“It’s been a long journey to get here, but it’s brought us many valuable inputs,” declared the Co-Chairs of the Global Intergovernmental Meeting on Minerals and Metals during the closing plenary. Delegates expressed appreciation for the inclusive process of regional consultations that culminated in broad-ranging discussions at the Meeting. Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), urged member states to work toward translating the Meeting’s ideas into concrete language for a resolution at the upcoming UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 6).
In the morning, informal breakout groups discussed the final cluster of non-prescriptive proposals (NPPs) on platforms for international cooperation. The breakout groups then reported to plenary the outcomes of informal group discussion on all NPPs. Plenary then held a general discussion of delegate’s concerns about the NPPs. The Meeting ended with the Co-Chairs outlining what they plan to report in their summary to UNEA 6.
During the informal group discussions on international cooperation, most delegates regarded as premature the proposal for an international agreement on environmental aspects of mining. While many generally supported the idea of creating an open-ended working group to follow up on the proposals generated in this process, some wanted clarification about its remit and how it would be structured and funded.
Divergent views were also expressed regarding proposals for a new international programme on minerals to support member state alignment of mining policies with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Delegates generally supported greater coordination between international organizations and processes, but nonetheless felt proposals should be defined in greater specificity. Many expressed support for the creation of regional networks of experts on mining and sustainability.
In the afternoon, delegates held a general plenary debate of all NPPs. They raised their concerns about specific proposals, with many noting the need to clarify many NPPs. A new proposal was also tabled on engagement of Indigenous Peoples and local communities around mining sites. Observing that it is not feasible to address all proposals put forward, several delegates suggested prioritizing them. Others noted several crosscutting issues which should be extracted and highlighted.
In a closing session, the Co-Chairs outlined their summary of the meeting, highlighting the NPPs that they perceived as enjoying “broad support” – such as the global assessment, the Global Sand Observatory, efforts on capacity building and technical assistance to improve environmental sustainability of mining, and the proposal for a new working group – or those with “moderate support,” such as the environmental peer review. They also noted areas involving disagreement or need for further details and clarification. Among crosscutting issues, the Co-Chairs emphasised the need to:
- provide technical assistance, financial support, and technology transfer for developing countries;
- avoid duplication of existing efforts and instead seek opportunities to leverage existing instruments;
- ensure transparency and access to information across the minerals and metals lifecycle;
- provide for meaningful community engagement and free, prior and informed consent in all mining processes;
- focus on enhancing renewable energy in mining and along the entire value chain;
- consider the intersection of environmental aspects of mining with human rights, social issues, and climate change; and
- address the “legitimacy crisis” confronting the mining sector.
Closing the meeting, the Co-Chairs thanked participants for the fruitful discussions and UNEP for organizing the regional and global consultations in just six months.