Sustainability Doesn’t Stand Still – The Lithium Triangle and Global Supply Chains

Nov 26, 2018

On behalf of RESOLVE and as a member of the Lithium Working Group of the Global Battery Alliance, I attended the conference “Mining in Latin America and the Caribbean: Interdependencies, challenges and opportunities for sustainable development“, sponsored by ECLAC and the German Government that took place on November 19 in Lima, Peru. This is what I heard.

The conference surveyed the sustainability frontier as post-millennial mining approaches in South America. The backdrop is the last super cycle boom in South American mining a decade ago. That boom that took place in the framework of twentieth century governance and business models. Chinese urbanization drove the super cycle; materials for manufacturing in the low carbon economy will drive this one. In South America, lithium has been cast in the leading role. Business, governments, academics and civil society representatives all want the next cycle to be cleaner, greener and more inclusive. Shifts are being felt in standards and expectations, but they are still tentative and incomplete.

What’s Wrong with Mature Mining Models?

Social license for mining in the Andean lithium-bearing region isn’t strong or broad. Nobody thinks the sector enjoys enough public confidence. The trend is based on disappointing experiences and unresolved conflicts from the past. This means that companies have little margin for error or slippage on standards. The social license problem slouches across governance, economics and communications.

The next cycle is approaching countries that need, or are just beginning to put in place, national mining for development strategies (as opposed to development of mining strategies). A big part of the governance issue is that permitting decision-makers don’t hear from enough real risk holders, who often depend on traditional agriculture and natural systems. When adverse local impacts happen, governments don’t really have the tools to manage and remedy social grievances. Some observers have a structural concern that policy and permitting decisions are made by institutions with a strong incentive to say yes in order to boost fiscal revenues. Concerns about corruption also affect public confidence. All this leaves questions about how sector governance can deliver social inclusion and environmental justice.

You have to look pretty hard to see sustainable development benefits from the last cycle. Economists found that growth in these countries goes up when commodity prices go up and it goes down when prices go down. The region hasn’t really been able to design convincing ways to harness mining growth to diversification, innovation and productivity improvement − at least not yet.

Just like in the rest of the world, social media both connects and complicates things. Companies are struggling to find new ways to respond with coherence, accuracy and timeliness to public concerns amplified, atomized and multiplied by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Can Lithium be Different?

The lithium cycle has started and foreign investment plans are stacking up. It may be moving faster than public policy can adapt, learn and adapt again. It is emerging into a new kind of world market that has not been experienced by South American mining before. The supply chain is transmitting consumer sustainability requirements upstream to the point of extraction for the first time. No company wants to sell an electric vehicle with materials produced at the cost of human rights or community access to clean water. Lithium suppliers won’t be selling into a market of undifferentiated commodities, like copper and gold mines did. In this cycle, the social impact and carbon footprint of producers will factor into selective purchasing with traceability from the high Andes to the equipment manufacturer to the dealer showroom.

This responsible supply chain thinking is starting to get a foothold in the Lithium Triangle, just as it did for diamonds with the Kimberley Process and later with measures to make sure sensitive minerals in electronics did not finance conflict in Central Africa (see Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade). At the same time, there are very large gaps in the nascent supply chain dialogue that need to be closed, in particular with respect to the role of Original Equipment Suppliers of batteries for electric vehicles. The World Economic Forum and Global Battery Alliance are positioned to play a leading role here.

The opportunities are in sight, and the stakeholders see them. The Argentine Chamber of Mines (CAEM) is demonstrating leadership in the sector by making Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) mandatory for all members. TSM is the detailed social and environmental performance system of the Mining Association of Canada that rates over 30 indicators from effective community engagement, to prevention of child labour to control of greenhouse gas emissions. Another positive trend is OECD membership (Chile) or accession applications (Peru and Argentina), which can drive durable and continuous improvements in governance performance.

In the Lithium Triangle of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, the sector can recognize and avoid the mistakes of the past. It is a region where development has passed by remote communities and indigenous peoples. Careful, patient, continuous and broad dialogue with communities can shape operations that provide substantial long-term benefits, and address risks to people and ecosystems. Science, research and innovation have a natural role to play. The Lithium Triangle produces lithium from brine − a fluid under deserts. This involves dynamic hydrology in geologically complex zones. Good science and research will be needed as the underpinning for new regulatory and environmental management approaches. Participation in this vast supply chain can be a bridge to the knowledge economy of the future and industrial development benefits. Maybe being part of this global supply chain can blaze trails to electric mobility and the circular economy for the region.

My Takeaway

There isn’t a pre-existing model or regional template for shaping production in the Lithium Triangle. Sustainability doesn’t stand still and a new model is needed. I think the supply chain will want lithium that benefits communities, respects rights, co-exists with healthy natural systems and uses climate smart energy systems. Today’s challenge is networking the key actors and civil society so their decisions and actions add up to sustainable development plus an adequate supply of lithium to build the global energy shift. The Global Battery Alliance is the first best opportunity for this to happen. Closer to the ground, and in coordination with the Global Battery Alliance, I’m working with RESOLVE and with the mining associations of Argentina and Canada to connect to producer and buyer standards through LiFT (Sustainable Lithium for a Responsible Energy Transition) with Towards Sustainable Mining as a foundation.

