The worldwide mining sector has to undergo a radical paradigm shift, writes Pope Francis in a letter to mining-affected communities. In a meeting in Rome, supported by CIDSE, the local communities called for resistance to environmental degradation, human rights violations and extraction of wealth that does not benefit them.
On July 17-19, 2015 the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP), in collaboration with the Latin American network Churches and Mining, organized a meeting in Rome with representatives of communities affected by mining activities. Churches and Mining was supported by CIDSE, an international Catholic alliance of which Cordaid is member.
Though the meeting, the representatives from 18 countries wanted to raise awareness for their situation and organize to establish common strategies of resistance and alternatives.
Mining damages local communities
Mining activities carried out by big multinational companies are often damaging to the local environment and people, bringing with them contamination, health impacts, loss of economy, community divisions, prostitution, substance abuse, and organized crime. Local communities have little input in what happens to their land, as national governments welcome the mining installations for bringing economic prosperity.
Radical paradigm shift needed
In an open letter on the CIDSE website, the communities write: “The words that Pope Francis wrote us on this occasion gain even more strength: this is not a matter of seeking small adjustments in conduct or elevating a little the so-called corporate social responsibility standards. Instead, the Pope said that ‘the entire mining sector is undoubtedly required to effect a radical paradigm shift to improve the situation in many countries’.”
“This is not a matter of seeking small adjustments in conduct or elevating a little the so-called corporate social responsibility standards” – Pope Francis
One of the measures the mining-affected communities would like to see become reality, is the installment of ‘no-go-zones’, where mining is prohibited because of the environmental and/or cultural significance of the land. “We have a right to say no to mining,” they state. Also, they suggest that the PCJP add its unequivocal support to progress toward the design of the Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights, currently under development in the UN.