NINTH ANNUAL STRATEGY MEETING OF AFRICAN INITIATIVE ON MINING, ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY (AIMES)
Theme: Mining for Africa’s development; maximise benefits minimise cost
Date: July 24-26th, 2007,
Venue: Freetown, Sierra Leone
The process of liberalisation is fostering an expansion of extractive sector activity in Africa. Behind this expansion, mainly by foreign players, lie two worrying phenomena. First is the increasing deprivation of the people and governments of Africa of the benefits of mining. The policy and regulatory frameworks for extractive sector activity in Africa have legalised mineral resource capture and capital flight by making provisions for high off-shore retention of profits, low royalty tax, inadequate compensation, minimum state equity participation, long holidays for corporate income tax, and duty free importation of mining equipment. Second, the expansion has also resulted in increased cost in terms of ecological destruction, abuses of human rights and threat to community livelihoods. The situation is getting more sophisticated by the entrance of some key global players such as China and India, and also by the attitude, tactics and practices of mining companies and State institutions.
The economic deprivation and increased social and environmental costs have resulted in negative consequences for local communities and national economies. Key among these negative consequences are increased incidence of poverty, scarcity of environmental and livelihood resources, conflicts, gender disempowering, violence and insecurity.
The African Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society (AIMES) has been offering analysis and implications of the renewed mining upsurge on the continent on communities, the environment and national economic development. At its annual strategy meeting last June 2006 in Johannesburg, South Africa, AIMES took a further concrete step by adopting and launching a regional campaign on the theme “STOP THE MINERAL RESOURCE PLUNDER, SOCIAL JUSTICE” to serve as anchor to the range of struggles aimed at minimising cost, increasing benefits and improving the governance architecture around extractives.
Purpose of meeting
The purpose of the tenth annual strategy meeting is to:
• Provide analysis of specific policy and emerging issues
• Share information and learn from each other on lessons regarding implementation of the campaign theme in our respective constituencies.
• Adopt policy positions and strategies for joint actions
• Evaluate and reposition AIMES as an effective pan-African civil society platform on mining with significant political relevance and space on the continent.
Structure of meeting
The meeting will be organised under three main themes as follows:
Day one: The first day will start off with an opening ceremony, which will be opened to the media, policy officials and human rights institutions in the host country. The main theme for discussions after the opening is “The Situation now and Challenges for Peoples Struggle: Trends, Developments and Analysis of issues”. Under this theme a set of presentations would be organised such that each set of presentations would be followed by discussions. The presentations will cover issues such as the shifting focus of IFIs, New entrance old problems, corporate lobby and tactics, conflict diamonds, and updates on policies, international negotiations and actions relevant to extractives, in particular mining. This session is designed to improve our understanding of the landscape on mining and the implications for future struggles.
Day two: The theme for day two is “Peoples Struggles and Lessons Learnt: Fostering Strategies for collective Action” Under this theme, two main sessions would be organised. Session one is information sharing based on experiences of specific struggles and delivery of campaigns around the collective campaign theme. Session two will be group work to identify critical policy issues and develop strategies for solidarity, joint actions and campaigns. Each group would be expected to examine and map out critical and priority issues, identify major obstacles to delivery on these issues, develop a set of joint actions based on effectiveness, identify allies and propose site for action and sources of logistical support. Each group would give a report back and take on comments. The reports of group work would constitute an action plan for the year.
Day three: The theme for day three is “Strengthening Networking Relations under AIMES” This theme will offer space for a collective review and evaluation of the state of AIMES. A discussion on this would be preceded by an adoption of positions (strategy and policies) emerged from group reports.
Planned outcome of meeting
It is expected that at the end of the meeting:
• Knowledge and understanding of participants on emerging issues, new entrance, and new tactics that offer a challenge to legitimate struggles would improve to advance advocacy.
• Advocacy strategy and tactics sharpened
• Alternative policy positions adopted and being used as instruments for public mobilisation, lobby and policy debate/dialogue.
• Better organisation and coordination of AIMES.to give improved visibility and political relevance to voices of communities and African Civil Society Organisations in regional and national processes.
The meeting will bring together not more than 30 participants drawn from participating members of AIMES, its partners from the global north and south, and representatives of communities and civil society groups in the host country.