Anglican bishops and archbishop from around the world have called for a Canadian company to cease oil drilling in Namibia’s Kavango Basin. The Bishop of Namibia, Luke Pato, called for a petition to halt the drilling by Reconnaissance Energy Africa, more commonly known as ReconAfrica. So far, he has the support of around 30 bishops and four archbishops.
The process the led to the drilling had not been open, Bishop Luke said. Namibians were “waking up to a mining venture that has already been signed and settled, he said, adding that there were “many questions to be answered.”
Signatories to the petition include Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; Archbishop Julio Murray, Bishop of Panama, Primate of the Anglican Church in Central America, and Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network; Archbishop Mark Macdonald, the National Indigenous Archbishop of Canadal; and Bishop Kito Pikaahu of Te Pihopatanga o Tai Tokerau in the Anglican Church of New Zealand, Aotearoa and New Zealand, Chair of the Anglican Indigenous Network.
The petition was delivered to the Namibian Government, the Namibian Consulate in Cape Town, and the headquarters of ReconAfrica in Vancouver, Canada. The company has the rights to drill for oil in more than 35,000 square kilometres of the Kavango Basin, an environmentally sensitive, protected area that supplies water to the Okavango Delta.
The Basin is a World Heritage and Ramsar Wetland Site, a key biodiversity area and one of the seven natural wonders of Africa. The region is home to the largest remaining population of African elephants, 400 species of birds and is a sanctuary for many other animals.
The petition says that the oil exploration violates the rights of the San people under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people; and that there has not been an adequate environmental impact assessment.
It says: “Water is a scarce and precious commodity in Namibia, the driest country south of the Sahara. . . Concerns raised by local activists have been belittled and The Namibian, the national newspaper which broke the story, is being threatened with legal action.”
The petition calls on the international community for support. “Based on the principle of restorative social and environmental justice, the Bishops call upon the international community to support Namibia and Botswana to develop renewable energy systems and help safeguard the precious Kavango ecosystem.”