There is no excuse not to think about the future now, and how lithium and the global supply chain can add up to long-term sustainable development in the region.

Tim Martin
November 26, 2018

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CRAFT: a path towards responsible sourcing and progressive improvement in artisanal mining

Sep 18, 2018


The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and RESOLVE have released a code to facilitate increased responsible sourcing from artisanal miners, while contributing to improved social and environmental performance of artisanal and small scale mining sector.

Artisanal miners produce 20% of the world’s gold, but the complexities of risk management for artisanal sources often deter refiners, brands, and other customers committed to responsible supply chain management. At the same time, international norms such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) minerals sourcing guidance encourage proactive engagement with the artisanal sector to support development. While general guidance exists, along with leadership-level standards for top-performing mines such as Fairmined and Fairtrade, there has not been a set of objective criteria for baseline “market acceptability” of artisanal gold.

The Code of Risk mitigation for Artisanal and small-scale miners engaging in Formal Trade (CRAFT) bridges this gap and can help expand trade between legitimate artisanal producers and refiners, jewelers, electronics companies, banks, and other supply chain actors. The code helps both buyers and miners to assess critical social and environmental risks – such as child labor, illicit trade, and uncontrolled use of chemicals, among others – in artisanal supply chains. The code is progressive, defining clear criteria for critical risks while assessing opportunities for – and making commitments to – mitigate risks and improve on other social, environmental and safety practices.

“For global minerals supply chains, change and market engagement is most critically needed in the places that face the greatest challenges,” said Jennifer Peyser, Director of the Ethical Resource Program at RESOLVE. “CRAFT is innovative as a multi-stakeholder vetted, open source tool to help companies support the economies of artisanal communities, while following good risk management practice and ensuring they are not contributing to illicit trade or human rights abuses.”

At the same time, CRAFT offers a road map to help artisanal miners understand practices and systems needed to engage with global markets, thereby offering access to legitimate buyers and better trading conditions. In 2017 and 2018, ARM piloted the code at two artisanal gold sites in Colombia, including a women’s association who recently completed their first CRAFT sale in July to a local refiner who supplies global refiners. The code can be used by implementing organizations to support their work in formalizing and improving conditions for artisanal miners who live in vulnerable situations and their communities.

“Our pilot with a women’s mining association in Colombia demonstrates the feasibility of entering into formal trade through better collective organization and performance. The experience illustrates the positive impacts of accessing markets, such as better revenues and livelihood conditions,” said Yves Bertan, Executive Director of Alliance for Responsible Mining. “The version 1.0 of the CRAFT Code creates a great array of possibilities of support to formalization processes and fostering better livelihoods for artisanal miners globally, extending this initial experience in other environment and producing countries.”

CRAFT was designed to closely reflect the risks outlined in the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, as well as other major issues of concern from industry and civil society.

The code was developed under guidance from artisanal miners from 5 countries; non-profit organizations like Pact and Solidaridad who work directly with miners; industry organizations such as the London Bullion Market Association, Responsible Jewellery Council, Intel, Responsible Minerals Initiative, Swiss Better Gold Association, Valcambi, and Argor-Heraeus; United Nations Environment Programme; the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance; and several independent technical experts.

“We see CRAFT as one of the cornerstones to drive responsible ASM mining and sourcing,” said Simone Knobloch, COO of Valcambi, a gold refinery. “It is the first industry tool that empowers miners to understand the market sourcing and due diligence requirements, assess their practices and how to address potential gaps, so that they can comply and report conformance with those needs, while providing supply chain actors with the instrument to engage with miners. It will facilitate due diligence by all along the value chain. Using CRAFT schemes, we will be able to support mines improve their practices so they can access global market”.

“We are very excited to see the CRAFT Code being launched now, as our project mines – as well as many other ASM mines – can now be recognized as operating responsibly,” said Boukje Theeuwes, Senior Program Manager for Solidaridad. “For miners, this new code can provide the very necessary gateway into the formal market. Until now this was only possible through international certification against standards which are difficult to achieve for many ASM miners, as it requires significant financial investments, time and training.”

RESOLVE and ARM sought additional input through a global stakeholder consultation process involving over 400 individuals from industry, mining communities, civil society, and governments from over 18 countries spanning 6 continents.

Under CRAFT, buyers, governments, NGOs, and private sector companies working with artisanal supply chains can organize “CRAFT schemes,” which apply the code to reflect the specific legal and technical requirements of the geographies and minerals in which they are working. Miners will produce a CRAFT report to demonstrate conformity with the requirements of CRAFT, to support further due diligence by clients further downstream in the supply chain.

