Theme: A Just energy transition for sustainable mining Communities in an era of the climate crisis

  1. Preamble:

We, the more than 4000 physical and 200 virtual delegates, from various formations that include faith-based organisations, mining-affected communities, civil society organisations, traditional leaders, political leaders, academia, trade and labour unions, government, and business representatives, convened our annual 13th edition of the AMI, virtually from the 4th to 6th and physically from 9th to the 11th of May, 2022. We strongly believe that this edition signifies a special number because for 13 years we have been meeting in Cape Town in our mission to support mining-affected communities. Indeed, our primary goal is to amplify the voices of mining-affected communities. Furthermore, our resolve to create a safe space for mining-affected communities is reflected in our theme: A Just energy transition for sustainable mining in an era of a climate crisis. The pandemic has exacerbated poverty and inequality levels across Africa, particularly in mining-affected communities. Most African governments were forced to divert financial resources from other critical sectors to respond to the pandemic. For over ten tears now the AMI platform, has been fighting for inclusion in critical decision-making processes that affect them but are still excluded as we seek collective solutions to a just transition. Yet, they are the most affected by the harsh effects of climate change, energy crisis and illogical capitalist model of the extractive industry. As we seek collective decisions towards a just energy transition, we remain diligent in our resolute demand to be heard.

  • Noting that:
  1. Sustainable development goal (SGD) 7 agitates for access to affordable, reliable sustainable and modern energy for all in line with the modern society that we live in today.
  2. Fossil fuels are depleting at a very fast rate and furthermore, their extraction contributes to huge carbon emissions, climate change and other environmental degradation.
  3. The notion of a just transition is unjust and the questions we are all grappling with are; who is transitioning, from what to what, who will benefit from the transition, communities or companies as mineral extraction for cleaner sources means more environmental impact!
  4. Given our brutal colonial history in which we believed the democratic political transition in our countries would benefit all, frankly, this evokes bad memories and anxiety. The reality is that women are at the receiving end of colonialism. Today, women are still deprived of the right to land much as they are primary victims of poverty while at the same time, subsidising capitalism through unpaid social reproductive and domestic care work among other socio-economic injustices.
  5. Economic diversification and green growth cannot happen in the absence of the most critical stakeholders – the communities!
  6. Africa is the least polluter but bears the brunt of climate change as the greatest burden falls on mine host communities.
  7. Deeply Concerned about the following:
  1. Despite the devastating effects of extracting fossil fuels, the extractives industry and poor communities still very much depend on these sources of energy for productivity and social reproduction in private households.
  1. The systemic socio-economic question of affordability would make it difficult to shift to ‘clean renewable’ sources of energy, particularly for poor households who depend on the use of firewood and coal.
  1. While efforts are being made to combat the toxic effects of fossil fuels, still, many governments seem to have not fully committed to the idea of renewable clean and ecologically friendly sources of energy. Remembering commitments made during the Paris Agreement, energy transition strategies are yet to adapt to support the needs of women who disproportionately undertake social reproductive and caregiving responsibilities in homes.
  1. The ambivalent approach to climate justice triggers anxiety among mining-affected communities particularly because many countries have not yet developed concrete policies, legislations, and strategies for mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Moreover, there is low political will to invest in infrastructure for renewable energy.
  1. While we reiterate the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels, inconveniently, the infrastructure for the alternative ‘clean renewable energy’ is yet to be realised. Moreover, many countries in Africa still neglect climate financing in their annual budgets while the demand and cost of energy continues to rise. This energy poverty, if not well managed, could as well conflict or delay a just clean energy transition.
  1. African governments continue to borrow loans on the backs of existing historical debts from neoliberal institutions such as the IMF in the absence of meaningful public participation and consultation. It is regressive for African countries to depend on external solutions. Our major concern is what precisely are we borrowing for and how will we pay it back? Additionally, communities do not know how much is extracted from our land and this paves way for illicit financial flows.
  1. When we talk of a just transition, we are traumatised given our experience of the transition from colonialism to democracy which in our view, was not just. It is our own very same Black governments that brutalised their own people. For example, in South Africa mining-affected communities and environmental activists have been and continue to be threatened, silenced and in worst cases, assassinated for standing up for the “Right to say No!”.
  1. Mining corporates have devised SLAPP suits as tools to target and silence environmental and community activists.
  1. Investing in mining is tantamount to investing in destruction and erosion of our dignity as we have noted that the extractives industry is historically violent and destructive towards women. Therefore, we reiterate that restorative, distributive, and procedural justice should be at the core of all interventions for a just energy transition.
