Verzet Wereldwijd: A night of resistance and solidarity!

What does saying ‘no’ mean to you? If a mining corporation decided to use your home for their new extractivist project – would you be able to stop them? And as well as saying no to extraction and pollution, how able are you to say yes to another way of living, that works with the natural world and within planetary boundaries?

On the 2nd December, environmental frontline defenders from Ecuador, Brazil, Ireland and Belgium came together in De Studio in Antwerp for a night of activities around the ‘right to say no.’

Organised by CATAPA in collaboration with CIDSE, Grondrecht and Fridays For Future Antwerp, the event was designed to share stories and experiences of frontline defenders, and build solidarity in the worldwide movement against extractivism.

The diversity of the speakers and of the event – which was held simultaneously in English, Dutch and Spanish – reflected both the diversity of the experiences of those participating, and the unity of a movement that transcends languages and geography.

The night kicked off with a speech by Jakob Cleymans, one of the founders of Fridays for Future Antwerp and of democratic supermarket Coop Centraal. He spoke of the importance of better including youth in discussions around climate action on a political level and the concept of MAPA – most affected people and areas.

Following this, we heard from a panel of female frontline defenders. V’cenza Cirefice, Irish ecofeminist researcher, artist and activist, and part of CAIM (Communities Against the Injustice of Mining). She spoke about the importance of viewing anti-extractivism through a feminist lens.

“At the forefront of the anti-mining movement in Ireland are women. It is women that are experiencing first hand the impacts (of mining), such as water pollution.” 

Ivonne Ramos, an Ecuadorian environmental and human rights activist who coordinates the national campaign of Acción Ecológica on the ecological and social impact of mining and the #QuitoSinMinería campaign, echoed this. 

“By working with women in both the urban and rural areas of Ecuador, we have created a kind of sisterhood of resistance.” 

We also heard from Hedwig Rooman, member of the Belgian organisation Grondrecht, a collective of concerned citizens demanding justice on PFAS pollution in their environment and its effects on themselves, their children and grandchildren. 

“We all have a right to the protection of our environment and health, thanks to the universal declaration of human rights. This right is enshrined in the Belgian Constitution.” 

After the panel discussion, artistic organisation Atelier Rojo led a collective imagination session to foster creativity and solidarity. 

The night rounded off with some live music by Roger de Bortoli and Arno Foppe, and empanadas courtesy of Antwerp business Monte Maiz. 

This event is just one of many upcoming opportunities to get involved and learn more about the Right to Say No campaign. Find out more about this new campaign on our website.

Article by catapista Cass Hebron – pictures by catapista Estefanía Moreno Amador

mining area in Kori Chaca Bolivia

The EU Raw Materials Week: time to dig in

The Brussels Way

The EU Raw Materials Week kicked off in Brussels this Monday, November 14. This summit, organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Internal Market, focuses on one fundamental question: how can we ensure that the European Union has enough raw materials to meet our prosperity and well-being?

Raw materials underpin our societies and economies. Grain is a raw material, which we use to bake bread and feed the population. Copper is a metal we mine, which we then use to make power cables that power households. The same goes for any product you have ever bought: a sandwich, a jar of peanut butter, a phone, laptop, fridge, car or a cargo bike.

Read more “The EU Raw Materials Week: time to dig in”

Get to know our two new ESC volunteers!

Since the beginning of September, our team has two new members! Meet ESC volunteers Magdalena and Estefanía:

Estefania
I´m Estefanía from Spain. In the next 12 months I’m going to work in the communication and campaign area of CATAPA. I have developed my studies in journalism and digital communication. About my career, it has been focused in the social sector: in recent years I had worked in a NGO to defend rights for migrant and refugees people, and also in the Cooperation and Volunteering area in Miguel Hernandez University.
The opportunity to be part of CATAPA is an incentive to develop my career close to my values. Being part of this project also gives me the opportunity to work with professionals from whom I can learn a lot.
About me, I like to practice CrossFit, hiking and relax watching The office. I also really like music and dancing, so count on me to party.