The European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) provided funding to ARM and RESOLVE to develop and consult the CRAFT. EPRM has also pledged support for a second phase, during which ARM and RESOLVE will develop further criteria on medium and lower risk issues, and develop a “CRAFT Impact Marketplace” to help potential buyers, donors, and impact investors connect with CRAFT-conformant mines.

Susi Huisman, Advisor at RVO, the EPRM Secretariat said, “The EPRM is proud to have financed the innovative and promising CRAFT Code and believes it has the potential to bring about a systemic change for responsible mineral supply chains that EPRM believes in. The CRAFT Code is well aligned with the key objectives of the EPRM since CRAFT is facilitating market access for artisanal and small-scale miners and enables companies to source from ASM while following good risk management practices. The EPRM will continue its engagement and will further support the implementation of CRAFT.”

CRAFT is now available for download in EnglishFrench, and Spanish at To encourage uptake, alignment, and expanded support for the artisanal sector, CRAFT was developed as an open-source code and released under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 license; it may be used and adapted by any stakeholder in artisanal supply chains under the terms of this license.


Alliance for Responsible Mining
Natalia Uribe
Standards and Certification leader
+57 (4) 332 47 11

Jennifer Peyser
Director, Ethical Resource Program
+1 202 965 6215

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RESOLVE’s Cinematic Debut at the Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film, World Premiere on Discovery VR on September 14

Sep 14, 2018

RESOLVE made its debut in film—and at the Cannes Film Festival—this year with “Journey of Gold,” a virtual reality (VR) experience giving viewers a look inside the story of responsible artisanal gold mining. Its world premiere is today on Discovery VR (including on the Discovery YouTube channel, website, and Discovery VR app) and can be viewed at, Discovery’s YouTube Channel and Discovery’s VR page and app.

Most companies and consumers are far from the source of minerals used in products like jewelry, cars, medical devices, electronics—and far from artisanal miners in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Journey of Gold” brings the viewer underground in a gold mine, and face-to-face with miners, to shine a light on how responsible sourcing supports communities. The film speaks to companies in the gold supply chain, including suppliers for brands from the jewelry, electronics, and other sectors, on the importance of responsible sourcing and the value of engaging with the artisanal sector and communities. The accompanying action kit ( shares ideas for companies and consumers on how to get involved.

The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film in May, had its U.S. debut at Mountainfilm in Telluride, and has additional laurels–winning Best Scientific Work at Sweden’s VR Scifest and Best VR Film at the Tonneins International Film Festival.

The project was funded by Google and is an activity of the Responsible Artisanal Gold Solutions Forum (, a multi-stakeholder coalition facilitated by RESOLVE seeking to learn about and address critical barriers to the production and trade of artisanal gold from the Great Lakes Region and to support sourcing of responsible artisanal gold from the region.

RESOLVE Senior Mediator Jen Peyser is an executive producer of the film, along with Alyssa Newman, Google, and Catherine Picard, Tetra Tech and Chief of Party for the USAID Capacity Building for Responsible Minerals Trade program. We thank the film partners from the Forum, including Asahi Refining, Enough Project, Fair Congo, LBMA, Google, MKS PAMP Group, Responsible Trade, Richline Group, Signet Jewelers, Tetra Tech, and USAID.

Visit to learn more about the film, and for more information, please contact Jen Peyser.

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Collaborating Across Sectors to Improve Community Health

Jun 18, 2018

This winter, RESOLVE partnered with the Health Care Transformation Task Force (HCTTF) to lead a high-level group of public health and health care professionals in developing an actionable framework for cross sector collaboration. The resulting whitepaper, Partnering to Catalyze Comprehensive Community Wellness: An Actionable Framework for Health Care and Public Health Collaboration, was just released and featured by the New England Journal of Medicine’s Catalyst Blog.

It’s widely accepted that to truly improve health outcomes in the U.S. we must address acute health conditions and the upstream social determinants that contribute to wellbeing, such as nutritious food, transportation, safe housing and neighborhoods, education, and employment. Moreover, there’s mounting recognition that doing so requires enhanced collaboration among our health systems, social services, and community-based organizations.

This was the impetus that drove development of the new framework and white paper recently released by the  Public Health Leadership Forum (PHLF), RESOLVE’s long-standing forum for public health leaders to address emerging issues in the field, and HCTTF, a group of leading health care payers, providers, purchasers and patient organizations. The framework outlines essential elements, tactics, and strategies for forming or reshaping partnerships between health care and public health organizations. Doing so with the belief that high-functioning collaborations between health care and public health are an important step toward realizing the multi-sector community networks needed to provide seamless care and prevention services to all.

The framework’s collaborative orientation is reflective of the cross-sector cooperation that produced it. Members of the PHLF and HCTTF worked in partnership for over eight months to develop this resource and accompanying message. Together they articulated and endorsed a vision for “comprehensive community wellness;” described in the white paper as an approach

“that values and supports all people achieving their highest possible levels of health by simultaneously addressing all determinants of health. […] When assuming such an approach, the health department, hospital, and housing authority share at least one common goal: to improve the health and well-being of the people they serve. They work in concert, each leveraging their own skillsets and that of their partners, to accelerate and achieve the shared goal.”

