Who breaks the promises of sustainable development in the Great Lakes region ?

Development. Geneva, 3 December 2013. Is it too late, or too early to assess the political will for sustainable development ? In the wake of the Forum on Business and Human Rights (held by the United Nations for the second time), some of the key advocates and witnesses of « sustainable development » spoke to the media at a side-event. They gave a grim account of the current state of affairs in Brazil, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter situation is particularly saddening, as new plunderers take over from the old ones, sometimes under popular pretenses. The President of the Episcopal Commission on Natural Resources of the Bishops’ Conference – Fridolin Ambongo Besungu – is due to submit a report to the Kinshasa government. Here are some of the findings heard at the meeting ; the whole event held on December 5th can be viewed on the Press Club’s website.

War has not stopped mining in Kivu, but has changed the players: over the past five years, 22 000 tons of cassiterite ore alone has been extracted from Masisi (a region of Kivu large as half of Switzerland), worth 77 millions dollars, as casserite contains tin for the telecom industry. An agreement with local authorities was supposed to give the Province five millions in taxes, but was never applied. Warlords – foremost the Mai Mai working hand in hand with the M23 militia – just seize the ore and export it to Gysenyi in Rwanda, by plane, for processing (they often fly by tiny planes landing on roads). One thing is certains: the local population ist the big loser, and even the so-called « independent miners » are indeed just cover-up for these plunderers.

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