  1. The just energy transition will certainly result in loss of livelihoods and energy sources for communities that are dependent on fossil fuels. For example, 80% of communities in Hwange rely on mining for employment and thermal power (from coal) and this on its own, triggers anxiety among communities and working-class poor. Additionally, a large number of mining conglomerates are not compliant to 8 core ILO labour laws. The major concern is that those who lose jobs might not be covered by social protection floors such as social security and provident fund and this will certainly undermine the dignity of our communities!
  1. We cannot talk about ‘Zero harm’ when the dignity of our people is being eroded. For example, many communities have been displaced and forcibly removed from their ancestral lands including undermining of the African culture of revering ancestral graves.
  • Re-affirming:
  1. Our 12th Edition motto – is “The AMI will not be Muted” and in this regard, we have since enhanced our social media presence to ensure ongoing community engagements beyond the annual AMI sessions.
  1. Our long-standing principles of “Nothing about us without us!”;Right to say NO” to fight injustices in our quest to seek collective solutions to a just energy transition. In other words, we do not need foreign investors to tell us what to do. We need to find tailor-made solutions for Africa. We are the people we have been waiting for!
  1. The importance of community consultations and participation in decision-making processes including transparent access to information, right to object to development projects that are harmful to mine host communities and the environment. Knowledge is power as a key strategy to meaningful engagements.
  1. Our long-standing demand for African governments to domesticate FPIC & other international frameworks into relevant existing mining or environmental legal legislations remains strong. This is to ensure transparency, contract disclosure and accountability to underpin both domestic and foreign investment into critical minerals that are essential for renewable energy projects.
  1. The power of citizens in determining the trajectory of an envisaged just energy transition is guided by the principle of “Leaving no-one behind”.
  1. Knowledge is a powerful tool and key element for organising, for community activation and effective organisation. Binding social contracts and practical care are critical in strengthening community capacity for meaningful engagement with policymakers.
  1. The need to center labour in the just energy transition dialogue in ensuring that the working-class poor are not left behind.
  1. There is an urgent need to build in concrete and proactive mechanisms to address structural issues related to Gender-Based Violence in the extractives industry.
  • Thus, we demand the following:
  1. Government must and should:
  1.  Inclusive political democracies that are people-centred and involve all stakeholders in order to realise meaningful development and a just transition. Again, let us begin with conversations that seek collective just political transition before we even talk about just energy transition. In this regard, the people demand an all-inclusive democracy that puts them first, not profits, before even talk about a just energy transition. We also demand that governments pay particular attention to education as a public social good for the benefit of the current and future generations.
  1. To fight inequality and ensure equitable distribution of revenue from natural resources through domestic resource mobilization.
  2. As we look forward to a low- carbon energy transition, African governments certainly need to consider the opportunities presented, move beyond a fixation on capitalist model of mining to diversification of economies, characterized by domestic investment. Diversification of the economy is critical in order to increase our tax base and drive a public sector led economy characterised by autonomous parastatals to run viable businesses for the benefit of all citizens.
  1. The digital economy presents a new opportunity for job creation and tax base in the wake of a just energy transition. Investments in the digital economy and renewable energy sectors should focus more on incentivising domestic as opposed to foreign investors in order to realise green economic growth that benefit citizens. At the same time, African governments ought to rethink the type of incentives granted to mining companies so that we maximize what we have for the development of our countries and for equitable distribution of revenue from our natural resources. This would also go a long way in curbing illicit financial flows, corruption, poverty, unemployment and expanding inequalities.
  1. African Governments must seriously consider the economy of life proposition that calls for a shift towards care for the elderly and children and ensure that women are remunerated for unpaid and domestic care work.
  1. Need for political will to regularize the ASM to generate revenue for economic growth. In the same vein, there is a need for the beneficiation of our minerals e.g. we should be able to process critical minerals (such as Cobalt) in Africa and maximise this for the benefit of our domestic economy. Investment should be focused on supporting and providing financial and technical resources, market linkages, and access to up-skilling paying particular attention to the needs of women, children and the youth.
  1. We cannot rely on external bonds that do not drive economic growth.
  1. Africa needs to adopt an Environmental Rights Treaty and the right to protect human rights defenders and support the adoption of a binding treaty on business and human rights. 
  1. A just energy transition should offer a meaningful and sustainable development trajectory. There is an urgent need to restructure our local economies to harness opportunities presented by for example, agrarian, agro and eco-tourism to re-skilling and upskilling.
  • Business:
  1. While we commemorate the Marikana Massacre of 16th August 2012 in South Africa, we demand a guarantee that mining corporates will never again invoke police intervention to censor mining-affected communities whenever they object to new mining operations, protest poor working conditions, demand fair wages and ecological justice in light of climate change.
  3. We have begun to experience the devastating impacts of climate change and these concerns were raised in previous AMI communiques. Yet, mining corporates in collusion with governments paid little attention to this matter and poor communities have to ‘pay with their health’ and lives in light of the recent floods in Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa.