Meant to help realize this vision, the framework draws on the collective expertise and experience of those involved to provide a roadmap for public health and health care collaboration. The PHLF-HCTTF partnership, and the combination of insights from health care and public health leaders, helped ensure the tool is resonant, understandable, and useful to both professional communities.

With the collaborative framework as a starting point, the PHLF-HCTTF partners invite others to join them in fostering the cross-sector relationships that make comprehensive community wellness possible, recognizing that it will require action from key stakeholders. They invite:

  • Public health and health care leaders to use the framework to convene collaborative groups, commit the time and resources needed to effectively collaborate on a shared vision, and grow a generation of health professionals who view multi-sector collaboration as the norm.
  • Local, state, and federal policy makers to learn from the examples of effective cross-sector collaboration that informed development of the framework to advance policies and programs that create the catalysts and conditions in which collaborative wellness approaches thrive.
  • Health practitioners to identify opportunities to engage and support community-based organizations in structured partnerships to ensure health interventions can truly take hold.

For more information and to download the framework and white paper, please visit:

The Public Health Leadership Forum

The Health Care Transformation Task Force  

The New England Journal Catalyst


About Public Health Leadership Forum

The Public Health Leadership Forum is a collaborative platform, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and managed and facilitated by RESOLVE, which engages a diverse set of public health leaders, practitioners, and other stakeholders in dialogue on current challenges to public health and opportunities for leadership, partnership and transformation within the field. The Forum has undertaken tasks including: defining a set of foundational public health services; articulating a vision for high achieving governmental health departments in the year 2020; and housing an initiative to cast the Department of Health and Human Services as the nation’s Chief Health Strategist.


About Health Care Transformation Task Force

Health Care Transformation Task Force is a unique collaboration of patients, payers, providers and purchasers working to lead a sweeping transformation of the health care system. By transitioning to value-based models that support the Triple Aim of better health, better care and lower costs, the Task Force is committed to accelerating the transformation to value in health care.

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40th Anniversary Kick-Off: RESOLVE Announces New Governors & Strategic Partners

Sep 25, 2017

September 19, 2017

Washington, DC – RESOLVE, known for forging sustainable solutions to critical environmental, social, and health challenges appointed new governors and strategic partners at its annual meeting today. RESOLVE also announced the creation of two new governance bodies, a Board of Advisors and the Natural Resources and Energy Leadership Council.

Appointments include:

Ramanie Kunanayagam, former Group Head of Social Performance and Human Rights for BG Group, to RESOLVE’s Board of Directors.

RESOLVE’s new Board of Advisors comprises: Britt Banks, Senior Fellow with the Getches-Wilkinson Center at the University of Colorado Law School; Jay Campbell, partner at Hart Research; Bennett Freeman, former Senior Vice President for Sustainability at Calvert Investments; Alana Knaster, the Gates Foundation, Mediator; Huguette Labelle, former Board Chair of Transparency International and previous Chancellor of the University of Ottawa; Sara Lipscomb, former General Counsel for the U.S. Small Business Administration; Thomas Lovejoy, George Mason University and Senior Fellow at the UN Foundation; Tim Martin, former Canadian Ambassador to Colombia, Argentina, and Paraguay; Lori Price, Investing in Nature, BWS Partner, Photographer; and Paul B. Thompson, W. K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University.

RESOLVE’s new Natural Resources and Energy Leadership Council comprises: Britt Banks, chair; Dave A. Baker, former Vice President, Environmental Affairs at Newmont Mining Corporation; Tom Butler, CEO of the International Council on Mining and Minerals; Anisa Costa, Chairman and President of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Chief Sustainability Officer at Tiffany & Co.; Stephen D’Esposito, President and CEO of RESOLVE; Gillian Davidson, Non-Executive Director at Lydian International, formerly of the World Economic Forum; Erin Dovichin, the Alaska Venture Fund, formerly of the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation; Tony Hodge, former President and CEO of the International Council of Mining and Minerals; Deanna Kemp, Director of the People Centres – the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining and the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre – at the Sustainable Minerals Institute at The University of Queensland; Bruce McKenney, Director for The Nature Conservancy’s Development by Design program; Herbert M’cleod, Country Director for Sierra Leone and Liberia at the International Growth Centre; Laurel Sabur, expert in risk management, treasury management, quantitative modeling, research, company analysis and corporate governance; Lisa Sachs, Director of the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment; John Thompson, Wold Family Professor in Environmental Balance for Human Sustainability at Cornell University; and Alan Young, Director of the Materials Efficiency Research Group. Board of Advisors members Huguette Labelle, Bennett Freeman, and Tim Martin, and Board of Directors member Ramanie Kunanayagam, are also part of RESOLVE’s Natural Resource and Energy Leadership Council.

