18. NGO’s and citizens fighting side by side
The civil society in Nicaragua celebrated when Centro Humboldt and a number of other organizations won a struggle against a Canadian gold mining company in October 2015. After years of campaigning by the organizations, the Nicaraguan government cancelled the mining permit granted to the company. Local residents felt that a foreign mining company would collect the profits while the environmental damage, health impacts and social problems would remain the responsibility of the local community.
The freedom of association and expression of citizens and non-governmental organizations were restricted in 109 countries in 2015. Kepa, the umbrella organization of Finnish development cooperation, and other Finnish organizations support non-governmental organizations in developing countries so that local organizations can have a say in the development of their countries. For example, in Nicaragua non-governmental organizations cannot operate freely as there are severe restrictions on their activities. Supported by Kepa, local organizations have been able to take part in international climate negotiations, receive training and promote the sustainable use of their country’s natural resources. At the same time, the Finnish Foundation for Media and Development (Vikes) has supported local environmental journalists so that they can report to citizens on environmental damage.
Photo: Kimmo Lehtonen/Vikes, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta