Suriname Resource Extraction 1
Running head: SURINAME RESOURCE EXTRACTION
Resource Extraction Conflict in Suriname
Colorado State University
Suriname Resource Extraction 2
Resource extraction on lands inhabited by native people in Suriname is causing irreparable
damage to the forests and the people residing in them. A complex dynamic among stakeholders
has festered due to a lack of communication and degradation of trust among the natives, the
government and the extraction companies. To manage this conflict, I recommend the use of a
transformative, collaborative and communication-based tool. Specifically, I propose that the
World Café is an appropriate strategy to manage this conflict. Sharing ideas, listening and
speaking in an intimate atmosphere will facilitate a mutual understanding necessary to develop
a sustainable strategy for forest management.
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An unsettling trend is becoming apparent in developing countries around the world with
valuable natural resources. When these resources are discovered by companies that are interested in
the profits extraction would yield, they have no trouble getting exactly what they want despite the often
negative effect on indigenous and tribal people that have inhabited those areas for many generations.
The social and environmental impacts that resource extraction, such as mining and logging, have on the
lifestyles of native peoples are irreparable; from the destruction of forests they use for food and shelter
to the pollution of any and all water sources to the destruction of culturally sacred sites. Tribal and
native people should have the right to free and informed consent about what will take place on the land
they live upon. Many governments offer little to no help to native peoples because of the benefits they
reap from taxes and royalties of the resources extracted. Although this is an issue that is pertinent in
many countries, I am going to focus on the logging of rainforest and mining of bauxite taking place in
Suriname to illustrate this conflict and the stakeholders involved (Tebtebba Foundation, 2006).
Suriname is a small country on the northern coast of South America that was originally colonized
by the Dutch in 1667, and gained independence in 1975. Suriname’s population is around 400,000
drawn from eight different ethnic groups including Creoles and Maroons (both of African descent), East
Indians (the descendants of indentured laborers from India), Javanese, indigenous peoples, Chinese,
Lebanese and a small group of Europeans, mostly of Dutch origin. The native people of Suriname consist
of indigenous peoples (Kalinya, Lokono, Trio and Wayana) about 5 percent of the population which
translates to roughly 20,000 people, and the tribal peoples known as the Maroons (Aucaner or N’djuka,
Saramaka, Paramaka, Aluku, Kwinti and Matawai) which make up around 15 percent of the population,
or 60,000 people. The Maroons are descendents of African slaves who have established their freedom
with treaties and maintain balance by governing themselves with their own laws and customs (Forest
Peoples Programme, 2007).
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As such, these people qualify as tribal peoples and have similar rights to the indigenous peoples
based on international law. “This Convention applies to: (a) tribal peoples in independent countries
whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national
community and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by
special laws or regulations” (International Labour Organization Convention No. 169, 1989, p. 6).
However, according to Kambel and McKay (1999), the Surinamese government refuses to acknowledge
the rights of the Maroons or their tribal laws (International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs and Forest
Peoples Programme). Because of their lack of rights, these tribes sought help in the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights in 2006, who determined the natives’ rights had been “grossly violated and the
lack of support from the government was unacceptable when mining and logging companies entered
the country and began extraction of resources without requirement of permit or justification” (Forest
Peoples Programme, 2006, p. 7). The same conclusion was reached by the Inter-American Commission
later that year, although the case was regarding land conceded on the territory of the indigenous
Saramaka people, not the Maroons. The Commission stated that “the indigenous people’s consent to
natural resource exploitation activities on their traditional territories is always required by law” (Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights, 2007, p. 7). Additionally, the UN Committee of Elimination of
Racial Discrimination determined that the Suriname Mining Bill of 2004 ignores the rights of the native
peoples and does not require their consent before extracting resources.