This meeting included a reception featuring Sheka Forna, RESOLVE strategic partner and Executive Director of ReGrow West Africa, who spoke about RESOLVE’s ReGrow West Africa initiative, in a Global Development Alliance with USAID and Chevron.

“This group of global, collaborative leaders has a shared commitment to a less polarized world. With these appointments, as RESOLVE turns 40, we’re bolstering our role as a home for innovative impact partnerships like those to help communities replace lead service line pipes, implement Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and restore wild salmon habitat. We’re recommitted to building a healthy, sustainable world through collaboration, unique networks, and innovation” said Stephen D’Esposito, RESOLVE’s president.

RESOLVE’s board chair, Glenn Sigurdson, one of the early innovators in environmental conflict resolution added: “We are led by an ambitious group of collaborative leaders, seeking real benefits for people, communities, and ecosystems.”

RESOLVE is known for:

  • Implementing ReGrow West Africa, a Global Development Alliance with USAID and Chevron that provides capacity building for small and medium enterprises and uses an innovative platform to link entrepreneurs to impact investors.
  • Facilitating the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee, which provides guidance to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works regarding the Missouri River recovery and mitigation plans based on input from States, Tribes, Federal Agencies, and other stakeholders.
  • Training farmers to construct chili fences to protect crop damage by elephants, safeguarding farmer livelihoods, and promoting human-elephant existence though the Tembo-Pilipili project.
  • Hosting the Public Health Leadership Forum, a platform to engage public health and healthcare leaders in dialogue on current challenges facing public health and opportunities for transformation in the field.
  • Co-founding and facilitating the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade, a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder platform committed to bolstering progress on supply chain solutions to enable responsible sourcing from the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa.

Stephen D’Esposito
President, RESOLVE

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On Innovation, Impact, and Rollaboards®

Sep 12, 2017

Washington D.C.

September 12, 2017

We typically equate innovation with speed. It seems like transportation has been Uberized overnight, except in Vancouver where I still can’t get a taxi if it rains. But innovation isn’t always quick.

The first suitcases were produced about 120 years ago. For three-quarters of a century, the fundamental design didn’t change—we lugged our suitcases around for decades! The first patent for a rolling suitcase, the one with that cumbersome pull strap, was issued in the early ‘70s. It wasn’t until 1987 that “Rollaboards®” hit the market – the ones with the sturdy handles and the back braces. The “four-wheel spinner” was introduced in 2004 and has now reached near ubiquity.

The rate of innovation in the social sector is also variable. Social and policy innovation don’t always keep pace with business and economics (and vice versa). Today, any of our frameworks, systems, and tools strain under the weight of challenges that span jurisdictions or won’t fit neatly into pre-set categories. Policy issue silos impede solutions to complex problems, particularly for issues (e.g. public health, climate, biodiversity, and sustainable development) that require integrated and dynamic solutions. And in a polarized political and social culture that rewards conflict, we are often pushed further apart.

RESOLVE’s first innovation, forty years ago, was the idea that mediation could generate centripetal pull across divided sectors to create the incentives and cross-sector partnerships that are required to develop enduring solutions to environmental issues and disputes. Over the past four decades, we’ve continued innovating: expanding our approach to include health, development, and social issues; fostering unique and meaningful partnerships; and now initiating our own solutions-focused programs to rally diverse stakeholders together toward shared objectives. As we celebrate RESOLVE’s 40th year, we are testing yet another innovation in social impact partnerships. We are working with the social and business sectors to launch a series of projects that use profit to power and drive progress toward socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable solutions.

We see new signs of progress:

  • Localities, states and provinces, along with leading emerging economies, are serving as incubators for new and novel solutions. Innovation is occurring in urban areas with diverse and vibrant populations and economies, as well as in rural communities managing complex economic, health, and cultural cross-currents.
  • Civil society leaders are redefining their work in ways that respond to issue complexity and takes account of economic and cultural disruption. Larger-scale policy solutions, whether on health or biodiversity, are built from and legitimized in these communities.
  • Businesses and investors are acting as positive stimulants in communities where they operate, based on a long-term analysis of needs and community and business benefits. This investment extends to their supply chains, investment and purchasing decisions, and their ability to influence policy.
  • A next wave of developing countries (particularly in Africa) are positioned to emerge as economic, cultural, and political leaders. They are taking advantage of natural resource wealth and vibrant, young populations are testing new forms of resource and community governance.
  • Voluntary agreements and governance are filling the vacuum left by gaps in global governance or challenged national governments and can serve as an incubator for policy and pragmatic solutions in a time of constrained government capacity.
  • Commercial enterprise is a catalyst for health, social, and environmental solutions. We see a ripe moment for growth in impact investing as a counterpoint to policy inertia, with funding moving to social enterprise and impact partnerships.
  • In a time where so much else is uncertain, new foundation and corporate partnerships are likely to emerge, supporting policy and enterprise innovation. The key to success will be an approach that helps incubate and de-risk these partnerships.

