By Stefan Reinhold
The difficulty to find a seat at the "Speak out on destructive extractives" workshop on Friday afternoon, shows great interest from the public to learn more about the issue of natural resources' extraction and possible alternatives to an extractives-based model of development.
But before exposing possible alternatives to extractivism, the speakers explained the problematic and analyzed the commonalities. It is clear that extractivism is an imposed model of development that occurs without any prior consultation of the population living in the nearby areas, in often corrupted states where the authorities (at all levels) collude with the vested interests of transnational corporations.
Beyond the pollution of soil, air and water, the social impacts are always suffered by the most vulnerable populations. Indeed, our partner from WOMIN explained why women are the most impacted: the violence of the extractive industry is linked to the patriarchal system that dominates most parts of the world.
So how to tackle such a devastating and deadly activity? The panelists all agreed on the urgent need to go beyond a capitalist, colonial and patriarchal vision of the world imposed by western societies, in order to redefine our relation with nature, also referred to as Mother Earth. The alternatives must be found in a subtile mix of opposition to devastating mega-projects and proposals of new, viable systems where all living things must be respected.
In an extractivist system imposed by ruling elites and impacting the most vulnerable, it is essential to regain control of our territories and to defend them (creating ZADs 'zone à défendre’ as the French activists name it). Once we have regained control of our territories, populations can still extract natural resources, but only the minimum necessary, in order to shift from a capitalist oil driven economy to a more sustainable system in which many jobs could be created, based on renewable energies.
For this to happen we need to decentralize the power and reinvent democracy to create new kinds of states. This will be possible by mobilizing 7 billion people, connecting the young urban population with indigenous and peasant communities. Organizing ourselves is essential to reach out to all human beings living on this beautiful planet.
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