The construction of the Afobaka dam in 1964 to provide hydroelectric power for the country
resulted in the displacement of about 5000 native and tribal people from their own lands to make way
for the massive reservoir (Pernice & Johannes, 2005). Recent actions by the Surinamese government
have further reduced the lands of the indigenous people without their informed consent and without an
Environmental Social Impact Statement (Forest Peoples Programme, 2007). The first logging of
Suriname took place around 1997 by a Chinese company called Tacoba, registered under China National
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Marine Containers Limited. “When challenged by Saramaka community members, Tacoba explained
that it had permission from the government and any attempt to interfere with or challenge its
operations would be punished by imprisonment” (Forest Peoples Programme, 2007, p.12). Soon after
Tacoba ceased work in Suriname, the Ji Shen logging company began work in the same area and, with
support of military forces to prevent any intervention by the Saramaka people, continued to decimate
the rainforest (Forest Peoples Programme, 2007).
The other major issue the native people of Suriname are fighting against is the presence of
mining for bauxite in the Bakhuys region of western Suriname which began in 2003 when the
BHP/Billiton and Alcoa companies were awarded permits for 2800 square kilometers of bauxite
exploration on land inhabited by the Lokono people. The concessions were granted without prior
notification to or agreement with the affected communities. An environmental and social impact
assessment was not conducted for the exploration work, which is now concluded, (Goodland, 2006). The
Forest Peoples Programme elaborates to detail that bauxite exploration includes approximately 330
kilometers of roads and 650 kilometers of drill lines which were cleared during the exploration phase.
Over 7,500 boreholes were dug, some 8,890 hectares were drilled, with the total area visited on-the-
ground estimated at 52,800 hectares (Weitzner, 2003).
Bauxite is a metal found close to the earth’s surface. Open pit mining is the cheapest and most
common method of extraction. This requires the area to be cleared completely of trees and vegetation
interfering with the process of bauxite removal. Deforestation is an enormous problem in Suriname
because the mining companies are clearing land for removal of the minerals and logging companies are
interested in the best timber available. There are further negative impacts the presence of bauxite
creates. The quality of wood in the rainforest motivates the timber companies to utilize the roads built
by mining companies to access new areas of forest where the mining is poor. This means the roads will
continue to be used, their condition degraded and widened with more traffic as well as an enormous
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increase in the area of land impacted in the territories of the native and tribal peoples who are being
exploited (Goodland, 2006).
One might ask themselves why the native and tribal peoples of Suriname are not doing anything
to prevent the rapid destruction of their land. The answer is that they have no influence on the decisions
made regarding the presence of resource extraction companies. In fact, “Almost all of these activities
have taken place without informing affected communities and without their participation or consent”
(Forest Peoples Programme, 2007, p. 8). Extraction of these resources has resulted in environmental
degradation. Because of a loss of resources the people who inhabit the forest depend on, some tribes
are experiencing destruction of religious and cultural sites, serious health concerns, especially malaria,
chronic malnutrition, sexually transmitted diseases, and social problems (Forest Peoples Programme,
2007). The Surinamese government does not legally recognize the traditional rights to land and
resources the indigenous and tribal peoples should own, which is complicated by the structure of the
native and tribal peoples, which does not designate the territories to one specific person (Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights, 2005, 2006). To pacify the people, the government recognizes
the people “are entitled, but not by right, to use and enjoy their villages, settlements and current
agricultural plots…should the state decide that these areas are required for other activities, indigenous
and tribal ‘privileges’ are negated as a matter of law” (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,
2004, p. 7).
There are benefits for the native people of Suriname that have been solicited by the mining and
logging companies, such as a large influx of jobs and therefore a larger income for the country (BBC,
2007). This, however, would only be temporary and would eventually leave the people unemployed and
disrupt the cultural patterns of the tribes. The people have stated that they are not against the
development; however their way of life needs to be taken into account by resource extraction
companies, which has not yet happened. The Saramaka peoples’ economy is based almost entirely on
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hunting, fishing, gathering and agriculture which is carefully rotated to maintain the rainforest soils
which are nutrient poor and can easily be over-farmed (Forest Peoples Programme, 2007). The village
chief of Apura stated “We are already no longer allowed to hunt in the Bakhuys territory and we cannot
go to the supermarket like the people in the city, because we live from the forest” (De Ware Tijd, 2005,
p.17). Suriname’s Minister of Natural Resources Gregory Rusland has conceded that “if Suriname is
pushing for greater economic development the country has to pay a price and that this price would is to
sacrifice part of its environment and bio-diversity” (Caribbean Media Corporation, 2007, para. 3).
