Speakers Tour 2022 Overview

SPEAKERS TOUR 2022 OVERVIEW

The Speakers Tour was a big success! Thank you all so much for making this happen! What a wonderful edition. This year, two environmental defenders, Mirtha and Rosas from Cajamarca, Perú, were invited by Catapa to raise awareness and to talk about their struggle.

They shared their story fighting big scale mining in Perú and talked about how standing up for their rights comes with the risk and fear of being intimidated, stigmatized and prosecuted. During their visit they talked to students, local and european politicians, press, civil society organisations and interested citizens.

Let’s recap everything we did:

Finally the day has arrived: our guests will arrive in Belgium. In times of Covid, this is not an easy task. When Rosas, Mirtha and Maxime are supposed to board their first plane in Cajamarca, Perú, to Lima, Mirtha and Maxime are refused entry. Rosas is able to pass and does the transcontinental journey all by himself. Luckily, we manage to find flights to get Maxime and Mirtha on a plane the next day. At night we go to pick up Rosas at Brussels Airport. But, he does not come through arrivals at the expected time! Then we find out his flight from Lima has been delayed and he missed his connection flight. Four hours later than planned, he finally arrives! What an adventure, welcome to Belgium Rosas, so curious to hear all your stories and the wisdom you will share with us.

Arrival Mirtha & Maxime: Good news, we heard Mirtha and Maxime were able to start their journey this time and will arrive in the evening. With Rosas we already start preparations for the presentations he will give during his time here. It seems he brought the sun, because since he arrived we have only had clear blue skies and sunshine. He has so much to tell us and many questions to ask too. At night at last Mirtha and Maxime are picked up at Ghent station. We celebrate by eating a mountain of Belgian fries. Our speakers are finally reunited, the tour can start! 

EEB Event

Our Peruvian environmental defenders, alongside indigenous representatives from Russia and Guatemala, meet with MEP’s to share their stories of fighting on the frontlines to defend their communities from destructive mining projects. 

They demand tougher battery and due diligence legislation that centres the voices and experiences of impacted communities. Under the ‘social licence to operate’ (SLO), a non-binding voluntary commitment to ‘good practice’, corporations are able to greenwash their operations. International voluntary standards on responsible corporate conduct have failed to have an impact on environmental and human rights abuses along supply chains.

The delegation emphasised the importance of retaining copper, bauxite and iron within proposed due diligence obligations. They also brought attention to the need to include obligations towards climate impacts.

You can read the full article here

Public action

El pueblo reclama el agua que es vida, porque la minera ensucia y contamina…”

When one thinks of Cajamarca, one thinks of Carnival. As the Carnival capital of Peru, it isn´t a surprise we can also recognize this Carnival culture in the activists´ fight against mining companies. There are dozens of carnival songs written about the defense of water and human rights. Art is one of the most powerful forms of protests, and has been during hundreds and hundreds of years. Murals, songs, tales, poetry, paintings, all forms of art can be powerful ways of protesting. Think of the impact Máxima Acuña had when she sang her story when she won the Goldman Environmental Prize instead of telling it…

And it´s that bit of Cajamarcan culture, and art as a powerful way of protest, that we brought to Sint-Pietersplein in Ghent on the first Friday of our Speakers Tour. We sang typical carnival resistance songs from Cajamarca about the defense of their rivers, lakes and land as an opening of our tour and out of solidarity with Cajamarca. ¡Agua si, oro no! 

 

KICK-OFF

After our public action our Speakers Tour could really start! In a nice setting in the Sint-Pietersabdij, we all got together to really get to know our guests for the first time. After some nice introductions by Truike, part of the organization of the Speakers Tour, Charlotte, as partner coordinator, and Maxime as GECO in Cajamarca, we finally got the chance to hear the stories of Mirtha and Rosas first hand! 

Mirtha, director of our partner GRUFIDES, told us about the beauty of Cajamarca, a district in the northern Andes of Peru, and how it suffers under mining activities. 23.9 per cent, almost a quarter of Cajamarca, is already sold to mining companies! Mirtha told us about the impacts of these mining activities in her region, in a very emotional speech, and showed all of us why we should keep fighting against mining projects.

Then it was Rosas turn. Rosas comes from the Valley of Condebamba in Cajamarca. He told us about how he dedicated his life fighting against formal, informal and ilegal mining projects in his region, how he spent months up in the mountains amongst thousands of his compañeros and made the mining company leave, about how he has already been denounced 5 times for defending his land. He told us about how the products from his Valley are completely contaminated by heavy metals, and how these products are exported and sold even in Carrefour in Belgium! This shows us once again that the fight against mining activity isn´t something from far away, it´s something that impacts all of us, we are also eating these contaminated avocados. ¡La lucha es de todxs!

Breakfast with a Rebel

The first public event of the tour! A traditional one: our annual Breakfast with a Rebel/Ontbijt met een Rebel, part of the Gentian Belmundo Festival! Together with partners FOS, GAPP, Linx+ & Cubanismo we placed 6 rebels around seperate tables. The rebels all had an interesting personal story with a link to human and nature rights. Participants could enjoy a Palestinian brunch, while listening to these inspiring stories. Two of those rebels were Rosas & Mirtha! Their enriching stories showed the strong interlinkedness between human and nature rights, from a Peruvian perspective. 

 

Tourist trip in Ghent

The guides Alberto and Silke were showing Mirtha and Rosas around in Ghent. Both were very interested in how the city is changing into a more friendly for pedestrians and bikers. And how the water system in Ghent was reconstructed towards recreative and sustainable goals. We had a hot chocolate and some Belgian waffles to warm up! 

Bel-LATAM Network 

Mirtha participated in her first Bel-LatAM Network meeting at the office of 11.11.11. She was surprised by the many people knowing Grufides and having worked before with Mirtha Vasquez. Mirtha was very eager to share the movie where Maxima Acuña is filmed in Cajamarca in Dec too, making the connections with screening here in Brussels. Mirtha ended the meeting with sharing many stories and anecdotes about the analphabetic populations affected by mining and being very vulnerable in how to protect themselves having no access to the Spanish Language, documents or data. And how mining is framed as needed for the so-called “green transition” but really affected again their territory.  Our international support is more than ever needed. 

