The 14th Annual General Meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development focused on the theme: “Modern Mining Law and Policy: Accountable, Equitable and Innovative Approaches.” The conference took place on October 15 to 19, 2018, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, and offered participants a valuable opportunity to engage with government officials from the IGF’s nearly 80-member nations and representatives from industry, civil society and academia.
Thematically, the event generated lively and engaging discussions and debates on critical issues facing the extractives sector: from climate change and price volatility for development minerals to mine closure and forest smart mining. Technical workshops led by the IGF in collaboration with the OECD provided much-needed insights on sector-specific nuances of global standards on tax policy and provided an excellent opportunity to get up to speed on emerging governance priorities for tax policy and fiscal governance in mining from the perspective of diverse stakeholders.
Highlights for the CIRDI team included:
- Palpable progress on commitments to advancing gender equality
This year the traditionally male-dominated mining sector was well represented by women – they comprised 40% of the attendees. This impressive result can be traced to a consistent reiteration of commitments to better representation for female delegates by the IGF Secretariat and the growing recognition that the mining sector not only has different impacts on men and women, but that policy and governance responses to the sector also affect women and men differently. It is also noteworthy that a number of panel discussions focused on how governments could strengthen the gender component of their policy assessments to improve development outcomes from the mining sector.
For example, the World Bank’s Extractives Practice Manager Christopher Sheldon provided an overview of the Bank’s gender strategy, while Sarah Daitch, a consultant for the UNDP, facilitated a dynamic participant-driven exercise on prioritizing gender impacts in the mining sector. The real richness, however, was the opportunity to understand both regional and national-specific dimensions to the challenge of improving gender equality in the sector, with strong input provided from countries like Niger, Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Guyana, as well as civil society stakeholders such as the Natural Resource Governance Institute and Oxfam.
- Strong Canadian content on modern approaches to mining governance
As a Canadian centre of expertise on resource governance, CIRDI was also very proud of the contributions from our Canadian peers to the quality of debate and discussion at the conference. For example, staff of the IGF Secretariat and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) briefed delegates on improvements to their Mining Policy Framework assessment methodology and invited feedback on the draft guidance document on Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). Especially noteworthy was the presentation from Hilary Morgan of Natural Resources Canada, which placed social and environmental outcomes squarely within the framework of mining policy reform in Canada. Hilary offered a compelling case for why climate change and reconciliation with indigenous communities in Canada is just as important as competitiveness in driving this reform agenda.
- A valued opportunity to profile CIRDI’s programming among a community of peers
Taking this valued opportunity to profile CIRDI’s programming among a community of peers, CIRDI’s Program Manager, André Xavier, participated in a panel discussion about “Engaging Communities in the Mine Life Cycle” and delivered a presentation on Participatory Water Monitoring. His findings stem from CIRDI’s ‘Education and Research for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Peru’ Project, which contributes to IWRM in Peru by building capacity within Peruvian universities, government bodies and community organizations through collaboratively-designed education and research programs on related sustainability issues for action on better resource stewardship.
In his presentation, André stressed that social conflicts around mines are increasing, with environmental issues serving as a catalyst for these conflicts. He also explained that participatory monitoring processes can serve as a mechanism for dialogue between mining companies and host communities, thereby providing a valuable conflict management and prevention pathway. Andre pointed to socio-environmental conflicts, community concerns about environmental impacts of mining, and changes in legislation and regulatory frameworks as reasons for companies to engage in participatory monitoring processes.
Events like the IGF’s AGM provide an important multi-stakeholder platform to put sustainability at the heart of mineral resource development. Looking ahead, CIRDI is pleased to continue working with organizations like the IGF and other partners to advance this shared agenda.