Ecumenical Conference on Mining

From May 1-3, PWRDF volunteers Beth Lorimer and Bishop Tom Morgan will join several PWRDF staff and delegates from the Anglican Church of Canada at the Ecumenical Conference on Mining in Toronto.  With 150 other church leaders from Canada, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, they will develop alliances for achieving mining justice around the world.  This conference will engage church leaders from the global North and South in dialogue, story-sharing, and theological debate around issues pertaining to resource extraction.

Information will be shared during the conference via Facebook, Twitter (with the #ecumining hashtag) and on a blog hosted by KAIROS Canada.  In preparation for the conference, the following Pre-Conference Statement was released:

Why We Are Gathering
Pre-Conference Statement
2011 Ecumenical Conference on Mining

We are gathering from May 1-3, 2011, in Toronto, Canada, to discuss the impact of Canadian mining operations on communities and the planet.  We have chosen to gather in Canada as this country is home to 75% of the world’s mining and mineral exploration companies, and Canadian stock exchanges raise 40% of all mineral exploration capital worldwide.  The Canadian mining industry seeks to be a leader in corporate social responsibility.  We believe that mining activities in the Global South, as well as in Canada, raise critical ethical issues of social justice and respect for God’s Creation that are matters of concern for all people of faith the world over.  We believe this for the following reasons:

·      Poor communities in the Global South are disproportionately negatively affected by the mining operations of international corporations, whose home countries are the world’s most powerful economies.

·      In Canada and other countries, Indigenous peoples’ rights have been systematically denied for generations, which leaves their communities unable to meet their basic needs while resource companies extract great profits from their lands and traditional territories.

·      Resource extraction creates great wealth for foreign-owned mining companies but generally fails to alleviate poverty in nearby communities.  Instead it often exacerbates social tensions, causes environmental damage and depletes drinking water supplies.

·      Governments that are unable or unwilling to regulate mining activity in the public interest, either through lack of regulatory capacity or lack of political will, have left affected communities vulnerable to human rights abuses, environmental degradation and irresponsible practices.

·      Those who protest against extractive operations are often silenced by repressive tactics of governments, can be slandered and criminalized, or become victims of violence themselves.

·      In today’s globalized economy, the Earth’s natural resources are seen as commodities to be extracted and sold by private interests in the goal of profit maximization, with little regard for meeting basic human needs and living in balance with the rest of Creation.

Therefore, we are gathering in Toronto in May 2011 to increase the capacity of our churches and faith based organizations to speak about mining from a theological and ethical perspective, informed by first hand testimonies of communities impacted by resource extraction.

We gather to stand in solidarity with peoples everywhere who are pursuing sustainable community development and defending their rights.  We call on the Canadian mining industry to respect human rights, including the rights of workers and Indigenous peoples, and minimize the ecological impacts of their operations.

More specifically, we hope to:

1.       Build alliances and solidarity between church leaders in the South and in the North;

2.       Support and empower communities, individuals and workers affected by Canadian extractive sector companies;

3.       Analyze the place of resource extraction in current economic and development models;

4.       Identify areas of focus for future actions related to public policy; and

5.       Put mining issues front and centre on the agenda of churches, including education opportunities and investment practices.

Conference Co-sponsored by:

Anglican Church of Canada
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Canadian Churches Forum for Global Ministries
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Canadian Religious Conference
Christian Reformed Church in North America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiative
Mennonite Central Committee Canada
Norwegian Church Aid
Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund
Presbyterian Church in Canada
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
United Church of Canada

Follow the conference on Twitter at #ecumining

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