Student Event Leuven 

Rosas travelled to KU Leuven to deliver a striking testimony about the impact of several mining projects on his community and their collective resistance. In the second half of the event, students were challenged to question the links between extractivism and their university.

You can read the full article here

Strategic meeting Perú WG

The members of the Peru WG met all together for the first time in person!!! We had the chance to listen directly from Rosas the current situation in the valle de Condebamba where the communities are threatened by informal mining and we listened to Mirtha updating us about the new threats of the subterranean mining that Yanacocha wants to start. We then brainstorm about further activities that the WG can put in placed to support the fight of our friends.

Round Table

On March 8, on the occasion of International Women’s Day,  we listened to the testimony of defensoras from Peru, Colombia and The Netherlands/Bolivia. They shared stories about climate activism and their experiences and struggles within the defense of their territories, in order to promote solidarity and to connect different struggles for justice. They also talked about the vital role of women in activism.

Student event in Antwerp

Rosas gives a powerful testimony to students of the University of Antwerp. After a Q&A, the students take part in a citizen council, in which they take a critical view on the link between mining and their university. Willy guides Rosas through Antwerp, and they have dinner in the restaurant Via Via.

Meeting with Quinoa

Mirtha met with Quinoa, one of Grufides partners, to present the ongoing projects of Grufides, update about the current situation in Cajamarca and discuss the programme of the Quinoa summer project for a group of Belgian volunteers

 

Farm visit

Rosas met with farmers from Boerenforum, a collective of farmers organisations utilising a range of agroecological methods within Flanders, to exchange knowledge and practices. Agroecology is a not only a practical science involving zero use of chemicals and pesticides, but also a social movement. Agroecology calls for the complete dismantlement of the industrial food system and green revolution, with it’s focus on food production and profits over access and the rights of nature. 

The delegation visited several farms across the region, including a bio-dairy farm which creates a variety of agroecological products, including it’s own delicious ice cream! The delegation shared their experiences of working within a variety of farm systems and environments. They also discussed several barriers preventing the further scaling up of agroecology within both the European Union and Peru, including access to technical knowledge and expertise, financial support, land, water and harmful legislation that continues to prioritise destructive industrial agriculture over the environment. 

H-LEP and NEMO 

Mirtha and Rosas participated in a High-Level Expert panel (H-LEP) on recycling mining waste organised by EU Horizon 2020 NEMO project. People from academia, industry, civil society, the European Commission and the United Nations sat together with our Peruvian guests at the table looking for a global perspective on the revalorisation of mining tailings. Mirtha was invited as a speaker and presented the mining waste reality and the community’s struggles in Cajamarca. She ended her presentation with four recommendations for the European Commission: protect Human Rights, provide meaningful community participation, empower the community to recognise and revindicate indigenous knowledge. After Mirtha’s presentation, the other three speakers presented a proposal of recycling mining waste in Bolivia, the Recycling of mining waste in Sweden, and the Life Cycle Assessment to evaluate the impact of recycling mining waste. 

Following the presentations, Mirtha and Rosas participated in round tables to bring their perspectives and experiences further. Meeting them was, for many, a reality check of the situation at the beginning of our metal supply chain.  

 

Yes to Life No to Mining network 

Mirtha met like-minded civil society activists from the Yes to Life No to Mining network (YLNM) in the afternoon and evening. It was an international hybrid meeting, with people joining from Brussels, the UK, Finland, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Bolivia, Peru, and many more European and non-European countries. The objective of the meeting was to align understandings and strategies on the Right to Say No (RTSN). Mirtha painfully described the absence of the RTSN in Cajamarca and Perú in general and vividly described the consequences of this gap. Our understanding of the RTSN is growing fast, just as the demand for more metal for the green transition to fighting Climate Change. We still need to learn many things, but we know for sure that communities like Cajamarca, and people like Mirtha and Rosas, need to be in the driving seat when it comes to deciding on mining their resources and quality of life. They need to have the Right to Say No. 

Lunch with the city of Ghent

We had a lunch meeting today with people of the city of Ghent, including a deputy minister of international cooperation! 

Pago a la tierra

On our last Saturday morning, a sunny morning anouncing spring is finally on its way, we took a bus and a tiny little ferry to visit the natural reserve of Levende Leie and end our Speakers Tour with an intimate ceremony, a pago a la tierra. In Peruvian culture during these pagos a la tierra you thank the Earth for all its given you and ask to continue helping you in the future. We circeled around some typical peruvian foods, seeds from Cajamarca, flowers, natural products, and Cajamarcan instruments, and expressed our gratitude for these last two weeks, for all we´ve learned and shared, and vouched that we will always continue this fight together.

Trip to Brugge

Rosas and Mirtha visited Bruges and were fascinated by the charm of this small town in Flanders: the historic centre, the cobbled streets… We had a nice lunch and shared a waffle afterwards! It was a very nice day in which we shared anecdotes from the tour.

 

Restart Party

CATAPA, together with Bos+, Repair&Share, De Transformisten and Avansa, gave a preview of what a system without growth would look like, at the Restart Party in Antwerp. 

While repairers at the Repair Café tried to get electro-appliances working again, our workshop went deeper into the dangers of planned obsolescence for people and the environment. We dwelt on the actions needed to wake up politicians and businesses to push that reset button. Rosas and Mirtha shared their story and afterwards we went to @Circuit’s cozy Kringwinkel.

 

End of the Tour

The tour is finally over. Thank you all so much for making this happen! What a wonderful edition. Thanks to all of you who all helped in many different ways. What a privilege to have had them here for this time and what a joy to have it shared with so many. 

THANK YOU ALL WONDERFUL CATAPISTAS!!!! For the amazing organization! And the super leuke activities and initiatives!!!

Speakers Tour Student Event Ku Leuven

Speaker’s Tour Student Event – Citizens Council: Extractivism and KULeuven

Speaker’s Tour Student Event – Citizens Council: Extractivism and KULeuven

We do not eat gold, we do not drink oil.

(Rosas Duran Carrera, KULeuven Student Event)

During this year’s Speaker’s Tour CATAPA organised several events in student campuses across Flanders. On Monday 7th March Rosas travelled to KULeuven to deliver a striking testimony about the impact of several mining projects on his community and their collective resistance. 

