Mining, Oil and Logging Concessions Challenge Implementation of the 2030 Agenda
Center for Development and Participation Studies (CEDEP)
Peru Solidarity and the Solidarity Economy Network (GRESP)
The 17 Goals and 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which encompass economic, social and environmental spheres, are integrated and indivisible. With reference to this Agenda, Peru shows signs of both progress and setbacks. Until the slowdown of the last few years, the country had experienced sustained economic growth, due largely to rising prices of gold, copper and other products exported by transnational companies operating in the country. Virtually the entire territory has been given in concession to mining, oil, and logging companies.
GDP growth has been achieved at a high environmental cost and with a strong social polarization between, on the one hand, the mining, fishing and logging companies and, on the other, local populations. Peru is one of the world’s top ten countries in terms of environmental conflicts.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets are integrated and indivisible and encompass economic, social and environmental spheres. With reference to this Agenda, Peru shows signs of both progress and setbacks. Until the economic slowdown of the last few years, the country had experienced sustained economic growth, registering: 3.0 percent in 2000; 0.2 percent in 2001; 5.0 percent in 2002; 4.0 percent in 2003: 5.0 percent in 2004; 6.8 percent in 2005; 7.7 percent in 2006; 8.9 percent in 2007; 9.8 percent in 2008; 1.1 percent in 2009; 8.8 percent in 2010; 6.9 percent in 2011; 6.0 percent in 2012; 5.8 percent in 2013; 2.4 percent in 2014; and 3.26 percent in 2015.1
Source: Investing Peru.pe
The steady levels of economic growth were due to rising prices of gold, copper and other products exported by transnational companies operating in the country. Virtually the entire territory is given in concession to mining and oil companies along with logging and fishing companies. The environmental consequences include increased levels of pollution of rivers and coastal waters, along with of rising levels of deforestation, desertification, and soil erosion. Thus GDP growth has been achieved at a high environmental cost and with a strong social polarization between, on the one hand, the mining, fishing and logging companies and, on the other, local populations, including indigenous peoples. Peru is on the list of the world’s top ten countries in terms of number of environmental conflicts, primarily around open pit mines as well as oil exploration in the Amazon region.2
As GDP grew, so too did inequality. The mafias that exploit drug trafficking, illegal mining and smuggling continued to concentrate wealth, which continues to leave the country through profits of foreign companies that enjoy lower taxes than do national companies. Income inequality is greater in Peru than the average of the five most unequal countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).3
In terms of progress, therefore, the record is definitely mixed. Income poverty, measured as people living on less than USD 1.25 a day has declined; total poverty was reduced from 58.7 percent in 2004 to 22.7 percent in 2014,4 but multidimensional poverty has risen to critical levels. Peru will be able to meet Target 1.1, to eradicate extreme poverty, measured as people living on less than USD 1.25, but will almost certainly fail to achieve Target 1.2, to reduce by half the proportion of people living in poverty in all its dimensions, according to national definitions.
With regard to education, enrollment in primary education exceeds 90 percent of the school-age population, but 40 percent of schools are currently uninhabitable, and completion rates vary greatly across locations. There has been significant but insufficient progress in multicultural education and feeding of children in schools and colleges through the social programme known as Qali Warma (Vigorous child).
In terms of gender equality and women’s empowerment, women have slowly entered the political system, both as elected members of Parliament and as political party members, although they remain a minority. However, but gender discrimination in legal, political and economic life continues, particularly with regard to indigenous women, Afro-descendant women and poor women. There is a sustained campaign by Catholic and Evangelical religious organizations against making the morning-after pill available and making an exception to the anti-abortion legislation in cases of rape. Currently women who consent to abortion can be sentenced to up to two years in prison.
In addition, thousands of girls are prostituted in the so-called "informal mining" camps, thousands of women work without any form of labour rights in the agricultural industry and the clothing industry, thousands of domestic workers are semi-slaves in urban households.
