The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP) coordinated with the Churches and Mining group to arrange a meeting in Rome with representatives of communities affected by the mining industry.
The “Churches and Mining” network is a faith-based coalition of about seventy organizations united by a shared commitment to bring visibility to, address the priorities of, and walk in solidarity with grassroots communities affected by extractive development, mostly in Latin America. [watch video on Church and Mining]
Along with NGO Mining Working Group partner organizations Mercy’s Global Action at the UN and VIVAT International, Franciscans International has worked with the Churches and Mining network since 2013, aiming to connect member organizations with opportunities to do joint advocacy at and through the United Nations.
The meeting, “United to God, We Hear a Cry” took place from July 17-19, 2015 with approximately 30 representatives from eighteen countries of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. There were also approximately 15 participants from Episcopal Conferences and religious congregations and organizations such the Franciscans, JPIC and Mining, Caritas, and CIDSE. In 2013 the PCJP had hosted a “day of reflection” with CEOs of the largest mining corporations and another conversation is scheduled for September of this year.
In his communication to the community representatives present, Pope Francis addressed the “cry of the many people, families and communities who suffer directly and indirectly as a result of the consequences, too often negative of mining activities.” He wrote, “The entire mining sector is undoubtedly required to effect a radical paradigm shift to improve the situation in many countries.” [Full communication from pope available here]
In their Open Letter following the meeting, the community representatives in attendance reflected on the structural power imbalances that underpin violence, human rights violations, environmental degradation, and other systematic impacts of extractive development at the local level. They also highlighted their continued concern with the contradictions between corporations’ discussions at the highest levels and practices on the ground. The collective explicitly requested that in conversations with leaders of the mining industry, the Pontifical Council should act in solidarity and “add its unequivocal support to what many peoples and organizations around the world have been demanding: progress toward the design of the Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights.”
See the Open Letter of the communities affected by mining operations received in Rome by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.