These are the building blocks for a more productive social sector, but it’s time for us to accelerate. Next week, during our annual meeting, we’re bringing together collaborative leaders from around the world, and from all sectors, to strengthen our resolve and develop strategies that focus on accelerating social innovation.

One such leader is Sheka Forna, director of our ReGrow West Africa partnership. Sheka is an entrepreneur who founded Splash Mobile Money, Sierra Leone’s first and leading mobile payment provider; Rogbonko Village Retreat, a community-based impact enterprise; and the Chairman of the Global Entrepreneurship Network Sierra Leone.

If you miss Sheka’s keynote at our reception on Wednesday, September 20th, you can find out more about ReGrow West Africa here.

Stephen D’Esposito
President, RESOLVE

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Mining Sustainability – Four Frontiers

Sep 11, 2017

Introduction: I recently had the opportunity to participate in a meeting with sustainability executives in the Canadian mining industry. The discussion was about identifying emerging social and environmental issues that companies need to factor into their sustainability strategies and policies in the coming three years. The four frontiers are human rights, standards assurance at the level of supply chains, mine closure with energy transition and the social implications of the automated mine of the future.

Human Rights: The scope of human rights scrutiny on companies is expanding. This combines with a shift from soft CSR human rights commitments to hard legal accountability and potential for litigation in multiple jurisdictions.  It also appears that disclosure requirements and multi-stakeholder fora are a growing field of action for NGO stakeholders. There is increasing emphasis on social, economic and environmental rights as issues for which companies need to consider impacts well beyond the operational footprint. At the level of public opinion, this perspective can extend as far as the fairness and uses of the taxes mines pay.  Failure to provide adequate local benefits might be interpreted as a human rights issue. An active area of debate is how to clearly define the extent of company obligations and where those of the state become preeminent.

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) with respect to Indigenous rights is here to stay for the mining industry. However, there continues to be a great deal of variation across jurisdictions regarding how FPIC is implemented. Bringing a degree of clarity and certainty concerning the interpretation and implementation of FPIC remains an important challenge.

A management challenge for companies is how to manage and rationalize additional human rights compliance requirements.  These will come from different angles. It will be increasingly important to adopt a strategy that includes a “curated playlist” of instruments and standards. In this mix, it will also be increasingly important for companies to demonstrate objectively their positive contribution to human rights. Many elements of an enabling environment for human rights are beyond the power of any single company to influence. Together with other human rights stakeholders, there is scope for business to advance human rights advocacy action in difficult jurisdictions and ensure consistent performance by corporate peers.

The management challenge for companies is significant. On the one hand, human rights (especially allegations of violations) have a very subjective quality. On the other hand, the complex operational processes of mining companies require objective data for decision-making. New management tools for human rights are coming into focus. Human rights impact statements are one example. Identification of vulnerable groups in the social and environmental assessment process is another. Credible fact-finding processes that have integrity and engage all key stakeholders can help create a shared basis for understanding disputed events when opinions are polarized. We see increasing examples of human rights complaints raised at annual meetings of shareholders and gaining visibility with investors. There is scope for cross sector learning on appropriate responses to concerned shareholders as the obligation for business to respect human rights is not unique to extractive companies but applies to all business.

Grievance mechanisms play an important role when they are effective and credible. There are important and outstanding questions that must be addressed regarding what constitutes effective approaches to remedy when rights have been impacted.  Many of these questions revolve around the roles of companies, home countries and host countries in providing an effective approach to remedy.

While lenders are increasingly considering human rights in loan approvals, most investors are not focusing on this yet as a factor in asset selection. Partly this is because mining assets make up a small proportion of most large holdings. It also seems that investors do not fully grasp their potential exposure to risks of human rights liabilities within their assets.

Sustainable Supply Chains and the Circular Economy: Levi Strauss (clothing) and Apple have stated their intent to close a recycling circle for their manufacturing inputs. While this does not eliminate the long-term need for minerals and metals, it is a powerful signal of downstream sustainability expectations. The trend is for downstream manufacturers, some civil society groups and international organizations, like the OECD, to take a supply chain perspective to social and environmental standards assurance. Divergence in standards along the supply chain is clearly undesirable. Recently, upstream, mid-stream and downstream leaders have started working together to identify practical and workable approaches for coherent supply chain assurance. This looks like a consequential trend (see WEF/RESOLVE White Paper on Voluntary Initiatives). The implication is that market preferences will emerge for sources of minerals and metals that enjoy credible assurance starting at the production site.

Mine Closure and Energy Transition: Across sectors, mining is unique in its focus on preparing for closure as no other industry has the same obligation to pre-plan for closure.  Up to now, industry practices and regulatory requirements on closure have been focused on environmental closure with uneven integration of socio-economic considerations.  Additionally, some jurisdictions have established strong regulatory regimes for closure, while others have policy gaps in this area. Regardless of jurisdiction, there is an increasing need to look at the socio-economic factors in closure to minimize and address any adverse impacts.

