Resource extraction has often significant impacts on the environment. Ecologic Institute analyses for the German Federal Environment Agency governance instruments which can foster, establish and enforce global standards for environmentally sound raw material extraction. The project assesses international treaties, international customary law and non-binding international instruments, as well as European and national instruments with extraterritorial effect. Based on this assessment, Ecologic Institute develops recommendations how existing instruments could be improved or new approaches could be developed. The study covers abiotic raw materials (metals and ore, other minerals and fossil raw materials) and their extraction, treatment, transport and processing.
The extraction of raw materials, but also processing, treatment and transport can have profound consequences for the environment: air and water pollution, soil contamination, threats to flora and fauna, and degradation of land. The environmental degradation often also leads to social impacts, for example, when water resources become scare or when the local population is forced to migrate.
These risks are further spurred by rising global demand. At the same time, most raw materials are being exported. This implies that the environmental impact occur at places where the commodities are not even utilised. International approaches are needed to reduce the environmental impacts of raw material extraction at a global scale. Many areas of international law touch upon raw material extraction. However, existing treaties only address certain aspect of mining, have gaps or establish only vague obligations.
The project provides a comprehensive assessment of existing governance instruments and develops specific options and recommendations for the German government. The project also includes ad hoc analyses and advice as well as convening two workshops and an international conference.