Minerals and metals play a central role in the global economy and will continue to provide the raw material we need for industrial processes and daily use.
Despite enormous efforts to decouple economies from resource use, the extraction of mineral resources has increased notably in recent years, especially in the last decade, at a faster rate than economic growth.
This trend is forecast to increase steadily in the future as we struggle to meet the mineral resource needs of a growing world population, which is expected to reach 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion by 2030. end of the century.
Global transitions to clean energy and electric vehicles will also accelerate the trend, as renewable energy sources require higher amounts of metals than energy production from fossil fuels.
But extracting these much-needed metals and minerals comes at a high price, including damage to wildlife and ecosystems.
It doesn't have to be this way: the minerals and metals industry does, in fact, have the potential to successfully support countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. They can, for example, promote social cohesion, inclusion and economic progress among low-income countries and the most vulnerable groups of the population.
In its latest report, released in February 2020, entitled Mineral Resource Governance in the 21st Century: Gearing the Extractive Industries Toward Sustainable Development, the International Resource Panel offers suggestions on how to improve the economic performance of the extractive sector and at the same time to ensure that it meets the highest social and environmental standards nationally and internationally.
The report provides guidance on how the extractive sector can establish a modern governance structure that addresses resource security and efficiency, an area of particular interest to developed nations, and meets the demand for continued structural transformation, economic development, and diversification in the export of resources. , developing countries
Introducing "the sustainable development license to operate"
In particular, the report suggests replacing the concept of “social license to operate”, which was used by mining companies to generate public trust and prevent social conflicts, with a new governance model, which the authors call the “sustainable development license to operate”. .
Unlike the social license to operate, the sustainable development license to operate is a more holistic, integrated and inclusive governance approach, through which companies can achieve positive economic, social and environmental outcomes. This license advocates for fairer agreements, an equitable sharing of benefits among stakeholders, and a holistic consideration of existing regulations in the mining sector that often did not include enough.
It is designed to analyze the entire extractive industry as a whole, minimize its negative effects on the environment, society and the economy, and identify opportunities to contribute to sustainable development.
Its implementation is a shared responsibility of all stakeholders throughout complex transnational value chains.
The report also investigates the artisanal and small-scale mining and development mineral sectors, which are an important source of livelihood for marginalized populations, often ignored by policy makers.
National and international measures are needed.
Understanding the need for broader action, the report contains a list of key recommendations for implementation at both the national and international levels.
The International Resource Panel strongly believes that effective work at the national level with broad and inclusive participation of all stakeholders, including governments of 'host and home' countries, the international community, mining companies and civil society organizations should lead to the adoption of a strategic development plan. The plan must contain specific actions for the Sustainable Development Goals and establishes performance standards.
To facilitate its implementation, the International Resource Panel suggests including mining laws and regulations in the plan, which enshrine the principles of consultation, transparency and reporting, as well as recognizing and promoting the rights of local populations.
The International Resource Panel recommends that countries establish three central public institutions: an environmental directorate, a mining directorate, and a geological survey, to promote and regulate the development of the mining and metal industries.
At the international level, the report advocates the creation of an International Minerals Agency to improve international coordination mechanisms, or the creation of an international agreement to coordinate and share data on economic geology and mineral demand needs, and promote transparency on impacts and benefits. , among other things.
For more information on the new governance framework proposed by the International Resource Panel in the extractive sector, the Sustainable Development License to Operate, feel free to download the full and summary reports in English, as well as fact sheets showing the conclusions. key in all six UN languages.
The International Resource Panel was launched by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2007 to build and share the knowledge needed to improve our use of resources around the world. The Panel is made up of eminent scientists, highly qualified in resource management issues. Their reports distill the latest scientific, technical and socio-economic discoveries on the global use of resources. They provide advice and connections between policymakers, industry, and the community on ways to improve global and local resource management. The Panel includes scientists and governments from developed and developing regions, civil society, industrial and international organizations. Its objective is to move us away from excessive consumption, waste and ecological damage towards a more prosperous and sustainable future.