Analysis of Conflict
I will be using the conflict tree to analyze this issue. I chose this model to help understand why
the conflict is happening and ultimately what effects it may have. Figure 1 illustrates the causes, core
problem and effects concerning resource extraction and consent of stakeholders in Suriname.
There are many causes of this conflict illustrated as the roots of the tree that are diverse in
nature and exacerbate the issue. Although each contributes to the problem, I believe the most poignant
dilemma, or the taproot, is the natives’ complete lack of rights and additionally free, prior and informed
consent as the causes of the most difficulty for the tribal peoples. The Inter-American Court of Human
Rights (2005, 2006) determined: “Although individual members of indigenous and tribal communities
are considered natural persons by Suriname’s Constitution, the State’s legal framework does not
recognize such communities as legal entities. Similarly, national legislation does not provide for
collective property rights” (para. 230, 241-242). Another root is a corrupt government. The Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2004) observed that “indigenous and tribal peoples cannot
as such seek recognition of their traditional rights before the courts because they are not recognized
legally as juridical persons” (2004, para. 14).
As previously stated, the government receives payments and taxes from the companies abusing
the Surinamese forests the natives depend upon to survive. This results in these companies actually
Suriname Resource Extraction 8
Suriname Resource Extraction 9
receiving aid from the government or the state turning a blind eye on any actions that might be
interpreted as illegal. Suriname’s Minister of Natural Resources Gregory Rusland spoke at the
Commission for Sustainable Development in New York in May, 2006. He said:
The Government of Suriname is trying to solve the energy questions before us in such a
way that would enable us to meet the demands for sustainable development. Our
efforts include the responsible use of the environment and we also pay special
consideration to the situation of the local population in areas of activities. We are
convinced that in cooperation with the international community we will be able to take
those decisions that will enable us to reach the desired goals (Rusland, 2006, p. 3).
This statement can be sharply contrasted with that of the case of the Twelve Saramaka Clans,
when during the exploration phase the Lokono were excluded from the concession area. The Village
Chief of Apura, Carlo Lewis, explained to the Surinamese government that they were not intrinsically
against the developments at all. He emphasized instead the immense dependence the people of his
tribe have on the forest in the Bakhuys region because they “cannot go to the supermarket like the
people in the city” (2006, para. 4, 7).
It can therefore be concluded that while the government is making fine promises, it has done
absolutely nothing to follow through to make sure the native and tribal peoples are taken care of during
the exploration and extraction of resources. This void of regulation can also be illustrated by the
following examples of BHP/Billiton and Alcoa’s statements regarding criticism of their actions in
Suriname. BHP/Billiton (2008) explained that while they “had not had time to read the report (by a
human rights organization concerned about BHP’s effects in Suriname) in detail” they thought that how
they are portrayed in the report is inaccurate. They detail how their plans to mine the Bakhuys area are
not fully developed and they may decide not to mine the area if it is deemed to detrimental to the
environment in BHP/Billiton’s eyes. They are planning to work with the locals and take their opinions
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into consideration as well as those of the Surinamese government. They finish the statement with “Our
objective is to ensure strong community support for all our operations” (BHP/Billiton, 2008 para. 1).
Alcoa echoes BHP/Billiton’s statements about being a value-based company invested in
the well-being of the native people of Suriname. They state that they have learned from past
experiences in Suriname and have already had discussions with locals and those will continue as
the project advances (Alcoa, 2007 para. 1).
