The Just World Conference was organized by the Bench Marks Foundation, Norwegian Church Aid and FK Norway at Willow Park Conference Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa from the 29th to 31st October 2012, with participants from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Guatemala, Madagascar, South Sudan, Burundi and Norway, drawn from civil society and religious leaders.
The conference met in the aftermath of the Marikana massacre which showed the deep structural inequalities of the current economic system in South Africa. Marikana has made it impossible for government, corporations and civil society not to address the questions of ownership of natural resources and who benefits from extractive industries.
Objective of the Conference
The objective of the conference was to share and gain more knowledge about ownership of natural resources and the effects of extractive industries. The insights emerging from this conference were expected to feed into ongoing initiatives to address and campaign against the different forms of injustices in the sector, starting with the question of ownership.
Key Demands for Governments, Corporations and Civil SocietyGovernments
Governments have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the wealth created by extractive industries benefits its people as a whole. Governments must ensure that the negative economic, social and environmental impacts of extractive industries are mitigated and that relevant laws and regulations are effectively enforced. We therefore demand that the governments:
- take clear action on promoting diversification and beneficiation to ensure that the maximum value is retained in their countries.
- must facilitate local economic development and put conditions on incoming investment to ensure that the operations create linkages to the rest of the economy and that local skills levels are improved. This should also be made applicable to existing contracts through renegotiation.
- must strengthen the legal frameworks and monitor compliance with legislation concerning environmental management, to hold corporations to account for environmental damages
- must ensure that local communities receive reparation and redress from corporations that violate their economic, social or environmental rights as the governments have responsibility to protect their people. National compensation funds should be set up for this purpose
- must, in their standards for reparation and compensation, recognize and address the plight of women in rural communities who are deprived of land, livelihoods, and are not paid for their labour.
- must ensure effective revenue and redistribution policies for the benefits that accrue from extractive industries, especially for the directly affected communities, and ensure that communities participate in defining how the benefits are distributed.
- work towards regional policy harmonization to avoid a race to the bottom scenario, especially in the area of a common minimum tax framework.
- must improve the implementation and enforcement of existing policies, laws and regulations.
- develop policies that aim towards a green and sustainable economy and moves away from the current reliance on extractive industries.
- must respect the rights of workers and communities to demonstrate, strike or protest.
- must respect the rights and dignity of workers such as better living conditions, wages etc.
- must ensure that the communities have the right to say no to mining, and choose their own development path.
- make sure that there are sufficient, meaningful consultations with local communities before, during exploitation and at phase-out/completion of their operations. In addition, the principle of Free and Prior Informed Consent must be employed that communities may decide that certain mining projects are not sustainable or feasible and not be allowed.
- must ensure free access to information for both communities and civil society, independent social and human rights impact assessments that guarantee Free Prior Informed Consent, effective remedies ensuring public participation.
- must address the ills of contract and migrant labour on the mines, which undermines livelihoods and social lives of members and families in local or host communities and labour sending communities.
Extractive industries are operating in an unsustainable and irresponsible manner and very little of the benefits accrue to the local communities while their lives are being destroyed. We therefore demand that the corporations must:
- ensure that local communities see the benefits from mining through local employment and give priority to local community members. Clear targets must be set for how much labour will be sourced locally, also in terms of skills development in the pre-extractive period.
- be transparent and accountable for the amount of resource rent (taxes, royalties, fees, etc) that are paid and the amount of profits that is being expatriated.
- drastically improve their environmental management and protection and reduce emission levels immediately.
- compensate surrounding communities that have been relocated or otherwise negatively impacted on by the operations of the corporation; these engagements must be mandatory. There must be transparency and accountability.
- execute environmental rehabilitation in the areas that are being destroyed by extractive industries.
- invest in local communities and enable the restoration of the livelihoods that community members lose when mining is introduced. Reparation involves restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition and must ensure the redress of dislocation and compensation for non tangible and social assets.
- engage in a thorough and continuous way with the communities and all other stakeholders. The principle of Free and Prior Informed Consent must be employed at all stages of operations.
- make available relevant documents, like environmental impact assessments, social and labour plans and rehabilitation fund details in an understandable language.
Civil society has a key role to play in putting pressure both on governments and corporations to ensure that the benefits from natural resources are distributed to the people and contribute to short, medium and long term development. Civil society must:
- develop a common vision, strategy and organizational capacities in collaboration with communities on how to ensure that the benefits of natural resources accrue to the population as a whole.
- make the stance and experiences of local communities their starting point for advocacy on these issues. Contribute to building strong community organizations that can advocate for their own demands. This must also be linked to national, regional and international networks.
- explore the opportunities to use shareholder activism as an effective tool to change corporate behaviour, using bodies such as the Church Investor Group in London, South Africa, and other African countries with similar groups.
- work on awareness raising and sharing information with local communities and improving collaboration with those directly impacted upon by extractive industries.
- facilitate the exchange of knowledge and support collaboration for new knowledge amongst faith based organisations, NGOs, academia, activists and local communities to
- improve current mining practice
- offer alternatives to mining
- use the Alternative Mining Indabas as a platform to join forces to campaign on these issues.
- facilitate the training and capacity building of local communities and miners.
- work alongside affected communities in determining appropriate percentages of extractive revenue at all levels of value chain addition (from treasury or from fiscus or the corporations directly).
- ensure that the voice and concerns of the impacted communities, in particular women and youths, are heard and addressed.