WHAT IS EXTRACTIVISM?
Extractivism exploits natural resources on a massive scale. It is a short-sighted model of development pushed by states, institutions and corporations around the globe. With massive appropriation of extracted natural resources comes violence that tramples human rights and the rights of nature:
“… this is not the result of one type of extraction but instead is a necessary condition to engage in the appropriation of natural resources.”
– Eduardo Gudynas Latin American Center of Social Ecology, Uruguay
There is not good extractivism or bad extractivism – it is what it is – a bunch of activities to massively extract primary resources for export within a neo-liberal and capitalism system. Extractivism is essentially predatory, like capitalism.
Types of extractivism include: coal and oil extraction, mineral and metal mining, hydraulic fracturing for unconventional gas, infrastructure including roads, pipelines and storage facilities, \ logging, large-scale single-crop or cash-crop plantations, agribusiness, hydroelectric dams, commercial water bottling operations and corporate and profit-driven renewable energy and climate mitigation projects carried out at the expense of rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
Extractivist developments create significant economic profits for the powerful few for the short term, leaving minimal to no benefits for local communities whose resources have been extracted.
Extractivism contributes to converging global crises including climate change, displacement, human rights violations, abuse of worker rights, child labour, gendered violence, air and water contamination, toxic legacies, deforestation, biodiversity loss and conflict.
WHAT IS POST-EXTRACTIVISM?
As a system of thought and action, post-extractivism offers an emerging, radical approach to the problems caused by mining, and the extractivist ideology more broadly, both of which undermine our relationship with Nature and each other. It encourages us to think from an Earth-centred perspective about our role and our place on a living planet, and draws upon indigenous thinking.
“Buen Vivir seeks to ensure people’s quality of life, in a broad sense that goes beyond material well-being (to include spiritual wellbeing) and the individual (to include a sense of community), as well as beyond anthropocentrism (to include Nature). Under Buen Vivir, the values inherent in Nature are recognised, and therefore also the duty to maintain its integrity at both the local and the global level. This perspective aims to transcend the dualism that separates society from Nature, as well as breaking with the linear idea of history that assumes our countries must imitate the lifestyles and culture of the industrialised nations.”
– Eduardo Gudynas
WE CAN BUILD A WORLD BEYOND MINING AND EXTRACTIVISM!
It is important to know that we won’t overcome mining and extractivism overnight. However, we can overcome extractive dependency by opting for new paths and alternative strategies beyond capitalism and neo-liberalism with concrete solutions that centre Indigenous Peoples, land defenders and frontline communities from around the globe.
“Buen vivir, as a way of life, with different names and varieties, is known and practiced in different regions of Madre Tierra, including as part of ubuntu in Africa or swaraj in India. And there are many, many more experiences across the planet that are immersed in a marvellous and complex process of re-enchanting the world.”
– Alberto Acosta, Post-Extractivism: From Discourse to Practice—Reflections for Action
ECO-NOMY, NOT ECON-OMY
We can educate, raise questions and debate on extractivism and economic growth. To rethink the economy from the perspective of communities and nature, of spiritual and living worlds, towards caring for and reproducing life not capital.
We choose to explore other kinds of economies beyond economic growth. Economies based on ecology, a circular economy, degrowth, all rooted in decolonisation. Where corporations are made accountable for ecocide and their power structures are dismantled. Where communities are in control of their resources and can determine their own futures
We bust the myths of mining and extractivism as job and wealth creation. For example, In Australia, mining employs 2% of the total workforce and makes up 10%
of the GDP. The wealth from mining DOESN’T trickle down. Most of it is in the hands of billionaires who pay minimal (if any) tax, with wealth held in offshore accounts. In 2019, BHP made AU$12.2 billion in profit, paid no tax, and emitted more emissions than the entire Australian domestic market.
In so-called Australia, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Colombia and Brazil and many other places, mining HASN’T benefited locals. They have been stripped of their traditional livelihoods, displaced from their lands, cultural sites destroyed and left with poisoned rivers and forests. Some societies have been shattered forever by the cultural, economic, social and environmental impacts of mining and others turned into conflict zones where women and children face violence.
We can and must decolonise.
We must dismantle the colonial structures of our present.
We understand that the power asymmetries of the intersecting environmental, social and political crises we face can’t be separated from extractivism, neoliberalism, colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy, militarisation and white supremacy.
We listen, learn and respect Indigenous world views and knowledge systems as concrete solutions.
We value and understand what represents economic, gender, social and environmental justice and the inter-relations, as one does not exist without the other.
THE RIGHT TO SAY NO: IS A CLEAR YES
We build alliances, networks and movements that hold similar values and principles locally, nationally, regionally and internationally to build spaces of real power – real counter-powers of action in political, economic and cultural realms.