The persistence of gender discrimination also impact the health figures. Thus maternal mortality in Peru is 93 per hundred thousand live births, a figure close to the 66 per hundred thousand targeted by the Millennium Development Goals.5 Rates of infant mortality and chronic malnutrition among children under five have decreased, but the levels of anemia of women and children, unwanted and premature adolescent pregnancies and deaths from abortion and postpartum hemorrhage have persisted.
So too has domestic and sexual violence against women, included under SDG5. In 2013, the Peruvian Institute for Statistics and Information (INEI) reported that femicide had more than doubled since 2012, and by July 2014, 56 femicides had been reported. As a result, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations adopted a plan to give women at risk 24-hour protection, and the Judiciary approved this measure as part of the Protocol of Attention to women at risk of femicide. A woman is considered at risk if her partner uses weapons, consumes alcohol or drugs, is excessively jealous, and isolates the woman or presents serious threats.6
The following statistics indicate the challenges:
- One child commits suicide per day.
- Every year 371,000 clandestine abortions are practiced in the worst conditions of hygiene, primarily on poor adolescents.7
- Between 300,000 and 400,000 kilos of pure cocaine are exported per year.
- There are 1,300 points of sale that offer drugs in Lima, mainly aimed at teenagers.8
- Some 6,000 cell phones are stolen every day and sold in places that offer stolen goods that are plentiful in the centre and the districts of Lima.9 Thousands of people have no qualms about buying these goods although they know they are stolen. Criminals, generally young people, have been known to shoot to death other young people for a cell phone. The illegal use of firearms has expanded.
- Peru ranked last in all categories among the 64 countries that participated in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which covers the areas of math, science and reading comprehension in 2012.10
- There are 1,200,000 (11%) young people who neither study nor work (ninis), known in English as neet (not in employment, education or job training ). However, because this is such a widespread problem in Latin America, this is one of the lowest rates in the region.11
Between January and September 2014, gunmen killed 288 people in the country, one death per day. Mostly, gunmen are young people between 14 and 25 years-old and kill for an average payment of 300 soles (about USD 100).12
Progress has been made in circulation of money and electronic and telephone connectivity. However, there has been a decline in quality of life and public safety, as increased levels of crime is taking over streets and cities and corruption resulting from the influence of corporate power reaches every part of the government. Earlier this year, for example Brazil announced an investigation of former President Ollanta Humala for allegedly taking bribes worth USD 3 million from the Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht.13
The challenges to civil society are enormous, for while citizen organizations have multiplied, they face diverse forms of discrimination and repression, making it difficult to monitor corruption by either politicians or powerful multinationals. The road to achieving the 2030 goals is hazy and full of obstacles.
1 Figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI).
2 Global Atlas of Environmental Justice, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona: http://www.20minutos.es/minuteca/universitat-autonoma-de-barcelona-uab/ May 26, 2016. There are conflicts motivated by the presence of open pit mines in Conga (Cajamarca), Espinar, Antamina (Áncash), Morococha, Chumbivilcas, Tia María and Cerro Verde (Arequipa), conflicts between oil companies and Amazonian communities, and many others.
3 Together in it. Why less inequality benefits everyone. OECD Report, 29 May 2016.
4 Official gazette El Peruano, 29 May 2016.
5 Figures from the Department of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health.
10 PISA Programa para la evaluación internacional de alumnos 2012. Perú, Ministerio de Educación. http://umc.minedu.gob.pe/se-publican-resultados-pisa-2012/ consulta 1 julio 2016.
11 Data from the School to Work Transition Survey (SWTS, 2012). Cf. http://gestion.pe/economia/ni-estudian-ni-trabajan-porcentaje-ninis-peru...
12 El Comercio, 28 September 2014.
13 See http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/18165/impunity-allows-cor... According to Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, 80 percent of respondents in Peru believed that the political parties, the parliament, the police and the judiciary were corrupt or very corrupt, and 50 percent said that business practices were dishonest.