In the second half of the event, students were challenged to question the links between extractivism and their university. For example, KULeuven’s SIM2 Institute works on ‘environmentally friendly’ mineral and material extraction and recycling. The institute works with various extractive companies, such as Nyrstar and Umicore, with a history of environmental and human rights violations and ties to Belgian colonialism.

Speakers Tour Student Event Ku Leuven

The enthusiasm in the room was electric. Students brainstormed several strategies around how we could take collective action to force KULeuven to divest from mining and provide greater transparency. We then planned a further meeting to turn these ideas into a concrete  campaign.

This event was part of the Speaker’s Tour 2022.

Written by catapista Connor Cashell.

Sources:

KULeuven Institute for Sustainable Metals and Minerals (2022) Industrial Sounding Board,
Available at: https://kuleuven.sim2.be/industrial-sounding-board/
[Accessed 22 March 2022]. 
 
KULeuven Institute for Sustainable Metals and Minerals (2022) Mission and Vision.
Available at: https://kuleuven.sim2.be/mission-vision/
[Accessed 22 March 2022].
 
Sanderson, Henry (2019) ‘Congo, child labour and your electric car’, Financial Times, July 7 2019.
Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/c6909812-9ce4-11e9-9c06-a4640c9feebb
[Accessed 23 March 2022]. 
 
Shepherd, Tony (2021) ‘In the shadow of Port Pirie’s lead smelter,
parents fight a losing battle against contamination’, Guardian, 3 September 2021.
Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/04/
[Accessed 23 March 2022].
Ctr alt del logo

Ctrl Alt Del Campaign

Launch Ctrl Alt Del Campaign

Reset the system & stop planned obsolescence!

The earth is becoming exhausted.

Floods, forest fires, melting glaciers, …: we are increasingly confronted with natural disasters. The consequences are disastrous & undeniable: we are exceeding the limits of our planet. To keep our globe livable, we must wake up and take action. Action aimed at the system, because we urgently need to stop holding only citizens responsible: we need to address the system, the economic system that strives for eternal growth! A reset of that system, that’s what we need! Ctrl Alt Del!

Take, make, waste.

Our current linear model of consumption and production is one of the biggest causes of this climate crisis. In this “throwaway” model, the quality of those products is secondary to quantity, in order to drive consumption and sales, primarily of electronics, to the limitless.

More production = more mining

That infinite supply of products is not consistent with the finite nature of our planet; the earth is not a bottomless pit. We cannot keep extracting more and more metals from the ground. The demand for raw materials is already unsustainable, resulting in many catastrophes. Mining is not only associated with huge energy and water wastage, but also with the contamination of soil and water, through the use of chemicals. This causes biodiversity loss and thus the degradation of the earth’s ecosystem. On top of this, the mining sector is also responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions, making it one of the most polluting sectors on earth.

Planned obsolescence: what is it and why will it destroy our planet?

Producing goods at top speed and at the lowest possible prices is the basis of our current economic system. Products are made with a limited life span (planned obsolescence) or the design makes repair difficult or unfeasible. Some products are even deliberately made with system faults, deliberately designed to be defective, so that the life span is short and more products are sold. This is part of a deliberate industry strategy to discourage users and to make us buy new devices quickly. That is the definition of planned obsolescence.

Time to take action for more regulation!

The solution to this lies at the policy level. The planet urgently needs strong politicians who do not allow themselves to be lobbied by the industry, but dare to subject them to strict regulation. Regulation can ensure that multinationals are obliged to make better products (eco-design) for consumers: repairable products, made to last, instead of disposable products made to break down quickly and be replaced. Logical right?

Join the Ctrl Alt Del Campaign!

Expect numerous workshops, lectures, actions, … on Planned Obsolescence in the coming months. Follow our Ctrl Alt Delete campaign closely and join Catapa in action: let’s force our politicians to take responsibility, stop planned obsolescence and reset the current system! 

#ctrlaltdel #ExpresDefect

Guardians of Water

Guardians of water

In 1957 the American newspaper The New Yorker published a poem by British poet W. H. Auden, the end of which recited: “Thousands have survived without love. Not one without water”.

Indeed, he was right. Despite attempts to raise awareness, today, a part of the world’s population still considers clean water as a given, eternally at their mercy, thanks to easy access to water resources. Unfortunately, they are wrong.

Water does not just come out of the pipe. Although it is a renewable resource, waste and pollution threaten to drastically reduce drinking water supplies. In some cases, human intervention in the environment can cause catastrophic effects on drinking water supplies. That’s what is happening in many parts of the world.

Mining poses a risk to drinking water sources in the vicinity of mining projects. In many cases, the chemical residues used in mineral extraction processes end up being dumped into rivers and streams, poisoning riverbeds and transforming water, a source of life, into a critical danger to life itself.

Due to the need to preserve the integrity of water in high-risk areas, such as those regions subject to mining activities, the project “Guardians of water” was born, as a result of a collaboration between CATAPA and the local organization Grufides, along with subsidies provided by the city of Ghent (Belgium).

© CATAPA

If the water were to become contaminated, any plant or animal food from the region would be harmful for human consumption

The project, which started in January 2020, takes place in the Cajamarca region, in northern Peru, an area subject to high mining impact. The objective of the project is to strengthen environmental governance in the Environmental Monitoring Committees through the community participation in social management activities and water quality monitoring.

By being active in the territory, CATAPA, together with its local partners, seeks to promote the social commitment of native communities to safeguard the purity of the rivers that run through the Cajamarca region. Since the beginning of the project, CATAPA has been able to count on strong local participation and the support of several communities interested in preventing possible damage caused by the action of mining extraction.

© CATAPA

The problem does not only concern the inhabitants of the rural areas closest to the mine. In fact, life in Cajamarca and its surroundings depends on the water coming from the highlands. The rivers that are in danger of contamination represent the most important source of drinking water for the city and its surroundings. It is this same water that irrigates the fields and quenches the thirst of farm animals. Natural products from the region depend directly on local water flows.

