International Coalition on Resources Governance Essential, MEP Gerbrandy Said at FORAM Event

resources governanceNancy, 27 June 2018 Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (Member of the European Parliament) stated that it is essential to have an international coalition to harmonize global resources governance in today’s world of unpredictable and fast political changes, overpopulation, overconsumption and the consequences of climate change. By 2020, the middle class will be a majority of the global population for the first time ever. Efficiency improvements have not secured long-term resilience. Energy transition strategies require more and more variety of raw materials and many of these are among critical metals. He spoke at the FORAM 18 Pilot Event in Nancy, organised by the World Resources Forum and partners in the FORAM project, which aims at increasing international cooperation on raw materials, supported by the European Commission.

Gerbrandy presented four strategies towards tackling the challenges: 1) increased and responsible mining, 2) resource efficiency, 3) developing alternatives and 4) resilience supply chains. He noted that the increasing demand for raw materials will lead to more mining and resource extraction. Therefore, it is necessary to develop new technologies for more sustainable mining, develop long term strategies when investing in mining sector and promote more responsible mining practices. He recalled that resource efficiency is much more than waste policy. Developing alternatives is needed to overcome the dependency on critical materials. Talking about the importance of resilient supply chains, he mentioned that there is a lack of knowledge by the stakeholders in the raw materials value chain. This includes also the policy makers who need more information to design appropriate policies. Europe needs to improve its data collection strategies in the field of raw materials.Taking all these elements into consideration, Gerbrandy concluded that scarcity is an international problem therefore there is a need for global resources governance. International agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement should be translated to national plans. This can be done through international fora or organisations such as a World Forum on Raw Materials where representatives from all over the world can sit together and have an open dialogue about their needs and challenges. Consensus achieved in multistakeholder dialogue format is key, as he said, referring to the Dutch verb “poldering”.

There is a silent fight going on for access to raw materials

resources governanceIn fact, as emerged from the discussion with the audience there is a silent fight going on all over the world for access to raw materials. To have a fair and sustainable supply of raw materials, global cooperation for resource efficiency and a circular economy is needed. International cooperation is a need for all countries and is the only way forward. Even resource rich countries like China are implementing policies to secure their resources by joining international cooperation strategies. Even though resource efficiency practices are in place and are improving in some sectors of the raw materials value chain, the challenge is to encourage all sectors to practice resource efficiency strategies and be involved into the dialogue. Increasing the number of industry representatives needs to be considered for a future network of stakeholders or a World Forum on Raw Materials. Achieving transparency in mining industry is an essential step towards having fair and sustainable access to raw materials. Learning from the good practices such as the National Instrument 43-101 of Canada can pave the ground towards achieving transparency in a global level.

The FORAM project was seen as a pro-active international cooperation strategy by advancing the idea of a World Forum on Raw Materials and improved resources governance. The FORAM project was said to have potential to facilitate more dialogue, building upon the work of institutions such as the United Nations, the European Commission, EIT Raw Materials, the International Raw Materials Observatory, the World Materials Forum, and the World Resources Forum.

Mathias Schluep, WRF coordinator of the project, explained that the first step of the project had been to identify, characterize and assess the existing EU and global actions and initiatives, databases as well as individual stakeholders. He invited the participants to check the results available on project’s website and add more initiatives if they are aware of any other option. The project has established a Stakeholder Network, structured them into target groups and has started the dialogue between the stakeholders by first understanding their needs. By analyzing the global raw materials policy context, project partners have developed a strategic position for such a World Forum on Raw Materials and are currently testing its feasibility.

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Jelena Vidovic, FORAM project partner of EGS, presented more details about the first step in the stakeholder engagement process. During a series of online videoconferences organized in February and May, FORAM stakeholders were actively engaged into lively discussions around four main topics: Knowledge Management, Policies and Strategies, and International Cooperation and Outreach.

Jonas Hedberg (European Commission) presented the main objectives and strategies of the European Commission Horizon 2020 Work Programme. This funding scheme aims at achieving a sustainable raw materials supply in a circular economy. To achieve this objective, three main action areas, i.e. Technology, Non-Technology and International Cooperation have been introduced.

