The world has undeniably arrived at a crucial state of environmental degradation. Many communities have been experiencing rapid depletion of natural resources, environmental destruction, and pollution which have exacerbated complex issues of poverty, internal conflicts, and social unrest. Extractive industries such as mining have not only destroyed natural ecosystems but also displaced communities and contributed to health hazards. The worsening impacts of climate change are felt in almost all parts of the world, yet governments still open up more coal-fired power plants and other dirty energy projects. Farmers experienced lower agricultural yields and no catch season for fisher folks.
Grassroot communities are at the disadvantage end in dealing with environmental degradation. It has caused them loss of livelihood, and life. This grave condition that they are in placed them at the forefront of the struggle in defense of their rights, lands, and life. The growing resistance of communities and environmental movement, in general, are being challenged by state terrorism and violence through militarization across the globe.
Mr. Debaranjan Sarangi, an anti-mining activist, writer and a documentary film maker, was picked up by plainclothes police from the Kucheipadar village of Rayagada District, Odisha
on March 18, 2016 and still languishes in jail on false charges. In South Africa, 34 striking mine workers were killed and 78 others were injured when they were fired upon by police and security forces of UK-owned Lonmin Mining Company in August 2012. Meanwhile, Rio Tinto and Freeport-McMoran are reported to have initially poured in $35 million for military infrastructure and vehicles and paid at least $20 million to state security forces from 1998 to 2004 to quell opposition against its Grasberg Mine project in West Papua.
Berta Caceres, a 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize awardee, was assassinated in her home by, believed to be, state forces of Honduras. She was a staunch environmental activist against mega projects such as hydroelectric dam. A week later, Nelson Garcia, Berta’s colleague, was also gunned down. Now the life of another friend, Gustavo Castro Soto, who was with Berta when she was felled, is in danger.
In Bangladesh, thousands gathered in the coastal town of Gandamara to protests against the planned construction of two coal-fired power plants. The impending project will entail displacement of several thousands of farmers and demolition of schools and temples. Four Bangladeshi were killed and around 3,200 citizens had to face legal charges against them.
The environmental crisis is driven by the intensifying neo-liberalization of the global economy. Import-dependent countries have relied too much on saturated global markets, as developed countries relentlessly exploit their natural resources and cheap labor. Inequality worsens, as access to resources remains concentrated in the hands of the few.
The upcoming World Social Forum (WSF) 2016 to be held on August 9-14, 2016 in Montreal, Canada provides an avenue and a space for civil society organizations from various countries for engagement, exchange of experiences, debates, and collaboration. WSF 2016 in Montreal is a tool for promoting convergences of people energies and solution for building another world. It is, therefore, crucial for the IPCM to bring our people’s concerns, ideas, and agenda to this event through organizing a forum.
Thisforum aims to bring civil society on board to discuss the different issues surrounding environment and human rights issues in different countries, to promote IPCM as an international mining network, and to collectively think of concrete plans and proposals in upholding human rights amidst culture of impunity across the globe.