IIED, Rio +20, and RESOLVE

Jul 31, 2012

I just saw the report on mining that IIED prepared for Rio+20.  It’s terrific … and well worth reading & forwarding on. It notes that capacity building for both communities and companies is still needed, and I couldn’t agree more. As we continue to navigate the intersection of mining, sustainability, and human rights – and based on my experiences working with communities and mining companies – it’s clear we need to find ways to connect dots, and stakeholders, so that policy is informed by on-the-ground realities.

RESOLVE was mentioned in the report, and the observations from our president, Steve D’Esposito, are also worth flagging:

  • Stephen D’Esposito, now Head of RESOLVE and representative of the NGO sector in the GMI Toronto conference, noted that addressing issues in isolation (such as biodiversity offsets and FPIC) has led to a ‘missed opportunity’ in considering the trade-offs inherent to sustainable development.
  • According to D’Esposito, ‘the incentive structure for civil society has shifted and partnerships with companies are seen as a way to make gains in ways that weren’t as clear before’. He went on to say there have been missed opportunities on issues such as Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, tailings disposal and ‘no go’ areas, which are ‘often framed in black-and-white terms with NGO demands followed by industry reaction or responses.’ This ‘call and response’ dynamic typically prevents constructive engagement.

RESOLVE is committed to enabling constructive engagement, and helping stakeholders identify and seize opportunities. Through our efforts to improve FPIC implementation, and address supply chain and other sustainable development challenges, we hope to contribute to the emerging guidance and good-practice case studies that IIED calls for in the coming decade.

- Kate Kopischke

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Rio +20 – Looking at the Past and the Road Ahead

Jul 10, 2012

Did anything important happen at the Earth Summit—also known as Rio+20—a couple of weeks ago? Was it worth the expenditure of money, time and energy? Did calling tens of thousands of people together advance anything? And what about the opportunity costs? Would the effort spent prepping for Rio+20 have been better spent on working directly on the issues, investing in specific actions and programs, and building the partnerships necessary to actually design, test and implement solutions? It’s easy to be critical of an undertaking so large and cumbersome, particularly when its real purpose—advancing agreements on global policy—simply wasn’t on the agenda. For some, the simple act of taking stock has value even though the exercise leads many to disappointment. But taking stock issue-by-issue, sector-by-sector is a more positive exercise. Energy solutions are not advancing fast enough but they are advancing. Development is taking place in significant and positive ways in less developed regions. And there is evidence of progress in one of the most challenging sectors—mining. Some thought it unlikely when CEOs in the mining sector stepped up to the plate at Rio+10 and made commitments to improving industry performance on sustainable development. A new report from IIEDlooks at the sector’s progress over the past decade—and IIED finds that progress was made. For those interested in finding collaborative solutions in this sector the report is a good read. Of course, as we know, much has changed and new strategies and solutions are needed.

At the recent GEMM 2020 conference on taking stock of the progress the mining sector has made since Rio +10 organized by the Responsible Mining Sector Initiativemy remarks focused on the need for 1) a focus on collaborative learning and a design to advance social license and FPIC for larger scale development projects, 2) a consolidation of sustainability initiatives, 3) a focus on transparency and risk reduction in supply chains, 4) capacity-building programs focused in new mining regions, and 5) an emphasis on the contribution responsibly sourced minerals and materials can make to technology and new products, including green tech and products.

- Steve D’Esposito

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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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