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The GNMR Network is a Global Ignatian Advocacy Network that aims to ensure that issues of equity and sustainability are addressed in mining activity throughout the world. Find us on Facebook: "Governance of Natural and Mineral Resources - a Jesuit Network".

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GNMR Update

The El Teniente copper mine and processing plant near Rancagua, Chile. The mine is the world's largest underground copper operation. Photo credit: Morten Andersen/Bloomberg

WE ARE ON FACEBOOK!
 
The GNMR Network is now on Facebook! Search for "Governance of Natural and Mineral Resources Network". This is a pilot page developed ahead of a meeting of the GNMR Core Group later this month. Please visit and "like" our page and share it with your colleagues. Please also feel free to comment on our updates and make suggestions of other information to share.

Ethical Investment and the Movement to Go Fossil Free

There is increasing interest amongst investors around the world in ethical investment as an advocacy tool. In particular, divestment of fossil fuels has received significant attention, with Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution, among those to declare a shift towards ensuring an absence of fossil fuel companies in its investment portfolio.  Staff of Jesuit Social Services in Australia provide this overview of ethical investment:

What Is Ethical Investment?
Ethical Investment describes a range of activities that seek to combine the financial objectives of investment with wider concerns about environmental and social issues. There is a variety of processes through which this is achieved including:
 

  1. Social and Community Finance/Impact Investing – investment in banks, deposit-taking institutions, and finance companies that offer financial products with the explicit social aim to help people, community organisations and social enterprises. Examples could include community finance loans to a social enterprise.
  2. Economic and Social Governance Integration – investors factor environmental and social issues into investment decisions, usually through the incorporation of environmental and social risk analysis into financial analysis.
  3. Screening – the deliberate inclusion or exclusion of investments in companies or sectors based on moral, ethical or religious concerns. Exclusion can be absolute or involve some form of trade-offs. Examples include Jesuit Social Services’ investment policy which prohibits investments in tobacco, gaming, armaments, private prison corporations, indigenous exploitation or uranium mining.
  4. Shareholder Advocacy – includes both engagement with companies by shareholders on environmental and social issues and the filing of resolutions on significant issues. The Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility was recently established to build capacity for this work in Australia.

The Church’s Response

Worldwide, different forms of ethical investment have been practiced and promoted by the Church. Impacting investing was promoted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace through its support of the Investing for the Poor Conference in 2014.
In the United States, the Catholic Church has a long history of taking action through investment to realise more ethical approaches to business. This includes through the work of organisations such as ICCR (the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility).
Across the Jesuit community there are also many examples of adopting ethical investment. The US Jesuit provinces, for example, have taken action through the National Jesuit Committee on Investment Responsibility (NJCIR) which since the 1970s has promoted social change in corporate practices through shareholder engagement. The Committee’s membership includes the Treasurers of several provinces. Jesuit institutions throughout the U.S. collaborate with NJCIR, promoting socially responsible investment among friends and constituencies and in shaping the types of investments that they make. Areas of specific focus for NJCIR have included mining, water, and human rights in private prisons run by GEO.

In Australia, climate change and investment in fossil fuels is an area of increasing concern for many religious institutions. The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, a multi-faith group committed to action on climate change, has called for divestment from fossil fuels. The group has an information page for other religious orders and groups making the case for, and outlining strategies, to divest from fossil fuels. They note that several large religious organisations have passed resolutions to go fossil fuel free in their investing including the NSW/ACT Synod of the Uniting Church, the Melbourne Unitarian Church, Anglican General Synod of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia, and the Moetzah - the Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Divestment (screening) from fossil fuels is also actively being researched and considered by the Catholic Church in Australia.

The Catholic Context
 
The Catholic Church has long recognised the importance of business being consistent with the gospel values and social teachings of the Church. In Rerum Novarum Pope Leo XIII noted that “Whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God’s providence, for the benefit of others.” This has been affirmed by the last three Popes including by Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium where he called for a “return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings,” and more recently in his address to the conference on Investing for the Poor where he said “It is important that ethics once again play its due part in the world of finance and that markets serve the interests of peoples and the common good of humanity”. And although Laudato Si, the papal encyclical on the environment, did not specifically mention divestment, the Pope's strong words on climate change and on the responsibilities of wealthier nations has increased awareness and focus amongst Catholics on ensuring ethics in financial affairs.

A Way Forward
It is likely that many organisations have a willingness to support ethical investment but neither the time nor the resources to apply towards achieving this. In order to support organisations to shift their investment practices should they be keen to do so, Jesuit Social Services is producing background materials and draft policies for use by other Jesuit organisations. Please contact Carolyn.ryan@jss.org.au if you would like further information.
 
 
 

FATAL EXTRACTION: AUSTRALIAN MINING IN AFRICA

Australian mining companies are active in an estimated 33 countries across Africa. They arrive with promises of bringing economic benefits and respectful treatment to local villages. Fatal Extraction, a collaborative project of The Center for Public Integrity and The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, examined the reality.

Months of research by a team of journalists, which combined corporate data withextensive field reporting, revealed deaths, injuries and community conflicts linked to Australian mining companies across Africa. The resulting interactive presentation (link below) makes uncomfortable viewing.

Tracey Davies
, Head of Corporate Accountability at the Center for Environmental Rights Law Clinic, comments:

“Unfortunately, we don’t hear any stories of really rigorous regulatory enforcement of multi-national mining companies in Africa. There does seem to be a subset of companies, and a lot of them seem to be Australian, who are very happy to take advantage of that regulatory weakness, or slackness, or unwillingness.”

