The Nordic Africa Institute


Gold Matters – Sustainability Transformations in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining

Started • 01 October 2018

Professor Fisher is Project lead for a 3 year collaborative transdisciplinary research project funded by Horizon 2020/NORFACE the Belmont Forum. Dr. Cristiano Lanzano participates to the project as Principal Investigator for the Swedish component, based at NAI and funded through VR.

The project explores whether a transformative approach towards sustainability can arise in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM). An estimated 16 million people in low and lower-middle income countries are dependent on ASGM as a livelihood. Despite its economic significance, however, ASGM is associated with negative environmental, social, labor and health impacts. These problems generate critical barriers to sustainability. To address sustainability-linked transformation, there is an urgent need for evidence regarding how gold mining actors engage with, understand, and transform their relationships to the natural, social, political, and economic worlds.

The research consider whether and how societal transformations towards sustainable mining futures are possible in ASGM, critically reflecting on the character of sustainability, including for whom, where, how, and why. The concept of gold lifeways focuses attention on the precarity of mining livelihoods in ways that bring to the fore sociality, materiality, and technological formations. A multi-actor and trans-regional approach is deployed, with comparative analysis across sites in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Impact is through: generation of social scientific evidence on sustainability, policy influence, and public debate. Public communication, referred to under the rubric of Sustainability Conversations, involves co-laboring of knowledge with mining actors, incorporating voices all-too-often excluded from debates on ASGM.

The project brings together researchers from the Nordic Africa Institute (Sweden), the University of Reading (United Kingdom), Leiden University (The Netherlands), Vrie Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands), the University of Hamburg (Germany), the University of Campinas (Brazil), NAP-Mineração at University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), Mbarara University of Science and Technology (Uganda), the Institute for Social Research in Africa (Burkina Faso), Environmental Women for Action in Development (Uganda), and NUKU Studios (Ghana).

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