Federico Magalini (project manager on behalf of the United Nations University) presented the results of the mapping exercise done by the FORAM project and gave an overview of the current Horizon 2020 projects working in the area of raw materials (FORAM, MinFuture, SMART Ground, STRADE, MICA, INTRAW, MINATURA 2020, IMPACTPaperRec, ProSUM, SCREEN, MIN-GUIDE, VERAM and MSP-REFRAM). He referred to the main actions that each of these projects are involved in. At a clustering workshop organized by the FORAM project during the World Resources Forum conference, October 2017 in Geneva, representatives of these projects had the opportunity to introduce their projects and seek synergies and areas for cooperation with other projects. Since that event, a new project, ORAMA, was funded by the European Commission. According to Pascal Leroy from WEEE Forum and partner of the ORAMA project, the main objectives of this project is to develop a clear strategy for improving the quality of collected raw materials data and harmonise the data collected in accordance with the INSPIRE Directive. Furthermore, the project will ensure and extend the sharing of the RM data, information and best practices in data collection at national and EU level.

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Barbara Reck (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies) said that stakeholders need to understand the system and find the data, which can be complex since all metals have different characteristics. Key end use sectors need to be identified for each material of interest, their market share estimated over time, as well as their recycling efficiencies. Currently data are dispersed among many different stakeholders without a publicly accessible repository. Interest in such open database will be explored, among others though a workshop in the USA, and other stakeholders will be invited to join, complementing the existing Yale STAF Database with their own data, which may lead to a crowd-sourced materials database.

After presenting the outcomes of the consultations with the FORAM stakeholders as well as some examples of good practices, reports and guidelines from the European Commission, Slavko Solar (Secretary-General of EGS) invited the participants to work in groups on policies and strategies.  Peder Jensen (secretary of UN Environment’s International Resource Panel) informed the participants about the report that IRP is developing: “Mineral Resource Governance in the 21 Century: Gearing industries towards sustainable development”. The main objective of this report is to improve understanding of how the extractive sector can help achieve aid the transition towards sustainable development, the governance architecture that will facilitate the transition, and the incentives package that will make it a reality.

According to Jensen, the need for such a new governance document is mainly because of a global increase in demand for metals and minerals, despite progress made towards a circular economy. The report will also address the importance of the extractive industry in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A new governance framework is needed to cover the limitations and shortcomings of the “Social License to Operate” concept, and will reformulate it into “Sustainable Development License to Operate”. SDLO includes multiple actors and encompasses principles, policy options and best practices to enhance the contribution of mining towards achieving SDGs. The report is planned to be published by the end of 2018.

resources governanceVitor Correia (President, European Federation of Geologists) discussed how to advance international cooperation in the raw materials domain. With increasing global consumption of raw materials in response to new technologies, international cooperation and free trade of raw materials are paramount to tackle the expectations of a growing world population. He referred to the International Reporting Template on Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves developed by CRIRSCO (Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards). Recognizing the global nature of the mineral industry, international consensus should not be limited to reporting standards and must be applied to all aspects of the raw materials polices. This is even more important at times where free-trade seems to be weakening, nationalism is rising, and population growth and climate change are posing new challenges to society, said Correia.

According to Julian Hilton (Chair, UNECE Working Group on Delivery of UN Sustainable Development Goals) the three main agenda points towards achieving circular economy and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals are: Data (Evidence), Dialogue (Consultation) and Regulation (Policy). For a transparent access to data, it is essential to have a platform to share the information, to foster data harmonization, perform a coordinating mechanism between different data sources and to establish a working group with the main task to develop a data format for reporting raw materials extraction and provisions. International organizations and initiatives such a UNFC, WRF and FORAM can be considered as key players in implementing this process. He believes that for an efficient dialogue, it is essential to promote interaction between different disciplines and sectors and improve the dialogue between science and society. Furthermore, constructive regulations will lead to diminish or eliminate the barriers between waste and materials and stimulate the transition to circular economy. International cooperation is needed to bring all these agenda points into action.

Stefan Bringezu, Director Sustainable Resource Futures Group, Center for Environmental Systems Research, Kassel University, started his keynote by focusing on the importance of studying mineral resources; their positive role in shaping our life and their negative impact on environment and landscapes. Based on his predictions (referencing to an earlier IRP report), global extraction and use of resources (among them 75% minerals) will be doubled from 2017 to 2050. Increasing extraction has had an inevitable recoupling effect on global GDP since 2003. On the other hand, increasing “unused” extraction of resources has led to more w aste, more water distraction and more landscape change, hence negative impact on environment. There is an urgent need for standard protocol for mining/querying operations and plannings. Bringezu continued with focusing on the high potential of secondary metals and urban mining and noted that metal recycling contributes increasingly to the global supply of raw materials. Regions which are closer to saturation of infrastructure stock are getting more independent from primary mining. The challenge is that recycled input rates are still poor for new technology metals and the main reasons are that the stocks of products are steeply growing and End of Life (EoL) recycling rates are poor. Material flow management requires data. Although first studies on anthropogenic stocks are available, more research is required. More specifically, geo-services and mapping needs to be complemented with urban mine information systems, he added.

