IGOs and UN bodies’ industry partnerships with gold mining operators may benefit society and the environment

IGOs and UN bodies’ industry partnerships with gold mining operators may benefit society and the environment

Intergovernmental organisations and UN bodies have the capacity to provide formal, ongoing, multilateral processes of decision-making between states, along with the capacity to execute the collective will of their member states. 1 These entities subsume a stable regulatory oversight on decision-making and governance whilst providing institutional autonomy. It is thus critical that mining operators engage in industry partnerships with intergovernmental organisations and UN bodies when promoting sustainable practices and standards, so that the benefits of positive socio-economic impact are accrued to civil society and the environment.

The United Nations has formed a global registry of voluntary commitments and multi-stakeholder partnerships that support sustainable development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which was adopted by all 193 member-state of the United Nations in 2015, constitute the universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere.

For growth to be sustainable, it needs to meet the needs of the present without compromising the demands of future generations. This will require the harmonisation of three core elements ​— economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection. 2 Should this be achieved, we can build an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient future together. 3

Economic growth is no longer seen as progress with a linear trajectory, and should definitely not be viewed in the lens of Gerschenkron’s structuralist approach to development. 4 Sustainable economic growth is advanced by economic empowerment and mass participation in the economic and social realms. Strong capacity-building efforts, provided through value-adding partnerships with governments, intergovernmental organisations, and UN bodies, is needed to achieve true sustainable growth. 5

By facilitating the sharing of knowledge and expertise among multi-stakeholder SDG-related partnerships and voluntary commitments to provide periodic updates on their progress, the mining community can create a greater impact on initiatives to ensure sustainable mining practices. Partnerships should be enhanced to promote effective public, public-private, and civil society linkages that build on the experience and resourcing strategies of the various stakeholders.

Through such partnerships, there will also be opportunities for mining operators to mobilise and share expertise to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. These would constitute the “norm-setting” space for sustainable development partnerships. Representatives from the mining community and various other stakeholders can capitalise on such engagements as a further avenue to deliberate policy implications that can enhance the results-focus, accountability, transparency, and coherence of partnerships in support of sustainable development.

The provision of capacity-building support to emerging economies is also another avenue for governments to partner with mining operators. 6 In particular, the sharing of technical knowledge, and wherever possible, exploring value-added processing to reclaim and rehabilitate degraded sites, will allow countries to conserve fragile ecosystems within their territorial boundaries.

At present, many countries are facing socio-environmental challenges with mining activities within their jurisdictions. Countermeasures need to be taken to deal with adverse situations, and clean technologies, such as Clean Earth Technologies’ non-toxic gold recovery reagent and dewatering process, can assist in promoting sustainable processing and mining practices.

Many emerging economies already have environmental standards in place, but weak enforcement mechanisms and the lack of monitoring capability may hamper progress. The gold mining industry can boost their output and operational performance if coordinated efforts are made with intergovernmental organisations and various UN bodies to lobby governments for the harmonisation of environmental standards.

Ultimately, mining companies committed to industry partnerships with civil society, intergovernmental organisations, and state bodies will benefit from improved relationships and better access to financial resources; those that fail to engage meaningfully with the sustainable development goals may see greater risk in their operations. The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals will require all hands on deck. Such cross-sectoral and innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships will play a crucial role for getting us to where we need by the year 2030.

 

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[1] Volgy et.al., “Identifying Formal Intergovernmental Organizations,” ​Journal of Peace Research Vol. 45 No. 6 (2008) pp. 839 (Article).

[2] Ki-mun Pan and Jeffrey Sachs, ​The Age of Sustainable Development​ (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2015).

[3] A. Han Onn and A. Woodley, “A Discourse Analysis on How the Sustainability Agenda Is Defined within the Mining Industry,” Journal of Cleaner Production​ 84 (2014): pp. 116-127, ​https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.03.086​.

[4] ​Agu, C. C. “Nigerian banking structure and performance: The banking system’s contribution to economic development in Nigeria.” (1988).

[5] ​Adenuga, A. O., and Y. J. Adams. “The granger causality analysis of some financial and real sectors variables: The case of Nigeria.” ​Journal of Banking​ 2, no. 1 (2007): 31-56.

[6] Abraham Kumah, “Sustainability and Gold Mining in the Developing World,” ​Journal of Cleaner Production 14, no. 3-4 (2006): pp. 315-323, ​https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2004.08.007​.

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