These responses to their actions in Suriname are eloquent and civil, however they clearly
illustrate the facts that these companies realize what they are doing is wrong and is destroying the
forests and lives of the native people of Western Suriname. Their statements about working closely with
the government may seem like genuine attempts to mitigate the damage they are causing, however
after even minimal research on the issue it is clear the government is more than willing to work closely
with logging and mining companies as long as they receive appropriations from said companies.
BHP Billiton states in a presentation concerning the mining they are doing in Suriname that their
mission statement is “N.V. BHP Billiton Maatschappij Suriname is a totally safe natural resource
company, dedicated to create value from the bauxite mining and alumina refining processes” Their
charter, included in the same presentation begins with their purpose, which is “to create value through
the discovery, development and conversion of natural resources and the provision of innovative
customer and market-focused solutions” (N.V. BHP Billiton Maatschappij Suriname Bauxite Institute
Presentation, 2006, p. 22). The slide show goes on to highlight their values including safety and the
environment, integrity, high performance, win-win relationships, the courage to lead change and
respect for each other (2006, p. 22). The claims of these companies and their subsequent actions are
not aligned concerning the issue of resource extraction in Suriname. Due to a lack of any type of
regulation these companies can proceed without concern.
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In addition, modern communication utilized by many political structures is completely different
than that of the native and tribal peoples of Suriname. The power structures and decision-making
processes within the tribes and indigenous peoples are focused more on a collective agreement while
the government has developed into a typical hierarchical format when Suriname gained its
independence. The differences between these power structures make communication and agreement
difficult between the natives and the state. The Lokono people, for example, are governed by a village
council consisting of a captain and at least two advisors, known as baisas. Disagreements are decided by
consensus which is followed by longer periods of discussion by the entire town to make a final decision.
These periods can be extremely drawn out, which is not conducive to producing the immediate answers
modern governments demand, thus the decision not to inform the people is often the result and they
are not given any previous knowledge of developments or excavation in their traditional territories.
Similarly, the Saramaka people are divided into 12 matrilineal clans known as lö, with a Gaama
as an autonomous leader chosen by lineage and divination (Price, 1975). All 12 lö share territories
collectively, however boundaries are well known between the clans and other Maroon tribes. Although
the Gaama is a leader within the clans, it is known that the lö owns the land therefore a Gaama cannot
make a decision about land use alone. The Saramaka people were not asked for permission by the
government before the logging companies were given concessions to work on the natives’ land,
however if they were asked, the government would have sought permission from a Gaama as they
would be seen as a leader to outsiders. This would have no meaning to the Saramaka as the Gaama are
not the sole decision-makers; the clans own the rights to the land and hold authority regarding verdicts
over resources (Forest Peoples Programme, 2007).
Several captains and baisas wrote to the President of Suriname in 1998 explaining their position
on logging activities in their territories:
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[Since two hundred years ago] our ancestors regulated who had rights to fell trees, to make
agriculture plots and to hunt game. According to the Saamaka law every lö may work where it
has rights. Somebody who is not a member must ask permission from that clan before he can
work in their forest. We ask permission from the clan, we do not ask permission from the
Government in the city, we don’t ask permission from the Gaama, because the Saamaka law
was already made before they gave us a Gaama. Until now all Saamaka live according to that
law. Our law has not been written on paper, but it remains a law (Captains and baisas, 1998).
All of these root causes have resulted in the core problem which is the undeniable destruction
of the forests and thus the livelihood of the tribal and native peoples of Suriname.
Some of the effects of these causes, besides the actual deforestation of the rainforest, are the
devastation of the lands the forest people use for hunting, fishing, farming, water, homes, and areas
that have been culturally sacred sites for thousands and thousands of years. Over half of the
approximately 200 indigenous and Maroon communities are directly affected by resource extraction as
their livelihood depends almost entirely on an intact forest. “Forest removal decreases the amount of
forest resources (e.g., fish & game, timber & fuel wood, fruits, seeds, medicinals, honey, resins, thatch)
available to these people,” (Goodland, 2006, p.12). Fish, for example, is a major food source for native
people. Fish feed off of fruits that fall in the rivers and require clean water to thrive and reproduce. The
actions of logging and mining companies in tropical forests remove the trees, which bear fruits and
insects that fish prey upon. Tree removal also increases erosion as there is no vegetation to hold soils in
place during the heavy rains that are frequent at such latitudes.
