The EITI standard and NCEA's contribution amid rising minerals demand

19 June 2023

From 13-14 June, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) held its very first conference in Africa. With 1,500 participants coming from 93 countries, the need for this event was evident. The growing global demand for critical (transition) minerals creates both risks and opportunities for resource rich countries. With a lot of potential for the NCEA to contribute to solutions.

The leading point on the agenda of the conference in Dakar was the release of the renewed EITI standard. The key changes compared to the previous one broadly cover four elements: anti-corruption, energy transition, gender, social and environmental issues, and revenue collection. ‘We need a Marshall plan for governance’. This spot-on quote from Natural Resource Governance Institute summarizes the key issue to address: how can we successfully enable resource-rich countries to manage the many challenges related to the exponential demand for critical minerals?

International Chair of the NCEA, Simone Filippini, attended the conference and encountered a lot of interest in the role that the NCEA could play in the implementation of the EITI standard through the application of Stategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).

Credits: The EITI

Simone Filippini, Chair at the NCEA (on the right), was present at the EITI conference in Dakar. 

Filippini: "For many resource-rich countries, the mining and extractives sectors are hard to manage. They face huge challenges, such as weak governance capacities, illegal exports, and lack of opportunities to add value to raw materials through high pressure on cost-effective production. We also see shrinking space for civil society in many countries, while adequate solutions can only be found through cooperation between governments, industry and civil society.
One of the most disturbing realities is related to artisanal and small-scale mining in which over 100 million workers are involved worldwide. As an informal, often ‘illegal’ activity and thus not regulated, unintentionally this practices cause widespread environmental and health damage. Involving artisanal and small-scale miners in well-targeted strategic environmental impact assessments (SEA) linked to legalisation and positive policy development seems key to turn this around.
With our extensive experience and independent position, I clearly see a meaningful role for the NCEA in supporting rich resource countries through independent advice, capacity building and awareness raising, both at strategic and project levels. This was underlined by many visitors to the conference I interacted with. They showed genuine interest in SEA and ESIA as a starting point for fair and sustainable mining practices. Our work could certainly also positively contribute to EITI’s and other relevant organizations’ objectives that aim at ‘supporting countries to prepare for the transition,’ as EITI Board Chair Helen Clark expressed." 

Filippini in conversation with Helen Clark, Chair of the Extractive Industiries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

"In general," continues Filippini, "there is an urgent need for an integral approach that brings all aspects and stakeholders together at country-level. Or in the words of the Global Head of External Affairs of Rio Tinto: ‘A priority is to understand each other in the tripartite relationship government - industry - civil society by organising multi-stakeholder dialogue where robust and open conversations can take place. The way forward will have to be multi-stakeholder forums with a view to helping each other improve. This requires honesty. Strong norms without accountability are meaningless."

As a small organization in a rather unique, independent position and with extensive experience in the field of environmental and social impact assessment, the NCEA is well-positioned and eager to contribute.

Pictures: EITI