CITIES ACROSS THE WORLD, including Windhoek, Berlin, London, Pretoria, Vancouver and Washington, have been participating in a global push to raise awareness about Canadian company ReconAfrica seeking to exploit oil and gas in Namibia’s Kavango Basin.
The location is upstream from a famed natural site of environmental interest, the Okavango Delta. It is a case that has become emblematic for current struggles over sustainability and respect for local communities and the natural world.
“What happens in Kavango won’t stay in Kavango, and the poison threatening my people will fill the atmosphere and threaten you someday very soon,” says Khoisan youth activist and environmental scientist, Sharri Cannell. “We all need to come together and seek solutions to problems created by a few, in the name of, and at the cost of, so many.”
An initial week of action began on Wednesday 2 June with the delivery of a petition to Gunter Nooke, Angela Merkel’s personal delegate for Africa, at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. It was delivered by Saving Okavango’s Unique Life (SOUL) and Deutsche Umwelthilfe on behalf of Friday’s for Future Windhoek.
Coordinated actions also took place on 4 June, the eve of Environment Day, in Namibia, South Africa, Canada, Germany, the UK and the United States.
Up to a dozen other countries, including Sudan, Sierra Leone and Zambia, will participate in solidarity actions linked to the G7 Summit, scheduled for 11–13 June 2021. This takes place in the UK, which currently holds the G7 presidency.
Namibia and Botswana are home to the Kavango Region, one of Africa’s last pristine oases. Recently, ReconAfrica, a Canadian headquartered junior oil and gas company, begun exploratory drilling in the Kavango Basin, having completed the first of three initial exploratory wells.
This development goes against the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, of which Namibia, Botswana, and Canada are all signatories.
The oil and gas drilling operations will ruin roads, damage indigenous livelihoods, deplete water resources and have a negative impact on fragile biodiversity within the precious region. The exploration license also extends across the home territory of the San people, the First Nations of Namibia and Botswana. Furthermore, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process for gaining this license was non-inclusive of the local people.
ReConOut is a network of activistsm mainly based in the Global North and acting in solidarity and in direct contact with activists in Namibia, Botswana and the region.
The Friday’s for the Future climate strike movement began in August 2018, when climate activist Greta Thunberg, then15 years of age, began to skip class on Fridays and sat outside the Swedish parliament to demand her government took the climate situation seriously.
* Sources: ReConOut, plus Save Okavango’s Unique Life (SOUL), Fridays for the Future, Extinction Rebellion Africa.