Today, natural resource campaigners are facing increasing pushback from political leaders and powerful corporations intent on defending vested interests. The new report Against all odds: the perils of fighting for natural resources, from CIVICUS and Publish What You Pay shows that in most – if not all – resource-rich countries, civic space is shrinking fast.
In recent months the world’s attention has been on the Native American communities in the US opposing the North Dakota Access Pipeline. While the struggle of indigenous communities to protect their land is hundreds of years old, in many ways, the struggle of recent years is unprecedented.
Demonstrators face riot police during the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) at Rio Centro, in Jacarepagua, western Rio de Janeiro. Photo credit: Marcos De Paula, Estado/ZUMA Press.
The spread of market fundamentalism and the tight overlap between political and economic elites mean that the interests of natural resource companies and ruling politicians are often closely entwined, driving inequality and shrinking space for activists to expose corruption. This has put natural resource activists on the frontline of rising attacks against civil society globally.