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.


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].

Study and Lobby Working Group Launch

We are pleased to announce the launch of CATAPA’s new Study and Lobby Working Group. The Working Group will produce cutting edge research and lobby on the following themes;


Research Theme 1: Planned Obsolescence: Ctrl Alt Del Campaign

Our current linear model of consumption and production is a driving cause of the climate crisis. In this “throwaway” model, the drive for limitless production and consumption of electronics places quantity above product quality.

Products are made with a limited life span (planned obsolescence) or the design makes repair difficult or unfeasible. Some products are designed to fail, with system faults purposefully incorporated to reduce their lifespan. This is a deliberate strategy on behalf of the electronics industry to encourage users to purchase ‘new and improved’ products. This is planned obsolescence.

Ending planned obsolescence requires policy change on the Flemish and EU level. The planet urgently requires strong politicians willing to take a stand against the electronics industry and implement strict regulation obliging multinational companies to produce eco-designed products. Electronic products must be repairable and made to last, instead of disposable products made to break down quickly and be replaced. 


Research Theme 2: EU Critical Raw Materials

CATAPA strives towards a world in which the extraction of non-renewable resources is no longer necessary. Achieving this requires a fundamental transformation of our society and relationship to nature. 

Under the guise of ‘green mining’, the EU’s Critical Raw Materials list outlines a strategy for the resourcing of over thirty mined resources, such as lithium, deemed ‘necessary’ for the green transition.

Securing such an increased demand for raw materials requires an expansion of mining operations within the EU. More mining will lead to severe negative socio-environmental impacts, such as human rights abuses, pollution and loss of land. The transition to renewable energy must be just. 


Research Theme 3: Right to Say No

A just transition includes local communities having the Right to Say No to mining projects. Under the ‘social licence to operate’ (SLO), a non-binding voluntary commitment to ‘good practice’, corporations are able to greenwash their operations. Local communities have no legal instrument to oppose unwanted mining projects. 

Where local communities resort to direct action to resist mining operations, they are dismissed, labeled as terrorists and face severe repression and human rights violations. 227 environmental defenders were killed in 2020.

Additionally, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system (ISDS), embedded in international trade agreements, enables corporations to sue states, predominantly in the Global South, over opposition to proposed mining projects.

The ISDS system must be dismantled. Fairer, democratic consultation mechanisms must be adopted. Local communities must have the decisive, legally binding say over the fate of mining projects. 


Research Theme 4: Alternatives to extractivism

We’re living in an age of crises. The current mantra and false solutions of endless growth, consumption and subjugation of nature is pushing the planet towards socio-ecological collapse.

So, what is the solution?

To meet this moment, we must dare to imagine and embody bold alternatives such as Degrowth. Our economy must be based on social and environmental justice. We must repair our relationship with nature and recognise our co-existence within the web of life. 


Get involved!

Joining the Study and Lobby Working Group provides you with a means to improve your research and lobbying skills. Your work will support CATAPA’s vision and mission, and will be published on the website and social media platforms. 

There will also be an opportunity within the Working Group to develop other projects, such as an Open Journal, Book Club, Symposiums and more!

Sign up: https://forms.gle/sw7i6tm2ZmNojxzm7 

Want more information? Contact connor.cashell[at]catapa.be

Take part in the free escaperoom Re-Connect!

Take part in the free escaperoom Re-Connect!

Always wanted to do an escaperoom, but never got around to it? Fond of your smartphone, but don’t know what’s inside? Then participate in the free escaperoom Re-Connect. Impress your friends by outsmarting them, solve the fun puzzles and riddles and find the tips to free yourself first. In this way you can learn more about the impact of your smartphone on people and the environment in a playful way.

Escaperoom-ReConnect -Bos plus Catapa

There are 3 escaperooms available. In each room you play with min. 4 and max. 8 people. From October 16 to November 27, the escape game will be on the CINOCO site, rue Pierre Van Humbeek 5, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean (Brussels). Registration is mandatory! Reservations can be made via this link. The escaperoom is in Dutch, so you’ll need at least one person that understands Dutch. But for most of the exercises you just need to think logical and a good command of Dutch isn’t necessary. 