This means that if the water were to become contaminated, any plant or animal food from the region would be harmful for human consumption. In fact, recent studies by the OEFA (Organismo de Evaluación y Fiscalización Ambiental) have found the presence of 40% arsenic in avocados from Cajabamba, in the province of Cajamarca.

It should also be borne in mind that rivers are not sedentary entities, as their extension knows no jurisdictions. Many of the rivers affected – or threatened – by the presence of mines, run over vast areas, flowing to the coast or even joining other larger rivers, such as the Marañon, which ends up flowing into the giant sea river, the Amazon. A clear example of the large-scale dangers of river pollution can be found in the Tingo issue. The aim of CATAPA and its partners is to prevent another environmental disaster with such an impact.

© CATAPA

Local communities demonstrated their commitment by supporting the creation of committees dedicated to registering the state of river waters. Thanks to the action of CATAPA these committees have been consolidated and strengthened. Nowadays, water measurement tests are considered as legal tests to evaluate the state of the water before and after the mining action. These tests can be the basis for bringing charges against companies that have caused, through their actions or negligence, the pollution of rivers.

The opening of the mine represents a danger to the waters, as the mining waste could poison the river and the fields, composing the requiem for the region and its resources

The project was initially to focus on three local water basins, the Chetillano, San Lucas and Llaucan ones. The first water monitoring was carried out on the San Lucas river in Cushunga and on the Llaucan river in Bambamarca, with the participation of the local population and also with the support of the Environmental Vigilance Committees. Both tests proved the purity of the water.

The normal development of the project was temporarily slowed down due to the COVID-19 situation in the country, but the unforeseen event did not dampen the enthusiasm of CATAPA volunteers and local partners. In fact, to cope with the impossibility of moving around the region, the volunteers active in the territory adapted themselves to continue fighting. Webinars, virtual presentations and online workshops on methodologies and useful tools were organized to familiarize local populations with the process of community-based environmental monitoring of water quality. Photo campaigns were also promoted, videos and documentaries were published, and a basic guide was written to explain how to monitor water. Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, the activities were a success.

When the restrictions were partially lifted, water monitoring was able to start again. Unfortunately, interprovincial travel was prohibited, so no further tests could be carried out in the Bambamarca area. Therefore, it was decided to include the river La Encañada in the project. This river is located right next to the under-construction mining project called Michiquillay, scheduled for 2022. Concern among the local population is high, as construction work on the mine has been accelerated due to pressure from the Peruvian government, which is seeking to boost mining as part of a project to revive the country’s economy.

The opening of the mine represents a danger to the waters, as the mining waste could poison the river and the fields, composing the requiem for the region and its resources. Fortunately, a local committee is already in place to monitor the area. The situation of the La Encañada river is at extremely high risk, as it is an indirect tributary of the Amazon river. Its contamination would put an immense geographical area at risk.

© CATAPA

Today, the Environmental Surveillance Committees, continue to monitor the waters autonomously, fulfilling their role as Guardians of the Water. The project ended in August 2020, but the second part has been underway since January 2021.

In fact, despite the achievements, the struggle is not over. Volunteers and local partners are drafting a detailed guide on how to carry out autonomous water monitoring, which will be delivered in Cajamarca and its surroundings. In addition, the initial project has revealed the importance of focusing on the La Encañada river, establishing local committees along its length, and the need for a law that officially recognize the presence of Environmental Monitoring Committees throughout the country.

Here you can find the link to the documentary CATAPA made in Cajamarca.

Woman Smashing Rocks

Worker Driven Monitoring of the Mining Sector

NEWS:

Worker Driven Monitoring of the Mining Sector

 

CATAPA is entering a new partnership which will trial worker-driven monitoring of mining operations across three continents. 

A new pilot project has been launched, in which Electronics Watch will be cooperating with CISEP and CATAPA to establish worker-driven monitoring in the tin mines in Oruro, Bolivia.

The goal of this project is to put in place a monitoring tool for public procurers to check their supply chains from the mining stage. Using a bottom-up approach the ambition is to improve working conditions for miners and stop further environmental degradation to those areas that directly affect communities downstream.

As a first step in the process, Electronics Watch with linguistic support from CATAPA provided 4 monitoring training sessions, focusing on:

  • The strengths of public procurement and the Electronics Watch model
  • Methods for worker-driven monitoring
  • Analysis of results and options for remediation
  • Reporting the findings and engaging companies

Similar monitoring projects are also being set up by Electronics Watch with partners in the Philippines (nickel mines) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (cobalt mines), in addition to Bolivia (Tin). These three metals are essential resources needed for the manufacturing of electronics and batteries. 

The end goal of worker driven monitoring of these mines will be an important step-change in the transparency of global supply chains and we look forward to working with our project partners into the future. 

Buy Nothing Day – Europe

Buy Nothing Day – VS – Black Friday

Buy Nothing Day is an international day of protest against consumerism that takes place on November 29th, 2019. It is celebrated on the same day as “Black Friday”, a consumption record every year!

  • 77% of people around the world know what Black Friday is, and 47% is willing to participate in the shopping spree this year.
  • Shoppers around the world will spend on average 167€ during Black Friday sales, with clothes, electronics and shoes on mind.

©black-friday.global

The consumption related to Black Friday is increasing every year and the event is lasting longer and longer (now the duration is actually of about a week long). Companies are pushing more and more people into over-consumption.

Electronics are the second favourite products targeted on Black Friday: smartphones, laptops and other ICT products are bought all over the world. This puts a strong pressure on both the environment and the workers of both assembly factories and metal mines where the elements composing electronic devices are extracted (mostly metals). To extract the elements composing the ICT devices bought on black Friday human rights are violated, people’s health is affected and nature is being polluted by the ICT industry.

The extraction of metals always entails major social and environmental impacts and fuel conflicts. In factories, workers have to assemble the products for long hours and are forced into working nights at peaks of orders such as Black Friday. Some migrants’ workers are even obligated to remain at the factory by employers who confiscate their passports for blackmailing purposes. Once the products are out of use, they become e-waste. According to the World Economic Forum, each year more than 50 million tons of e-waste is produced worldwide and only 20% is properly recycled (35% in the European Union). The situation is predicted to get worse in the coming years if we do not reduce our consumption of electronic devices, learn to repair them, share them and recycled them when their life is really over.

