By Online Editor
3:50 pm GMT+12, 20/06/2012, Brazil
Women activists from around the world took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to bear witness to the growing inequality within and between nations, ecological and economic injustices and gender injustice across the globe.
Activists took to the street to bring the human face to negotiations and remind our negotiators that the world is watching. There is a major dis-connect between the text of the Rio negotiations and the reality faced by the majority of people across the world but especially in the Pacific.
“We are not here to ask! We are here to demand for ecological justice, for economic justice, for gender justice. We are here to demand justice for all”, said Noelene Nabulivou of the Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era.
For the Pacific delegation the mining text is significantly weak thanks to pro-mining nations such as Australia and Canada. Supported by the G77 who called for the deletion of any reference to mining industries being managed, regulated and taxed and on improving revenue and contract transparency.
The current text does great injustice for it’s failure to capture the destructive, and exploitative nature of mining to communities, their livelihoods, environment and health by simply downplaying these impacts. It also fails to capture the ongoing human rights abuses perpetuated by the state and private security firms of mining companies against communities who exercise their right to reject mining as a ‘sustainable development’ option.
Governments simply imply in text of technological fixes such as effective legal and regulatory frameworks to minimize the negative effect. The operative word here being “effective”, as communities in PNG, the Solomon Islands can attest to the continued failure of legal and regulatory frameworks to address the growing injustices, and human rights violation around mining as experienced for example at Ok Tedi, Porgera and on Bougainville.
There are no reference to any of the Rio Principles such as the Precautionary Principle, Do No Harm Principle, the Polluter Pays Principle, and Prior and Informed Consent nor does it make any reference to compliance with Indigenous Peoples rights. The Brazillian government have attempted to improve the text by adding new language around clean up but this offers little comfort to many of the communities where the companies have left communities to bear the cost of contamination, destruction of environment and livelihoods.
Whilst we grapple with how to deal with land-based mining the Pacific is at the forefront of an experimental mining on the seabed a new frontier in mining. Our message to our governments remain strong – we the people reject experimental seabed mining in the Pacific.
Instead the text focuses very heavily on the growing importance and benefits of mining to the economy and its role in reducing poverty. It goes on further to link the role that mining has to reduce poverty and assist countries in meeting internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals.
“We have a moral duty to loudly speak truth to the ongoing human and ecological disaster that mining and extractive industries to our people, communities and environment, said Maureen Penjueli, of the Pacific Network on Globalisation”.
As Pacific CSOs we continue to reaffirm the position, that all mineral extractive industries, including experimental seabed mining, are examples of old-school mal-development. What is needed in Rio is a strategic refusal by small island states and allies to participate in this false development course.
In allowing essential ecosystems to be mined, we are part of a global industrialization process that views the environmental process that views the environment as a means to profit, with environmental degradation, social exploitation, biodiversity loss, and violence as its consequence.