Some key findings from the Fatal Extraction report:

■ Since the beginning of 2004, more than 380 people have died in mining accidents or in off-site skirmishes connected to Australian publicly-traded mining companies in 13 countries in Africa.
■ Australian mining companies are more numerous than those from other mining giants such as Canada, the United Kingdom and China. At the end of 2014, more than 150 companies held about 1500 licenses and owned or managed dozens of mining... operations across 33 countries in Africa.
■ Multiple Australian mining companies are accused of negligence, unfair dismissal, violence and environmental law-breaking across Africa, according to legal filings and community petitions gathered from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana.
■ Australian state and federal government entities, including government workers’ pension funds, have invested in controversial Australian mining companies operating in Africa.

The report can be accessed here: http://projects.icij.org/fatalextraction/. Members of the GNMR Network are investigating the situation in some of these locations and we hope to include further insights in a future edition of GNMR Update.

COAL POWER: HOW COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS THREATEN THE HEALTH OF INDONESIANS - a report from Greenpeace

Environmental NGO Greenpeace has released a report slamming the effects of Indonesia’s coal power plants and calling on the country to move toward more sustainable methods of generating power. The report includes a dire health warning for the communities and environment around the plants.

The report suggests air pollution from the plants causes 6,500 deaths in Indonesia every year, and that each large new power plant commissioned (1000 MW capacity) is expected to result, on average, in the death of 600 Indonesians every year.

In a press release with the report, Greenpeace said:
"Indonesia has dozens of coal-fired power plants that emit hundreds of thousands of tonnes of pollution every year. These power plants fill the air with toxic pollutants, including mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and tiny toxic particles that go deep into people’s lungs.

Air pollution is responsible for over three million premature deaths globally every year. This pollution leads to an increased risk of lung cancer, stroke, heart diseases, and respiratory diseases. Coal burning is one of the biggest contributors to this pollution.

The findings in this report are based on research done at Harvard University on the health impacts of air pollution from coal-fired power plants in Indonesia."


The report offers a number of recommendations to the energy sector, including stronger monitoring of emissions and violations of environmental standards and the shutting down of plants which fail to meet these standards.
 
The full report can be accessed here: http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/id/press/reports/Harvards-Research-Result-Human-Cost-of-Coal-Indonesia/
Networking for Justice
 
From November 16th-20th an international meeting will be held in Loyola, Spain entitled "Networking for Justice" and will bring together the core groups of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network, the Social Justice Delegates of all Apostolic Conferences of the Society of Jesus and representatives from the Xavier Network and other global networks of the Society.
 
This meeting has been convened by the Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology of the Society of Jesus and is part of a major commitment to promote global networking as a means to promote social justice.   

In 1995, the General Congregation 34 called for the development of Ignatian apostolic networks as a way to enhance the mission of the Society of Jesus in their provinces. Thirteen years later, General Congregation 35 launched an even greater call for networking, recognizing  that the Society of Jesus should work as a Universal Body with the same mission.

Four years later, an international meeting took place at Boston College in April 2012 to identify the best way to respond to this call. At that meeting, the urgent need to carry out a major cultural and organizational transformation of the Society of Jesus was clearly identified and networking was promoted as the best way to turn the Society into a truly global body able to meet the challenges of our world in the twenty-first century.
 
The purpose of the "Networking for Justice" meeting is to evaluate to what extent networking in the Society of Jesus has favored the fulfillment of its mission in the struggle for justice. It aims to identify and communicate the main lessons learned and to propose concrete measures to further enhance this way of working.
 
In order to share constant updates on the meeting, the website www.networkingforjustice.org has been just launched. There will be an intensive stream of information online prior, during and after this important gathering. Following this aim, the newsletter subscription has just been just established so those who are interested in the network of the Society of Jesus in the world can subscribe and be updated in a timely manner.
 

GNMR Core Group to attend Networking for Justice

The Core Group leading the GNMR Network will meet in person next month at the global meeting of the five Ignatian Advocacy Networks. Members of the Xavier Network, the Social Coordinators of each Conference, and Jesuit Networking will also attend.
The "Networking for Justice" meeting, to be held from 17-20 November, will provide an opportunity for all Networks to develop strategic plans for the coming year, as well as learn from each other and experts in communications and networking. Networks will also reflect on the achievements and challenges of the past year.
The GNMR Core Group last met in person in December 2013, when the above picture was taken. Since then, Xavier Sorong has joined as a representative of the South Asia Conference, while Kirsti Tasala and Xavier Jeyeraj have moved on to pursue other activities.
 


 

Communicating the GNMR Story

GNMR Update is designed to bring you up to date with the work of the GNMR network, and with relevant events and news concerning the governance of resources.

GNMR Update is issued 4 times a year.


The GNMR Network aims to galvanise the Jesuit community for advocacy and action around issues of fairness and appropriateness of mining activity, and particularly around how mining activity affects local communities.

The Network links Jesuits and Jesuit organisations globally to advocate for better governance of resources in a world facing climate change and environmental and social injustices fuelled by mining activity.


Contributions to GNMR Update are welcome, and help us to fulfil this goal. If you would like to write an article about a mining issue in your region, please contact Carolyn Ryan at c
arolyn.ryan@jss.org.au.

GNMR MAILBOX:

Feedback, Suggestions and Contributions


We would love to hear from you if you have any feedback, suggestions or contributions for the GNMR Update.
Please contact Carolyn.ryan@jss.org.au or one of the Core Group members.
Please also share this newsletter with your colleagues and contacts with an interest in this subject.

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