Hammering a Productive Dialogue
March 13 - 14, 2019 was a milestone for Bantay Kita (BK), more than a hundred stakeholders from government, mining industry and civil society organizations gathered to discuss in a Forum on Responsible Mining. In collaboration with the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), Philippine – Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative and Mining (PH-EITI) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the third and bigger set of stakeholders broke barriers and discussed their points of convergences and divergences on responsible mining.
The forum was third in a series of initial three forums to start discussions on what should be the definition of Responsible Mining in the Philippines. In November and December 2018, the multi-stakeholder group of BK, COMP, PH-EITI and MGB organized the first two Round Table Discussions on responsible mining - including large scale and small scale metallic and non-metallic mining. Experts from the academe, NGO leaders, government officials and industry representatives tackled the issue of conflict sensitivity, labor issues, environment, revenue, planet, profit, and people. The discussions were lively, with conflicting opinions but everyone was generally respectful and even good humored in their discourse.
Existing Mining Standards and Monitoring Frameworks: National and International
Assistant Professor Jo Dionisio from the University of the Philippines Diliman Sociology Department, who was one of the panel reactors to the initial discussion results, gave a very good challenge at the end of her session – “Safe statements that highlight convergences are good but acknowledging divergences, even if uncomfortable, is necessary to filter the non-negotiable and to extract compromises from each sector.”
An industry leader shared his insights from his 30 years of experience and gave honest perspectives on their struggles, “We can accept no (as a response to a question if the industry can accept “no to mining” from communities and other stakeholders), but we want a consistent answer – it cannot be yes now and no later, we have to ensure that our investments will generate returns.”
An equally honest and passionate NGO leader shared their struggles and perspectives from the community, “We have been talking about our community issues and concerns for the past 30 years but we do not get reliable answers and assurances.”
Everyone shared their points, everyone listened.
Lisa Sumi; a representative from the US-based Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) - a global non-profit organization with a mission to protect the environment, mine workers and communities directly affected by mining; shared IRMA’s Standard for Responsible Mining. Joan De Venecia-Fabul of Philex Mining Corporation shared COMP’s plan and partnerships with Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) standards from Canada. Rodolfo Velasco and Larry Heradez from MGB presented their Tenement, Safety and Health, Environment and Social (TSHES) monitoring framework and Nieva Natural of Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) shared their mining audit framework.
Their sessions generated a lot of questions and discussions that redounded to specific steps and suggestions on structures and mechanisms on how to improve monitoring and on how bring forward the discussions at the regional levels.
Collaborative Approach: Shared Responsibility, Joint Solutions
The two-day activity resulted in a joint call to action – to have a shared responsibility and therefore shared actions on how to move forward in coming up with more holistic standard on responsible mining. The following are the top action points from the forum and the action planning session: 1) working together to develop responsible mining standard by reviewing current frameworks and guiding laws and policies, 2) identify ways on effective monitoring (e.g. self-monitoring, multi-stakeholder monitoring, third party monitoring), 3) how to prepare and roll out effective transparency and accountability mechanisms using the monitoring results, 4)discuss and collaborate on enabling governance mechanisms, and 5) working together and build on current level of openness and collaborative engagement.
This can effectively happen in a multi-stakeholder platform with effective and meaningful participation of all stakeholders. “All of us are gathered here out of love and concern for our country, for our fellow Filipinos, because we want our nation to develop sustainably. We persist until we achieve our objectives, and we keep working towards convergence and synergy,” said Atty. Karla Espinosa, National Coordinator of PH-EITI.
At the end of the forum, the sentiment that resonated with everyone was, “We all love our country, we are all patriots and we are all committed to move this forward.” Norie Garcia, Bantay Kita’s Interim National Coordinator ended the forum and workshop by thanking everyone for their openness, commitment and attitude to forge collaborative engagement.
For 11.11.11 who supported BK's participation in the PWYP GA19
Bantay Kita participated in Publish What You Pay’s Global Assembly (PWYP) in Dakar; Senegal.The approval of the new five-year global strategy was one of the major agendas of the global PWYP assembly. The new global strategy intends to build on the achievements of the last several years, scale up the impacts and continue to strengthen the movement for greater transparency and accountability of the extractive industries.
The gathering also served as the election of new global council members. Chadwick Llanos of Bantay Kita was one of the newly elected global council membersto represent the Asia Pacific Region. The newly elected global council ratified the new five-year strategy.
Current context of disclosure
The different plenary and breakout sessions provided venues to share and learn different country context on how to enhance disclosures and on how to push for more citizen participation and greater accountability. For example, in the Philippines, gender related disclosures on employment have been available for the last two years but there are specific issues that need more attention like the role and impact of mining in women and the related governance issues that need to be addressed.
There was also emphasis on the need for more disclosures on social and environmental payments and issues on labor rights, health and safety - not just of laborers but as well as of those of communities.
Calling for social and environmental disclosure
In the Philippines, for the past several years, the CSOs have been clamoring for the disclosure of social and environmental impacts of the extractive industries. This has been more pronounced given the context of climate change vulnerability and the resulting hazards. Now that the global strategy is pushing for this and how it should be reflected in the international EITI standards, the CSOs in the PH-EITI multi-stakeholder platform can have stronger support and basis to demand disclosures and transparencies on these areas.
For example, environmental disclosures such as auxiliary rights on water and timber are not publicly disclosed. Tree cutting and water permits are easily granted to mining companies with less or no regards over communities’ rights to these resources. CSOs, over the past several years, have been asking for disclosures on these natural resource use primarily because these ‘rights’ have been exploited by mining companies.
At the end of the Global Assembly, the Coalition called on the EITI to include social and environmental disclosures and publish contracts and licenses.
With the new global agenda, Bantay Kita will be able to put forward the communities’ agenda on gender, labor, social and environmental issues and continue its advocacy and facilitation of significant reforms in natural resource governance.
Bantay Kita will continue to build on its initial achievements to make transparency and accountability work for the communities it serves. The direction is to make transparency and accountability work such positive actions and outcomes will redound to the communities where it matters most.