Civil Society platform on NAREJ Sierra Leone
At this National Conference on Development and Transformation in Sierra Leone, We, the member organizations of the Natural Resource and Economic Justice (NAREJ) Platform comprising all the major CSOs engaged on Solid Minerals, Petroleum, Forestry, Fisheries, Land and Water resources sectors acknowledge the initiative to pay attention to the cardinal role natural resources have in the development and transformation of the nation. The Natural Resource and Economic Justices Platform (NAREJ) wish to reaffirm here that most natural resources especially minerals are God given, not renewable, constitute public property. All citizens are therefore entitled to equitable enjoyment of the benefits that flow from their exploitation.
Let us recall that Africa as a Continent is already advanced in putting mechanisms in place to optimize the exploitation of natural resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development (AMV 2009). In February 2009, at their Assembly, the AU Heads of State and government requested “member states to improve their mineral resource policies, establish appropriate institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks, and invest in human skills, research and development, and geological and geophysical data that are critical for efficient and effective management of mineral resources”.
We therefore want to see our natural resources utilized for the creation of wealth, sustainable development and productivity for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans. Thus, Sierra Leone’s natural resource endowment (land, marine, minerals, oil, forest, water) should be transformed into lasting benefits for the society in a sustainable and equitable manner, through the transparent, accountable, equitable and sustainable governance of these resources. For this to happen we need to see the exploitation and management of our natural resources through the lenses of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) with particular reference to Article #21.
KEY DEMANDS OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE MARCH FORWARD
For our natural resources to serve as driver of our development and transformation, we demand the following;
- Put a Moratorium on new medium and large-scale corporate mining leases and licenses until the policies, laws, regulations are reviewed/developed to align with the African Mining Vision (AMV) and that reflect the demands and aspirations of the citizens.
- The Governance of natural resources entails (1)recognition of public ownership of the resources; (2) community involvement in and transparent award of Licenses and Concessions; (3) Effective monitoring of the operations of licensees and concessionaires; (4) transparent reporting of payments and revenues; (5) equitable and accountable distribution of mineral revenues; (6) Sustainable development policies , etc
- The urgent review of all corporate mining lease agreements that have shortchanged the country and peoples by going against the relevant laws e.g. MMR Act 2009, Income Tax Act etc.
- Holding of separate national conference of Natural Resource governance to come up with “natural resource governance Charter” to inform all laws, Policies, regulations and mechanisms in the natural resource sector.
- Clear vision of the role of natural resources in national development and key strategies for using natural resources for transforming and diversifying the national economy should be developed.
- That all policies, laws, regulations and systems be aligned with the African mining vision, African Charter on human and peoples’ Right and other relevant international Human Rights standards.
- That a participatory, inclusive and transparent negotiating process for all agreements for the sector be regularised as a matter of urgency.
- In line with the African Mining Vision and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and to ensure the integrated management of natural resources there is need to establish and strengthen a Natural Resource Commission to regulate the activities of the natural resource industries.
- Set up a Transformation and Development Fund – percentage of which is to be slated as Future Generational Fund; another percentage as Social Development Fund with emphasises on manpower and skills development for natural resource sector.
- Restructure our educational system to develop manpower and skills for the natural resource sector.
- That a national debate on land use be launched for the adoption of a comprehensive land use.
- Develop a land/property cadastre system for the development of a land tenure policy – outcomes of the national debate.
- That a cross-border initiative be launched for environmental management and joint management of natural resources.
- An outcome of the national conference on natural resources should inform the development of a national policy on water noting water as a natural resource; usage of which for industrial purposes should benefit the immediate population and beyond. Effective oversight of the sector/industry by Civil Society and the legislature over the operations of corporate entitles that engage in natural resource and exploitation in Sierra Leone.
- Forestry/environmental policies should focus on constant training so as to exploit emerging opportunities to reduced emission, deforestation, degradation plus conservation.
- The natural resource sector catalyses and contributes to the broad-based growth and development of Sierra Leone through
- Down-Stream linkages into beneficiation and manufacturing
- Up-Stream linkages into capital goods, consumables and services industries
- Side-Stream linkages into infrastructure (power, logistics, communications, water) and skills and technology development
- Mutually beneficial partnerships between the state, the private sector, civil society, local communities and other stakeholders.
We implore the conference participants who are themselves genuine Serra Leoneans consider these demands seriously for our natural resources to be the engine for the transformation of Sierra Leone.
Stay with Sierra Express Media, for your trusted place in news!
© 2012, https:. All rights reserved.