A group of Catapistas already participated and set a record time! Can you do better? 😉

Escaperoom-ReConnect -Bos plus Catapa

Why this project?  

The average smartphone lasts 2.5 years. Half of the youngsters feel addicted to their smartphone. Moreover, that smartphone is full of materials that require mining. Disturbing figures, because mining is one of the 4 biggest drivers of deforestation. Read why here.

The supply chain of our electronics also causes many other environmental and social problems. A smartphone contains about 62 minerals and metals. Several of these are mined in vulnerable areas, with serious consequences for people and the environment: pollution by chemicals and heavy metals, deforestation, loss of agricultural land and biodiversity, human rights abuses and criminalization. The ICT sector also causes almost 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

So would you like to learn more about the impact of our electronics on people and the environment? Through riddles, discover which minerals are in your smartphone, where they are mined and who bears the consequences?

Don’t hesitate, register as soon as possible and try to beat the record time! Good luck!


Under the direction of BOS+, CATAPA and De Transformisten joined forces for the creation of this escaperoom, as part of the Re-Connect project. For its development, they called on #ANTcollectief.

Cajamarca Art and Unity

Art and unity in Cajamarca

Art and unity in Cajamarca

“What if we sing?”, she asks as she pulled a small paper with some scribbles that formed lyrics out of her pocket. She is one of the Defensoras de la Vida y la Pacha Mama from Cajamarca. We are in the middle of our latest workshop on citizen journalism and human rights and we are just chitchatting while lunch is being served. “What if we sing?”

And we sing. Not just to pass time waiting, but to get our message through, to come closer. Quickly the participants of the workshop gather together, have a look at the lyrics, and sing. About the beautiful lakes of Cajamarca, the mining projects destroying them, about their resistance, their fight and never giving up.

My mother and I wrote this song as we were protesting against Conga”, the woman tells us, “we sang it in the streets, we sang it everywhere. And it is still accurate

Human Rights

The song became the common thread during the rest of our workshop. We had come together in a training session organized by our partner organization Grufides in Cajamarca, Peru, together with Chaikuni in Iquitos, as part of a project financed by the province of Oost-Vlaanderen. It focuses on empowering rural and indigenous women for the defense of fundamental and collective rights in socio-ecological conflicts in both of these regions.

A big and important part of this project consists of organizing training sessions on two main topics: human rights and citizen journalism.

The first topic informs about human rights with the idea that “you can´t defend your rights if you don´t know them”. So that´s why for the last year and a half we have been working with people, mostly women, from different communities in Cajamarca on different matters: human rights, environmental rights, violence against women, intercultural health and so forth.

Coming together to talk about experiences in different communities is of great importance. It helps to know that people in other regions have to go through similar problems, to hear the outcome of similar struggles, and to know other communities support you in this fight to defend your rights.

Citizen Journalism

The second topic we work on during these training sessions is citizen journalism. How can these communities make sure the rest of the world knows what they are going through? How can they make sure everyone is aware of the cases they are fighting for?

Journalism and means of communication are important tools to address the violation of collective and fundamental rights in these communities. Nowadays, journalism can be one of the most powerful tools to defend your rights.

This is why during these sessions we focus on making videos, photographs, writing notes, making radio programs and radio spots. We learn about storytelling, how to use social media and hashtags and most importantly: we do this together.

Our main focus during the last few sessions was to work on a regional and national campaign between the different communities involved in this project. The participants themselves came up with goals for this campaign, with their target audience, and during this last session: their strategy.

Art as a strategy

The participants decided to focus on three specific cases for this first campaign and came up with four different strategies to reach their audience: a video, in which we could show a before and after related to the mining projects in their region, a study on the water quality, a key figure who can tell their story from their own perspective and last but not least, art.

