On 4 to 7 June 2023, small-scale fishers, civil society organisations and activists came together for the National Oil and Gas conference. The conference was organised by The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), KZN Subsistence Fisherfolk, One Ocean Hub and the Urban Futures Centre in Durban.
The conference is part of a series of national oil and gas workshops that began last year and are organised by environmental organisations. The workshops aim to bring together NGOs, communities, small-scale fishers, activists and civil society in order to develop advocacy strategies and ways to mobilize and organize to create solidarity and strengthen the fight against oil and gas development in South Africa.
At the conference, communities who are impacted by oil and gas development, both on land and at sea, were given the opportunity to share their experiences. Participants who experienced these impacts on land, shared of being evicted from their homes and suffering from health consequences as a result of the developments. Furthermore, the influx of mining applications on the coast, particularly on the West Coast, is a serious concern for coastal communities who depend on the sea not only for food and income, but for their cultural practices as well.
“The conference highlighted the fact that oil and gas companies are studying and learning our resistance strategies. The oceans and environment are at risk from oil and gas projects, which is why our communities and organizations must develop new strategies of resistance and organise and mobilize to protect them.” said Jordan Volmink from Masifundise.
On the last day of the conference, hundreds gathered on the Durban beach front promenade for a peaceful march against oil and gas projects on land sea. The joint statement that was drafted from inputs made by the participants conveyed a message to national government expressing the concern about the continued extraction and use of fossil fuels, particularly oil and gas in the country.
“We are calling on National Government to place a mortarium on all new Oil and Gas developments. We can no longer accept Profit over People. We are standing together now to ensure that we find solutions to our economic, Climate and energy crisis in ways that commit to a dignified and just transition away from burning fossil fuels, and towards participatory energy planning for sustainable futures. Engage us, empower us, and respect our livelihoods.”
Read the full joint statement here