Magdalena
Hey everyone! I am Magdalena and I am the new movement and campaigning ESC volunteer! I am super excited to join Catapa and to get to know all of you!
A few things about me: I grew up in a valley in Austria, before moving to Vienna where I was active in the climate justice movement and studied environmental sciences and management of bioressources. The last few years I have been living in the Netherlands to do my MSc in Development and Rural Innovation there. I am interested in everything related to climate justice, intersectional environmentalism, just sustainability transitions,  community currencies, degrowth and – of course – mining! In my free time I like to hike, go bouldering, knit and read.
I am already looking forward to meeting you in the next Catapa meetings!

ESC stands for European Solidarity Corps, a European exchange programme offering young people a volunteer experience abroad.

The Right to Say ‘No’ in Ecuador: the #QuitoSinMineria campaign

Collecting 200.000 signatures by October 2022, this is the goal of the ongoing campaign “Quito sin mineria”. The campaign was launched in March 2022 by a group of organizations, collectives and people from the towns in the northwest of Quito who want to defend the Metropolitan District of Quito (MDQ) from mining. With the campaign they want to collect enough signatures to let the inhabitants of northwestern Quito decide for themselves whether they agree or not with mining in Ecuador’s Chocó Andino Biosphere reserve. Although seeking public consultation is a constitutional right in the country, the campaign is a large undertaking, especially given Ecuador’s mining favorite climate and the ongoing violations against environmental and human rights defenders. 

The Chocó Andino: one of the most biodiverse places in the world

So, what is the Chocó Andino and why is it so important to protect it? The Chocó Andino is located in northern Ecuador, in the Pichincha province, north-west of the capital city of Quito. It is one of the last remaining forests in Quito, designated by UNESCO as biosphere reserve in 2018 [1]. Biosphere reserves are sites where core protected areas are combined with zones where sustainable development is fostered. These sites are great spaces for ‘understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity’ [2].

Photo of the region threatened by mining. Credit: Antonella Calle Avilés

The Chocó Andino region has received this UNESCO designation because it is a very particular area, covering the humid forest lowlands of the Chocó – Darien (which extend from Panama to the Ecuadorian West) and the Northern Andean Mountain Forests [3]. With an area of 286,805 hectares, the Chocó Andino represents 83% of the Metropolitan District of Quito and constitutes the lungs of the Ecuadorian capital and its surrounding areas. Its forests remove at least 266,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere annually, which helps to reduce global warming [4]. 

It is an area of global importance for its biodiversity, which includes nine protected forests, four conservation and sustainable use areas, the Ecological Corridor for the Andean Bear [5] and more than 35 nature reserves. It is home to an estimated 150 species of mammals (21% of which are in danger of extinction), 90 species of reptiles (57% of which are in danger of extinction), 120 species of amphibians (51% which could become extinct in the future, 640 species of birds (20% of which are also in danger of extinction) and more than 3,000 species of plants (representing 12% of all plants in Ecuador of which more than 80% could disappear) [6]. 

Photo of the region threatened by mining. Credit: Antonella Calle Avilés

The region has more than 21.000 inhabitants and includes the parishes of Calacalí, Nono, Nanegal, Nanegalito, Gualea and Pacto, which form the Mancomunidad del Chocó Andino, as well as the cantons of San Miguel de los Bancos and Pedro Vicente Maldonado [7]. Quito’s Chocó Andino Region also has a very important cultural heritage, especially of the indigenous Yumbo, KituKara and Inca peoples. At least 528 archaeological sites have been found in the area [8]. 

The Chocó Andino under threat

Despite the unique characteristics of the region and its vital importance, the region is under imminent threat. Currently, 12 metallic mining concessions have been granted, occupying 17.863 hectares and another 6 concessions are in process, occupying 9.899 hectares within the Chocó Andino Biosphere Reserve [9]. Developing mining activities in such sensitive areas as the Chocó Andino can have very serious environmental and social impacts that could permanently affect biodiversity and the territory [10]. 