©World Economic forum

The economic system in which we live and the big international companies that rule it created our never-ending urge to consume more and more, especially ICT devices. This way of living is completely unsustainable and puts our planet under serious pressure.

 

What can we do?

Buy Nothing day – Europe is not only about changing our consumption habits for a few hours, we need to become conscious consumers.

Improving our way of life and consumption habits is necessary if we want to maintain life on Earth: consuming less and producing less waste is crucial in this fight.

Instead of consuming, we stand for repairing, refurbishing, reusing, recycling, sharing and reducing our consumption (more info here). And this consumption we try to redirect towards locally owned, community-based businesses to somewhat diminish our impact.

Let’s ask ourselves the right questions: Do we really need that new gadget or the latest version of our favourite smartphone brand? Why would we buy a new product if we still have one that works? If our favourite ICT device is broken, how can we fix it ourselves? Are there companies that sell products that are easily repairable and recyclable? Why not buy second-hand?

Consumers are not the only responsible for the situation, together we can reach out to companies and the industry to oblige them to produce products in a more sustainable and fair way.

Join us on Buy Nothing Day – Europe and help us spread the message, we can be more than passive consumers.

 

From fellow responsible consumers…

The countdown is OVER!!!

 

Today I'm not buying nothing, I am...

The Make ICT Fair Project

This campaign is part of the Make ICT Fair project that wants to improve the lives and livelihoods for workers and communities associated with ICT supply chains, particularly in the Global South. Through research, awareness raising, lobbying towards public institutions for more sustainable and fair public procurement policies on ICT and lobbying for better legislation within the EU, the partners try to reach that goal. More information about the project you can find here.

The partners: CATAPA, CEE Bankwatch, Electronics Watch, ICLEI, Le Monde Diplomatique, People & Planet, SETEM Catalunya, Südwind, Swedwatch, Towards Sustainability Action, University of Edinburgh

This project is organised with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication is the sole responsibility of the Make ICT Fair project and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

Fair ICT Flanders

This project is run by the non-profit organization CATAPA vzw, the umbrella organization of Flemish environmental groups Bond Beter Leefmilieu (Society for a Better Environment) and Ondernemers voor Ondernemers (Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs) and aims at improving the sustainability of ICT procurement and reuse policies in Flanders. Since 2005, CATAPA has been dealing with the socio-ecological impact of mining. Fair ICT Flanders will run for three years and is financed by the Flemish government.

 

Context

The production of ICT devices such as smartphones, computers and laptops has a substantial impact on people and the environment. The extraction of the metals and minerals needed for these devices often involves human rights’ violations and ecological destruction; and assembling laptops and smartphones takes place in low-wage factories where labour rights are ignored. The useful life of these products is very short and ICT design is currently not aimed at reusing the smaller parts they are composed of, which results in a gigantic volume of e-waste. Besides, nearly 4 % of global greenhouse gas emissions originate from the ICT sector.

 

Target group

The project is aimed at big ICT consumers in Flanders. Institutes of higher education, local governments and enterprises might play a considerable role in influencing ICT companies to make their supply chain more sustainable in a well-structured way. The use of social and ecological criteria in procurement procedures is therefore essential. Sustainable ICT procurement policy may function as an important leverage for a better world.

 

Objectives

The project Fair ICT Flanders intends to make companies, governments and institutes of higher education take tangible steps to develop sustainable ICT procurement and reuse policies. The ultimate goal is to achieve a more sustainable future and better labour and living conditions of communities impacted by the extractive and ICT production sectors in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

 

Methodology

Based on a variety of working practices, the project will offer an intensive guidance trajectory to pilot institutions. Learning platforms, webinars and toolboxes will be developed in order to guide procurement officers within their organizations. Both the shared learning process and the exchange of good practices among the various institutions will inspire future ICT policy.

 

Will your organization lead the way? 

Will your organization lead the way towards sustainability? Does it wish to keep up with the standards of the future? Will your organization become more environmentally conscious in its procurement  procedures while also using resources sparingly? Is your organization willing to reduce its impact on the environment and climate? If so, engage in the project as a pilot participant and take advantage of three years’ intensive support. By doing so you will be able to take tangible steps in making your procurement policy more sustainable while focusing on current electronics.

 

Are you interested and/or do you have questions?

Don’t hesitate to contact Kim Claes: kim.claes@catapa.be.

The Flemish Government shall not be held responsible for the contents of this publication.

Project NEMO

NEMO

Near-zero-waste recycling of low-grade sulphidic mining waste for critical-metal, mineral and construction raw-material production in a circular economy.

 

The issue of mining waste in the EU

Source: Historic mining site of Rio Tinto (Huelva, Spain) by Alberto Vázquez Ruiz

The mining of non-ferrous metals such as copper, lead, zinc, nickel, antimony and cbalt and precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum produces the largest volume of metal-containing extractive waste in Europe with approx. 900 million tonnes/year of presently unusable material, and about 29% of all the waste produced in the EU-28. Today, most mines only extract a little fraction of metals from the ore, discarding the rest as enormous volumes of mining tailings left in waste-storage facilities. These installations have a limited safe lifespan and pose a serious threat to the environment and local people due to their risks (e.g. dam break, landslide, geomembrane break), compromising the present and future generations that must inherit the cost of management and permanent monitoring. This is particularly the case for sulphidic tailings, which often cause acid-mine drainage.

 

‘Recycling’ of mining waste as a better practise

Source: NEMO project

In its 2016 Raw Materials Scoreboard report, the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials launched a “call to arms” to transform the “extractive-waste problem” into a “resource-recovery opportunity”. In response to this call, the NEMO project takes up the challenge of developing new ways to valorise sulphidic tailings, through the recovery of valuable metals and critical raw materials (Co, REEs/Sc, Mg). NEMO takes the lead in respecting the zero-waste principles of the EC’s Circular Economy Action Plan (2015) in the mining sector. The project will also learn new techniques to concentrate the hazardous elements (As, Cd) and remove the sulphur in the form of sulphate salts (e.g. Na, K, Mg), leaving the residual, clean mineral fraction to be used as a raw material for the mass production of cement, concrete and construction products. The result would be a drastic reduction in waste to just 5% (still to be stored) of its original (fresh tailings) volume, leading to far fewer risks for storage, and with the additional benefit of no acid-mine drainage possibility. An improvement that every mine site should implement!

