Social Justice & Mining
EU POLICY ON RESPONSIBLE MINERAL TRADE
UCSIA/USOS Conference on Tuesday 14 February 2023
In March 2022, the University Centre Saint Ignatius Antwerp (UCSIA) and the University Foundation for Development Cooperation (USOS) welcomed Divin-Luc Bikubanya as a fellow of the European Leadership Programme (ELP). Divin-Luc is an economist, a researcher at the Centre d’Expertise en Gestion Minière (CEGEMI) of the Université Catholique de Bukavu (UCB), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and is particularly interested in issues related to informality in the mining sector. As a culmination of his work at UCSIA and USOS, he is organizing a conference debate on social justice from a European perspective and focusing on the mineral supply chain. At this conference, the achievements and shortcomings of European Union (EU) initiatives on responsible sourcing of so-called ‘conflict minerals’ will be explored and the opportunities offered by the wider social economy will be discussed.
This conference is in line with UCSIA’s and USOS’s interest in promoting social justice to contribute to a more just society through education and cooperation with civil society organizations and academic institutions. This logic, which draws its essence from the founding Jesuit values of these two non-profit organizations, aims to find ways in which research can inform policy advocacy. The aim is therefore to highlight the need to address development issues and challenges, including poverty reduction, human rights protection, and global environmental and economic sustainability. To this end, UCSIA and USOS bring together people and organizations from different backgrounds who have made social justice their battleground. In this sense, UCSIA and USOS collaborate with the Justice in Mining Network, one of the four Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks (GIAN) set up by the Society of Jesus. The Justice in Mining’s contribution to the mining due diligence debate is fundamental as its global strategic plan for human and environmental rights in mining informs the possibilities for promoting appropriate regulations and benefiting mining communities.
All over the world, environmental and social concerns around mining activities are growing. On top of that, the mineral trade has played a central role in financing some of the world’s most brutal conflicts, often further weakening already fragile states and fuelling human rights violations, such as in the DRC.
Against this gloomy background of mineral production, buying companies are increasingly compelled to take their responsibility and identify and act upon supply chain ‘risks’. This process of ‘due diligence’ has been rapidly institutionalized in relevant laws, in particular, Section 1502 of the US Dodd-Franck Act on ‘conflict minerals’ from the DRC and European Union (EU) Regulation 2017/821. Unlike the US Dodd-Frank legislation, the EU Regulation on conflict minerals, which came into force in January 2021, applies only to direct importers of minerals and does not geographically focus on the DRC. Since then, at the EU level and in the Member States, many sensible steps were taken moving from ‘soft’ to ‘hard laws’ in mineral regulations with increasing mandatory initiatives, which include the EU legislative proposal on corporate sustainability due diligence published on 23 February 2022.
However, while providing a framework for large companies to buy more responsibly, this long-awaited directive remains, somewhat surprisingly, silent on the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), cooperatives, and social enterprises in carrying out meaningful due diligence in mineral supply chains.
This debate opens a public conversation about social impacts and environmental degradation produced by mining, among other challenges posed by energy transition in relation to mineral extraction in the Global South. At the same time, we seek to understand the extent to which EU mineral regulation initiatives take into account (or not) social dynamics and local knowledge at the mine level. The debate will also focus on the role of SMEs, whose effect on the sustainability of due diligence and the creation of inclusive work is often overlooked in the implementation of mining policies. This is important in a context where the collective interests and environmental objectives can be seen as essential components of the mineral supply chain, ensuring a better balance between economic and social objectives in the supply chain as a whole and bringing about more effective and fair labour markets and social protection systems. Yet, as a recent European Parliament report points out, measures to mitigate the impacts of mining activities, including social impacts, are lacking.
Divin-Luc Bikubanya introduces the 5 speakers
MINERAL SUPPLY CHAINS: REGULATION, RISK, RESPONSIBILITY
Presentation by Prof. Sara Geenen, chairwoman of USOS; Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp and Centre d’Expertise en Gestion Minière (CEGEMI), Université Catholique de Bukavu
What do today’s mineral supply chains look like? What is (and who defines) supply chain risk? How should mineral supply chains be regulated (and who decides)? And is responsible sourcing a contradiction in terms?
EMPOWERING SMALL-SCALE PRODUCERS TO PARTICIPATE IN MINERAL SUPPLY CHAIN REGULATION: RESEARCH PROJECT PRESENTATION
Presentation by Dr. Sarah Katz-Lavigne, post-doctoral researcher, IOB, University of Antwerp and CEGEMI, Université Catholique de Bukavu
What does it mean to ensure the meaningful participation of communities and small-scale producers in decision-making around supply-chain?
IDENTIFY WAYS IN WHICH SMEs CAN IMPLEMENT AN EFFECTIVE PROCESS OF HUMAN RIGHTS DUE DILIGENCE
Presentation by Dr. Boris Verbrugge, research expert at HIVA (Research Institute for Work and Society), KU Leuven
How and why do SMEs engage in efforts to address human rights risks? What are the barriers and opportunities that SMEs face when attempting to assess and address human rights risks more systematically by carrying out human rights due diligence?
ARTISANAL AND INDUSTRIAL COBALT MINING IN THE DRC
Presentation by Prof. Bossissi Nkuba, post-doctoral researcher, University of Antwerp and CEGEMI, Université Catholique de Bukavu
How are transnational environmental regulatory frameworks put into practice at the local level? In the face of global environmental challenges, how can cobalt mining in DRC be a catalyst for a just transition?
EUROPEAN CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY DUE DILIGENCE DIRECTIVE AND SOCIAL ECONOMY ACTION PLAN
Presentation by Miguel Toledano Lanza, political attaché at European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), European Parliament. Legal and economic advisor in various environments: Employment and Social Affairs, Culture and Education
How do European policies relate to the supply of natural resources more generally? Linked to this, how can we understand the role of social economy organizations as promoted by the European Social Economy Action Plan?
Moderator: Katrien Vanderschoot, journalist at VRT NWS’s foreign affairs section, specializing in Africa
- Challenges posed by the demand for minerals in the Global South
- EU and companies’ responsibility in relation to minerals supply chains
- ‘Best practices’ or regulations for the governance of South (Extraction) – North (Consumption) of conflict minerals
- Barbara Cooreman (Responsible sourcing): A representative of UMICORE, a Belgian circular materials technology company
- Guiseppe Cioffo, Corporate Regulation and Extractives Officer of CIDSE, Brussels
- Prof. Gamze Erdem Turkelli, Law and Development Research Group, University of Antwerp
- Cecilia Mattea, Clean Vehicles Officer at Transport and Environment (T&E), Brussels.
GLOBAL STRATEGIC PLAN: 2019-2023
Final presentation by Guillermo Otano, advocacy officer at ALBOAN and coordinator of the Justice in Mining Network, a Global Ignatian Advocacy Network
How to promote strong business regulations and corporate accountability in the supply chains of minerals? How does this debate contribute to this? What are the possible future perspectives for moving the agenda forward?
Free entrance. Don’t forget to register before 12 February 2023.
Registrations will close in