This has already been shown in areas of similar ecological significance in Ecuador, for example in the Cordillera del Condor (located in the province of Zamora Chinchipe). In 2012, the Ecuadorian State signed a contract for large-scale mining with EcuaCorriente SA, which enabled the exploration and production of copper in one of Ecuador’s other mega-diverse and fragile ecosystems [11]. For years, environmental organizations and critics have raised concerns about the numerous social and environmental impacts resulting from the Condor Mirador mining project [12]. Since 2014, more than 30 families have been displaced from their land and the threat of eviction haunts families to this day [13]. Major environmental problems include the treatment of residues, water pollution and deforestation of the Cordillera del Condor’s biodiverse mountain areas [14]. A study by Dr. Steven H. Emerman, for example, revealed the environmental risks of one of the tailings dams. The slope and height of the dam (with its 260 meters – the highest tailings dam in the world), he says,  will inevitably lead to an ecological and social disaster, as it will not withstand earthquakes or floods, which are common in this region of Ecuador [15].

However, in the Chocó Andino, as in other regions in Ecuador, various economic alternatives exist that could replace the need for extractive mining. The Chocó Andino area is known for its organic agriculture, as more than 450 organic products are produced in Quito’s Chocó Andino, several of which are exported abroad: coffee, chocolate, milk, fruits, and panela [16]. Another source of income and way of living is agro-ecological tourism, with 72 tourist attractions in the area. Twenty-five of those are cultural attractions and 47 are natural sites [17].

Towards a Consulta Popular in Quito

The campaign “Quito sin mineria” opposes mining projects in the Metropolitan District of Quito and the Chocó Andino region. But first and foremost, the initiators of the campaign want the people of northwestern Quito to be able to decide for themselves, through public consultation, whether or not they agree with mining in the region. 

Photo: Mobilisation for the referendum. Credit: Antonella Calle Avilés

The ‘consulta popular’ or referendum is one of the mechanisms that is provided for in the Ecuadorian Constitution (article 104) to guarantee both the right to participate in matters of public interest and the right to be consulted. This may be requested by citizens as well as by the President of the Republic and the decentralized autonomous governments and its result is “mandatory and immediately enforceable” [18]. 

The organizations, collectives and people behind the Quito Sin Minería campaign, find it important to make their voices heard on issues that affect their lives and their futures.

According to Acción Ecológia, Ecuador’s leading environmental organisation, “the role of the State is one of collusion, complicity and negligence in the destruction of alternative life systems to mining development” [19]. The campaign therefore sees a referendum as “the only effective procedure they have left to try to stop mining in their territories” [20] as they will not allow the destruction of one of the most biodiverse areas of the country [21].

To start the process of the referendum, the ‘Quito Sin Mineria’ alliance sent four questions to the Constitutional Court for approval the 12th of january 2022. The Constitutional Court approved the questions on the 4th of may 2022. The questions included in the referendum are the following: 

“Do you agree with the prohibition of large-scale metallic mining within the Metropolitan Subsystem of Natural Protected Areas of the Metropolitan District of Quito; and, within the Area of Ecological, Cultural and Sustainable Productive Development Importance, formed by the territories of the parishes of Nono, Calacalí, Nanegal, Nanegalito, Gualea and Pacto, which make up the Commonwealth of the Andean Chocó?” This question is repeated three more times for the levels of artisanal, small-scale and medium-scale metal mining [22].

Collection of signatures in progress

Photo: Collecting signatures for the referendum. Credit: Antonella Calle Avilés

The inhabitants of the six parishes have now begun to collect signatures throughout the metropolitan district of Quito. Ten percent of the electoral roll (2 million voters) is needed and this means they must gather about 200,000 signatures. “But as there will always be signatures rejected for whatever reason, the goal is to collect around 400,000,” says Ivonne Ramos of Acción Ecológica [23].

However, the collection of signatures is a huge undertaking. On different occasions, municipality officials have already been reported to prevent the collection of signatures in public spaces. The municipality officials either not allowed them to set up the collection spaces and even evicted them from public spaces. All this, while those collecting the signatures are merely exercising their (constitutional) right to seek public consultation [24].