These companies degrade the landscape by constructing roads to transport timber and
minerals, digging exploratory pits to determine the quantity of bauxite present, and removing forests to
extract rock with open-pit mines. These companies also contribute to severe degradation of the water
quality that the native and tribal people depend on. The Pan American Health Organization (2000) wrote
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a report on water quality in the areas indigenous people rely heavily on water and found that because of
an increase in mining, high levels of mercury have been found in the surface water causing it to be “in
danger of becoming unusable in areas”. The contamination levels of mercury in the Suriname River are
2.97 milligrams per litre, some 2,970 times higher that the WHO limit of 0.001 milligrams per litre (Pan
American Health Organization, 2000, p. 8).
The lack of interest by the government is potentially breeding a sense of resentment and
distrust among the forest people of Suriname. The people who inhabit the forest are afraid of what they
might encounter when walking through their forests. Although there is a great opportunity for economic
development in Suriname with the increase of resource extraction, the losses would be devastating.
Many species will be lost as well as the traditional ways of life if this extraction continues unregulated.
The consequences of action or no action must be examined and decisions made based on what is most
beneficial to everyone. While there is tension between the different stakeholders – the people of the
forest, the government and the resource extraction companies, coming to a solution about how to
balance interest and needs is crucial at this point.
At the core of this issue is the lack of communication between the Surinamese government, the
involved extraction companies and the native and tribal people. Because of the severe impacts on the
land, native people must be given free, prior and informed consent regarding development and
extraction of resources on or near their land if they are to continue to be able to survive. In the next
section of this paper I will describe a process to improve communication and build trust among these
stakeholders so that the native people of Suriname are empowered to make decisions about the land
and resources they treasure.
Recommendations to Transform the Conflict
In this complex conflict between diverse stakeholders, a management technique is needed that
facilitates mutual understanding, equal opportunities to share ideas and good communication. Because
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the communication styles between the native and tribal people, the government and the resource
extraction companies in Suriname are so different, a management technique that “draws on the
quintessential processes by which people around the world naturally think together, create shared
meaning, strengthen community, and ignite innovation” is desirable. A combination of Conversation
Café and World Café would be most effective in analyzing key issues and begin to formulate ideas on
how to develop a solution to the conflict (Holman, et. al., 2007, p.181).
It seems that one of the largest initial challenges will be getting all stakeholders to agree to
come together in order to discuss the issue of resource extraction. Currently, the government is the
most powerful of the group of stakeholders. Because they are benefiting from the presence of mining
and logging companies, their eagerness to participate in a workshop to discuss alternatives to the
current state of affairs may be minimal. Incentives would be required in order to spark their interest, but
a brief analysis of benefits and costs of the resource extraction to the government, along with a
monetary incentive would most likely be sufficient to engage them. Once the government is on board,
there is still no guarantee that they will actually implement any changes that may be discussed during
the communication sessions.
If the government agrees to participate, I believe BHP/Billiton and Alcoa would as well. Based
not only on how closely they work with the government, but also on values statements made by each
company regarding their presence in Suriname, it would seem very likely both organizations would be
interested in participating in a process to improve all relationships in the Bakhuys Region. BHP/Billiton
stated that they are “fully committed to a formal engagement program with the local communities”
(BHP/Billiton, 2007, para. 1). Likewise, Alcoa promised that they are learning from “early engagement
with stakeholders” to create a “more robust and inclusive formal engagement process…with local
communities” (Alcoa, 2007, para. 1). Based on these encouraging statements, both companies might be
willing to participate in a process to improve communication between all parties involved.
