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Supporting Movements: Yes to Life, No to Mining

Hitting extractives companies where it hurts – their bottom-lines – and holding governments accountable, courageous communities standing up in defence of life are confronting the nexus of power that is enabling the plunder Mother Earth. In fact, grassroots resistance processes led by frontline communities are one of the most effective ways to stop destructive projects.

Research shows that better-networked grassroots-led resistance processes are more likely it is to succeed. As communities connect with other allies at local, regional and international levels, they also exchange knowledge and help new approaches to tackling the root causes of extractivism to emerge and gain prominence.

Network-building efforts are therefore a crucial strategy for supporting communities opposing extractive projects.

The Yes to Life, No to Mining (YLNM) global solidarity network aims to play this connecting role, supporting communities and organisations rejecting extractive projects to unite, support one another in solidarity and explore regenerative alternatives to extractivism at multiple scales.

The idea for YLNM was conceived in 2012 by a group of individuals, organisations and networks from Africa, Europe, North and South America, in recognition that those communities saying ‘No’ to extractivism require specific and urgent support and solidarity.

Communities in Colombia armed with the facts about mining’s impact on food and farming

The network is founded upon a fundamental recognition that extractivism reproduces social injustice and environmental destruction on a vast scale; a scale that Earth cannot sustain, and that frontline communities should not have to endure. In this scenario, saying ‘No’ to mining is not a negative, ‘anti-development’ response. ‘No’ to mining, as a localised practice and a global phenomenon, means saying ‘Yes’ to life; to healthier ecosystems; to existing, truly sustainable livelihoods; to emerging alternatives to extractivism and the planet-wrecking growth economy that it feeds.

As part of the founding group, Gaia has played a role in nurturing the network so far, helping build at web platform, launched in 2014, offering small grants to cover start-up costs and supporting the network’s coordination.

Since that founding meeting, and with Gaia’s support, YLNM has grown organically to become a network of over 60 community-based organisations, NGOs and networks, with representation from every inhabited continent. A steering group of nine regional coordinators now guides the network’s day-to-day work.

Yes to Life, No to Mining’s work to date has focused on:

  • Connecting communities: reaching out to communities resisting mining, connecting them with others through YLNM’s online platforms, and creating a dedicated space for those rejecting extractivism to rally, share their struggles, discuss strategies and seek solidarity. See the groups YLNM has helped to connect so far.
  • Offering solidarity support: with YLNM network members and coordinators as ‘first responders’, offering critical reactive solidarity support to frontline communities and Earth Defenders under threat. See the case of leading Mongolian Earth Defender Beejin Khastumur.
  • Sharing successes and the tools to achieve it: providing a hub for stories of resistance and victory, as well as a large collection of practical tool kits, making information that can sustain the hope, energy and practical action available to network members and others. Find stories and toolkits here.
  • Exploring Post-Extractivism: bringing together truly global grassroots experiences of resisting mining, YLNM aspires to help lead discussions within the wider anti-mining movement on how we can challenge extractivism itself. The network’s first contribution in the direction has been to bring together a library of post-extractive thought and writing.

In future YLNM’s hope is to coordinate more collective, horizontally organised work between network members, as well as continuing to offer vital reactive solidarity support and information.

Find out more – visit the Yes to Life, No to Mining web platform and sign the pledge to stay up to date with news from the network. 

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We live in a time of multiple, complex crises. There are no easy answers. Working to uphold the health and diversity of our living planet is always rewarding, but we think you’ll agree it can sometimes feel like swimming against the stream. And yet like salmon we leap, and more often than you might expect, we make it. We invite you to make the next leap with us by making a donation of any size. Thank you for your solidarity.