Limitations of the Consulta Popular

As mentioned above, within the Chocó Andino Biosphere Reserve, 12 metallic mining concessions have already been granted and another 6 are in process [25]. The consulta popular will not be able to stop those concessions. However, if the inhabitants of Metropolitan District of Quito vote in favor of the mining ban in Quito, this would at least stop future concessions. 

The “Quito sin minería” campaign in context

From the start of his Presidency, it was quite clear that the economic policy of President Guillermo Lasso’s government would be based on extractivism. The aim of its policy is to increase mining exports and make Ecuador more attractive for foreign investors.

The economic policy of Ecuadors’ government, based on the deepening of a neoliberal, privatizing, open-minded, extractivist model, which grants enormous privileges to large corporations through Free Trade Agreements and Investment Protection Treaties, can only be achieved through violence against communities, peoples and nature”, writes Acción Ecológica [26].

Photo: Quito Sin Minería (Pacto)

President Lasso strongly believes in mining as one of the most important activities for Ecuador’s economy, emphasizing that “Ecuador fundamentally needs the jobs generated by sustainable mining and the economic resources for programs such as the one undertaken against Chronic Childhood Malnutrition (CCD) or solidarity bonds for those who need them most” [27].

The idea that mining will lift communities out of poverty and create jobs, however, is a myth. Large-scale mining only represents 1.65% of the Gross Domestic Product and employs only 0.12% of the economically active population, while it destroys tens of thousands of jobs linked to agriculture or tourism; The mining sector barely pays taxes but causes serious damage in community territories [28]. Official figures show that the total income from all mining projects would be no more than 0.8% of the money coming into the State. On the other hand, the money produced by mining is very volatile because it depends on international prices. In addition, mining concentrates wealth in the hands of a few [29].

Mining does produce jobs, but very few and of very poor quality. In 2019, the then energy minister said that the mega-mining sector will generate 32 thousand jobs, this is not a big number. Tourism, for example, generates 12 times more jobs. For the construction stage of the mine, mining generates poor quality employment, temporary, long working hours and minimal payments, without considering the effects that the mine generates on the health of workers [30].

The Ecuadorian Government also claims to only support ‘sustainable mining’ i.e. mining which is environmentally responsible and economically beneficial to the country. However, there is no such thing as ‘responsible’ or ‘sustainable’ mining because the pollution caused is inevitable. Even with the use of the most advanced technology, pollution is still one of the biggest problems in mining [31].

Criminalization of environmental defenders

In Ecuador, human rights, collective rights and rights of nature are violated every day. Every day, mining companies continue to devastate natural spaces, contaminating rivers, stripping communities of their sources of livelihood and their ancestral territories [32]. Human rights defenders working to protect the environment, increasingly find themselves targeted and in need of protection. At the beginning of this year, Ecuador’s National Assembly granted amnesty to over 260 environmental, social, indigenous and human rights leaders in the country. While the decision was welcomed by human rights organizations, the granting of amnesty wouldn’t have been necessary if the State had fulfilled its obligations to protect and guarantee the rights of its citizens and the work of human, collective, and nature defenders [33]. Moreover, defenders denounce that despite this, criminalization persists [34]. Since the decision of the National Assembly, there have been more than 100 new criminalizations of defenders in the territories where extractive activities take place. This is also the case in the Chocó Andino region, where those defending the rights of nature and their communities continue to be intimidated, threatened, harassed and persecuted. Already 32 defenders have been criminalized. 

 The Quito sin Mineria campaign: what’s next?

Once the period for collecting signatures is over, the National Electoral Council (CNE) must validate the signatures. If the threshold is passed, the entity will have to set a date for the referendum and guarantee the resources for the voting day [35]. The signatures are required to include this consulta popular in the mid-term elections in 2023. This will hopefully allow the inhabitants to exercise their right to public consultation and to safeguard the Metropolitan District of Quito and the Chocó Andino from mining once and for all. 

