Thessaloniki, Greece. 23rd November 2014 -- Residents of Chalkidiki villages march towards the gold mines area and gold mining facilities belonging to the Greek company Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of the Canadian company, Eldorado. -- Residents of Chalkidiki villages peninsula, clashed with police during a demonstration against the operation of gold mines in the nearby area of Skouries. Residents reacted against a possible environmental disaster caused by the gold mining project.

Extractive industries earn massive amounts of money, but rarely do local communities affected by their operations share in the profits. To the contrary, mines and other extractive operations often have disastrous impacts on communities and the environment.

Among other things, extractives are frequently linked to armed conflict, corruption, forced displacement, destruction of ecosystems, and depletion or poisoning of water supplies.

SOMO researches the extractives and mining sector, analysing corporate activities and impacts in the context of global supply chains, including links to the electronics and energy sectors. We also support organisations that promote sustainable development, labour rights and the interests of local communities.

We press extractive industries to abide by international standards of human, labour and community rights, and to conduct their operations in a conflict-sensitive way. This includes ensuring the right of communities to participate in decision-making processes about land and natural resource use.

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the bigger picture

Natural Resources

Many of the world’s poorest countries are rich in natural resources. In the absence of democratic control, these resources are being recklessly exploited, destroying local communities and ecosystems, threatening the health of the planet and contributing to the widening gap between rich and poor.

Research and awareness-raising

SOMO investigates companies and their investors in the agribusiness, energy and extractives sectors with a close eye on the complex web that link these sectors to each other and to numerous social and environmental problems, including human rights violations and armed conflict.

In collaboration with partners, we investigate the activities and policies of corporations and financiers involved in large-scale land grabs and destructive agribusiness, extractives, energy and infrastructure projects. We pay particular attention to the conduct of multinational corporations in conflict-affected areas, raising awareness on their role and responsibilities and pushing them to act responsibly and in a conflict-sensitive way.

Democratic control over natural resources

SOMO advocates transparent and democratic control over natural resources which contributes to more sustainable and people-centred resource use. SOMO supports local communities in claiming and defending human rights, including the right to make decisions about projects affecting their land, known as Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
Our research builds the case for a transition towards more democratic systems of energy provision based on sustainable use of natural resources.

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