As people of faith, working in the United States and abroad, we witness and support communities devastated by the irregularities of extractive ventures such as oil extraction, mining, and logging. We have seen that ill-conceived and poorly managed projects can bring conflict, damage human health, displace people from their homes and lands, pollute the environment, and feed corruption. Expanded exploration by extractive companies has weakened local economies, hindered development and curbed human rights, in the United States but even more so in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Our shared faith traditions call us to respect and defend all God’s creation and to stand in solidarity with communities and workers who face possible displacement, loss of livelihoods and threats to their safety. These faithful efforts ensure the well-being of all, but especially the protection of society’s most vulnerable.
Some extractive corporations adopt policies that promote greater consultation with communities or consider more careful practices that do the least harm. Some companies have also joined and implemented a few positive initiatives such as: The United Nations Global Compact, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. However, much more must be done.
All governments, corporations, and financial institutions must consult impacted communities, including faith and civil society leaders, to reach joint agreement among all parties. Governments, international financial institutions, and corporations must also uphold standards of transparency and public accountability and governments must have environmental, financial, and judicial mechanisms to protect communities from harmful extractive projects.
We are committed to a reduction of the exploitation of God’s creation but when these practices occur natural resource wealth should be used to improve the lives of those living in the local communities where the project takes place.
We encourage governments, international financial institutions, and corporations to stand firm in commitment with the following principles that will provide a better relationship with workers, citizens, and communities as well as ensure that the environment, human life and rights are respected.