Stopping the Extractivist Addiction
Niger Delta Declaration of Oilwatch Africa: People not Oil, Food not Oil and Fish not Oil Network members, allies and community representatives of Oilwatch Africa met in the Niger Delta city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria from 6th to 8th of August, 2019 to assess and discuss the impacts of fossil fuel extraction on the environment, principally on water, soil and air. The conference deliberated on impacts of fossil fuel extraction on people’s rights, including those related to fisheries, farming, health, and social wellbeing. It strategized on building common platforms, networks and resistance to the expansion of fossil fuels exploration in Africa.
Participants from 15 countries including Nigeria, discussed extensively, sharing experiences from their various contexts, highlighting key concerns, impacts and people’s struggles in relation to fossil fuel extraction. They examined the alarming model of reckless extractivism facing the continent today, the way corporate capitalist interests have turned the continent inside out, probing every nook and cranny to extract natural resources.
They decried the actions of the corporations who pay little or no concern to the welfare of local communities that depend on the environment for their wellbeing. This is seen in the shocking levels of water pollution/crisis, food shortages, health hazards, land grab, militarization, growing inequality, poverty and conflict in these communities as a result of fossil fuel extraction activities.
The conference of Oilwatch Africa also examined the critical connection between fossil fuel extraction and the climate crisis of which Africa is already suffering: from expanding droughts to floods in the coastal plains. It equally criticised how fossil fuel extraction has fuelled corruption and led to state capture thereby stifling the prospect of development in Africa, subverting our economies, recolonizing our continent and subjugating our people.
The importance of the Climate Chance Summit as a unique space to harvest the contribution of non-state actors in Africa and to address the challenges of climate change impact was acknowledged. The second Climate Chance Summit in the continent will hold in October 2019 in Ghana and will provide the unique opportunity to demand an end to fossil energy dependency.
The participants expressed regret that governments of African countries have remained silent while this dangerous exploitation and expropriation continues. Resolving that urgent actions
are needed to wean Africa from fossil dependence, to stop the continent from being wholly degraded and destroyed, they stated that there is an immediate need for African countries to divest from fossil fuels and invest in an energy system that is clean, just and renewable.
The Oilwatch Africa members, allies and community representatives declared as follows:
- The uncontrolled appetite for fossil fuel dollars by African leaders has blinded them to overwhelming empirical facts that reinforce the reality that extraction of fossil fuel is fast setting mother earth ablaze.
- Governments have failed to live up to the responsibility of protecting the environment and safeguarding the livelihood of the people, erroneously believing that monetary benefits from fossil extraction is a fixation to climate change. The African continent will be worse affected as evidenced by the hurricanes that struck Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa in March and April 2019.
- Impact on women and children arising from agricultural lands pollution, contamination of fresh waters and the destruction of fishery ecosystems is criminal and requires immediate action.
- Noting that fossil energy civilization is the bane for the current climate crisis is a compelling rationale to prohibit all forms of fossil exploration- fresh waters, oceans, forests, national parks across the continent and elsewhere.
In line with the above, the Network demands the following:
- No new fossil fuel reserves should be opened on the continent
- There should be immediate commencement of remediation activities at all fossil fuel extraction sites on the continent.
- An immediate social and environmental health audit in fossil fuel extraction locations on the continent.
- The clean-up process in Ogoni land should be hastened and completed on schedule.
- Every policy for the privatization of water on the continent must be revoked. Water must be seen as an essential part of people’s wellbeing and as a fundamental human right.
- African governments should improve governance standards to end unbridled conflicts and related land grabbing inspired by fossil energy extraction interests.
- Africans must stand together in the global struggle for climate justice, stand in solidarity with people of the Niger Delta and movement against coal in Africa.
Oilwatch Africa members, allies and community representatives in solidarity with the Niger Delta peoples reminds the world of the martyrs of the environmental justice struggles in Africa and around the world. This year marks the 24th anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni leader, activist and Africa’s foremost environmental justice campaigner. Oilwatch Africa resolved that their struggles will not be in vain and those responsible for their murder must be brought to book.
Community representatives, Oilwatch Africa allies present and representatives from Cameroon, Chad, Congo DR, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Uganda.