The emerging conversation on just energy transition tends to focus more on capital injections into the energy transition development projects, while paying little attention to ecological devastation of the past. The extractives industry is characterized by a detrimental human and ecological violation legacy that is still to be addressed. We therefore, demand that before we talk about a just transition, financing institutions such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) channel resources towards rehabilitation of areas that have been affected by extractive activities before considering investment into new projects related to energy transition. Additionally, we demand reparations and for climate debt for those who lost their lives, land, and property to pave way for mining operations. Lest we forget!

  • Therefore, to address these priorities as the AMI platform, we resolve to adopt the following roadmap:
  1. As mining-affected communities, we shall set the ecological and development agenda as we continue agitating for inclusion, particularly, in current conversations related to a just energy transition. Our agenda will be guided by the principle of “Leaving no one behind”, underpinned by a feminist lens.
  1. Need to craft an Energy Charter that considers unpaid domestic care work borne by women and the youth who constitute a large share of the bottom stratum.
  1. Our existing policies were not prepared to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic which has further deepened inequalities. As a way of reducing inequality, we need to seize the opportunity presented by the pandemic to interrogate whether these policies are reducing inequality and how? Furthermore, there is need for policy reviews to establish if at all the existing labour and mining policies benefit workers particularly women, the youth and other vulnerable population groupings.
  1. We shall draw lessons from other struggles beyond our continent, particularly paying attention to critical lessons from Latin America in our pursuit to understand the nexus amongst energy transition, climate justice, care work and systemic change!
  1. With regards to centering care –our governments seem not to be ready to do so and clearly, political will is essential. Hence, we need to connect our feminist justice campaign across the continent to ensure commitment by governments to implement existing protocols related to care work.
  1. As CSOs, we need to tighten loopholes as we intensify our advocacy to fight social injustice, illicit financial flows, inequality, climate change and of course, set the agenda for a just energy transition. In other words, we should not be invited to sit on the table but rather be proactive and ensure meaningful participation at all levels.
  2. To safeguard new technologies and intellectual property developed in the continent. 
  1. As CSOs, we need to identify community champions on the ground and enhance their capacity on legal issues and alternative justice systems and to support them to be able to meaningfully participate in EIA processes and to invoke all the legal frameworks at our disposal for litigation.
  1. The AMI must be an inclusive space for women, children, youth, PWDs, LGBTQI+ and other marginalized communities to speak for themselves and about themselves; and to dialogue on specific issues that directly affect them”.
  • Conclusion

In times of socio-economic crises, ecological issues are very often neglected while the poor and vulnerable populations suffer the greatest loss. Added to this is poor community consultations and shrinking civic space which eventually, limit multi-stakeholder consultations and participation. This adversely impacts on response strategies to mitigation, adaptation, and resilience as those affected the most are left behind. As delegates of this important platform, we appreciate the space offered by the Alternative Mining Indaba and shall continue to seek dialogue with business and government in our quest for a just energy transition that positions mining-affected communities at the focal point of all ecological and socio-economic responses and interventions. We are resolved and remain focused on building strong community networks and broader working-class movements that will determine the trajectory of a just energy transition that we want

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