“You may not want to admit it, but our planet is in a serious crisis and if nothing is done to halt the speed at which we are extracting minerals, metals and fossil fuels, we are just simply digging a hole that will be impossible to escape. I call on you. I call on all of us, to stand together in solidarity and say Yes to Life and a definite NO to Mining. The time has come to send a strong message to the exploiters of our planet.”
– Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nigeria
The Right to say NO to extractive activities in our territories, is a YES to other ways of living.
YES, to living in harmony with the web of life.
YES, to the right to decide how to live our own lives.
YES, to the recognition that nature is not a collection of resources to be exploited for profit.
YES, to valuing the work of subsistence and care over economic growth and profit.
YES, to production for use and not exchange.
YES, to valuing Indigenous identities, knowledge systems and perspectives.
YES, to a new economic order that centres gender, social, environmental & climate justice.
YES, to reparations of the historical, ecological and social debt owed to the Global South.
STANDING WITH LAND DEFENDERS
An average of more than four land and environmental defenders were killed a week in 2019 with over half of all reported killings occurring in Colombia and the Philippines. Mining was the deadliest sector, followed by agribusiness and logging.
We stand with land and environmental defenders who are the first line of defence against climate breakdown and the socio-eco crises we face.
We must listen to the demands of land and environmental defenders and amplify them.
We must follow the leaders at the frontline of climate and other converging crises.
We will expose the companies with irresponsible practices, and those that finance them, urging them to take action to ensure their operations do not harm our environment and those who stand up to protect it.
WATER IS LIFE
When we look at water, we see the source of life.
We value water as something precious to be conserved, not a resource to be used.
We view access to water as a human right, and water as having value beyond human use.
We recognise that water cannot be owned, it belongs to everyone who cares for it.
To look at a world Beyond Mining and Extractivism means centring environmental justice, standing with land defenders and stopping ecocide.
We include environmental demands like bans and moratoriums on expanding and/or new extractive projects, especially those in biodiverse and culturally significant areas.
We take direct action through protests, blockades and creative actions.
We hold governments, corporations, institutions and INGOs accountable for their actions in the same way that citizens are – with real consequences when they transgress. A world where they pay tax; where toxic waste and pollution is condemned and punished by the full extent of the law, and businesses are responsible for their disasters and their emissions – wherever they are produced.
To explore a world Beyond Mining and Extractivism, we explore direct action, advocacy, alliances, movement building, solidarity and global justice.
We refocus laws on the planet as a whole – not only the human element.
We remind governments that their constitutional requirements are to serve and protect the people, not corporations.
We campaign on legal strategies, investors and financiers, engage shareholders and become Earth Protectors.
We call on the IMF, World Bank and other International Financial Institutions (IFI) to realise the value in Debt for Nature swaps towards cancelling all debt in the Global South.
We support and employ local communities and Indigenous Peoples as leaders, Earth Guardians, rangers, citizen scientists, guides and teachers.
We recognise that Indigenous Peoples have always lived in harmony with the earth, and we amplify their voices in calling for change.
We can’t exit extractivism with more extraction. However, we can drive just(ice) transition processes that free us from the ties of extractivism without risking life and the environment, whatever the reason.
We recognise that renewables and a ‘green’ transition without systemic and behavioural change will only continue to increase extractivism and its adverse impacts on people and planet.
We recognise that climate justice is only one arm of a transition to a more equal and just world.
We examine and call out greenwashing and political tokenism.
We understand that creating a just and equal world means letting go of business as usual in exploring new paths and alternative strategies beyond capitalism and neo-liberalism with concrete solutions that centre Indigenous Peoples and frontline communities from around the globe.
We know that when innovation is linked to decolonised thought, true creativity will occur.
We are excited about a future where we can reuse our waste, utilise the best of what technology has to offer and live in harmony with the planet.
IN DEFENCE OF LIFE
Colombia – where the community of Cajamarca stopped a gold mine through popular democracy, triggering a national movement and new initiatives to strengthen their regenerative local economy. Spanish version available here.
REGENERATING THE COMMONS
Frojám, Galiza, Spain
Spain – where the villagers of Froxán, Galicia, are re-planting forests and asserting their commons-based forms of land and water care in response to the threat of tungsten mining. Spanish version available
A PLACE FOR ALL LIVING THINGS
Salween Peace Park, Myanmar
Myanmar – where the indigenous Karen People have declared the Salween Peace Park as a space to practice their Earth-centred culture and as a strategy to block the intertwined threats of mega-hydro and mining.
LANDSCAPES OF RENEWAL
Jukajoki, Linnunsuo and the Finnish Boreal
Finland – where the villagers of Selkie closed down a peat mine after pollution events poisoned the Jukajoki River and have re-wilded their water systems using a blend of traditional knowledge and science.