Tricky business: space for civil society in natural resource struggles

Governments and national as well as corporations are driving the demand for water, land, fossil fuels, raw materials, and organic resources of all kinds, as never before. Previously intact ecosystems are being sacrificed to satisfy this hunger for resources. Thousands of people are losing their livelihoods as a consequence. But citizens, organized civil society, and affected communities worldwide are pushing back against these developments. They are fighting for their rights and working to preserve their livelihoods. However, their protests are increasingly being met with repression, harassment, and defamation. The fact that the rights of civil society are being curtailed worldwide is, unfortunately, not a new finding, but the current scale and scope are new and dramatic. Therefore in this study the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights want to show how the mechanisms of expropriation and the undermining of human rights work. For that the authors Carolijn Terwindt and Christian Schliemann traveled to India, South Africa, Mexico, and the Philippines to study projects and talk to civil society activists and organizations on the ground. The resulting analysis provides us with insights on how can better address and monitor resource and environmental policy projects.