the rights of people as they will be displaced and affected by its by-products. Mining has proved to be a source of conflict among communities, destroying social fabric and damaging future relationships. The World Parks Congress must pass a clear message to secure sacred natural sites and protected areas as a no-go zones”.
– Million Belay, Coordinator of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), Ethiopia
“Mining in sacred areas is a crime. It destroys the indigenous peoples and their ecosystems, exposing them to hunger and extreme poverty. The World Parks Congress must address this issue in order to save the lives of many “voiceless” communities affected by mining around the world.”
– Oussou Lio Appolinaire, GRABE-Benin, Benin
The IUCN World Parks Congress is taking place in Sydney from 12th – 19th November. Partners of the Yes to Life, No to Mining movement will host the session ‘Advancing the Protection of Sacred Natural Sites and Territories’ on Monday 17th November at the main ampitheatre from 1pm.
The World Parks Congress is a global forum on protected areas. The Congress is a forum where practitioners, civil society movements and indigenous community representatives come together to share knowledge and innovation, and develop advocacy strategies to influence the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come. This years’ congress theme is “Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions”. One of the most challenging issues civil society groups are addressing is the corporate influence in the conservation movement, commodifying nature and violating all forms of protected and community areas.