The African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) and the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) congratulate the convenors of the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) 2022 on successfully convening the 13th AMI in Cape Town, South Africa, from the 9th to the 11th of May 2022 under the theme: ‘A just energy transition for sustainable mining communities in a climate crisis-era.’ The theme of the 13th AMI was very timely—cognizant of the overarching climate change impact on communities and the realisation of human rights. The ACCA and CHR join the AMI to reiterate the importance of this discussion in the efforts toward effective climate action, mitigation, and response.
The AMI platform presents an important space for civil society to interrogate critical issues related to mining activities, their linkages to climate change and their impact on mining communities’ rights and sustainable development. These issues remain pertinent to the ACCA and its membership across the continent and are at the heart of common strategies and actions to build membership capacities, share experiences and knowledge and strengthen advocacy initiatives to enhance corporate accountability. As such, at the 13th AMI, the ACCA brought together key members including the Centre for Human Rights, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights, Action Mines Guinee, Natural Justice, and the Zimbabwean Environmental Law Association as key participants and discussants at the AMI and during the side event on “The linkages of mining activities to climate change and its impact on human rights of mining-affected communities."
In light of the 2022 AMI theme, the linkages of extractive industries and climate change were interrogated. It was noted that the mining sector remains one of the major emitters of greenhouse gases and contributes significantly to the production of fossil energy resources that significantly contribute to global carbon dioxide emissions. This exacerbates severely, the climate crisis that the world over is currently facing. Thus, it was emphasized, it is of great importance that we transition from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption to greener, more renewable energy sources as a way of mitigating and responding to climate change impacts. As such, the broader objective of the AMI was to inter alia have critical discourse on how this energy transition can be done in a way that is ‘just’ for African mining communities, taking into account the different vulnerabilities of the mining communities, including women and children. This is largely because Africa, remains a major mineral producer with abundant reserves of natural resources and hence a huge attraction for global mineral firms. Similarly, most African countries' development agendas are anchored around natural resource exploitation including oil and gas and mineral exploitation.
In view of the above, it is important that the just energy transition considers the African mining communities’ perspective and to provide solidarity and support to these communities. To address this, the AMI noted that the current development and mineral exploitation projects that exclude meaningful consultation and participation of affected communities must end. Various groups including women communities working in the sector noted the importance of meaningful engagement, exploring existing measures from communities to mitigate the climate crisis. Mining and extractive activities impact severely on the lives, health, and livelihood of people, living in and around mining areas. Hence, many women groups are already engaged in activities that are designed to respond to climate change in their communities—including new agricultural processes and energy transition. It is therefore important that the voices of these communities be heard and consulted in all projects that affect them.
During the AMI, several panel discussions were held including on the link between energy transition and the climate change crisis; private sector engagement; local participation, investment and diversification; mining interventions on just transition as well as mitigating socio-economic inequalities for a just transition. All these panel discussions are critical for furthering debate on climate action, mitigation and response, and overall energy transition for sustainable mining communities. We particularly commend the parallel session on gender, eco-anxiety and just energy global transition which provided the much-needed opportunity for a gendered analysis of the problems and solutions as well as the capacity-building workshop on a just transition.
On the side-lines of the AMI 2022, the ACCA and CHR also organised a round table discussion on the linkages between the extractive industry and climate change and its impacts on the human rights of mining communities. The ACCA and CHR remain committed to advocating for the human rights of communities affected by business entities, including mining companies, advancing respect for economic, social, cultural and environmental rights and enhancement of corporate accountability. The discussion highlighted the connection between the extractive industry and climate change and the challenges and opportunities of respecting the human rights of mining-affected communities.
Overall, the ACCA and its entire membership appreciate the AMI platform and endorse the Declaration adopted by participants of the Alternative Mining Indaba 2022 which retaliates that ‘The AMI will not be muted’- considering the effects of the COVID pandemic and resultant restrictions and shrinking civic space, and the long-standing principles of "nothing about us without us" and the "Right to say NO". We also endorse and associate ourselves with the AMI 2022 recommendations made to governments and companies to, among others, fight inequality and pursue people-centred development agendas moving beyond a fixation on a capitalist model of mining to the diversification of economies.
We also add our voice to AMI's demands of guarantees that mining corporates will never again invoke police intervention to censor communities as was the case in the 2012 Marikana massacre.
Finally, as with the rest of the AMI, the ACCA and CHR also demand that before we can talk about a just transition, financing institutions including the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) must channel resources towards the rehabilitation of areas that have been affected by extractive activities before considering investment into new projects related to the energy transition. Additionally, we demand reparations for climate debt for those who lost their lives, land, and property to pave the way for mining operations.
The ACCA and its entire membership reaffirm our commitment to continue engaging with the AMI and partners and fully approve the roadmap resolved to be adopted to address identified priorities. We look forward to a stronger alliance with the AMI and other key stakeholders towards creating enduring platforms for amplifying the voices of communities impacted by mining and the climate crisis, and activists who advocate for them.