Suriname Resource Extraction 15
There may also be the issue of a language barrier between all parties. This should not be a large
problem as the local and tribal people speak native languages but have been able to communicate
readily with the government in the past. Although BHP/Billiton and Alcoa are British companies, if the
Surinamese do not speak English translators can be made available. Although language barriers could
potentially detract from the effectiveness, using the management tool I am recommending, goal would
be for an atmosphere that encouraged direct connections. This connectedness would also help
overcome another potential problem of making sure all parties are treated equally, both by the
facilitators and by each other. This may need to be monitored closely and emphasized profusely
throughout the discussions and workshop, but I definitely believe it to be fully possible.
To manage such a multifaceted conflict with stakeholders from such distinct lifestyles, I have
chosen to use a combination of the World Café and the Conversation Café to help manage this issue.
My reasoning is that this approach will help all participants understand the conflict and therefore what
needs to take place for it to be resolved. The process lends itself to removing hierarchies and power
structures and focuses all the participants’ energy on listening to one another and collaborating to find a
solution to the problem. All participants are intermixed with each other discussing aspects of the conflict
that are most important to them and hearing the core issues of other stakeholders to ultimately
combine these key points and come to a mutual understanding, and hopefully agreement.
I feel the Conversation and World Café tools will be easy for native and tribal people to utilize
because the conversation and idea-sharing discussions are parallel to the decision-making processes
many of the tribes have used for thousands of years. This may serve as a source of comfort in an
environment that could potentially be strange and intimidating, therefore easing the process and
encouraging them to share all their ideas.
The setting is an integral part to the success of these tools for this conflict. It will be extremely
important for stakeholders to see each other in a different light: as real people. In previous experiences,
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the CEO’s of the resource extraction companies have probably not interacted with the captains and
baisas of the Lokono and Saramaka people directly, nor have the President of Suriname and the Minister
of Natural Resources in Suriname had the opportunity to connect on a meaningful level with both other
groups of stakeholders. Getting all of these important figures together will hopefully enable them “to
create generative networks of conversation focused on the questions that are critical to the real work of
their community” (Holman, et. al., 2007, p. 181).
A relaxed atmosphere with food would be the best scenario. Food often gives people something
they can share with others and relate to on a human level, rather than a potentially aggressive, "all
business” manner. This easy connection should make them feel at ease and therefore more likely to
want to negotiate with each other. Meeting face-to-face without political jargon, or with the
opportunity to give meaning to technical terms will give everyone the opportunity to be thinking on the
A final reason I have chosen to use the Conversation and World Café techniques is that these
methods have been used by “thousands of people on six continents”(Holman, et. al., 2007, p. 181).
Since this is a very large group of people, this is applicable. It has already been proven to work in other
countries, not just the United States. According to The Change Handbook, these processes “Evoke*s+ the
collective intelligence of any group", which will be something that can help this diverse group of
stakeholders communicate effectively.
The World/ Conversation Café method is a fairly straightforward technique which when used
well, can be extremely effective in facilitating dialog between groups. It is conversation-based and takes
place in a welcoming setting to help the stakeholders feel more comfortable. In the United States,
coffee shops have been popular places to hold this process, however any locale with pleasant lighting,
comfortable chairs, many small, circular tables and access to refreshments is suitable.
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A host invites all stakeholders to mingle and four people sit around each small table to “explore
a question.” Other groups are seated nearby doing the same thing. As conversations develop, people are
encouraged to write down their ideas on cards or on paper tablecloths put out for that reason. After 20-
30 minutes, each small group is invited to move around bringing key points from their discussion to the
next group. One person stays at the table to explain to new group members the ideas previously
discussed at that table. This process is normally repeated three times; however it can happen as many
times as needed to gather all the ideas the group has. Next, everyone comes together and key ideas
from the small group discussions are shared with everyone. These items are recorded on a board or
paper that everyone can see and are discussed with the objective of examining the different ways the
conflict can be managed, and possibly choosing the best one(s) to implement.
Because this process is flexible, it can happen in a very short time or can last several days. This is
parallel to the native peoples’ style of communicating and making decisions, however is still structured
enough that the larger businesses will also be comfortable with the process and feel it is worthwhile.
