In 2012, a group of African communities and allied civil society groups met in Kenya to discuss how to respond to the rapid expansion of mining extractivism across Africa. Delegates from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and beyond agreed on the need for a stronger stance against extractivism and the mainstream vision of mining ‘development’ displacing communities and toxifying ecosystems across the continent. African poet and civil society leader Nnimmo Bassey summed up the group’s feeling in a phrase- Yes to Life, No to Mining.
After a period of global consultation with established anti-mining movements and organisations, the Yes to Life, No to Mining Network was officially launched in November 2014. In its first years the network focused on gathering and connecting allies aligned with YLNM’s stance on mining, building an online web-space and toolkit, and establishing a working structure. As of 2020, YLNM has over 70 member communities, organisations and networks and 9 volunteer regional coordinators drawn from the network.
Throughout the life of the network, YLNM has focused on facilitating reactive solidarity initiatives between members in times of need. For example, in 2015 YLNM members coordinated a global solidarity campaign to successfully secure the release of human rights defender Beejin Khastumur, of YLNM member group DMNN, who was imprisoned for opposing illegal mining.
Since 2016, YLNM’s global team of regional coordinators have advanced an active programme of work to support and strengthen national and regional anti-mining movements through small grants, community exchanges, popular informational materials and toolkits, research, media amplification and webinars. In particular we have focused on supporting 5 ‘emblematic’ communities in Colombia, Finland, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Galicia to share their stories and experience of both resisting mining and protecting/building alternatives to extractivism with others.
Bringing frontline voices to global prominence, since 2017, YLNM has collaborated on a number of different research efforts highlighting the critical need for post-extractive solutions to the climate and ecological crises. These include:
A Justice Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition (2019)