Although we all miss in-person events, virtual conferences offer a valid (and sustainable) alternative to connect researchers. The Amsterdam Sustainability Institute at the Vrije Universiteit hosted the recent XVII International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic & Social Sustainability, with the Special Focus “Accelerating the Transition to Sustainability: Policy Solutions for the Climate Emergency.”
The Gold Matters project joined forces with the Institute for Societal Resilience of the Vrije Universiteit to co-convene the panel: Sustainable Small-Scale Gold Mining? A Theoretical and Empirical Vista into the Transformative Practices of an Environment-Destroying Economy.
The panel was chaired by Marjo de Theije and saw contributions from Eleanor Fisher, Sara Geenen, Jesse Jonkman, and Luciana Massaro. It explored whether and how transformative alternatives in the sector can emerge by addressing critical questions, such as how do miners reinforce, reconstruct, and reject national governments’ environmental guidelines? What is the role of materiality in shaping cleaner practices? Can we even invoke the notion of sustainability in regard to gold mining? From Colombia to Uganda, from Brazil to the Democratic Republic of Congo, each researcher showed miners’ agency in performing sustainable practices, their precarious relationship with “the State,” and what futures they envision for this sector.