 

CATAPA in an EU ‘Horizon 2020’ Innovation Action

CATAPA is a small partner in the NEMO interdisciplinary consortium, including 6 industrial partners (4 engineering, 1 machine manufacturing & 1 construction materials company), 4 research institutes, 2 universities and 2 mining companies (the implementation cases: Sotkamo mine in Finland, and Las Cruces mine in Spain). NEMO has four categories of objectives: technological, economic, environmental and social. CATAPA is involved in the achievement of the latter. NEMO states the will to achieve an open dialogue and enhance cooperation between all stakeholders (mining sector, local communities, authorities and NGO’s) to implement co-design and co-monitoring systems, so CATAPA will be working for 4 years (2018-2022) to ensure that the voice of locals will be known and taken into account by the consortium in its implementation of these new technologies on the mine sites.

 

Note (12/02/2019):

Las Cruces case is no longer part of the project because Cobre Las Cruces S.A.U. (subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals Ltd., based in Canada) withdrew from the NEMO Consortium on January 29th 2019 after a major mining accident occured in its operation in the early morning of the 23rd, when a large amount of its mining waste deposits (dried tailings) suddenly precipitated inside its open-pit through a land slippage. This event demonstrates once again the real need to find a solution to the constant generation of polluting waste by mining activities for the benefit of the whole society and our planet. For more information visit this blog or read the article from Yes To Life No To Mining.

Source: Ecologistas en Acción Sevilla (Spain).

 

Note (18/10/2022):

A trailer of a video documentary series titled “Responsible Mining in Europe: A new paradigm to counter climate change” was released on LinkedIn on Tuesday, 18 October 2022, carrying a non-authorised disclaimer of CATAPA and the logo of the NEMO project. CATAPA clarifies that it did -and does- not support this video series. Before the trailer was publicly aired, CATAPA had already started the process of requesting the correction of that mistake. Although the promoters of the video trailer amended their error on the same day, it had been online for a few hours. Linking CATAPA and the NEMO project with those videos was done against CATAPA’s will and without its consent.

The NEMO project develops, demonstrates and exploits new ways to valorise and use sulphidic mining waste. Especifically, the project is a response to the 2016 EIP Raw Materials “call to arms” to transform the “extractive-waste problem” into a “resource-recovery opportunity” in the understanding that mining tailings still contain valuable and critical metals, and that mining waste could be a source for these metals and the cleaned inert fraction reused as construction materials. Promoting new mining, regardless of whether it is called “responsible”, “green” or “sustainable”, is out of the NEMO project scope and objectives. CATAPA disagrees with the message of the video documentary series.

Video by SIM2 on Responsible MiningSource: Image from the main documentary video by SIM² (KU Leuven).

Defensoras

Environmental and human rights defenders are tirelessly committed to equality and justice. Unfortunately, they often face discrimination, violence, criminalisation, violations of their civil rights and the impunity of armed public groups (police, army) or hired groups (paramilitaries, death squads). All activists are presented with major challenges. However, female activists are additionally confronted with gender-specific violence and other risks.

With a project called “Strategies of women human rights defenders confronting extractive industries“, CATAPA lead a campaign regarding the situation of female environmental activists who fight against the extractive industries in Latin America. With this campaign we wanted to give a voice to the female activists, to draw attention to their precarious situation and to encourage political institutions and other organisations to create mechanisms that offer better protection to these defensoras. The project was carried out in collaboration with several partner organisations including Ingeniería Sin Fronteras (ISF) and REDD (Red Latinoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras).

There are many dangerous sectors in which it is risky for environmental activists to offer resistance. According to the organisation AWID, the most unsafe context for activists is the mining industry, followed by hydropower projects and dams, agro-industry and logging. Alda Facio, head of the United Nations Working Group on Discrimination Against Women, confirmed in May that even the most vulnerable group of women human rights activists aims to prevent extractive industries from operating (besides fighting for reproductive and sexual rights). Offering resistance to extractive industries also implies challenging (inter)national companies and global elites, which collaborate with governments and sometimes even with religious and ‘traditional’ institutions. Research by Front Line Defenders (FLD) shows that 281 human rights defenders worldwide were murdered in 2016: 49% of the total number were activists defending the environment, territory and indigenous rights. More than half of the murders, 143 according to the findings of FLD, happened in Latin America.

All activists are presented with major challenges. However, female activists are additionally confronted with gender-specific violence and other risks. While environmental advocates are often labelled “non-patriotic” or “against progress”, female advocates are additionally stigmatised because of their gender and sexuality. “Despite the increasing dangerous context, more and more women play an important role in social movements. However, they run a higher risk of sexual violence, especially when they live in a militarised environment. Moreover, their children are also more likely to be threatened or attacked as a form of intimidation,” said Marusia Lopez of JASS at the same UN event in May. In addition, the rights that these women defend are not always recognised by society and in some countries they are even considered crimes.

Alejandra Burgos of the Mesoamerican Woman Human Rights Defenders Initiative adds: “The lack of access to justice as well as the high level of impunity has an impact on the lives of activists in Central America. Research shows that , between 2012 and 2016, 60% of attacks against activists consisted of harassment, threats, warnings and ultimatums, defamation and stigmatisation campaigns, use of force, illegal and arbitrary arrests, criminalisation and prosecutions. In addition, we live in one of the regions with the most feminicides (female killings) in the world.”

Female activists in Latin America often suffer from a three-dimensional form of discrimination. First of all, they are often treated with contempt because they are indigenous. They often have their own cultural habits, speak another language and believe in the worship of nature. Unfortunately, these characteristics cause them to be considered inferior in many countries. In addition, the specific (violent) context of the socio-ecological conflict in which they live also has a major impact on different aspects of their lives and, therefore, they do not always have the opportunity to move. Lastly, they also experience difficulties because they are one by one women who want to break with traditional role patterns. Because of the discrimination, they find themselves in a precarious situation as they ‘do not respect their obligations’ and become ‘rebellious’. Environmentalists who protest against the economic extractive policy of Latin American governments often become victims of the arbitrary use of the penal system, with the result that they are confronted with false accusations and unfair trials. These strategies of criminalisation are difficult to resist due to lack of money, time and contacts.

