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UNEA 2016: We Must Address The Secondary Impact Of Mining On The Environment

UNEA 2016: We Must Address the Secondary Impact of Mining on the Environment

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On Thursday 19 May 2016, UN Women Kenya participated in a panel discussion on secondary impacts on the environment from extractive industries and their conflict or complementarity with country initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

The panel discussion was a pre – event for the second United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2). UNEA is the ‘World Parliament for the Environment,’ and is the world’s most powerful decision-making body on the environment. The theme of this year’s event is Delivering on the 2030 Agenda and is taking place on 23 -27 May 2016 at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi.

There was an incisive discussion on what needs to be done to identify and reduce secondary impacts of mining on forests. Antonio Pedro a mineral exploration geologist from the International Resource Panel (IRP) noted that the intensity of use of resources will continue to increase and will reach a plateau in 2050 if there is no change in the way we use and manage our resources.

Faith Kasiva– Team Leader on Social Economic Development in UN Women Kenya was one of the panelists and in her remarks, noted that women in mining are mainly artisanal small scale miners. Small scale mining is often unstructured and data that should inform policy and decision making is therefore unavailable. This makes it extremely difficult to regulate it and make it better for women. It also makes it difficult to quantify the secondary impact of the effects of artisanal small scale mining.

It was noted that mining has social impacts such as migration, insecurity, stretched resources all of which have a heavy impact on women. ‘Lack of political good will, because of vested interests is one of the reason for the lack of focus on the impact of mining on the environment” noted Faith Kasiva. In finding a solution then, it was emphasized that women’s voices must be heard.The need for a multi-sectoral approach to develop a strong business case was emphasized as one of the possible solutions. This, bearing in mind that the impact of mining is felt long after a mine is closed.

The social, environmental, economic impacts should be taken into consideration when finding lasting and sustainable solutions on the effects of mining on forests. The need for indicators to quantify secondary impacts and the cumulative effect of mining on forests was underscored as important. A multidisciplinary approach to finding solutions to the secondary impact of mining on the environment was proposed. The government, local communities which should include the contributions of women, ICT experts, private sector and data experts should come together and develop regulatory frameworks.

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