Bishop Luke Pato, the Bishop of Namibia alerted the Anglican Church that exploratory drilling for oil and gas has commenced in the Kavango Basin, Namibia, by Canadian Company ReConAfrica In response the Synod of Bishops has drawn up a petition calling for the immediate halt to the drilling.
“The process has not been an open one, with Namibians waking up to a mining venture that has already been signed and settled. There are many questions to be answered. “ Bishop of Namibia, Rt Rev Luke Pato
Thirty-four bishops and three Archbishops from around the world have signed a petition calling for the immediate halt to the drilling. These include the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba; Archbishop Julio Murray, chair, Anglican Communion Environmental Network; the Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada; Archbishop Mark Macdonald, National Indigenous Archbishop, Anglican Church of Canada; and Bishop Kito Pikaahu Chair of Anglican Indigenous Network, and the Bishop of Salisbury ,the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, lead Bishop for the Environment, Church of England.
Since the oil company is based in Canada, the petition was also signed by Lori Ransom, Interim Executive Director: Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
The petition is being over today to the Government of Namibia, the Namibian Consulate in Cape Town, and the Headquarters of ReconAfrica in Vancouver and the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise.”
Canadian oil company ReconAfrica has bought rights to drill for oil in more than 35 000 square kilometres of the Kavango Basin in Namibia. This environmentally sensitive, protected area supplies water to the Okavango Delta, 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. It is protected under the protocol of the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission.
The Bishops are protesting for the following reasons:
- INDIGENOUS RIGHTS
This exploration violates San rights under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people. It affects three regional UNESCO heritage sites: The Okavango Delta, the Tsodilo Hills and the San Living Cultural Landscape. ‘Unconventional oil and gas’ exploration and extraction will bring roads, heavy trucks, ribbon development and pollution.
- WATER SCARCITY
Water is a scarce and precious commodity in Namibia, the driest country south of the Sahara. Grave concerns about the potential damage that ReconAfrica’s planned ‘unconventional drilling’ will do to groundwater have been expressed by a specialist from the Geological Survey of Namibia and the general public.
- IMPACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
According to the ReconAfrica website, “oil generated in the basin could be billions of barrels” i, and be the “biggest oil play of the decade.” ii Namibia is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. With almost unrivalled solar energy potential, extracting ‘billions of barrels of oil,’ makes no sense. Reducing carbon emissions is a global responsibility.
- INADEQUATE PUBLIC PARTIPACTION PROCESS
Indications are that the deal between ReconAfrica and the Government of the Republic of Namibia were concluded behind closed doors. Initial meetings were only held in Northern Namibia. Only under duress was a further meeting organised in Windhoek, the capital city. Concerns raised by local activists have been belittled and The Namibian, the national newspaper which broke the story, is being threatened with legal action. iii iv
- INADEQUATE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
The EIA submitted by ReconAfrica does not comply with strict Namibian Government standards.v
- MORAL AND SPIRITUAL CONCERNS
ReconAfrica claims that drilling the Kavango basin is “pretty much a no-brainer…”vi The Bishops call it a sin.
Drilling in the Kavango Basin will fracture its geological structure and destroy the water system that supports this unique ecosystem and wildlife sanctuary. In so doing, it will also disrupt to the livelihoods of the indigenous people.
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.
Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba
Archbishop Julio Murray, chair, Anglican Communion Environmental Network
The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls
Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
Archbishop Mark Macdonald, National Indigenous Archbishop, Anglican Church of Canada
Lori Ransom, Interim Executive Director: Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
The Dean of the Province of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa; The Bishop of Matlosane, the Rt Revd Stephen Molopi Diseko
The Bishop of Namibia, the Rt Revd Luke Lungile Pato
The Bishop of Angola, the Rt Revd André Soares
The Bishop of California, Rt Revd Marc Andrus,
The Bishop of Te Tai Tokerau (Northland-Auckland), Kito Pikaahu Chair of Anglican Indigenous Network.
The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, lead Bishop for the Environment, Church of England.
The Bishop of Saldanha Bay, the Rt Revd Raphael Bernard Viburt Hess
The Bishop of Mpumalanga, the Rt Revd Daniel Malesela Kgomosotho
The Bishop of George, the Rt Revd Brian Melvin Marajh
The Bishop of False Bay, the Rt Revd Margaret Vertue
The Bishop of Free State, the Rt Revd Dintoe Stephen Letloenyane
The Bishop of Johannesburg, the Rt Revd Dr Stephen Mosemanegape Moreo
The Bishop of Lebombo, the Rt Revd Carlos Simao Matsinhe
The Bishop of Highveld, the Rt Revd Mthetheleli Charles May
The Bishop of Pretoria, the Rt Revd Allan Kannemeyer
The Bishop of Christ the King, the Rt Revd William Joseph Mostert
The Bishop of Niassa, the Rt Revd Vicente Msosa
The Bishop of Mthatha, the Rt Revd Dr. Hummingfield Charles Nkosinathi Ndwandwe
The Bishop of Khahlamba, the Rt Revd Moses Madywabe
The Bishop of St Helena, the Rt Revd Dale Bowers
The Bishop of Port Elizabeth, the Rt Revd Dr. Edward Ronald Daniels
The Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist, the Rt Revd Luke Abe Pretorius
The Bishop of Mzimvubu, the Rt Revd Tsietsi Edward Seleoane
The Missionary Bishop of Nampula, the Rt Revd Manuel Ernesto
The Bishop of Table Bay, the Rt Revd Joshua Louw
Founder and patron of SAFCEI, The Rt Revd Geoffrey Davies
Honorary Assistant Bishop Diocese of York. Church of England Rt. Revd. Graham Cray
Retired regional bishop of Cape Town, Rt. Revd Geoff Quinlan
Retired regional bishop of Cape Town, Rt. Revd Christopher Gregorowski,
The Vicar General of Kimberley & Kuruman, the Revd Carol Starkey
The Vicar General of Lesotho, the Very Revd Tanki Mofana
The Vicar General of Natal, the Very Revd Ndabenzinhle Sibisi
The Vicar General of Zululand, the Rt Revd Funginkosi Mbhele
The Vicar General of Mbhashe, Ven Bonga Horace Mkabile
The Vicar General of eSwatini, the Very Revd Advent Dlamini