Second Caravan for Integral Ecology in dialogue with the EU at COMECE

The second Caravan for Integral Ecology of the network Iglesia y Minería visited COMECE on Friday, 22 September, 2023, and engaged in a dialogue meeting with representatives of the EU institutions on the impacts of mining and extractivism on local communities in Latin America.

Dialogue meeting between EU representatives and a delegation of religious authorities and young community leaders from six Latin American countries affected by mining and extractivism. The meeting was held at the COMECE Secretariat. (Photo: Giorgio Gotra/CIDSE)

The delegation of religious authorities and young community leaders from six Latin American countries had the opportunity to dialogue with various EU representatives, sharing their testimonies of the devastating impacts that the mining industry has caused in their communities and territories.

The group highlighted that lithium, gold and silver industrial mining operations have irreversibly polluted their rivers, soil and the air. Pollution has caused illness such as respiratory and skin diseases, as well as cancers for which the local healthcare facilities are not equipped to treat.

Photo of the Latin American delegation together with representatives of Brussels-based Catholic organisations. (Photo: Giorgio Gotra/CIDSE)

The delegation denounced that mining companies often operate with permits issued by the national authorities, obtained without the free, prior informed consent of the affected indigenous populations. They also pointed out that mining operations not infrequently bring about violence in the community, since dissent and protest are violently repressed.

The Latin American delegation urged European decision-makers to take into account these concerns in pertinent EU policy frameworks currently being negotiated, notably the European Critical Raw Materials Act and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, as well as in processes of the green, energy and digital transitions.

The dialogue meeting with the representatives of the institutions of the European Union was organised by COMECE, CIDSE and the European Laudato Si’ Alliance (ELSiA).

The Caravan was headed by H.E. Mgr. Noel Antonio Londoño Buitrago, Bishop of Jericó (Colombia). Earlier this month, the delegation travelled to Spain and to the Vatican, where it was also received by Pope Francis.

The delegation also promotes an international campaign of mining divestment. More information is available here.

Photos of the event
AgenSIR interview with members of the delegation [IT]