Sustainable Land Management (SLM)
Engaging with Extractive Industries : Can it work ?
vendredi 20 septembre 2013, par Florent Tiassou

Taking place in conjunction with COP 11, The Rio Conventions Pavilion convened for Indigenous and Local Community Sustainable Land Managers Day, hosted by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Equator Initiative. One of the session was analyzing the relation between extractive industries and populations in drylands areas. Geraldine Deblon attended the event and met the participants.

Extractive industries are usually associated with huge profit.
They can provide much needed state income in many countries but also extended pollution and social conflicts.

For communities living in drylands, extractive activities such as mining presents unique challenges. These communities that are already experiencing tough living conditions have to face issues like land grabbing, population displacement, land degradation and all sorts pollutions.

Shani Olepetenia, from Kenya, tells us about the health impact of mining industries on his community :

"Some of the ashes that are coming from mining sites covers the trees, the trees are becoming dry and leaves are falling, people breathe in the substance and end up getting respiratory tract infection such as as asthma. So they get affected."

In the recent year, explorations led to the discovery of new sources of minerals, oil, gaz and rare earth in Africa.

But will african local communities benefit from it ? We asked the question to Claude Kapemba, the Director of Southern Africa Resource Watch, an organization based in South Africa.

"What we are seing is a movement towards insuring that mining companies do contribute to social empowerment of social communities. But you have to understand that in this process, governments have the responsability to insure that the laws and regulations are in place, and that companies are obliged to follow and implement them, and there is a monitoring system to that. In the african situation, the government are weak and don’t have the capacity to monitor the different companies that are mining across all countries."

Governments certainly have an important rôle to play in ensuring that extractive industries take environment impact into account and compensate local communities adequately.
But it seems like what is even more important is the implication and negotiation skills of local communities.

Let’s hear about Ally Coe’s success story in Australia.

"I am Ally Coe and I come from New South Wales, Australia and I am with an local indigenous organisation called the Wiradjuri Condoblin Corporation of Australia.

I believe we are in a unique situation. We were able to establish really good working relationship with Barrick Gold International, a mining company from Canada. Basically, we told them that we would be the experts in indigenous community development and you will be the experts in mining. We wont tell you how to mine gold, don’t you tell us how to do our business in our communities.

Because of the results of a fruitful negotiation process that took place, our population was set up with a small amount of money. We had really good people in charge of the organization. They managed to make full use of that small payementand turned it into a larger payment for employment activities, to establish businesses.They create sustainability for the organization because that would be the key goal has we know that the mining opération will only last for about 25 years. So we have to put into place a structure that will take us well beyond that."

This story show us that engaging with extractive industries can in deed work.

By sharing effective strategies for managing extractive industries in drylands regions, communities can learn how to take advantage of their wealth and protect their livelihoods.