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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Expansion of Solutions for Hope Platform

Oct 30, 2014

As you may have seen in yesterday’s press release, RESOLVE recently received a grant from Motorola Solutions Foundation to support the expansion of the Solutions for Hope platform. You can read the story of Solutions for Hope here, but the short story is that it was conceived in 2011 when, because of legitimate concerns about conflict minerals, many companies were refusing to source from the DRC. A de facto trade embargo would have significant implications for the livelihoods of the millions of ASM miners in the DRC, and Solutions for Hope was initiated by Motorola Solutions and AVX as a pilot project to demonstrate that companies could source legal, conflict-free tantalum  from the DRC while meeting their due diligence responsibilities.

The pilot was a success and gathered the attention and participation of a number of leading electronics companies. The Conflict-Free Tin Initiative launched shortly after, aiming to apply the Solutions for Hope model to tin. Now, working with leaders from both initiatives, and with this support from Motorola Solutions Foundation, we are building on the successes and lessons to expand the platform to other minerals and geographies.

It’s a busy but exciting time! We are identifying applications in the African Great Lakes Region on gold, and we’re planning pilots to develop verifiable conflict-free supply chains in Colombia. RESOLVE President Steve D’Esposito and former Canadian Ambassador Tim Martin recently published an article on the evolution of supply chain initiatives over the last 15 years and the continuing need for multi-sector interventions to support capacity building in conflict-affected regions.

Motorola Solutions Director of Supply Chain Corporate Responsibility Mike Loch will be talking about these issues and the future of the Solutions for Hope platform tomorrow as part of an event hosted by the Ford Foundation and chaired by UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson. The event, called “Managing Congo’s Natural Resource Wealth: From Plunder to Shared Prosperity” can be live streamed below.

Watch live streaming video from fordfound at livestream.com
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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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Responsible Mineral Development Initiative

Feb 7, 2012

For those interested in sustainable development and mining the new report announced at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos is worth a read.  It’s from the WEF’s Responsible Mineral Development Initiative (RMDI).  It targets bolstering capacity so that communities and governments have the tools they need to realize the economic and social benefits of mining.  What’s particularly interesting is recognition of the benefits of proactive stakeholder engagement and the need to bolster capacity for conflict resolution—as a proactive strategy as well as a response to conflict.  I served on the RMDI advisory group and saw the evolution of project from a broad, amorphous dialogue to a targeted, concrete guidance document.  RESOLVE will continue to participate in and support this multi-sector initiative of the WEF.  The key now is acting on the recommendations—we’re ready to roll up our sleeves.

- Stephen D’Esposito

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Sound Effects: Protecting Marine Mammals Using Acoustic Technology

Oct 17, 2011

In November 2009, RESOLVE facilitated a workshop in Boston, MA on the “Status and Applications of Acoustic Mitigation and Monitoring Systems for Marine Mammals.” The workshop was convened by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and the 200 participants explored the capabilities and limitations of using passive and active acoustic systems to monitor and help mitigate adverse impacts of marine mammals in offshore environments.

Why was the issue of acoustic technology so important for an agency that focuses on offshore energy? The answer is not readily apparent unless one knows something about sound in water, and how it interacts with marine animals and ecosystems.

Have you ever dunked your head underneath the water at the swimming pool and just listened? Sound behaves so differently under water than in the air. It conducts better, and travels longer distances at a faster speed (particularly in seawater). While underwater sounds may be strange and unintelligible to our human ears an entire order of marine mammals, the cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), have evolved to use underwater sounds through echolocation to learn information about their surroundings and communicate with others in their species.

Now imagine humans coming along and changing the marine acoustic environment through noise created near the water, on the water, and in the water. Anthropogenic sound can greatly affect these animals directly (through physical harm) and indirectly (by impacting their ability to echolocate and communicate). Some of the most extreme examples of this are beached whales after sonar tests.

Americans decided back in 1972, with the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), that these animals should be protected. The MMPA prohibits the “take” of marine mammals. Specifically, we cannot “harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect” marine mammals. The Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) is given the task of protecting these animals while managing offshore energy development activities, which can create large-scale sound events. These events can result in the take of a whale or other marine mammal if within a certain distance of the sound. Examples of these events include survey companies using seismic blasts to locate offshore petroleum deposits and offshore wind turbine developers using pile driving to provide foundation support for the turbines.

BOEMRE has long required that those carrying out such offshore activities visually monitor for marine mammals and to stop work if an animal is spotted. But acoustic technology can complement and enhance visual monitoring and help ensure there are no marine mammals nearby at the time of a seismic blast or pile driving. To determine this technology’s capabilities and limitations, BOEMRE partnered with RESOLVE to hold the November 2009 workshop, which was attended by 200 regulators, researchers, operators, and conservationists from all over the globe to discuss how acoustic technology can monitor and help mitigate adverse impacts to marine mammals.

The official Technical Announcement and Workshop Proceedings are now available at the BOEMRE website.

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Paradigm Shift

Mar 2, 2011

Sustainability today requires something different: support for rapid innovation and collaborative leadership, safe space for risk taking, and partnerships formed across sectors.  This requires the design of new systems and tools that support a collaborative approach.  I call this Sustainability 3.0 and my keynote remarks at the 2011 SME Annual Meeting & Exhibit and CMA 113th National Western Mining Conference “Shaping a Strong Future Through Mining” explore progress and new challenges, for the mining industry, NGOs and society.  Take a look.

Stephen D’Esposito

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