Speech by Prof. Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct, 8th ICGLR-OECD-UN GoE Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains

Roel Nieuwenkamp opening remarks

8th ICGLR-OECD-UN GoE Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains

3 November 2014

Son Excellence Monsieur le vice Premier Ministre de la RDC, Excellence Ministre de Mines de la RDC, Excellence Minister of Natural Resources from Rwanda, Excellence Executive Secretary of the ICGLR, Ambassador of Canada, Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

The OECD is pleased to co-organise our 8th ICGLR-OECD Forum for the first time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which remains a key country in our fight to promote responsible business conduct in global mineral supply chains.  I would like to thank the Government of DRC for their support in making this Forum happen in country, but more importantly for continuing to be a partner with the OECD in our work to end conflict minerals and unleash broad based development.

This Forum provides the chance to showcase real concrete progress. In my hand I have the Fairphone, an excellent symbol of concrete progress. There is also a fair microprocessor. I would like to compliment the companies that stick out their necks to make this happen.

And I hope and expect to be able to present for example a FairPad, FairWatch and Fair wedding rings with Fair diamonds on top next year!

This Forum also provides the chance for us to focus on implementation of OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains on the ground – and focus on implementation of the various systems and procedures that are part of the ICGLR Regional Certification Mechanism.

It has been over 3 years since the implementation programme was launched, and the focus up to now has been very much on getting things started. Judging by enormous amount of interest in this Forum, particularly from regional actors, but also from international industry, it seems we are on our way. But still, a lot of work remains to be done.

To date, this Forum has focused on encouraging uptake of responsible sourcing. And so one of the key elements of the OECD’s implementation programme is our outreach and awareness raising work. This last year we have made some significant progress in this respect:

  • I am pleased to inform you that just last week, the OECD signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the China Chamber of Commerce Metals, Minerals & Chemicals, Importers & Exporters. The Chamber which goes by the acronym CCCMC has over 6,000 member companies and metal associations in China. We will work with them over the coming months to help operationalise the OECD Guidance for Chinese companies, whom as you all know are key players at all levels of the 3T and gold supply chains. We are also in initial positive talks with the Shanghai Gold Exchange, and this we hope will lead to some positive outcomes in 2015.
  • We also launched a new partnership with Borsa Istanbul to enable the implementation of due diligence in Turkey. We held one workshop with them last year, and will hold another training event at the end of this month.
  • As many of you know, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance applies in fact to all minerals, from any conflict-affected or high-risk area in the world. It is not a just focused on minerals from the Great Lakes Region, although most of our efforts have been in this region. In this respect, we have also made progress to ensure uptake in other mineral producing countries across the globe:
    • This year we began our implementation programme in Colombia. The Colombian Government adhered to the Council Recommendation on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance in 2012, and has further demonstrated its commitment to ensure its industry implements the OECD Due Diligence Guidance. After a series of events with the OECD in February this year, we are now undertaking baseline assessments of the Colombian gold trade in order to produce practical recommendations that will help build a responsible and conflict-free gold production and trade in the country.
    • We are also pleased to have for the first time the participation of the Government of Cote d’Ivoire in this Forum. The UN Security Council has recently lifted the ban on diamond exports from the country, following the Kimberley Process recommendations. I look forward to hearing reports from the Ivorian Government later today and more importantly, to cooperating with them as they move forward with formalising their gold sector.
  • The OECD have also taken a pro-active approach to train government agents, industry and civil society leaders in the DRC this year, with Train the Trainer workshops in Bukavu in July and Kinshasa earlier this week.

This Forum over the last three years has focused on technical “nuts and bolts” of due diligence (e.g. traceability systems, mine sites qualifications, smelter audit programmes and certifications, in other words, what due diligence means, what are the steps and systems that need to be in place and how it can be implemented). Now it is time now to remind ourselves of the Human Rights element of the Guidance, and what it is we are trying to do. In a nutshell, to end the financial and commercial support of armed groups and militias and stop the most egregious human rights abuses associated with mining in high-risk and conflict-affected areas. Fundamentally, due diligence efforts are designed to ensure respect for human rights, so that mineral production and trade leads to positive impacts on the ground to improve the lives of affected communities in mining areas.

Doing no harm also means doing well. And from an investor point of view, there is a growing call for transparency in mineral supply chains, and accountability of state institutions governing the sector. Due diligence efforts of companies to source responsible minerals can not be sustained without broad-based improvements in mineral sector governance. For this reason, our last day of the Forum will examine how mining sector governance and investment climates can attract and sustain responsible investment and trade.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all our donors, Canada, Switzerland and Sweden and notably the EU who is funding this conference and whose support this past year enables action and results.

Our work is far from over, and we need all of you to continue to stay engaged in this region and stay the course. Each actor has its role, whether it’s the local mineral traders that should be checking their suppliers and sourcing from conflict-free mines,  or the downstream industry that applies pressure, enables progressive improvements and creates a market for responsible minerals from conflict areas. The local government that should help formalise the artisanal mining sector and establish and enforce its own policies and laws on due diligence and associated reporting. And the civil society organisations as our eyes and ears on the ground, to keep us on our toes but also provide vital information and support for private sector due diligence and governance improvements.

Please, I urge you all to continue on and strengthen your work, to help us make the support of armed groups through mineral chains difficult for all those who are illegally benefiting from the vast natural resources of this region, and so that the mineral sector can truly become a source of prosperity, revenue and development.

Thank you

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