The Declaration from the South Africa to Botswana Community to Community Coal Exchange: Building a common voice and solidarity in the resistance to coal
10th to 14th of September 2018
In the coal exchange hosted by the Botswana Climate Change Network and co-facilitated by groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa, community environmental justice activists from communities affected by coal mining in Botswana and South Africa met in Palapye, Botswana, from the 10th to 14th of September 2018 to discuss the impacts of coal mining and coal-fired power stations in South Africa and Botswana and worked on the responses needed to address these impacts.
The objectives of the exchange were:
- Strengthen coal resistance by identifying and adopting advocacy approaches and campaign tools that aims to discourage investment in coal fired power stations and mines, and enable transition to renewable energy;
- Build support on the true costs of coal mining and coal fired power generation by highlighting its impact on air quality, health and water resources;
- Share campaign experiences and adopt concrete strategies for implementation; and
- Domesticate political dynamics and narratives around the coal debate – focusing on development paradigms, women’s rights and resistance, climate change and finance, clean energy system models.
At the end of the deliberations, it was agreed that Africa and its resources are being plundered, people are being environmentally oppressed and their dignity as humans is being put in question.
The meeting also noted that the environment in the areas of mining activity has also been affected and destroyed drastically, contributing to environmental and climatic injustice. The meeting considered that Africa has been massively looted over the centuries and continues to suffer the severe impacts of resource exploitation and related conflicts.
The meeting also noted that there is further coal development targeted in Southern African region financed by the Japanese and Chinese banks and other various banking institutions, encouraging and promoting environmental degradation and increasing climate change impacts, which in turn affects people on the ground.
We understand that the long road to social and environmental justice requires the mass education of our people, as well as of the political decision makers on the real impacts and problems of mining, and the vigorous affirmation of our rights.
Based on the above injustices and human rights violations, the group made the following demands:
- Demand transparency between the coal project developers, the government and communities. The Government and project developers must endeavour to engage communities at all levels of consultations and take into consideration their concerns and recommendations;
- We call for the end to the expansion of coal mines and coal fired power stations;
- We are deeply concerned with the continued investment commitments being made by banks and governments in coal developments and expansions. We call for governments and banks to stop financing any new coal developments;
- We demand that the government, private entities and investors accelerate the adoption and uptake of renewable energy, and shift from their dependence and continued exploitation of coal;
- We demand that more funding is allocated to community owned renewable energy plants and systems, to deal with energy poverty and pollution;
- The mines and power stations utilize large amounts of water, and in the process lock out – enclose – access to water by the communities and we call on the mines and power stations to cease the privatization of people’s water sources,
- We further demand that the government put in place regulatory measures on water usage by the mines and coal-fired power station, and control over exploitation of the water sources;
- We call on the Government to recognise the importance of water as a basic commodity for the people, and adequate access should be prioritized for the people rather than for the industries;
- The exploitation of coal continues to cause mass destruction on the environment, we therefore call for the rehabilitation of the environment that has been destroyed by coal activities;
- We demand that coal power stations install sufficient air quality monitoring stations, to allow ease of tracking emissions;
- We further call on government to engage the communities in training on air quality management and make accessible relevant tools that can be used to monitor air quality. It is imperative that the right to a healthy environment for the communities is not compromised;
- We demand for more health facilities, which can be easily accessed by the general public;
- We demand skill empowerment and development for the locals .The local communities must benefit from the resources and should not be locked out of accessing benefits that can potentially contribute to their wellbeing and sustain their livelihoods;
- Local communities rely heavily on agriculture, and therefore should not be denied access to land, including being unfairly relocated from their original agriculture land to pave way for coal expansions. We demand that communities be allowed to keep their land for grazing and agriculture purpose;
- We call on governments to uphold their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and follow a sustainable low carbon development trajectory;
- We strongly call for the preservation of our land and water to mitigate and allow people to tool for adaptation to climate change impacts; and
- Developments on energy exploitation and access should incorporate in their structures youth and gender strategies and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are adequately met.
Finally, we demand from ourselves the commitment to continue building on our solidarity beyond South Africa and Botswana to the rest of Africa and to ensure that we speak truth to power and coal.