Can the mining sector contribute to implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals? Observations on SDG6 from Peru and Mongolia
Nadja Catherine Kunz1, Bo Wang1, Bern Klein1, Andre Xavier2
1University of British Columbia, Canada; 2Canadian International Resources and Development Institute, Canada
The private sector is recognized as important partner for implementing the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2015-2030. In resource-rich developing countries, the mining sector is especially important because it is a powerful economic actor that often operates in remote and ecologically sensitive regions.
In this paper, we compare Peru and Mongolia with respect to the mining sector’s current contribution towards SDG6 on Clean Water and Sanitation. These two countries make interesting case studies for comparison because both have a low level of access to clean water and sanitation, have experienced a steep increase in mining over the past 30 years, and have encountered significant mining company-community conflicts relating to water issues. The data source comprises of a literature review combined with our applied research experiences in working on mining and water issues across both countries.
We assess the mining sector’s progress towards SDG6 implementation according to the two levels of action proposed by the World Economic Forum, the UNDP and the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment in their 2016 white paper on “Mapping Mining to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas”. For “Level 1: Integration of SDG6 into core business”, we compare water use indicators for the mining sector in Peru and Mongolia and consider water conservation and recycling initiatives. We discuss the growth of participatory water monitoring schemes that mining companies are developing in collaboration with local communities, and opportunities for strengthening these programs. For “Level 2: Collaboration and Leverage”, we consider the extent to which the mining sector is participating in river basin councils and identify opportunities to combine public/private water data to improve baseline understanding of surface- and ground-water systems. We also discuss examples of private investment to support water infrastructure planning and management, and consider future opportunities for public/private partnerships.