Last December SOMO organised an extended expert meeting with delegates from universities, NGOs and unions from around the world. Over the course of several days they exchanged knowledge and discussed strategies for the Minerals, Energy and Finance transition process. Leonidas Ramos is a researcher at Plades, an NGO dedicated to improving labour and social standards in Peru. He talked to us about the partnership between SOMO and Plades.

Leonidas Ramos explains how Plades is studying the relationship between the construction of large dams, or mining activities, and the financial corporations that are associated to them. Several dams are currently scheduled to be built in Peru. Ramos has analysed three of these projects and analysed the role played in them by mining and financial corporations. The Peruvian government often justifies the construction of these dams as a way of provisioning distant communities with energy. However, the lion’s share of this energy in fact goes to mining projects. The impact of both the dams and the mines on surrounding communities is huge.

Ramos sees the expert meeting as an excellent opportunity to meet people who engage in similar kinds of research. At the same time, it’s a good way to identify issues within the MEF-complex that can later be used as the main focus of future studies. Here’s what he said about day one: “It was simply unbelievable how our discussions flared up, and how even within one schedule block we managed to look at issues from so many different angles.”

The partnership between SOMO and Plades is, according to Ramos, a positive and dynamic one. The fact that Plades and SOMO jointly set up research projects enhances Ramos’ ability to carry out his studies and field work. Moreover, he believes that the partnership leads to relevant research. The projects he has set up together with SOMO result in an increased awareness and sometimes even to positive change.

Ramos adds, “During the meeting, the theoretical grounds of our research within the MEF-complex were extended further. We have achieved, for instance, more robust theoretical groundwork for our research in Peru.”

Since Plades conducts its studies on site, the organisation has nurtured a huge local network. SOMO, on the other hand, adopts an in-depth conceptual focus within its research projects. SOMO’s Karlijn Kuijpers agrees: “We complement one another well. Plades’s research provides SOMO with well-grounded insights into how things work locally. In turn, SOMO helps improve research work in Peru. This exchange keeps the partnership vibrant and strong.”