Niger Delta Declaration of OilWatch Africa – People not Oil, Food not Oil and Fish not Oil

Oilwatch Africa network members, allies and community representatives met in the Niger Delta city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, from 6thto 8thof August, 2019 to assess and discuss the impacts of fossil fuel extraction on the environment, principally  on water, soil and air. The meeting also deliberated on impacts of fossil extraction on people’s rights, including those related to fisheries, farming, access to livelihood, health, social wellbeing. It strategized on building common platforms, networks and strategies to resist fossil fuels expansion in Africa.

Participants from 15 countries discussed extensively, sharing experiences from their various contexts, highlighting key concerns, impacts and people’s struggles in relations to fossil extraction.    

The conference 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 resource in Africa. Their actions have paid little or no concern to the welfare of local communities who also depend on the environment for their wellbeing. The result is shocking levels of water pollution/crisis, food shortages, health hazards, land grab, militarization, growing inequality, poverty and conflict. 

Conference also noted the critical connection between fossil fuel extraction and the climate crisis which Africa is already suffering; from expanding draughts to floods in the coastal plains.  

Conference equally noted with displeasure 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  conference further  acknowledged the  importance  the Climate Chance  summit as a unique  for space to harvest the contribution of  non-state actors in Africa  to addressing the challenges of climate impact.

 This year, October 2019 marks the second Climate Chance summit   on the continent  providing the unique opportunity for the summit to recognise and end to fossil energy dependency in its  scope of orientations. 

 Oilwatch Africa members and allies expressed regret that governments of African countries have remained silent while this dangerous exploitation and expropriation continues. 

Oilwatch Africa, allies and community representatives noted that there is an immediate need for African countries to divest from fossil and invest in energy and economy that is both clean, just and renewable.

Conference resolved that urgent actions are needed to wean Africa from fossil dependence, stop the continent from being wholly degraded, grabbed and destroyed. Oilwatch Africa, allies and community representatives declare as follows: 

  1. The uncontrolled appetite for fossil 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Impact on women and children arising from agricultural lands pollution, contamination of fresh waters and the destruction of fishery ecosystems is criminal requiring immediate address. 
  4. 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;

  1. No new fossil energy extraction on the continent 
  2. We demand the immediate commencement of remediation activities at all fossil extraction sites on the continent.
  3. An immediate social and environmental health audit in fossil extraction on locations on the continent.
  4. The oil pollution clean-up exercise taking place in Ogoni land has the support of all impacted communities in Africa. We therefor demand that the  the process is hastened, and completed on schedule.
  5. There must be no privatisation of water on the continent. Water must be seen as an essential part of people’s wellbeing and as a fundamental human right. 
  6. African governments should improve governance standards  to end unbridled conflicts and related land grabbing inspired by fossil energy extraction interest. 

Oilwatch members, allies and communities at the conference declared that 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 members resolved to continue to support women in the fight against  fossil extraction in Africa.

Finally, 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.

Signed by 

Oilwatch Africa representatives from Cameroon, Chad, Cote D’Ivore, Congo DR, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Togo and Uganda.

Port Harcourt, Nigeria, 06 – 08 August, 2019

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