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Constantin Ciupagea, Head of Unit Land Resources, DG Joint Research Center (JRC), European Commission, gave an overview of the policies and strategies that the European Union is implementing to ensure the sustainable supply of raw materials to the European economy. The Commission will, within the framework of the EU Raw Materials Strategy, identify bottlenecks and supply risks linked to the materials that are necessary for the development of key capabilities. Under the Strategic Implementation Plan of the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials (EIP-RM) priority areas and action plans have been identified. He presented the areas in which the Joint Research Center (JRC) supports the EIP-RM objectives and the Circular Economy Action Plan. Raw Materials Information System (RMIS) is a knowledge platform managed by JRC with the main objective to integrate and develop data/information intended to support directly new EU policies, commitments and actions. Among others, the section on Raw Materials Knowledge Gateway (RMKG) aims to link the data provided in national level, European level and global level by various institutions, data services, industry associations and EU-funded projects into one single platform. As a consequence, this tool will also contribute to more networking and enhanced international cooperation on raw materials.

resources governanceVictoire de Margerie, Chairman, World Materials Forum, referred to the main goals, objectives, target groups, approach and achievements of the World Materials Forum. She stressed that the FORAM and the World Materials Forum have a complementary approach towards offering tangible solutions in using materials Smarter, Less and Longer. By implementing this concept and support of WMF several new business ideas have been developed. One of the examples was presented by Gregory Mulholland, CEO of Citrine Informatics. According to Mulholland, by creating new aluminium alloys with higher mechanical strength for 3D printing, they have been able to reduce the buy-to-fly ratio of metals by 50-80% and therefore enable lighter weight products. These alloys can be used in many other materials domains.

resources governanceFORAM project coordinator, Mathias Schluep wrapped up and presented the main outcomes and conclusions derived from the interactive discussions at the event:

  • the European Commission is continuously committing to pro-active international cooperation strategy in the field of raw materials by convincing the politicians;
  • the world looks different today than 10 years ago and international cooperation and resources governance is even more important. Even a resource-rich country needs to remain committed to international cooperation agreements because scarcity of raw materials is a global challenge and we all depend on each other;
  • the FORAM network could evolve into a platform for discussing global rules under standard protocols;
  • FORAM can be a platform for discussing level playing field outside UN events and negotiation process;
  • FORAM can be a platform to hold the data and knowledge together while leaving ownership to others;
  • Objectives of a FORAM platform can be defined depending on where the process will be starting.

Schluep added that in the next phase, the project consortium will analyse the inputs received during the pilot event and present a roadmap and key recommendations for a structured approach.

Find here a related article about the event, written by Anita Stein.

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The FORAM 18 Pilot Event was held on 27 June 2018, back to back with the World Materials Forum in Nancy, France. Representatives from governments, research institutes, geological surveys, businesses and other stakeholders coming from all over the world were engaged into lively discussions on how to “Enhance International Cooperation on Raw Materials Policies” focusing on the need for a World Forum on Raw Materials. The event marked an important milestone of the EU-funded project Towards a World Forum on Raw Materials (FORAM) that has developed a platform of international experts and stakeholders that will together work to improve the international cooperation on raw materials policies and resources governance worldwide. During three interactive working sessions and a related panel discussion, the state-of-the art of available and missing data on primary and secondary raw materials, recommended policies and strategies as well as best approaches towards enhancing international cooperation on raw materials, were presented and discussed. Briefings and discussions about security of supply for the European economy, resource-efficiency, Circular Economy, and Sustainable Development Goals, were presented during plenary sessions in an open format.

High-level speakers were Member of European Parliament Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Jonas Hedberg (European Commission), Barbara Reck (Yale University), Peder Jensen (UN Environment, International Resource Panel), Stefan Bringezu (University of Kassel), Julian Hilton (UNECE SDG Working Group), Constantin Ciupagea (DG Growth), Slavko Solar (European Geological Survey), Vitor Correia (European Federation of Geologists), Federico Magalini (United Nations University), WMF Chairman Victoire de Margerie, Gregory Mulholland (Citrine Informatics), Mathias Schluep (World Resources Forum) and Jelena Vidovic (EuroGeoSurvey). The event was moderated by Bas de Leeuw, Managing Director World Resources Forum and Member of the Club of Rome.

All photos: © 2018 WRF/F. Ottiger