Local delegation to deliver global Anglican leaders petition, March 8, to Vancouver mining company
Anglican Bishops worldwide urge ReconAfrica to halt oil drilling in sensitive Kavango Basin, Namibia
A small delegation representing KAIROS Canada will attempt to deliver a petition on behalf of 34 Anglican Bishops worldwide to mining company, ReconAfrica (Reconnaissance Energy Africa Ltd.) at its Vancouver headquarters on March 8 urging it to halt exploratory drilling for oil in the ecologically sensitive Kavango Basin in Namibia.
The petition will also be delivered to company executives by email should no company representative be physically available to receive the petition due to COVID-19 measures.
In addition to the ReconAfrica headquarters, the petition was delivered to the Government of Namibia and the Namibian Consulate in Cape Town on March 8. It will also be delivered to the Hon. Walter McLean, P.C., Honorary Consul of Namibia in Waterloo, Ontario, and Sheri Meyerhoffer, The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (Ottawa).
Monday, March 8, 2:00 p.m. PST
Reconnaissance Energy Africa Ltd. Head Office, Suite 1500, 999 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, British Columbia
The KAIROS delegation will include: The Rev. Margaret Marquardt, Chair, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster Eco-Justice Unit and Janette McIntosh, KAIROS BC-Yukon representative.
Included in the petition signatories are the Most Rev. Mark Macdonald, National Indigenous Archbishop, Anglican Church of Canada; the Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada; the Most Revd Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town; Archbishop Julio Murray, chair, Anglican Communion Environmental Network; Bishop Kito Pikaahu Chair of Anglican Indigenous Network, and the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury and lead Bishop for the Environment, Church of England.
Lori Ransom, Interim Executive Director of KAIROS Canada also signed the petition.
Canadian oil company ReconAfrica has bought rights to drill for oil in more than 35,000 square kilometres of the Kavango Basin in Namibia. This environmentally sensitive, protected area supplies water to the Okavango Delta, is a World Heritage and Ramsar Wetland Site, a Key Biodiversity Area and one of the seven natural wonders of Africa. The region is home to the largest remaining population of African elephants, 400 species of birds and is a sanctuary for many other animals. It is protected under the protocol of the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission.
The Bishops are protesting for the following reasons:
INDIGENOUS RIGHTS: This exploration violates San rights under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people. It affects three regional UNESCO heritage sites: The Okavango Delta, the Tsodilo Hills and the San Living Cultural Landscape. ‘Unconventional oil and gas’ exploration and extraction will bring roads, heavy trucks, ribbon development and pollution.
WATER SCARCITY: Water is a scarce and precious commodity in Namibia, the driest country south of the Sahara. Grave concerns about the potential damage that ReconAfrica’s planned ‘unconventional drilling’ will do to groundwater have been expressed by a specialist from the Geological Survey of Namibia and the public.
IMPACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE: According to the ReconAfrica website, “oil generated in the basin could be billions of barrels,” and be the “biggest oil play of the decade.” Namibia is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. With almost unrivalled solar energy potential, extracting ‘billions of barrels of oil’ makes no sense. Reducing carbon emissions is a global responsibility.
INADEQUATE PUBLIC PARTIPATION PROCESS: Indications are that the deal between ReconAfrica and the Government of the Republic of Namibia were concluded behind closed doors. Initial meetings were only held in Northern Namibia. Only under duress was a further meeting organised in Windhoek, the capital city. Concerns raised by local activists have been belittled and The Namibian, the national newspaper which broke the story, is being threatened with legal action.
INADEQUATE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT: The EIA submitted by ReconAfrica does not comply with strict Namibian Government standards.
MORAL AND SPIRITUAL CONCERNS: ReconAfrica claims that drilling the Kavango basin is “pretty much a no-brainer….” The Bishops call it a sin.
About KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives:
KAIROS is a social justice organization that includes ten Canadian churches and religious organizations. We are Indigenous, settlers and newcomers in Canada working with people of faith or conscience all over the world for ecological justice and human rights. We deliberate on issues of common concern, advocate for social change and join with people of faith and goodwill in action for social transformation. Learn more: KAIROS Canada website.
Cheryl McNamara, Media Coordinator, KAIROS Canada
416-875-0097 (mobile), firstname.lastname@example.org