Apple’s Big Supply Chain Transparency Milestone

Apr 1, 2016

A Bloomberg Technology article explores Apple’s announcement on Wednesday that all 242 of its suppliers of tin, tantalum, tungsten, or gold are now subject to third-party audits to determine any links to armed groups in the DRC. While many companies have sought to avoid any materials from DRC and the surrounding countries, Apple has worked with its suppliers (in some cases, “cajoling, persuading, and even embarrasing [them] by publishing their names”) to support conflict-free producers in the region. “We could have very easily chosen a path of re-routing our supply and declared ourselves conflict-free long ago, but that would have done nothing to help the people on the ground,” Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said. “We chose to engage with as many smelters as possible because the only way to have an impact here is to reach critical mass.”

The Enough Project also applauded this achievement. “Apple’s new supplier report is a model for how companies should be addressing conflict minerals,” said Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy. “Apple’s tough love with its suppliers is critical to solving the problem of deadly conflict minerals — it offered assistance to suppliers but then took the difficult step of cutting out those who were unwilling to undergo an audit. Firm but fair follow-through by tech and other companies with their suppliers is a key step that’s needed to cut off global markets for conflict minerals.”

Apple and the Enough Projects are both members of the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade, a coalition of 51 member organizations from industry, civil society, and government, for which RESOLVE serves as Secretariat. The PPA provides funding and coordination support to organizations working within the region to develop verifiable conflict-free supply chains align due diligence programs and practice, encourage responsible sourcing from the region, promote transparency, and bolster in-region civil society and government capacity.

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Strategic Partner Mike Loch #1 | PPA Members among Top Conflict Minerals Influence Leaders

Mar 24, 2016

Congratulations to RESOLVE Strategic Partner Mike Loch, who was recognized as the #1 Conflict Minerals Influence Leader in 2016. Mike’s longstanding leadership includes highlights such as serving as the co-chair of the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative for over 7 years; leading the development and launch of the first Solutions for Hope pilots, and helping to establish and serving on the Governance Committee of the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA), for whom RESOLVE serves as Secretariat.

Along with Mike, current and former PPA members comprised 20% of the list, including Carrie George (Apple), Kelly Katynski (Ford Motor Company), Sophia Pickles (Global Witness), and Sasha Lezhnev (Enough Project) – all Governance Committee members; and Gary Niekerk and Bryan Fiereck (Intel), Yves Bawa (Pact), Leah Butler (EICC), Kay Nimmo (ITRI), Benedict Cohen (Boeing), John Plyler (Blackberry), Tim Mohin (AMD), Jay Celorie (Hewlett-Packard), Anita Gobor (Microsoft), Patricia Jurewicz (Responsible Sourcing Network), Joanne Lebert (Partnership Africa Canada), Mikko Suorsa (Nokia), Fiona Southward (IPIS), and Herbert Lust (formerly Boeing).

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Video – Progress on Conflict Minerals

Jul 30, 2013

Five years ago, when Motorola Solutions and other tech companies started to work proactively to address the issue of so called “conflict minerals” – tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold – some said solutions like this were unrealistic or unlikely to have meaningful impacts.  The argument went something like this—“How can companies reach into their supply chains and have an impact in DRC when they don’t even know which minerals are in their components?”  Five years later, Motorola Solutions’ Corporate VP and Chief Procurement Officer Rich Valin is speaking about the positive impact efforts like Solutions for Hope have produced to encourage peace and development in the DRC.

RESOLVE hosts several other efforts working on this issue, including the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade, the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative, and the Conflict Free Smelter Early Adopters Fund. Click here to learn more about RESOLVE’s early supply chain mapping research and resulting report.

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WEF Responsible Minerals Development Initiative Report

May 2, 2013

The World Economic Forum council on responsible natural resource management has zeroed in on the issue of how to unlock value with regard to mineral development.  For three years, Steve and the rest of the council has focused on a program called the Responsible Minerals Development Initiative (RMDI). The RMDI has new findings to report.  This is timely given the essential role that mining can play in development and the conflicts we are experiencing in many regions including Latin America and Africa. With support from the Boston Consulting Group, the WEF prepared a report (Mineral Value Management—A Multidimensional View of Value Creation from Mining) and tool that underscores the critical role of dialogue and communication to support development.  See the press release and the report for more information.

Here’s Steve’s comment on the RMDI program: “’Financial value is important, but it is not the only measure,’ said Stephen D’Esposito, an advisor on the project and president of RESOLVE, a nonprofit organization that promotes collaborative resolution of public issues. ‘Anything that matters to stakeholders and affects their view of mining—be it a new road development that benefits local businesses or impacts on traditional cultures—needs to be included.’”

In addition to our participation in policy development as part of the World Economic Forum and RMDI, you’ll find RESOLVE in communities grappling with these and similar issues.

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New Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative Announced

May 1, 2013

This press release, an announcement of the new Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI), is evidence of the progress that’s been made by electronics companies and other manufacturers and retailers on the issue of supply chain transparency and “conflict free’ sourcing of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold from DRC and the surrounding countries. What’s notable is the extent to which tool, strategies and programs have been shared across industry sectors. In the release, you see links to the automotive industry, department and big box stores and others.

NGOs like Enough, PACT, PAC and others have played a key role.

When RESOLVE first began working on this issue over four years ago, ideas, strategies and relationships — particularly those that extend across sectors — were in short supply (see the 2011 Responsible Mineral Development Report).

Today, the CFSI is complemented by a number of linked initiatives to support in-region capacity building (e.g., PPA) and “conflict free” sources (like Solutions for Hope and Conflict Free Tin Initiative).

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Towards Responsible Mineral Development – GEMM 2020

May 11, 2012

Responsible mineral development is an essential ingredient supporting development in key regions of the world and many of the products we need (building materials, copper wire, piping) and want (jewelry, smart phones).

Defining what is “responsible” in a way that has support from key stakeholder groups remains a challenge.

Glenn Sigurdson and his team at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver gathered over 140 leaders from around the world to take stock of progress to date on the question of what is “responsible” and think about how to take this agenda forward. See Pathways for Improving Practice and Agendas for Responsive Research; Responsible Minerals Sector Initiative (RMSI) for more information.

For me, two clear themes emerged from this session; it is time to 1) consolidate and 2) catalyze:

Progress is occurring—one measure of success is the myriad sustainability initiatives that are underway. However, there is also a danger of initiative fatigue. It may be time for mapping and assessment (with participation from stakeholders) to help identify opportunities for consolidating initiatives.  We know that mapping and analysis has occurred within sectors, but we have not yet seen it occur across sectors. It is time for that to happen.

Along with consolidation there is a desire to catalyze the right activities—those that have the potential for the greatest positive impact in communities. Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) and broader social license are clearly priorities. At RESOLVE we are already working with stakeholders on this issue—leaders from civil society and the corporate sector—to understand “what works” today and what we need to test or pilot. During the GEMM 2020 conference, participants affirmed this focus.

For RESOLVE and the Beedie School’s RMSI this creates a partnership opportunity. Watch this space for future updates.

- Steve D’Esposito

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Voluntary Governance

Apr 4, 2012

Yesterday’s blog post on a new RESOLVE pilot project highlights one example of voluntary collaboration among businesses to develop tools for addressing urgent environmental and social challenges.

In this era of globalization, supply chain dynamics are complex and often opaque. The Conflict-Free Smelter Program, along with the Public Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals, and mineral mapping initiatives by the electronics industry aim to make supply chains more transparent, as well as environmentally and socially sustainable. These are just a few of RESOLVE’s projects supporting voluntary governance initiatives. We are also:

  • Helping to expand avenues for civil society engagement with the Climate Investment Funds, a joint initiative of five multilateral development banks housed at the World Bank
  • Advising extractives companies, civil society organizations, and agencies on best practices for stakeholder engagement and conflict resolution
  • Facilitating a state-of-knowledge assessment on the impact and performance of sustainability labels such as the Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council, Utz, and FairTrade.

To learn more about these projects and our other voluntary governance work, check out our website.

- Taylor Kennedy

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New RESOLVE Solutions Network Program to Support-Conflict Free Supply Chain for Target Minerals

Apr 3, 2012

RESOLVE is pleased to announce the launch of a new pilot project—the Conflict-Free Smelter (CFS) Early Adopters Fund.  This Fund, initiated by Intel, HP and GE, is designed to support responsible minerals sourcing by encouraging smelters and refineries (smelters) to become early-adopters of the CFS Program, which seeks to end supply chain support for the sale of illicit minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the surrounding region.

The CFS Early-Adopters Fund offers each smelter company an extra incentive for early participation by helping to offset transition and start-up costs if they successfully comply with the CFS Program protocol. The idea for this Fund was hatched by companies who are committed to doing what it takes in their supply chains to promote transparency, and RESOLVE’s Solutions Networkplatform is an ideal home for managing and testing this pilot program. This is a great example of leading companies taking action to promote transparency and responsible sourcing in their supply chains. Intel, HP, and the GE Foundation are sponsoring this new, independent fund, and other leading organizations have been invited to support the Fund as well.

Because so much of this design is new, we do not expect it to be perfect at the outset. As with so much of the innovative work taking place to respond to conflict minerals, we are committed to working with stakeholders to continue testing and making improvements. Approximately a year into the pilot program we will invite key stakeholders to review the program results and help determine how to further strengthen efforts to support capacity building in the supply chain for conflict-free minerals.

