The Earth’s front-line defenders are disappearing at an astonishing rate. On average three environmental activists were killed each week in 2015, according to a recent report from the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. Global Witness, an international NGO that documents natural resource extraction, corruption, and violence, reports a 59 percent increase in deaths last year compared to 2014. In total, 185 killings of environmental defenders were recorded by Global Witness in 2015.
The Western Ghats are one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the world and form an important watershed. In five Indian states, the mountain range is at the heart of environmental conflicts: Fragmentation and deterioration of forests, biodiversity loss, pollution, soil erosion and landslides, soil infertility and agrarian stress, depleting groundwater resources, climate change and introduction of alien species, caused by developmental and mining projects, have raised the alarm in recent years.
Peru’s new president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (known as PPK), has revealed his government’s intention to prioritise mineral extraction and trade relations with China in a series of actions and public statements. Since his victory in an election run-off on June 5, Kuczynski has also declared the need for Peru to stimulate further economic activity by processing and refining minerals, in addition to simply exporting them.
While natural resource development can generate economic success, it can also increase the likelihood of conflict, particularly in Africa. Ongoing violence in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta is a good example of the so-called “resource curse” in action. In response, African governments continue to grapple with how best to use their resource endowments to foster both economic opportunity and peace. At a time of much soul-searching for the United Nations, there is a unique opportunity to put responsible and effective resource development at the heart of African peacebuilding. But how might local communities take greater ownership of these processes?
India is all set to embark on exploration and other developmental activities pertaining to polymetallic sulphides in the Indian Ocean after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi approved the signing of a contract between the Minister of Earth Sciences and the International Seabed Authority (ISA), that formalises India’s exclusive rights for exploration in the Central Indian Ridge, and South West Indian Ridge in the Indian Ocean for 15 years. India is not the only country that is actively tapping into the resources of the region, or is attempting to do so. China, South Korea and Germany have also been granted permission to prospect for polymetallic nodules and sulphides, increasing the potential for competition in the region.
In 2010-11 Australia’s coal-rich Queensland region was hit hard by flooding events of historic proportions.
The Spanish version of the Exhibition Environment, Conflict and Cooperation (ECC) that includes a specific module on South America is currently shown in Chile in cooperation with the NGO Fundación Terram. During 9-20 May, the Exhibition was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Chile. The launch event on 10 May was attended by over a hundred participants: foreign policy, defence and environmental decision makers from Chile, representatives of several Latin American countries, Germany and USA, as well as members of Chilean and international civil society.
Continued use of fossil fuels triggers increasingly permanent damage with regards to climate change. Yet, there is growing acknowledgment that fossil fuels remain hard to displace. What, then, can – or should – be done to address this ‘confronting paradox’? This question was at the heart of the talk by Professor Robert H Socolow of Princeton University, US visited the University of Queensland, Australia in February this year. The talk was attended by people with diverse interests – energy and mining industries, management consulting, academia and others.
A fifth of Mongolian land has been earmarked for mining. Investors are so happy about this they have given a new moniker to the world’s second-biggest landlocked country: “Minegolia”. Mining’s share of Mongolia’s economy has doubled in a decade. Copper, gold, uranium, silver and coal mines account for 20-30% of national GDP and 89% of annual exports. Oyu Tolgoi, already one of the largest mines in the world, is expected to expand during the next few years despite weak commodities prices, and will have an increasing impact on the country’s economy and its ecology.
What is the role of transparency in mining and how can it be fostered in conditions of asymmetrical power? The Latin American Dialogue Group: Mining, Democracy and Sustainable Development recently started a multi-stakeholder process to offer answers.
As climate variability increases over the next decades, we have to dramatically rethink how we govern extractive industry, water resources, and environmental permitting, or else face increased conflict in many resource rich countries, argues Joshua Fisher.
High in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan Mountains, the twin effects of climate change and gold mining have combined to pose a potential environmental and human health disaster.
In May 2011, two weeks before I was scheduled to start research in the region, a Mongol herder named Mergen was hit by a mining truck while protecting his pastureland in Xilingol, Inner Mongolia. He was dragged 140 feet and killed. His death sparked a month of protests.