We can paint. We can paint murals all over Cajamarca, all over Peru. We can sing, we can write more songs, like the one we just sang. We can use poetry. We can make theatre. We are all creative, we all have capacities. And we can use art as our strategy

The ideas on how to use art in our campaign kept flowing. “When Máxima Acuña was told to tell her story in the international press, she didn´t tell it. She sang it. And it was so much more powerful, it transmitted so many emotions. I still get goosebumps thinking about it,” someone said, “we can do this too. Our stories are powerful too. They just need to be heard.”

To end this day-long session, we asked the participants what they learned. “That together we are stronger”, someone said. “That we can use our art to let the world see our reality”, someone added. Art and unity. That´s what we learned today. Art and unity. We will stand together and sing. And our voices will be heard.

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

ESC Catapa 2021

CATAPA’s new ESC Volunteers

CATAPA’s new ESC Volunteers

This past September we welcomed two new members to our office. They are part of the European Solidarity Corps, a programme funded by the European Commission that brings young people the opportunity to volunteer around Europe in social and environmental projects. It offers an inspiring and empowering experience for young people who want to help, learn and develop.

This year, CATAPA is further focusing on the topics Degrowth and a Wellbeing Economy. We currently have two working lines: Education & Movement, and Communication & Campaigns.


I’m Connor, from Ireland, and I am gonna be working in the Education and Movement’s field. I studied BA Politics and International Relations and a Masters in International Development at the University of Sheffield. During my studies, I had been focused on neo-extractivism in Ecuador and alternatives to capitalism’s socio-ecological destruction such as Degrowth and Buen Vivir.

ESC Connor

The ESC programme has provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute towards a cause I deeply care about, experience a new and unfamiliar culture, and push myself beyond my limits


I’m Laura, from Barcelona, and I am gonna be working in the Communication & Campaigns field. I studied Journalism and I recently finished a Master in Corporate and Strategic Communication. I had the opportunity to work as a journalist in Colombia in a media with a focus on Human Rights and, as a result of this experience, I want to focus my work on the defense of Human and Environmental Rights. Therefore, I believe that doing European volunteering in an organization that works with affected communities and fights for a greener and fairer planet fits perfectly with my objectives and my values.

ESC Laura

The ESC Volunteering is the perfect opportunity to contribute to a cause you believe in, develop yourself in the personal and professional field, as well as to step out of your comfort zone and discover a new country, people and culture

Movement Weekend 2021

Movement weekend


Movement Weekend

October 1st – 3rd


Join us for our annual Movement Weekend that will take place from the 1st to the 3rd of October. It is an ideal event to learn more about CATAPA’s work and to get to know the Catapistas.

During this weekend, we will have interactive sessions focused on the research and work that our working Groups are doing, we will learn and discuss what is happening across Latin America, share our thoughts and improve our knowledge. All this while sharing moments with the volunteers and enjoying being surrounded by nature.

People that are new to CATAPA and are interested in getting involved are welcome to attend too.


The program will be shared here soon. If you put yourself as ‘attending’, you’ll receive a notification when the program is final.


GEKKOO Verblijf Weert
Appeldijkstraat 36, 2880, Weert België

Price (includes accommodation and food):

Regular 40€ or reduced (for people without or lower-income) 25€
*You’ll receive instructions for payment after the inscription.

Other important information:

*We will serve vegan food. If you have any allergies or intolerance please let us know in our contact email.
*We want this event to be accessible to anyone. If you encounter any financial, language or other barriers or if you have any questions about accessibility, please feel free to send an email to truike.geerts[at]catapa.be.
*In this training trajectory there is no room for sexism, racism, trans- or LGBT-phobia and other forms of hate.

Organized by Catapa

Join The Communication Working Group!

Join The Communication Working Group

30th September


Are you skilled in social media, content creation, graphic design etc?

Would you like to be part of a volunteer team supporting and leading on the communications of some amazing social & environmental justice projects across Belgium and Latin America?

We are now recruiting for volunteers who want to help shape the communication strategy and output of CATAPA by being a part of our Communication working group!

✉️Send an email to communication@catapa.be introducing yourself.

We are Looking forward to welcoming you in our team!