Post-Extractive Futures first came into being during a meeting in 2022, hosted by War on Want, Tipping Point UK, and Junte Gente (Puerto Rico). This gathering fostered collaboration between movements fighting for and creating futures beyond extractivism, uniting those working in environmental and climate justice, just transitions, post-growth and degrowth, ecosocialism and postcapitalism, decolonization and abolition, and ecofeminism.
When we asked grassroots movement organizers what they wanted from an event that brought together activists, campaigners, and system changers from around the world, the unanimous response was a focus on how we do things, not just what we do. They wanted to learn about experiments, models, and examples of emancipatory change.
During the encounter, Wangũi wa Kamonji, a poet, healer, and wisdom-keeper, invited us to connect intentionally with our pain, supported by the collective space. By acknowledging our pain—pain rooted in extractivism—we recognize that the worlds we create know how to address their wounds.
From Extractivism to Green Colonialism
Extractivism refers to an economic system that prioritizes the intensive extraction of natural resources, resulting in environmental degradation, resource depletion, and exacerbated social inequalities. This approach, marked by its pace, intensity, and profit-driven mindset, overlooks the value of diverse territories, treating them as sacrificial sites for resource extraction.
The extractivist mindset, which has long dominated our societies, has led us to sever our connection to the land, treating it as a mere resource to be exploited and sacrificed for profit, rather than as diverse territories rich in life, communal values, and cultural significance. This approach has perpetuated ecological devastation and exacerbated social inequalities, burdening the marginalised and the Earth with our insatiable pursuit of economic growth and accumulation.
Most recently, the Manifesto for an Ecosocial Energy Transition has highlighted the unique challenges faced by the Global South, stemming from a legacy of colonialism and an exploitative energy model that is changing, for the worse. Current "clean energy transitions" in the Global North exacerbate these issues, as they rely on the Global South for resources like cobalt, lithium, balsa wood, and land, resulting in a new phase of environmental degradation and deepened inequalities.
Born from a coalition of activists, intellectuals, and movements, the Manifesto calls for a radical ecosocial transition addressing both the energy sector and industries reliant on large-scale energy inputs. Inspired by diverse concepts such as the rights of nature, buen vivir, ubuntu, swaraj, the commons, and energy sovereignty, the Manifesto envisions a just and democratic transition that fosters social and environmental justice, integrates egalitarian and democratic values, and restores planetary balance.
The Manifesto for an Ecosocial Energy Transition from the Peoples of the South outlines eight key demands to guide our actions, including rejecting false solutions and green colonialism, demanding the payment of ecological debt, rejecting the expansion of the hydrocarbon border, protecting human rights defenders, eliminating energy poverty, and denouncing international trade agreements that reinforce the new colonialism.
Breaking free from the extractive logic
The Manifesto invites us to confront rigidity and fear of change, challenging singular, universal understandings of wellbeing and ways of knowing. In response, Post-Extractive Futures promotes play, experimentation, ritual, embodiment, and curiosity. This initiative emphasises creativity, integration of various tools and forms, versatility, flexibility, and honouring limits.
Not only do communities and people intrinsically linked to their territories resist the extractive frontier, but their livelihoods and worldviews also offer alternatives to extractivism. Overcoming intersecting socio-ecological crises requires defending, celebrating, and learning from the vast plurality of non-extractive ways of living and knowing.
Post-Extractive Futures envisions worlds where the essential needs and wellbeing of all living beings are respected, including worlds of reparations and memory, radical love and intersectional solidarities, celebration, music, and ceremony, joy and connection, more time with family and loved ones, public abundance and commons, decolonial thinking-feeling, abolition and harm reduction, liberation and justice, and sovereignties in territories and waters.
Towards Post-Extractive Futures
We introduced this dossier by outlining two guiding principles of the Global Green New Deal (GGND) : the courage to reimagine the economy on a planetary scale and the connection to guarantee a life of dignity for everyone. Central to all GGND pillars and proposals is the desire to improve health and well-being for all people and the living planet, recognizing that the current economic system must be transformed.
Post-extractivism, an alternative development model, emerges from our deep connection to the Earth and the life it nurtures. As inhabitants of this planet, our relationship with the environment is a delicate dance of life, survival, and respect.
This alternative approach challenges us to reconsider our priorities and reorient our societies towards a regenerative, diverse, and equitable future. By reducing our reliance on the extraction and export of natural resources, we can focus on diversifying our economies, supporting local and regional autonomy, and fostering social and environmental justice. Such a transformation will require us to learn from the wisdom of indigenous peoples, who have long understood the importance of living in harmony with the land. Integrating these values into our pursuit of a thriving planet is essential.
As we walk this path towards post-extractivism, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the Earth, our communities, and future generations from the destructive forces of extractive industries. By embracing this vision, we can reconnect with our roots and work together to build a future where our societies, economies, and ecosystems thrive in harmony.
Post-Extractive Futures serves as a living encounter and container for putting these principles into action, realising these visions, and facilitating a fluid exchange between movements enacting regenerative futures today. With it, we seek to enable our movements to access the energy needed to continue the struggle and join broader infrastructures for care and collaboration. PEF aims to function as a space for weaving and seeding networks of solidarity, a water body for refreshing dreams and visions, a spirit of co-inspiration and co-learning, and a space for sharing concrete skills and tools. Embracing, nurturing, and fostering collective healing, it values plural models of accompaniment, incubation, care, skill-sharing, and mutual learning. By dancing and listening to each other at a collective rhythm, and by prioritizing communities, we act as doulas for our ecosystems, fostering the birth of different possibilities.