Stakeholder engagement towards a responsible mining sector

8 November 2018

Mining portrays a complex picture as it is closely linked to environmental issues, such as erosion, groundwater and soil contamination and loss of biodiversity. To minimize the pressure of the extractive sector on biodiversity and ecosystems, while maximizing long-term societal benefit, we work with civil society, businesses, governments and financial institutions to ensure responsible mining practices.

Civil society organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin-America develop strategies and action plans to limit the risks associated with the extractive sector in their respective landscape. An online course designed in the framework of the program Shared Resources Joint Solutions complements face-to-face training courses on the foundations of business engagement, that have so far been delivered in Uganda, Tanzania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Philippines and Mozambique.

Active commitment and concrete actions

“To safeguard International Public Goods in our landscape, we need an active commitment and concrete actions of businesses,” says Mamadou Karama of AGEREF. “The workshop enhanced mutual knowledge and trust between CSOs and other stakeholders in the Nakambé basin in Burkina Faso. We are now in the process of building a partnership with a mining company.” 

Increased transparency and accountability

Many participants believe that responsible mining can best be achieved if communities, miners, mining companies and authorities work together. “Environmental practices and safeguards are often not on the forefront of mining,” a participant from Tanzania states. “The use of mercury for instance, has tremendously increased within the country. I would like to see more sense of accountability and transparency.” A participant from The Philippines adds: “Local government units and communities need to be educated to demand transparency and accountability from large and small-scale operators.”

Raising the bar for financial institutions in the Netherlands

Not only civil society organizations, also financial institutions are playing their part to ensure responsible mining practices. Investors face a challenging task to define adequate criteria that mitigate the environmental risks of mineral mining. To help address this challenge, VDBO and IUCN NL organize a masterclass on responsible mining, in which they bring together a diverse group of participants, among which banks, institutional investors, NGOs and experts, as well as government institutions.

“The focus will be on the latest standards and criteria for responsible mining practices of companies, focusing on the impacts of biodiversity and water,” says Vicky van Heck, Manager Sustainability and Responsible Investment at VBDO. “Moreover, we will be discussing how these standards could be translated into criteria for lending and investment of financial institutions, including challenges and needed changes.”

By combining pressure from civil society and the financial sector, we aim to stimulate and facilitate governments and businesses to embrace responsible mining practices that minimize the negative effects of extractives while maximizing long-term societal benefit.

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More articles by: Mark van der Wal