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Andersen urges firms to buy responsibly sourced minerals
Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Inger Andersen called on companies to ensure that they are buying responsibly sourced minerals and to start thinking hard about how to design their products for circularity.
Both industry players and companies such as electric vehicle manufacturers can gain a market advantage by positioning themselves as suppliers or users of responsibly sourced metals and minerals.
The minerals stock exchange established by Saudi Arabia can help by creating a space in which clean energy actors will have to purchase.
She also urged governments to consider how to strengthen and harmonize policy frameworks that encourage responsible extraction and sustainable and circular use of energy transition minerals.
She called on industry to work towards coherent standards and frameworks for responsible mining, developed in a multistakeholder setting and with credible verification mechanisms.
This includes economic and social safeguards to manage health risks, promote gender and social justice and protect the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
Crucially, we need to ensure that products are designed for repair, remanufacturing, recovery and recycling. Around 50 million tons of e-waste are generated each year, with less than 20 percent recycled.
UN research has shown that up to seven per cent of the world’s gold may be in this e-waste. Urban mining, as it is known, could reduce pressure on the environment by recovering these materials. Reduce pressure on people and communities who live and work under conditions incompatible with human dignity. Protect the rights and land of Indigenous Peoples. And ensure that these minerals can be used and reused far into the future.
It is encouraging that this forum is looking at how to create resilient mineral value chains. This shows that nations are committed to doing the energy transition right. The UN system is just as committed.
The UN Framework on Just Transitions for Critical Energy Transition Minerals is being shaped with the deep involvement of UNEP, UNIDO, UNDP, the UN Regional Economic Commissions, the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development, the World Bank and others. At COP28, the UN Secretary-General announced a new Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals that will develop voluntary principles to guide extractive industries for just mineral transitions.