You can support the campaign by following their networks and share their content to give more visibility to their struggles: 

Twitter: @Quitosinminería

Facebook: @Quitosinminería

Instagram: @Quitosinminería

You can also contribute by donating directly to their campaign account:  https://www.quitosinmineria.com/unete/ 

Written by Catapista Nicky Broeckhoven

Footnotes

[1] https://en.unesco.org/biosphere/lac/choco-andino-pichincha

[2] https://en.unesco.org/biosphere/about

[3] https://en.unesco.org/biosphere/lac/choco-andino-pichincha

[4] https://www.wwf.org.ec/noticiasec/?uNewsID=373970

[5] corredordelosoandino.com 

[6] https://es.mongabay.com/2021/04/piden-consulta-popular-para-prohibir-la-mineria-en-quito/; https://www.quitosinmineria.com/preguntas-frecuentes/ 

[7] https://www.labarraespaciadora.com/medio-ambiente/el-choco-andino-el-peligro-de-minar-a-los-pulmones-de-quito/?fbclid=IwAR2JTyMIbAkW261t8xhk0bcrP2kgmM79jcLl6xLflFs89sxBK4yQYprr_bE \

[8] https://www.quitosinmineria.com/preguntas-frecuentes/

[9] https://es.mongabay.com/2021/04/piden-consulta-popular-para-prohibir-la-mineria-en-quito/ 

[10] https://www.quitosinmineria.com/preguntas-frecuentes/

[11] https://catapa.be/en/proyecto-mirador-mining-in-cordillera-del-condor-ecuador/

[12] https://ceecec.net/case-studies/mining-conflict-in-cordillera-del-condor/#3.2

[13] https://es.mongabay.com/2022/04/ecuador-proyecto-minero-mirador-genera-amenazas-de-desalojo/

[14] https://www.planv.com.ec/investigacion/investigacion/la-otra-historia-mirador

[15] Emerman, Steven H., Evaluación del Diseño y de la Construcción de las Presas de Relaves para la Mina Mirador, Zamora Chinchipe, Ecuador. Consulted on https://drive.google.com/file/d/16NXX3gReSzkFDpAurGqHdtSi0QPXuyvk/view

[16] Unrefined whole cane sugar

[17] https://www.quitosinmineria.com/preguntas-frecuentes/

[18] https://revistas.usfq.edu.ec/index.php/lawreview/article/view/2324/2994

[19] https://www.accionecologica.org/serie-por-que-nos-movilizamos-no-3-por-que-las-comunidades-amenazadas-por-la-mineria-participan-en-el-paro-nacional/

[20] https://es.mongabay.com/2021/04/piden-consulta-popular-para-prohibir-la-mineria-en-quito/

[21] https://www.quitosinmineria.com/preguntas-frecuentes/

[22] https://es.mongabay.com/2021/04/piden-consulta-popular-para-prohibir-la-mineria-en-quito/

[23] https://www.accionecologica.org/investigacion-la-gran-farsa-de-la-anulacion-de-las-firmas-de-la-consulta-por-el-yasuni/

[24] Some of these instances have been shared on the campaign’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/quitosinmineria 

[25] https://es.mongabay.com/2021/04/piden-consulta-popular-para-prohibir-la-mineria-en-quito/

[26] https://www.accionecologica.org/pronunciamiento-de-accion-ecologica-frente-a-las-politicas-neoliberales-y-de-represion-del-gobierno/

[27]  https://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/actualidad/44/ecuador-mineria-legal-guillermo-lasso; https://www.ecuadorchequea.com/guillermo-lasso-dijo-que-no-se-puede-dejar-de-explotar-petroleo-ni-minerales/

[28] https://www.accionecologica.org/serie-por-que-nos-movilizamos-no-3-por-que-las-comunidades-amenazadas-por-la-mineria-participan-en-el-paro-nacional/

[29] https://www.quitosinmineria.com/preguntas-frecuentes/

[30] https://www.quitosinmineria.com/preguntas-frecuentes/ 

[31] https://www.quitosinmineria.com/preguntas-frecuentes/

[32] Serie ¿Por qué nos movilizamos? – No. 3: ¿Por qué las comunidades amenazadas por la minería participan en el paro nacional? – Acción Ecológica (accionecologica.org) 

