In October, the International Association of Impact Assessment (IAIA) held a special symposium on Resettlement and Livelihoods at Skukuza in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Delegates from 41 countries travelled to South Africa to discuss how to improve the global practice of resettlement and livelihood.
Kruger National park was an inspired setting, not just because it reminded delegates of the stunning biodiversity that has been preserved through effective collaboration between industry, government and communities, but also because people indigenous to Kruger national park were themselves involuntarily resettled in the early stages of last century and are currently in various stages of negotiation with the government about restitution and livelihood restoration. IM4DC was the gold sponsor of the event and underwrote the costs for 30 African delegates to attend the conference.
These delegates were competitively selected from government departments and civil society organisations from across the African continent. Their participation in the conference and the post-conference resettlement training provoked interesting discussions between the international consultants, industry practitioners and the African delegates about the realities of the impacts of extractive industries on indigenous communities. From many reports the depth of local context knowledge brought to the conference by the IM4DC sponsored participants provided a unique forum where practical solutions to the complex and politically sensitive task of resettlement and livelihood restoration could be honestly discussed.
Having the global sustainability leaders from major oil and mining companies discussing the intricacies of cassava planting cycles with representatives from West African ministries is a rare and inspiring sight. IM4DC will stay connected with the sponsored group and will be publishing a booklet on their experiences to be published on our website early next year.