July 16, 2013

MIA at the UN Collaborates in Two Submissions under the Topics of Jobs and Health (MIA)

Mercy International Association at the United Nations, member of the Mining Working Group, Intervenes on Health, Jobs, and Mining at the Fourth Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals

Mercy International Association at the UN, member of the Mining Working Group at the United Nations, joined with other Non- Governmental Groups (NGOs), networks, and coalitions at the Fourth Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals at the UN to make two submissions under the topics of Jobs and Health. The Mining Working Group at the UN (a coalition of NGOs) collaborated with Franciscan Action Network (FAN)[ Link https://franciscanaction.org] and the National Partnership for Climate Change [Link http://www.natpcs.org/home],to make a submission on the topic of Jobs. The group challenged the Member States and UN leaders to reject the myth of job creation as a justification for supporting devastating extractives projects or for delaying action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking on behalf of the group at the Fourth Session of the Open Working Group, Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of FAN, quoted the Jobs vs. Jobs report, published by the National Partnership for Climate Solutions. He said that “the failure to cut emissions is destroying more jobs right now in many sectors of the economy and, more importantly, sacrificing the growth of millions of future jobs that our children and grandchildren will depend on.”

Mr. Carolan stated that the group would support a stand–alone goal on decent work but that “any such goal must be explicitly linked to the creation of environmentally sound jobs and the just transition of workers into new, sustainable sectors.” See:Jobs Statement and  Jobs Vs Jobs Report

On the topic of Health, Sally Dunne from the Loretto Community spoke on behalf of the Mining Working Group at the UN. She quoted from the Women & Climate Justice Tribunal, held in Central Appalachia, which reported on the devastating coal-mining practice called Mountaintop Removal (MTR) where mountaintops are blasted away using explosive power equal to many Hiroshima bombs.

Members of the Open Working Group were reminded that in the Central Appalachian state of Virginia, coal-mining counties have the highest rates of asthma, 25% higher mortality rates, 26% higher rates of cancer and 26% higher rates of birth defects.

In their statement, the Mining Working Group called for a mandate to be given to UN agencies (e.g., WHO, UNDP, UNEP, etc.) to study and monitor the health impacts of the extractives development model and that health targets should call for an end to preventable illnesses and deaths caused by harmful extractive practices.

About Sustainable Development Goals

One of the main outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, was the agreement by Member States to launch a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Rio+20 did not elaborate specific goals but stated that the SDGs should be limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate. The goals should address in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and be coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015. A 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly is tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs.

To learn more about the United Nations sustainable development agenda, especially the work of the Open Working Group, go to: UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

About the Mining Working Group (MWG) at the UN

The MWG at the UN is a coalition of NGOs, of which Mercy International Association at the UN is an active member. In partnership with members and affected local communities the MWG advocates at and through the UN for human and environmental rights as related to extractive industries. The MWG works for improvements in national and international law, policy and practice to ensure that extractive activity meets and upholds the highest human rights standards; cedes to ecological limits and planetary boundaries; and, contributes to just and responsible economic, social, and sustainable development for the host country, with a priority for the local communities most directly affected.

At two earlier OWG sessions this year, the MWG made two other interventions on the extractive model of development. The first was on Poverty and Mining  The second was on Water and Mining.

Messages to: Áine O’Connor rsm - MIA Global Action representative at the UN

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