[33] https://ddhhecuador.org/sites/default/files/documentos/2022-03/PRONUNCIAMIENTO%20AMNIST%C3%8DAS%20CONCEDIDAS%20POR%20LA%20ASAMBLEA%20NACIONAL%20SON%20UN%20PRECEDENTE%20HIST%C3%93RICO%20CONTRA%20LA%20CRIMINALIZACI%C3%93N%20Y%20PERSECUCI%C3%93N%20A%20PERSONAS%20DEFENSORAS%20DE%20DERECHOS.%2021.03.22_0.pdf 

[34] https://es.mongabay.com/2022/04/asamblea-dio-amnistia-a-268-defensores-pero-la-criminalizacion-persiste-en-ecuador/

[35] https://es.mongabay.com/2021/04/piden-consulta-popular-para-prohibir-la-mineria-en-quito/

(E)WASTEFUL INSTALLATION: we have a <del>dream</del> plan!

What a fruitful first part of the (e)wasteful installation design trajectory! 

With a visionary team of volunteers we brainstormed, reflected and shared our thoughts. We placed ourselves into the minds of good and bad designers, economists, consumers and politicians. We invented fairy tales about planned obsolescence (almost as ridiculous as reality!). With the help of Gust, who is leading the project, we explored how vacuum cleaners and other electronics are designed to fail. Just one piece of plastic breaking is enough to make a vacuum cleaner entirely useless – who designed this?! We dreamt about machines that represent planned obsolescence. 

The crazy ideas kept on coming. It wasn’t always easy to make a decision, to choose the best of many wild ideas, or to turn our uncontainable imagination into more concrete plans. But we succeeded. We have a plan. This is the plan: 

We will create a machine that lays bare the (intentionally) short lifespan of electronics and the destructive impact of our take, make, waste economic system on our planet. Visually it will be clear that the machine is slowly depleting the earth, whilst the conveyor belt strains under a growing mountain of e-waste. The aim is for the installation to be interactive. For example, passers-by will be able to speed up or slow down how fast electronics are becoming obsolete.

Now it’s time for action! In the 2nd part of the trajectory we’re going to build the installation out of e-waste. Ready to get stuck in and get your hands dirty? 🔧 In August we’re gathering for two days in the headquarters of Nerdlab to create the installation. Weren’t involved before but excited to join? Fill in this doodle to pick the dates and send an email with your contact details to connor.cashell[a]catapa.be.

Let’s build this thing!

City of Ghent puts a stop to planned obsolescence!

After Mechelen, last week the city of Ghent was the second city to sign our CTRL-ALT-DEL charter. By doing so, the city supports our campaign for stronger regulation on circular electronics. For this special occasion, Catapistas came together with deputy minister for international solidarity and purchasing policy Hafsa El-Bazioui, deputy minister for environment and circular economy Tine Heyse and Conny Van Achte of District09, the ICT partner of the City of Ghent. 

By signing this agreement, the City of Ghent commits itself to setting a good example in the field of circular ICT. On the one hand by continuing to support the local repair and manufacturing economy. On the other hand, by purchasing sustainable electronics and using these devices in a circular manner. The city is already taking huge steps in this direction. Among other things, by joining Electronics Watch. It’s no coincidence that District 09 was the winner of CATAPA’s Fair ICT Awards in 2021. So signing our charter was a logical step! 

Stop #ExpresDefect

Catapistas in front of the city hall of Ghent.

Stop Planned Obsolescence – Take action!

In our previous blog article you could find out why mining can never be made ‘green’ or done ‘responsibly’. That’s why we should drastically reduce our need for new raw materials. We cannot continue to extract more and more metals and minerals. We should end practices like ‘planned obsolescence’ immediately. This practice, sadly commonly used in our “throwaway” system, means that electronic products are designed to make repair difficult or unfeasible, with a limited lifespan. It leads to enormous waste and increases the need for the extraction of raw materials.

Let us imagine an alternative future, one where non-renewable resources are kept in the soil where they belong. Let us convince our policy makers to Go Circular and stop planned obsolescence. 

Solutions and challenges on EU level

Elements of the Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI) proposal are promising, including the extension of minimum eco-design requirements to the ‘widest range of products’. Requirements will include product aspects such as repairability, durability, and carbon and environmental footprints. 

