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sharing in governance of extractive industries

Environmental Monitoring, Part II: Can participatory environmental monitoring committees empower citizens to shape decision-making?

 

Two NBSAP Forum & GOXI  webinars - Environmental Monitoring, Part II: Can participatory environmental monitoring committees empower citizens to shape decision-making? brought together almost 100 people from around the world.

The Environmental Monitoring Part II webinars explored the work of community-based environmental monitoring committees, their roles in decision-making on mining, oil and gas, and how the committees contribute to preventing conflict from escalating. Cases from Peru and Mongolia were used for discussion and sharing of experiences.

In case you missed the webinars you can still catch it on you tube, thanks to our partners at the NBSAP Forum. We invite you to access the uploaded recordings through our playlist. Accompanying this webinar is an interview we conducted with Bolormaa Purevjav on how Participatory Environmental Monitoring Committees contribute to good governance and prevention of socio-environmental conflict in Mongolia,

Discussions during our webinars were rich, but our time was too short to address all of your questions. To fill the gap, we have summarized the responses to your additional questions below, provided by our expert presenters. Many thanks to Bolormaa, Flaviano and Gachi!

 

Q 1: Are you aware of any experiences where the work of committees, including their training for monitoring and the interpretation of results obtained, is financed by an investment fund?

Bolormaa: In Mongola, the IFC (international Finance Corporation) through stakeholders’ engagement process, helped mining companies to address water challenges and build trust among herding communities. Since 2012, IFC has been engaging with 13 exploration and mining companies operating in the Gobi region to improve the companies’ water management and community engagement practices. Project activities are developed in close collaboration with the mining companies through quarterly roundtable meetings. In this context, the IFC trained more than 600 community, government and industry stakeholders on mining and groundwater systems.

Flaviano: One case I know is the RTC Impact Fund. The RTC Impact Fund finances legal and technical representation for communities that have natural resource rights but little capacity to benefit from those rights. RTC gives loans to communities so that they can monitor and obtain better deals from companies and then pay back the loan. But the [RTC Impact Fund’s work in this area] is at a very early stage. 

 

Q 2: This question is about impacts on natural bodies of water, particularly in the Amazon rainforest where there is so-called black water. In black water, the composition of the water is modified and shallow bodies of water no longer have a current, leaving these waters vulnerable to insects such as anopheles and malaria vectors. These insects promote epidemics of disease. How can that be stopped or prevented with specific laws?

Flaviano: There are actually several studies in which an increase of malaria and dengue are related to mining and oil extraction. In order to prevent the promotion of diseases companies and government must control the still water surfaces. 

 

Q3: Do you think the scope of the committees should consider the environmental conditions (for instance the Amazon near a natural reserve is different from semi-arid areas), when evaluating how the committee will work, including the committee's internal composition, budget and local strategies and plans?

Bolorma: Yes, there is a need to consider the environmental conditions as these conditions can influence the water availability and quality. In semi-arid regions, water is scarce. Water quality could be an issue too, for example, it might not be suitable for drinking because of mineral content. In general, the committee’s work consists of finding solutions to local environmental issues together. In particular, committee members must be well informed about the environmental concerns of the local community. In Mongolia, water scarcity is a main concern. If water scarcity presents an issue for mining operations as well, the company should be using water efficient technologies to re-use and recycle the water.

Re-using and recycling the water as well as treating the water before discharging it to the environment is very important in terms of building trust and maintaining the stakeholder relationship. If mining companies disclose this water related information, the real challenges become clear as well as what can be done to address them.

In some communities, local committees contributed to the development of a water safety plan, which included a water protection strategy, promotion of responsible water use by each stakeholder as well as investment in building infrastructure for water sanitation and hygiene.

 

Q 4: Is there a constructive role for the press in helping to prevent environmental conflicts from escalating, while helping to ensure transparency and fairness for communities?

Gachi: Of course. The role of the press is key in preventing or addressing environmental related social conflicts. Usually the role of the press is focused on denouncing the negative impacts of mining, which is very important, but the press should also play a role to prevent these negative impacts.

With regards to the monitoring committees, a media representative could play a role in disseminating information among the community thereby ensuring transparency. This being said, a journalist could also be part of the committee. In addition, a group member could be in touch with several media sources in order to keep the media informed about the work of the committees. I believe that there is no better way for providing transparency and objective information to the stakeholders and community members than credible media.

 

Q 5: What is fluorspar, what its stock market value and what is it used for?

Flaviano: The online price of fluorspar is 380$/ton and this price is expected to rise in the future. Fluospar is mainly used for the formation of hydrogen fluoride that is used in several chemical processes. 

Bolorma: Fluorspar (CaF1) or fluorite is an important industrial mineral composed of calcium and fluorine (CaF2). It is used in a wide variety of chemical, metallurgical, and ceramic processes. It is a very common rock-forming mineral found in many parts of the world. In the mining industry, fluorite is often called "fluorspar."

In Mongolia, purple and green color Fluospar is considered very valuable.

In 2012, Mongolia exported 428,000 tones of fluorspar and the total revenue derived from it amounted to US $ 102 million USD. Mongolia exports Fluorspar mainly to Russia and China, but also to USA, Taiwan and Thailand. The market value is about $US 238 per ton of fluorspar, as of 2012.

 

Q6: What's the name of the chemical process where the hair of community members is tested?

Flaviano: The process is called "closed acid dissolution" however, there are very few labs that do this test.

Thanks again to our experts for taking the time to answer these additional questions. Join us in our next webinars “The Role of Government in Preventing or Enabling Conflict in Mining, Oil and Gas” that will take place 21 February 9 EST (English) 22 February (9 EST)

Register here.

 

 Photo credit: Asia Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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