On 19 and 20 February 2019, the German Environment Agency (UBA) hosted the international conference "Raw Materials & Environment 2019" in Berlin. More than 25 speakers and about 150 participants - decision makers and experts in the thematic areas of mining, raw material supply, environmental assessment, climate change, sustainable supply chain management, and sustainable resource management - joined the event and discussed in various sessions and working groups different aspects of the topic.
The conference aimed at fostering awareness of environmental issues in the national, European and international debates on responsible sourcing and responsible mining. Dr. Camilla Bausch, Director of Ecologic Institute, facilitated the two-day event that was co-organised by Ecologic Institute.
Minerals and metals form the backbone of modern economies and are key to providing services to citizens around the globe, such as housing, mobility and communications. Sustainability transitions such as the energy system transformation and megatrends such as digitization pose additional requirements on the world economy’s raw material supply. Ensuring sustainable access to abiotic raw materials on a global level for the decades to come requires discussions on how to internalise the external environmental and social costs of raw material production and how to achieve a fair and just distribution of responsibilities, costs and benefits along global supply chains.
Because global demand for minerals is expected to increase even in a fostered Circular Economy to meet various functions (e.g. for socio-economic well-being and development, for future and low-carbon technologies), mining activities remain important. However, future-proofing such activities requires continuous and open multistakeholder dialogues and a culture aiming to cleverly and robustly design activities for long-term resilience (to accommodate the huge unknowns of the systems mining operates in) as well as for fair distribution of access, benefits, risks and responsibilities (including for past liabilities). Framework conditions must be put in place that enable and incentivise companies to being first-movers and to also deliver on social and environmental well-being towards a Sustainable Development License to Operate. And finally, this requires building global bridges for dialogue at eye-level with old and new players along global supply chains.
For more information and documentation of the conference, please refer to the UBA website.