RESOLVE’s President, Stephen D’Esposito explains “Early leadership from electronics companies helped catalyze development of the Conflict-Free Smelter Program, and once again we see leaders like Intel, HP and the GE Foundation taking action to make a difference in the world supply chain. RESOLVE is committed to work with stakeholders to test programs like this and inform, refine and strengthen policy and voluntary efforts on such issues.”

The Fund is part of a growing fabric of programs designed to build capacity to respond to the challenges of conflict minerals. The EICC and GeSI, these same sponsoring companies and others also support the Public Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals, a joint initiative between governments, companies, and civil society to support supply chain solutions to conflict minerals challenges in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa. To find out more about this program and RESOLVE’s involvement, click here.

For more information on the CFS Early-Adopters Fund, click here. And, for more information on RESOLVE’s other voluntary governance projects, click here.

- Beth Weaver

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From the 3rd Annual CSR Extractives Conference…

Mar 21, 2012

I’m at Ethical Corporation’s 3rd Annual CSR Extractives Conference How To Manage Social and Environmental Risk for Oil, Gas and Mining in London speaking about stakeholder engagement and conflict minerals—both the challenges and the progress.  The IFC just spoke about the documented financial benefit of good stakeholder engagement associated with natural resource projects.  I’ll talk about how “failure” or getting stuck can lead to success if you look at the challenge from the right perspective.  With conflict minerals, stakeholders were initially stuck because of the challenge of tracing and tracking in the supply chains for tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.  But working together to unpack the challenges led to collaborative solutions—and progress. 

Good to see groups like PACT and others in the room.  Could use more like the Enough Project, Motorola Solutions, Intel, HP, GE, Freeport McMoran and Newmont to really paint the picture of the challenges and opportunities.  But that opportunity will come with the upcoming EICC-GeSI Supply Chain Workshop in Philly.

- Steve D’Esposito

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Collaboration Inside

Feb 10, 2012

In a recently released White Paper Intel recounts the history of its response, to date, to the challenge of conflict minerals potentially entering its supply chain. Intel and other electronics companies use metals (e.g. tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) in their products. Some of the minerals may originate from conflict zones such as parts of the DRC where they contribute to conflict and human rights violation.

Two themes shine through the White Paper:

1) the critical role of corporate and individual leadership
2) the benefits that can accrue from effective, strategic collaboration

Three years ago, things were different. There was little recognition of these issues in the electronics supply chain, much less a coordinated response. There was limited engagement with other industry sectors. And there were limited relationships with leaders in the NGO sector and key government agencies. While there is more to be done, given the progress chronicled in the White Paper, it’s fair (and interesting) at this juncture to ask, what are some of the ingredients that have helped support the progress that’s been made? Looking back, it’s clear that key stakeholders worked hard to take advantage of collaborative opportunities when it might have been simpler to take a different path.

Sector Leadership and Action
Companies like Intel, Motorola Solutions, HP and others have been solutions catalysts within broader industry association such as the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiate (GeSI). They have worked collaboratively with industry partners and have been willing to experiment and innovate. Whether it’s the Solutions for Hope supply chain pilot on tantalum, or launching a new public-private alliance to support responsible minerals sourcingfrom the Great Lakes region of central Africa, or other initiatives, companies have shown they are willing not just to act but to help lead.

Extending a Hand Into and Across the Supply Chain
These companies reached into their supply chains, and reached out to other sectors that utilize these metals, to understand supply chain challenges and identify solutions. They found willing partners, many of whom were already active developing site-based program and innovative supply chain solutions. They found others miners like Newmont and Freeport-McMoRan; refiners like H.C. Starck and Valcambi; manufacturers in other sectors like Richemont, Ford, and GE; and retailers like Sterling/Signet and Best Buy. The benefits of this collaboration are now starting to manifest themselves in sharing of response systems and tools, innovations like the PPA, and supply chain partnerships.

Supporting Collaborative Architecture to Industry, Government, and NGO Leaders
It’s telling that in response to the Intel White Paper, the Enough Project, a leading NGO active on these issues, described Intel as “an industry leader on conflict minerals.” While there may remain disagreements and tension points between some companies and NGOs over, for example, regulatory language, there is now a collaborative baseline that keeps key companies, NGOs, and government leaders at the table, working together. This is the result of hard work, perseverance, creativity, and risk-taking on the part of leaders in each of these sectors. It’s also evidence of the power and impact that can result when unlikely allies decide to pursue a common goal. Looking back over three years, one can begin to see how support for collaborative architecture (e.g. collaborative research, facilitated stakeholder and supply chain meetings, joint pilot projects, jointly governed resources) have created a supportive platform for leadership and action.

This is a complex, challenging issue that doesn’t lend itself to easy solutions or policy responses. Success will come from collaborative testing, trial-and-error, learning and refinement; all of which needs to be supported by collaborative infrastructure and capacity building. Here at RESOLVE, we’re honored to work with collaborative leaders in these companies, NGOs, and agencies.

- Stephen D’Esposito

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