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For Immediate Release, March 22nd, 2021 Contact: Kiara Grant, 778-887-1714

Protestors spill ‘oil’ outside ReconAfrica headquarters to demand withdrawal from Okavango region marking World Water Day

Unceded Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver BC) - Marking the UN’s World Water Day today, Extinction Rebellion Vancouver will demonstrate outside the headquarters of oil exploration firm ReconAfrica at 999 W Hastings St in downtown Vancouver. ReconAfrica is a junior oil & gas company that has licensed nearly 35,000 sq km in NE Namibia and NW Botswana for oil and gas exploration.

“Today, we are gathering in solidarity with the San Indigenous people, Fridays for Future Namibia, and local communities within Namibia and Botswana, who are protesting against the drilling for oil & gas in their pristine ecosystem.” said participant Kiara Grant. “Canadian companies exploiting faraway communities and lands for profit without local consent is an unacceptable form of neocolonialism. Canada should not provide legal cover for companies committing ecocide at the end of the fossil fuel era just because it takes place abroad.”

The group will spill “oil” (made of molasses) at the company headquarters, in the presence of life-sized structures of animals native to the region, including a baby elephant, giraffe and lion - demonstrating the risks of oil extraction to the sensitive ecosystem of the Okavango basin. The “Blue Brigade” will be making their first appearance in Vancouver - a dance performance troupe that wears flowing blue robes to symbolize the importance of water for life.

The area licensed by ReconAfrica overlaps with the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Transboundary Conservation Area, six locally managed wildlife reserves, and could potentially affect the Okavango Delta nearby - a unique wetland that provides water for more than one million people and attracts thousands of animals in one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in Africa.

ReconAfrica’s license extends across the home territory of the San people, the Indigenous people of Namibia and Botswana as well as the Hambukushu, a Bantu group of fishers and farmers.

“Children have the right to a future on a habitable and healthy planet, whether they live in Frankfurt, Houston, Rundu or Vancouver,” commented Ina-Maria Shikongo of Fridays for Future Windhoek. “Promises on climate regulations in the global North ring empty when all companies affected by them have to do is find a country somewhere needing a financial boost and with great exploitation potential. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Kavango, where under cover of COVID-19, oil and gas are rushing to cash-in on what they suspect is the last great fossil fuel find. Already Southern Africa is experiencing record temperature hikes and severe water shortages, more than other regions on the planet. ”

In February, six leaders of the Southern African Indigenous San people and supporters completed a 930 mile walk across South Africa, from Knysna to Cape Town, in protest of oil & gas exploration in the Okavango Delta and to raise international awareness.

ReconAfrica estimates there are up to 120 billion barrels of oil in the Kavango Basin, which is burned, would contribute 51.6 Gigatonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere - over 12% of the carbon budget of 420 GtCO2 remaining for the globe to have a two-thirds chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, as laid out in the 2018 IPCC Report.

Background

About the Okavango Delta:

The Okavango Delta is a unique pulsing wetland, filled annually from summer rainfall in the Angolan Highlands that flow into the Okavango River, finding their resting place in the Delta. As it is one of the only sources of water during the dry period, it attracts thousands of animals and is one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. The region licensed by ReconAfrica is also home to important migratory routes for the world’s largest remaining elephant population.

The Okavango Delta provides water for more than one million people. Drilling poses risks of contamination to the Okavango Delta via surface and underground catchments that feed into it. It also poses risks to local communities who rely on groundwater, which can be easily contaminated when the water table is shallow.

Reporting in National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/oil-drilling-fracking-planned-okavango-wilderness https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/oil-gas-test-drilling-begins-namibia-okavango-region https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/test-drilling-oil-namibia-poses-water-risk

About Extinction Rebellion:

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an international grassroots movement that uses nonviolent direct action to mobilize the public to drive systemic change in the face of the climate and ecological crisis. Extinction Rebellion is fully made up of volunteers and relies solely on donations.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government. Extinction Rebellion Vancouver’s key demands are:

JUST TRANSFORMATION - Government must respond to the climate and ecological crisis with a just transformation that is actively decolonial, prioritizing the livelihoods of workers and the rights of those most oppressed by the present system, including our non-human relations.

TELL THE TRUTH - Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.

ACT NOW - Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

BEYOND POLITICS - Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.