An international consensus on the definition of what constitutes an environmental or human rights defender already exists. However, the double vulnerability of female activists is often forgotten. There are hardly any statistics on the total number of activists who are confronted with threats and gender-based violence or who are criminalised. Research agencies and international organisations should approach this issue from a gender perspective, so that specific resolutions and protocols can be drawn up and female environmental and human rights defenders in turn receive specific protection.

As part of our project, international research teams were sent to partner countries in Latin America: Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador. These teams, with the help of local experts, investigated the issue of female activists who fight against extractive industries, using quantitative and qualitative research methods. The results were written down in a report that was then sent to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The IACHR is an autonomous legal body for the protection of human rights in the 35 member states of the Organisation of American States. On October 24th, the IACHR held a public hearing on “The criminalisation of female environmentalists in Latin America“. The session of the IACHR took place in Montevideo, Uruguay, and set an important step forward in raising awareness of the precarious situation of activists in the context of extractive industries in Latin America.

Subsequently, CATAPA worked very hard in Belgium to bring this issue to the attention of the wider public and political institutions. The aim was to encourage political institutions such as the European Union to implement a gender perspective in their legislation and policies, which would lead to a better protection of female human rights defenders.

In January 2018, CATAPA organised two events during which several speakers explained the situation of female human rights defenders in Latin America and the possibilities of protection. Mirtha Vasquez was invited as guest speaker. The Peruvian lawyer and human rights activist represents Maxima Acuña in her fight against the gold mining project Conga.

On January 10th, an event was organised in the European Parliament as part of a new EU Resolution on women, gender equality and climate justice. Mirtha Vasquez and Dr. Clara Burbano Herrera (University of Ghent), one of the project’s researchers, made recommendations for the EU on the protection of human rights defenders. This was followed by presentations by Florent Marcelessi and Jordi Solé (both Greens/EFA), members of the European Parlement, on respectively the existing protection of human rights defenders by the EU and how this was reflected in the EU budget.

The day before, an event was organised in the Pianofabriek in Brussels on the same subject, where Mirtha Vasquez was invited to present to a full house. In addition to Mirtha Vasquez, Amelia Alva Arevalo (Ugent), one of the project’s researchers, and Nicky Broekhoven (Ugent), who conducts research on gender and climate, gave a presentation as well.

During Open Min(e)d, formerly Academic Week, no less than three female human rights defenders were invited to give lectures at universities and colleges, and during events: Gloria Chicaiza from Ecuador, Margarita Aquino from Bolivia, Mariana Gomez from Colombia.

Sources:

Front Line Defenders. (2017). Annual Report on Human Rights Defenders at Risk in 2016. Front Line Defenders.Consulted on: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/resource-publication/annual-report-human-rights-defenders-risk-2016


IACHR. (2015). Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders. Consulted on: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/criminalization2016.pdf

Inmaculada, Barcia. (2017). Weaving resistance through action: strategies of women human rights defenders confronting extractive industries. Consulted on: https://www.awid.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/eng_weaving_resistance_through_action-web.pdf

Make ICT Fair

Make ICT Fair

The Make ICT Fair project began in November of 2017, when a consortium of 11 European organizations joined forces with the ultimate goal of improving the lives and livelihoods of people affected by ICT supply chains. Make ICT Fair was an European funded project (subsidized by the DEAR-programme) that ended in January 2021.

 

Why do we need to Make ICT Fair? 

Because most ICT isn’t fair. ICT refers to electronic products that we use on a daily basis, such as laptops and smartphones. The production process of these devices is marked by human right violations and ecological disasters.

First of all, electronics contain a high amount of metals. Smartphones for example contain more than 40 different metals. These metals need to be extracted from the earth. This mainly occurs through large-scale mining projects, creating enormous ecological impacts such as; the dehydration of lakes, rivers and the earth, the contamination of soil and water with heavy metals and toxic substances, deforestation and biodiversity loss. Again, this creates several social impacts such as (forced) migration, loss of income due to degradation of agricultural land, diseases due to contamination of drinking water, criminalization of protest and human rights defenders, conflicts and corruption. Next to this, the ICT production phase also has a dark side. In many ICT factories, which are located mainly in Asia and Eastern Europe, labour conditions are far from ideal. ICT factory workers are required to work excessive hours for low wages in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. And, if that isn’t enough, the amount of e-waste discarded by the global population is only increasing annually, with severe social and ecological consequences. This is the result of the linear production model: our electronics are not designed to be easily repairable or recyclable.

There are many reasons why working towards a fairer ICT production and consumption model is not  simple. Firstly, the ICT supply chain is not transparent and is very fragmented. Firstly, the ICT supply chain is not transparent and is very fragmented. It is easy for companies to avoid taking responsibility for other stages of the supply chain. The entire production and consumption model needs to be scrutinized and redesigned. 

 In this way it’s quite easy for companies to not take their responsibility for what happens in a previous stage of the supply chain. The whole production and consumption model is in need of scrutinization and redesigning.

The whole supply chain is in desperate need of a change. We need to Make ICT Fair. 

Here you can read more about the issues within the ICT supply chain.

How did we Make ICT Fairer?

The Make ICT Fair consortium utilised four different strategies to make ICT Fair:

  1.   Raising awareness in Europe on the issues within the ICT Supply chain

First of all, with the Make ICT Fair project we wanted to meet the urgent need to increase awareness of European citizens as to how our electronics are produced, drawing attention to the labour conditions and environmental impacts. 

This is a very important first step, because often people aren’t aware of the story of their phones before they purchase them in the store. Within the Make ICT Fair project, the consortium increased awareness of European citizens on the impact of our ICT by; creatingsocial media campaigns and sharing articles, creating educational material,  training activists and  organizing public actions, conferences, workshops, Speaker Tours, guest lectures, documentary screenings and several other educational events. 

