The African Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society, AIMES, a network of African civil society organisation groups on the extractive sector, would hold its 12th annual strategy meeting in Bamako, Mali from July 6–8, 2010. The meeting is co-hosted by Third World Network-Africa (the secretariat of AIMES) and the Institute for Research and Promotion of Alternatives in Africa (IRPAD).
AIMES which has representation in over 15 strategic mining countries across Africa was founded in 1999, as a Pan-African network of organisations, groups, communities, researchers and individuals engaged in extractive sector, in particular mining, advocacy. It offers a framework for collaboration to strengthen collective actions that advance community interest, environmental sustainability and sustainable development in relation to the extractive sector.
The meeting will attract 40 participants mainly members of AIMES from Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, Canada, United Kingdom and United States of America.
The meeting is taking place in the wake of attempts at reforming mining policy framework by individual African countries to maximise on returns from the extractive sector which has not been the case since further liberalisation of the sector under Structural Adjustment. It is also coming at a time when both the African Union (AU) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) are finalising reports on reforms in the mining sector. The AU-UNECA report would be endorsed at Ministerial Conference in October 2010 for submission to the Heads of state and Government Summit in February 2011.
In addition, next year, mining is one of the five themes the UN Commission for Sustainable Development (UNCSD), would deal with, so this year’s AIMES meeting would also be used as a preparation towards making intervention during the UNCSD. Indeed, the chair of the 4th Implementation Cycle-2010-2011, Dr. Luis Alberto Ferraté Felice, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources of Guatemala in a recent speech reminded all that: Mining activity in a country has the potential to create a wide range of social and economic benefits. On the other hand, mining operations and exploration may encounter social and environmental issues that are both complex and challenging to the industry and host governments. It is important that the mining sector structure its activities within the context of a more sustainable development framework. Towards this aim, the governments should implement a broad set of policies, laws, regulations and guidelines as well as having the relevant institutional capacity for approving of mining environmental and socio-economic corporate plans and to meet the ongoing need for monitoring and enforcement.
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 - also referred to as 'Rio+20' or 'Rio 20' again offers AIMES the opportunity to make adequate preparations towards it. This is more so because one of the subthemes of Rio +20 is aimed at looking at the sustainability of extractive industries especially how their operations negatively impact local communities even as they provide revenue and employment to most developing countries.
This 12th AIMES meeting is purposed to not only deepen the understanding and capacity of members on the financial crisis and its impact on the mineral sector of Africa but also the continental policy reform agenda. It is especially expected to offer a platform for members to provide civil society input into the draft report focusing on community issues, small-scale artisanal mining, fiscal framework and linkages.
Mali, the venue for the meeting was strategically chosen to provide solidarity and offer the needed support to national campaigns by Malian civil society organisations on mining, as the country is currently engaged in a process of reviewing its national mining code.
Some of the specific topics to be discussed at the meeting include: the financial crisis and international commodity trading; overview of issues, benefits and challenges of the AU-ECA continental policy reform and current debates in non-African states on updating mining legislation a case of Indonesia and India.
At the end of the meeting AIMES would come up with a shared position on Africa’s mining sector as its contribution towards the African Union and Economic Commission for Africa’s mining sector reform agenda.
Abdulai Darimani Mamadou GOITA
Environment Programme Officer IRPAD
Third World Network-Africa Tel: +223 20 23 89 20/ Fax: +223 20 23 89 21