Call to respect “No Go Areas” and set boundaries for the extractive industries
A Resolution from the World Wilderness Congress, released on 16th December, affirms that World Heritage Sites, Protected Areas, Community Conserved Areas, Indigenous Territories and Sacred Natural Sites, must be respected as “No Go Areas” and protected against mining and extractive industries. It calls on companies to cease mining and other destructive activities within all categories of protected areas, with immediate effect.
It is the first time there has been a joint statement on the threat of mining and extractive industries from such a broad range of sectors, uniting Indigenous Peoples, local communities, non-government organisations and institutional conservation agents. The Resolution was drafted at the World Wilderness Congress, WILD10, in October 2013, by The Gaia Foundation and the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC). It drew a groundswell of support from conservation groups and indigenous representatives, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WPCA) and Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), the WILD Foundation, Indigenous Peoples' and Local Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCA) Consortium, International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), Sacred Natural Sites Initiative, African Biodiversity Network. The Resolution was released in English and Spanish this week after public consultation. It highlights shared concerns about the increasing scale and destruction by extractives industries, and growing civil society demands for an end to the increasing violation of protected areas and pristine ecosystems and local communities.
Despite guidelines from the IUCN on conservation areas - including World Heritage Sites as ‘No-Go Areas' - governments continue to give concessions to mining and extractive companies. Just this week an alert was raised on the license being granted to bulldoze a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and last refuge of the uncontacted Ayoreo Indians, in Paraguay.
Nigel Crawhall, Chair of the IUCN working group on Indigenous Local Communities, Equity and Protected Areas (TILCEPA): “The extractive industries are more destructive than we could have possibly imagined 10 years ago. They are destroying vital ecosystems and huge areas of land. The impacts are already enormous, especially on water. The real meaning of the Resolution is that a global coalition for upholding conservation standards is spreading to a broader alliance of civil society. Together we are taking a stand.”
Liz Hosken, Director of The Gaia Foundation: “The goal posts have shifted radically. Mining is invading indigenous territories, protected areas, World Heritage Sites and fragile ecosystems around the planet at an alarming rate. Nothing is safe in the face of this assault. This Resolution signals to the extractive industry and to the governments, that across the world, peoples' patience with mining is running out. They are endangering our already fragile Earth and we cannot allow this to carry on!”
Joseph Itongwa, Coordinator of PIDP-Kivu from Goma, DR Congo, and IPACC member: “Governments are treating Africa with contempt and even willing to breach agreements such as the iconic World Heritage Convention. Nothing is safe, as Chinese and Western multinational corporations roll over the continent, extracting what they want for their interests.”
Ernesto Enkerlin, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas: “All area-based conservation measure, be it an indigenous or community area or a government designated protected area such as World Heritage Sites, share the purpose of insuring sustainability, among other important values, and must not be compromised by extractive activities. Industries should up-hold the principle of “no go” in these areas. It is a matter of mutual respect.”
This WILD10 Resolution is an important stepping-stone for the international community who want greater protection of the world's protected areas and indigenous territories. It will be on the table at the IUCN-hosted 6th World Parks Congress taking place in Sydney, November 2014.
Resolution No.12 “urges governments to adopt, implement and enforce appropriate laws, policies and programmes - with the full and effective participation of communities and organizations concerned - for the protection of World Heritage Sites, Protected Areas, including in full ICCAs and Sacred Natural Sites and Territories, as ‘No-Go Areas' for any kind of destructive industrial activity, especially mining and other extractive and destructive industries.” Full text can be viewed here.
The Resolution was drafted at WILD10, October 4-10, 2013 in Salamanca, Spain. Held every 2-3 years, the World Wilderness Congress provides a forum for conservation groups, indigenous peoples, governments, community representatives, scientists, business, artists and more. After a process of review and public comment, Resolutions from WILD10 were finalised and made public on 16th December 2013.
The context of extractive industries, especially mining, has changed dramatically over the last decade. Global investments in extractive industries have rocketed, and the rising price of metals, minerals, oil and gas have led to land grabbing, the violation of community rights, the devastation of fragile ecosystems, water scarcity - not to mention the surge in ever more extreme extraction techniques such as hydraulic fracking, mountain top removal and deep-water drilling. This changing context is exposed in the report Opening Pandora's Box (2012).
Giovanni Reyes, representative of the Igorot people of the Philippines, and director of the NGO KASAPI: “Assassinations of anti-mining activists and their families are now common place; thirty-four (reported) people have been killed in the Philippines for speaking out against mining and currently over 800 mining applications are underway”.
Nils Olof, a youth leader for the Swedish Sami parliament, and representative of one of Europe's few remaining Indigenous Peoples: “Sami people have lost land to hydro-electric dams, logging and now we face the threat of mining. It will become impossible to keep herding the reindeers the way we have always done”.
Wayne Bergman, an Aboriginal activist from the Kimberleys in Western Australia: “Our whole territory is sacred and mining violates everything my people believe in.”
Sharon Shay Sloan, coordinator of the Indigenous and Community Lands and Seas (ICLS) Forum, WILD10: “This Resolution brings together the world's Indigenous Peoples with NGOs and local citizens - people ready to take a stand for life. It is an important step in putting a stop to the violation of protected areas by extractive industries.”
For more information, please contact:
Fiona Wilton - The Gaia Foundation
The Gaia Foundation
6 Heathgate Place
Tel: +44 207 428 0054
Fax: +44 207 428 0056