Raising awareness in numbers:

  • We reached over 150 million European citizens through press and media work and social media campaigns, linking their own consumption to the challenges and negative impacts associated with global ICT supply chains (mining and manufacturing) and the interdependencies of the EU and the Global South.
  • Project partners actively engaged 350,000 citizens with training sessions, street actions, congresses, speaker tours and seminars. These activities were successful in building awareness, skills, and knowledge among trained activists and the general public, supporting them in active citizenship from a local to a national level to create change in ICT supply chains.
  • Large-scale events designed to reach a broader audience were organising in collaboration with multiple partners, including; 
    • SETEM organized three sessions of the Mobile Social Congress, with input and speakers from other Make ICT Fair partners. The main goals of the congress were to reflect on the current production and consumption ICT model that generates serious human rights violations and environmental consequences, and the potential of existing ethical consumption alternatives – issues that were not discussed at the annual Mobile World Congress that took place simultaneously in Barcelona. 
    • Three Academic Speaker Tours were set up by CATAPA. Three speakers from the Global South travelled to Europe to give guest lectures in universities and ran several other events about mining issues in their countries. They traveled through Belgium, but also told their story during activities organised by Bankwatch in Bulgaria, by Le Monde Diplomatique in Poland and by TSA in Hungary. 

People & Planet coordinated Power Shift three years in a row – a multiple day training series for young people focused on strengthening their activist and campaigning skills. Activists from SETEM, TSA, CATAPA, Bankwatch and Le Monde Diplomatique participated in these training sessions.

  1.   Promoting fair public procurement as a tool for positive change

Government, regional authorities and universities are large-scale consumers of electronics products such as computers, laptops and tablets. Within the EU, one out of five laptops is bought by the public sector. Consequently, as a major consumer, the public sector as a whole has considerable leverage. If the entirety of the public sector were to join forces, it could utilise this leverage to force the industry to implement structural improvements and higher standards.

Therefore, Make ICT Fair targeted public sector buyers, encouraging them to integrate sustainability criteria within their ICT product procurement tenders. At the same time, monitoring systems were strengthened across the supply chain.

Promoting fair public procurement in numbers: 

  • During the project 331 institutions were encouraged by project partners to affiliate themselves with Electronics Watch and make work of fairer public procurement policies. 
  • Expert roundtables, conferences, seminars, and webinars reached 1,700 public procurers. 
  • Training sessions were conducted to strengthen monitoring partners in manufacturing and mining regions. These trainings were organised by Electronics Watch and CATAPA and focused on the worker-driven monitoring methodology for monitoring partners in the mining and the manufacturing sector. 
  • ICLEI and Electronics Watch developed tender models, provided advice, guidance and expert briefing to public procurers. Six pilot tenders and five published case studies inspired local administrations and Procura+ Interest Group participants to make work of their own procurement. 
  • A database was set up to make the connection between 60 brands, 176 factories and 56 procurers. 
  1.   Performing research to detect issues within the ICT supply chain and increase transparency

The ICT supply chain is very complex and untransparent. That’s why we performed research on the ICT supply chain to detect certain issues such as human rights violations and to gain more insight into the complex metal and component tiers. 

This is a selection of the research produced within the framework of the Make ICT Fair project: 

  • Copper with a cost – A report produced by Swedwatch on the human rights and environmental risks in the mineral supply chains of ICT, focusing on a case study from Zambia
  • Forced labour behind your screen – Research performed by Danwatch on behalf of SETEM on the bad working situations of migrant ICT factories in Malaysia. 
  • Linking the Bolivian minerals to the European Industry – research carried out by CATAPA that tracks the supply chain of the metal Indium (important for touchscreens in smartphones), from Bolivian cooperative mines to the European Industry. 

You can find an overview of all the research carried out within the Make ICT Fair project on this page of the University of Edinburgh. There you can also find a collection of articles produced by the Make ICT Far project titled ‘Human rights risks in the ICT supply chain’.

  1.   Advocating for the integration of fairness and sustainability aspects in legislation related to ICT

Legislation concerning the ICT supply chain is developed at both the European and national level. Make ICT Fair partners analyzed and closely monitored such legislation to push for the integration of sustainability aspects. The EU’s multilateral development banks’ investments were closely monitored and lobbied to adhere to best practices. 

More specifically, the Make ICT Fair consortium made policy recommendations regarding these subjects; 

  • Adopting rules on Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence 
  • Ensure Multilateral Development Banks implement Human Rights and Environment Due Diligence
  • Push for the EU to upgrade its public procurement policies
  • Ensure that EU policies regarding circular electronics and ICT lead to fairer value chains
  • Inclusion of social aspects in the Sustainable Products Initiative

To work on the implementation of these recommendations, Make ICT Fair partners held frequent meetings with EU decision makers, organizing lobby events in the European Parliament (such as the European Parliament ‘Make ICT Fair’ Breakfast with the goal of raising awareness of human rights violations within ICT supply chains) and formed the Make ICT Fair Friends group out of existing decision makers. 

For this, the consortium was supported by consultant Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO). 

Here you can read more about EU policy recommendations Make ICT Fair partners were and are continuing to work on. 

Some Make ICT Fair partners also pressured their national governments to raise ICT supply chain issues and improve legislation. For example, TSA launched a campaign and a petition to push for legislation in Hungary that would extend the obligatory guarantee period for ICT products. 

To be continued…

During the three years of the Make ICT Fair project, eleven partners took steps towards a fairer ICT supply chain. However, lots of work must still be done. From 2021 onwards the consortium will continue to work together on different levels to Make ICT Fair; 

  • Dialogue and collaboration between partners will continue . Supported by a contracted consultant, the consortium will continue to meet regularly and will keep on advocating for fairer policies by targeting EU level policy makers. 
  • Make ICT Fair partners will continue to focus on the topic of ICT individually within their organizations. For some partners,  the impact of ICT will continue to play a significant role in their educational and awareness-raising offer. Others will continue to perform lobby activities or carry out research regarding the subject. Several organizations also joined forces for smaller projects and will continue to focus on their specific accomplishments. 
  • The Make ICT Fair consortium will be on the lookout for a follow-up project to continue the work outlined above. 

The project partners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This project was organised with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication is the sole responsibility of CATAPA and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.