In fact, an early closure planning process focused on socio-economic aspects of closure can contribute to maximize the long-term sustainable benefits that can be realized by the presence of a mine.  An example is planning for renewable (eg. solar) energy generation at mine sites that can continue and expand at closure providing a legacy of clean power generation into the local grid and help countries meet their Paris targets.

The (Automated) Mine of the Future: Mining is already capital intense. Efforts to get greater productivity, safety and automation at mine sites imply significant reductions in local employment opportunities.  So why would any community agree to a mine in their region that does not bring jobs? The industry will be challenged to develop new value propositions with local resonance to justify resource extraction. The long lifecycle of most mines argues strongly for sites to be excellent neighbors to local communities. Perhaps future community agreements will involve new kinds of social offsets and new developmental partnerships financed by site revenues.

An issue to watch is cyber-security and the heavy damage malign hackers could inflict on computerized mining systems.

Conclusion: The radar screen for the mining industry is crowded with incoming risks and leadership opportunities. Today’s four sustainability frontiers are human rights, responsible sourcing, transition to green energy and community benefits that don’t depend on local employment.

    • Human rights presents complex challenges because mines effect people and communities in many different ways. This calls for comprehensive integration of human rights considerations in mine planning and operations. At the same time as companies must prevent and respond adequately to local adverse impacts, the industry needs tools to ensure consistent human rights performance across the sector.
    • Consumer and manufacturer concern about the social and environmental qualities of mineral and metal inputs is intensifying. This generates demand for comprehensive standards assurance from site to final product.  It is inevitable that mining will face responsible sourcing expectations similar to those already in place for conflict sensitive minerals (see Conflict Minerals, Ethical Supply Chains and Peace), forestry and other sectors.
    • The challenge of GHG reduction creates a new opportunity for mine lifecycle approaches to green energy within operations and beyond into local and national energy grids.  The transition to green energy will require more sources of metals and minerals.  However, mines must be able to demonstrate that they are able to provide those materials while respecting human rights and the environment and providing benefits to affected communities.
    • The logic of technology and productivity lead away from employment as a local benefit for mining. Companies will need new approaches to community benefits in order to secure local acceptance for the mines of the future.

- Tim Martin, Senior Advisor

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Beyond Polarization, to Solutions for People and the Planet

Aug 2, 2017

At RESOLVE we’ve been thinking along with many of you about the challenges we face and constructive responses.

Today, we operate in a world defined by polarization and conflict rather than collaborative solutions and constructive compromise. At a political level, in a number of jurisdictions, elected officials are rewarded for obstruction and confrontation rather than stewardship and good governance. This is exacerbated by the tendency toward media echo chambers, the politicization of science and facts, the proliferation of fake news (I mean actual fake news as opposed to fake, fake news), and attacks on legitimate news sources. This coarsens our civic space, narrows the political commons, and promotes an ethos of mistrust. Those who would benefit from rational policy and pragmatic solutions suffer.

While the challenges are daunting, I’m optimistic about what’s next, particularly if we can create new leverage together, strengthen cross-sector partnerships, and show a willingness to take risks.

I’m optimistic because I see the progress underway with our partners in Sierra Leone promoting post-Ebola sustainable development (; mining companies contributing to green energy development (; developers and indigenous communities making better agreements (; and a new program to help replace lead service lines to homes across the U.S., including in rural communities ( Each of these efforts is based on cross-sector partnerships that help us get beyond polarization.

We see risks and opportunities for our partners in civil society and leading businesses; risks include:

  • Weakened government capacity in key jurisdictions may result in less willingness or capacity to protect civic space. We may see an erosion of the rule of law. Targeting of opponents has the potential to deepen and intensify conflicts.
  •  A turn away from evidence-based policy-making could accelerate, leading to worsening health and environmental outcomes, including defunding of key programs for natural resource and health planning.
  •  Decision making for major natural resource projects could slow or stall as effective stakeholder engagement is deprioritized and government capacity weakens. This could increase risks for large-scale multijurisdictional projects, including major infrastructure projects. Investors may seek to “wait-out” a period when project risk is on the rise.
  • The backlash against the role of the private sector as an “agent for progress” is real and could intensify, due to perceptions that even global brands are fostering economic disparities. Corporate social responsibility strategies – those fashioned for a different era – may fail to deliver desired results. Despite this backlash, many in civil society and communities will look for corporations to lead as government action falters.
  • In some cases civil society organizations, seen as credible intermediaries, are able to fill voids left by government, often with support from donors and corporations. However, this role has the potential to foster a polarizing backlash, particularly with regard to charged political issues such as climate, family planning, and others.

