United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Sisters of Mercy and the Mining Working Group

Statement of the Sisters of Mercy and the Mining Working Group at the UN to the 5th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals Energy, November 27, 2013, United Nations
The Problem: Unsustainable Natural-resource Extraction Our members and partners working in affected communities are reporting grave human-rights and ecological abuses from unsustainable energy solutions. Coal mining, biofuels, hydroelectric power, and now fracking for shale or coal-seam gas are especially disastrous and risky for people and ecosystems near the source. The resounding experience of our members is that promoting these energy options favors short-sighted economic and profit motives ␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣
Transformational Development Agenda: Ensure a Rights-based Assessment of Energy Production We propose three key steps so that the sustainable development goals will transform the current systems and policies that are behind the unsustainable natural-resources extraction:
(1) Agree to a rights-based definition of Sustainable Energy for All
␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣must not go against international human-rights obligations. An energy goal and targets ␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣the conditions necessary for all persons to enjoy the full exercise of their rights. A definition of Sustainable Energy for All that is informed by human-rights principles and obligations calls for focused attention on the negative or positive impact on the rights of disadvantaged and marginalized groups, especially women and children, the protection of vital ecosystems, as well as on the rights of future generations.
(2) Incorporate a human-rights litmus test ␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣energy policy determinations
Establish targets and indicators that encourage energy policy choices to be submitted to a practical human-rights litmus test:
-­‐ Does the energy option cause, contribute to, or depend on the violation of human rights? (respect and protect)
-­‐ Would it damage vital ecosystems or threaten the ␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣ makes these rights vulnerable? (respect and protect)
-­‐ Does the strategy contribute to a disadvantaged or marginalized group being able to enjoy a more full exercise of their rights? (poverty eradication, equity)
-­‐ Can affected communities safely and effectively participate in answering these questions? (right to participation, collective rights)
-­‐ What is the answer to these questions when applied to future generations? (rights of present and future generations)
(3) ␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣ health, water, and food central to design of the Sustainable Energy agenda
-­‐ Establish independent reviews mechanisms to assess and inform on the impact of technologies or methods, such as fracking, on human and ecological health.
-­‐ Include watershed protection as an indicator to measure sustainable energy, and to ensure evaluation of water scarcity and contamination related to extractive activities.
-­‐ Connect indicators related to the right to food and food sovereignty to targets on energy renewal in order to acknowledge systematic abuses connected to mega biofuel expansions.
-­‐ Guarantee that indicators require data collection on the cumulative impact of energy-generation projects
on these rights.
- MWG Contact E-mail: mworkinggroup@gmail.com
The
 Mining
 Working
 Group
 (MWG)
 at
 the
 UN
 is
 a
 coalition
 of
 NGOs
 with
 constituencies
 in
 a
 total
 of
 27
 mining
 countries
 that,
 in
  partnership
 with
 our
 members
 and
 affected
 local
 communities,
 advocates
 at
 and
 through
 the
 United
 Nations
 for
 human
 and
  environmental
 rights
 related
 to
 extractive
 industries.
 The
 MWG
 addresses
 unjust
 and
 unsustainable
 extractive
 practices
 and
 po licies
  through
 the
 lens
 of
 the
 rights
 of
 local
 communities
 and
 indi␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