[November 2018] Thematic Social Forum on Mining and Extractivist Economy

The first “Thematic Social Forum on Mining and Extractivism” took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, 12 – 15 November 2018.

In the last fifteen years the expansion, consolidation and intensification of a model of abusive use of the so-called “natural resources”, of which mining is an exemplary case, throughout the world, has taken place. This model, in the name of progress and development, has been devastating and degrading socio- environmentally huge areas, intensifying conditions of global warming and climate injustice. It subjects local economies to a logic of accumulation that privately benefits corporations in the sector, imposes changes and regressions on social and environmental protection laws, impacts the daily lives of traditional, indigenous and peasant communities by violations of human rights, affecting in particular the lives of women and children.

By integrating itself with the financialized economy, the logic of extraction and accumulation is determined by international markets that are not subject to participation, consultation mechanisms or citizen social control.

The expansion of this model is the basis of growing socio-environmental conflicts, with persecution and criminalization of the proponents of socio-environmental rights. Affected communities, especially women, indigenous peoples, workers’ and environmentalist movements, as well as scholars and researchers who investigate these phenomena have identified the need to unite, articulate, and enhance their often isolated or fragmented efforts. This is not to acknowledge that very localized and regional responses have emerged.

In this scenario, we organised a Thematic Social Forum on Mining and Extractivist Economy in South Africa from the 12th to the 15th of November 2018, with the aim to consolidate a broad movement of resistance and social control over extractive activities, as well as the launching of the Campaign for the “Right to say No” to socially and environmentally degrading projects.

In recent years we have witnessed the intensification of the overexploitation of the so-called “natural resources”: mining, intensive agriculture, large-scale fishing, logging and expansion of oil and gas extraction. A model with common elements, characterized as the “extractive economy”, has spread to Latin America, Africa and Asia, marking both the “boom” and the “post-boom” of extractive commodities. Although in the global South the effects and presence of the extractive economy is clearer, similar processes have been identified in many countries in the North and in Eastern Europe where one sees similar patterns of extractivism and the undermining of democracy.

Among the main characteristics of this model are the large-scale export-oriented production; the presence of speculative and financial capital; environmental destruction, requiring, in many countries, changes in environmental protection legislation; reconfiguration of the territories where the enterprises take place. These interventions weakens traditional and local economies; degrades working conditions for the majority of workers; propitiate high levels of corruption involving government officials and parliamentarians; and requires gigantic infrastructure projects (ports, pipe lines, railways, dams, etc.), which contribute to more disasters and environmental crimes, as well as affecting huge territories. The social, economic and environmental consequences and costs are externalized and burdened with the affected population

Themes covered by the Thematic Social Forum:

  1.  Ecofeminism and extractivism;
  2.  The Rights to Say No Campaign;
  3. Communities affected by specific Companies (Valé SA, Glencore, Anglo Ashanti, etc);
  4. Solidarity with the communities and victims affected by disasters and massacres by mining companies; Conflict
  5. Criminalisation of human rights defenders and community members/leaders working on exctractivims issues;
  6. Artisanal small scale vs large scale mining companies: what to do?;
  7. Example of communities with early success in their struggle:
  8. What to propose for transition process.
  9. Financialization of Extractivist activities
  10. Labour, health & safety, just transition
  11. Energy Justice
  12. The rights of Nature and social struggles
  13. Labour versus community interests
  14. Traditional leadership a force for progress or an instrument of repression or class formation
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