In this climate we have work to do together:

  • Defending the space for those with different perspectives and experiences to explore productive solutions.
  • Helping our partners, especially those in other sectors, navigate these uncertain waters.
  • Doubling-down on what we know works –partnerships, collaboration, and informed, constructive compromise (yes, compromise!) to achieve policy solutions and voluntary agreements, and implement good practices.
  • Pushing back (smartly) against efforts to delegitimize institutions, attack civic norms, or target vulnerable or under-represented populations.
  • Stepping up to amplify constructive voices and actions and look out over the horizon, creatively and with confidence.
  • Undertaking innovative, forward-looking activities that point to solutions and create hope, like ReGrow West Africa, Nature Needs Half (, and improving end-of-life care (
  • Supporting corporate and civil society leadership, recognizing that we may be entering an era where constructive, collaborative CEO activism is essential and rewarded (

Since RESOLVE’s founding in 1977, we have seen leaders in non-governmental organizations, communities, and companies advance the art and craft of effective engagement. They have built unlikely or unexpected partnerships, leading to new, innovative, and impactful solutions. The hard work of these collaborative leaders and their willingness to reach across divides, both real and perceived, made the world a better place. We will draw on these leaders—their experiences, skills, and wisdom are now invaluable. They are our navigators.

 - Stephen D’Esposito

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ReGrow is Underway, Supporting Post-Ebola Economic Recovery in Sierra Leone

May 3, 2017

Sierra Leone is a country that has been blessed with potential, but potential that we have all too often failed to realize. When I returned in 2009, Sierra Leone was poised to embark upon the greatest period of economic growth in its history. Sadly, that promise was crushed by the twin evils of Ebola and the worldwide downturn in commodity prices, bringing with them thousands of deaths and economic collapse.

Sierra Leoneans are a resilient people. In the 55 years of our independence, we have weathered many storms, and we will weather this one. But if we are to deliver on our potential, we must learn from our travails. Our country is not incapable of producing world beating businesses. Choithrams, a global trading company with a presence in Europe, the Americas and Asia, was born in Sierra Leone. We are not short of entrepreneurs. Anybody driving our streets can testify to the entrepreneurial zeal of our people. What is lacking is a middle; both a middle class and the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that, in developed countries, typically contribute up to 50% of GDP and 60% of employment. People and businesses committed to the country, with the potential to grow, to employ, feed, clothe and educate our populace – and with the will and resources to sustain themselves even when the going gets tough.

The ReGrow programme, funded by Chevron and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) seeks to help develop this middle. Working with the internationally-renowned non-governmental organization Cordaid, we will harness the potential of our entrepreneurs, providing free Resilient Business Development Services to 25 carefully selected SMEs who, on completion of their training, may be supported by loans from the specially created ReGrow Revolving Loan Fund to help them sustain and grow their businesses. In partnership with Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), we will identify investment opportunities to showcase on the ReGrow Marketplace, a portal which will be developed by ReGrow, and hosted within the SLIEPA website. Larger scale sectorial opportunities will be highlighted in the international Convergence platform. ReGrow on its own will not change the economic landscape of Sierra Leone, but it is our hope that we will serve as a catalyst for that necessary change.

RESOLVE and USAID held a launch event for ReGrow at the US Embassy in Sierra Leone on January 15, 2017. Thereafter, RESOLVE established its ReGrow implementation infrastructure in Sierra Leone and began organizing all of the necessary implementation partnerships. By April 15, 2017 RESOLVE expects to initiate Stage-1 of its SME Support, starting with recruitment and due diligence of SMEs. At the same time, RESOLVE also expects to begin working with SLIEPA and other partners to design and develop the ReGrow Marketplace and will commence planning and promoting an impact investment training seminar and workshop.


Sheka Forna, Strategic Partner, RESOLVE

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Hobby Drones, Re-Purposed as Peacekeepers, Save Elephants and Protect Communities and Livelihoods | RESOLVE’s Nathan Hahn Tells the Story on PBS

May 1, 2017

SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania – Today, PBS reported on the success of RESOLVE’s project, with the Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute and the Mara Elephant Project, using hobby drones to prevent human-wildlife conflict near the Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks in Tanzania.

Check out this link on PBS, or watch the YouTube video below.

Nathan Hahn, a researcher with RESOLVE’s Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions Program, is featured in the PBS story. The research team worked hard to make the case that drones could serve as peacekeepers. “We’ve stressed the importance of data collection throughout this project. There is sometimes a tendency to overstate the power of new technologies, and we wanted to fairly assess the utility of the drones for moving elephants out of crops and other areas. The results are positive and show that UAVs can be an effective, flexible way for wildlife managers to deal with human-elephant conflict.”

We recognized drones as a possible new tool to prevent human-elephant conflict, but realized more testing was required before drones could be proclaimed a safe solution for both wildlife and people. To prove the case we conducted 51 field trials in farmland bordering Tanzania’s Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks, the results of which are summarized in this Oryx paper. The training reports and operating guides can be on the RESOLVE site here.

For more information on our Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions Program @ RESOLVE go here: or reach out directly to Nathan Hahn (

Stephen D’Esposito, President, RESOLVE

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