However, the EU must go further. Sustainability in the SPI is confined to environmental impacts, disregarding the social dimension. Products that pass proposed eco-design criteria, but are made in terrible human rights conditions, are by the European Commission’s own definition ‘sustainable’. The current proposal lacks ambition. The Commission plans to only introduce four product regulations per year, starting in 2024. Despite being responsible for around a quarter of the EU’s 2020 emissions reduction targets, eco-design and energy labelling rules have historically been beset by repeated delays and a lack of adequate resources. 

Flanders: Setting the example? 

Since Flanders presents itself as a leader in Europe in the field of circularity, we believe that the Flemish government should be at the head of the pack for a strong regulation at the European level for circular ICT. Repairability, consumer support, control and recyclability are strong mechanisms to achieve this. Check out our demands for the Flemish government. By implementing these, Flanders would be a frontrunner on circularity in Europe and can send clear signs to our European politicians. 

CTRL ALT DELETE, reset the system

Through our Ctrl Alt Delete: Stop Planned Obsolescence campaign we are advocating for strict regulations to ensure electronic products are eco-designed, repairable, and made to last. Eighty percent of the impact of a product’s life-cycle is locked in during the design phase. CATAPA demands a CTRL ALT DELETE, a reset of the system: 

CTRL – CONTROL & transparency of electronic product manufacturing
ALT – ALTERNATIVE legislation restricting planned obsolescence
DEL – DELETE the production of electronic products with too short a life span

TAKE ACTION

Do you want to take action yourself? 

Call on your municipality to sign our CTRL ALT DEL charter. This will give our campaign more weight and you will fight together with us to counteract planned obsolescence and all its negative effects. By signing the charter, the city or municipality commits to setting a ‘good example’ by purchasing sustainable ICT and using ICT in a well-considered way. They also commit to boosting the recovery and manufacturing economy in their city or municipality. 

You can also file a complaint about your broken electronic devices on our website. The complaints will be gathered to raise awareness and put pressure on the Flemish government and the EU to implement strong regulations. 

Ready to take action? Join our movement or engage yourself in one of the mentioned actions. 

More information on how to take action, you find here

CATAPA takes over the Ghelamco Arena: GO CIRCULAR – STOP #EXPRESDEFECT.

From 30 May to 5 June, the Ghelamco Arena in Ghent will for once not be showing an advertisement by KAA Gent. However, it will be a slogan that fits in with CATAPA’s CTRL ALT DEL campaign. This takes place in the context of the ‘European Green Week’, an initiative of the European Commission that is held in Brussels on the same days. 

With our campaign, which we are conducting in Flanders and Brussels, we want to tackle ‘planned obsolescence’ and preferably make it disappear as soon as possible. Planned obsolescence is a method mainly used in the ICT sector, where products are deliberately designed with a limited lifespan. Who has not experienced that a mobile phone suddenly functions much slower after an update? Or another example: the printer that breaks down and the repair costs are higher than buying a new one. There are countless methods used by the industry to get you to buy as many new devices as possible. Hence our hashtag #expresdefect. In Dutch ‘expres’ refers to ‘deliberately’ and defect has the same meaning in English. 

The main thing to remember is that all those electronics cost you a lot of money and contain many rare (critical) metals. More on that later. But what does this have to do with Europe and European Green Week? The European Green Week will focus on three important aspects of the ‘Green Deal’, namely; circular economy, zero emissions and biodiversity. At first sight, this initiative can only be applauded, but there is something fishy about it (and it smells really bad).

 

 

The ‘Green Deal’: A solution that is not there

About the Green Deal, the European Commission says it is a path to a ‘sustainable and transformative growth strategy’. And that is where it goes wrong, we have learned from the past two hundred years that economical growth and sustainability do not go together. On the contrary, growth means plundering the earth in order to obtain the raw materials needed to sustain this endless growth. The extraction of these raw materials leads to ecological, climatic and social disasters.