Evaluation of the success of this technique could take on several forms. Before the
conversations begin, participants could take a “pre-test” describing their attitudes on the situation and
their personal ideas for the best management strategy. When the meeting is finished, the participants
would then be asked to take a “post-test” with the same questions to see if their attitudes or ideas were
affected by the process. Another way to evaluate the success of the Conversation/World Café would be
to contact one or more participants from each stakeholder group one month, six months and a year
following the process to see if any changes had actually occurred in the actions of each group.
The Change Handbook explains “As people and ideas become ever more richly connected during
progressive rounds of conversation, latent, collective knowledge becomes visible” (Holman, et. al., 2007,
p. 181). This could be especially helpful as initially natives might be pushed to the side by more
controlling executives of the businesses and government, but through small conversation their ideas can
Suriname Resource Extraction 18
become apparent and appreciated. In other words, “A growing sense of the larger whole transforms
how participants see themselves and their relationships. Collective intelligence grows and evolves, and
innovative possibilities for action are brought forward” (Holman, et. al., 2007, p.181). By using this
process, I would hope that with this group of stakeholders different points of view will bring forth new
ideas and that meeting face-to-face with each other may evoke insights on possibilities they would not
have imagined or accepted previous to this process within different stakeholders.
In the past, it has been reported that participants using these tools have “an unexpected lean in
their collective capacity to establish trust, nurture, relationships, expand effective knowledge, and
create new possibilities for action, even among people with no previous history of working together”
(Holman, et. al., 2007, p.181). Direct observation of this phenomenon would be a measure that the
process had been extremely successful.
Logging and mining companies have practically unchecked freedom to extract any resources
they want without having to report an Environmental Impact Statement or providing any plan to restore
the areas they are utilizing. The impact this has upon the native and tribal people of the region such as
the Lokono and Saramaka is tremendous. Because these people rely entirely on the forest to feed and
shelter themselves, the existence of their traditional way of life is in danger of extinction as the presence
of resource extraction grows.
The Conflict Tree is a concise way to illustrate the core issue as well as the causes and effects of
resource extraction. It clearly shows how the main roots of the issue are a lack of natives’ rights, very
different communication styles between stakeholders, and a corrupt government. Smaller causes are
unequal power between parties involved and a lack of regulation on the extraction companies by the
government, the only entity that has the power to impose any parameters. Because of these roots of
the problem, the forests, the people inhabiting them, cultural and sacred sites, and biodiversity are
Suriname Resource Extraction 19
being destroyed. There is no representation for the native people, and as such, a large increase in
mistrust of the government by the native and tribal people has developed.
A conflict with such irrevocable consequences needs to be managed as soon and as effectively
as possible. Based on the communication styles of the stakeholders involved and the nature of the issue,
a combination of the World Café and Conversation Café would be the best management tool to
transform this issue. By providing a comfortable atmosphere with food for the people from all groups of
stakeholders to mingle, meet each other and talk face-to-face, productive conversation will be a result
of this tool. Initially, it may be difficult to get all the important people from the groups involved to
participate. However once everyone is together and exchanging ideas and information, the collective
creativity should produce management strategies to alleviate the current feelings of disregard for each
other and replace them with a sense of commitment to one another as human beings.
Suriname Resource Extraction 20
Ajah, A.N. (2005, May 5) Implementation of the Kabalebo Project: Land Rights Capture the attention of
Indigenous Peoples in Southern Suriname. De Ware Tijd [Original in Dutch], Holland. Retrieved
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BHP/Billiton. (2006). BMS VISION STATEMENT and BHP Billiton Charter. Retrieved September 28, 2008,
Caribbean Media Corporation news agency website. (15 April 2007). Bridgetown, in English. Retrieved
October 11, 2008, from http://www.cananews.net.
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Strategies for Action. London: Zed Books.
Tebtebba Foundation. (2006). Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, Extractive Industries and Transnational and
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