So what exactly does the EU Commission mean by ‘transformative’ growth? Well, the Commission is making the right decision to leave the fossil fuel era behind. But only to exchange it for an era in which large-scale mining will become the driving force of the growth economy. As mentioned before, the mining of raw materials such as gold, copper, lithium, borate, coltan … (the list is endless) causes great harm to people and the environment. Witness the many accidents involving toxic substances used in the mining industry, which have rendered hundreds of hectares of land uninhabitable, polluted rivers and poisoned people.

Maria Nyuberg stated at the (Re)mining Symposium that “Even if we succeed in dramatically increasing the recycling of critical metals, it will still not be enough to meet the demand required to make the green transition possible“. So we trade one evil (fossil fuels) for another (extracting rare earths). Yet there are plenty of signs that the growth scenario has a dead end. For example, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) published a report stating that Europe must reduce its material consumption 65% by 2050 if we want to avoid a climate catastrophe. 

Dependence on critical metals and strategic autonomy

We now know that Europe will not abandon the ‘endless growth scenario’ and that we will need huge quantities of critical raw metals to make that work. The question is, of course: where are we going to get them? Europe has long realised that depending on other continents for raw materials is not a good idea. Look what has happened to our energy prices since the war between Russia and Ukraine started. That is why the European Commission has decided that we have to tap our own (read European) reserves of critical metals. Or in other words, more mining on the European continent. 

Sustainable and responsible mining, the fairy tale that just won’t go away

According to the mining industry and the European Commission, mining can be done in a sustainable way with respect for the environment and people. Studies and reports prove otherwise. Rio Tinto, a mining giant that has been in the news negatively several times (google ‘Mining Rio Tinto accident’) and owner of the Serbian ‘Jadar Lithium Mine’, has bought up 40% of all the land around the possible mining site. This was possible through collaboration with the Loznica city council, which expropriated land and changed its zoning from ‘agriculture or forestry’ to ‘industrial land’. Another tactic to chase away the inhabitants was to raise the land tax significantly. This happened even before the mining project was approved. In response, citizens protested and took to the streets for days until President Vučić was forced to revoke the mining project’s permit. 

The events surrounding mining in countries like Northern Ireland, Serbia (but also Spain and Greece) show that mining always results in damage. If not for the environment, then for the communities that are the victims of mining. Conclusion? Green mining or sustainable mining does not exist at all, it’s a dangerous fairy tale.

Want to know more about the alternatives and what you can do in Flanders or Brussels? Find it out in our next blog.

Coming soon: a Repair Index in Belgium!

The federal government, as part of the Federal Action Plan Circular Economy 2021-2024 will introduce a Repair Index in a few years. By means of a mandatory score or Repair Index that must be listed on electronic devices and that indicates the repairability of the product, the government hopes to promote the repairability of these products. And thus to take a step towards a more circular economy. For the concrete elaboration of this index, meetings are held with stakeholders and CATAPA is at the table.

In the Federal Action Plan, we can read the following: “Several criteria will be included in this index, such as the availability of spare parts necessary for the proper functioning of the product, its price, the availability of repair manuals, the ease of repair (disassembly, access to parts), etc.” The government plans to later evolve the Repair Index into a sustainability index, which also includes robustness and reliability criteria.

The government was inspired by France, which already introduced a Repair Index in early 2021. While this index is an important milestone for the Right to Repair in Europe, there are a number of limitations and challengesRepair & Share, the organization that made sure the Repair Index was put on our government’s agenda, prepared a document of “lessons learned” from the French system with a lot of great recommendations. You can find them here. Together with Repair & Share and other stakeholders, CATAPA will make sure that the Belgian Repair Index does not make the same mistakes.

A repair index or score is an important step towards eliminating the practice of planned obsolescence. This is the strategy used by manufacturers of electronics to deliberately design products so that the devices do not last as long. A practice that carries a lot of costs, both for people and for the planet. With a repair index, and soon a sustainability index that goes even wider, it will be more difficult for producers to bring poor quality products to people. We are therefore in favor.

The implementation of a Repair Index is one of the demands within our CTRL ALT DEL campaign, in which we emphasize, among other things, the importance of an independent control system with sufficient budget. With the transition to a sustainability index, we also hope that our other demands can be met. This includes, among others, the recyclability of electronic devices.