Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Share Gains From Extracting Precious Raw Materials More Equitably, Guard Against Pitfalls, Cautions Guterres


Extracting minerals, metals and other valuable
raw materials from the earth, represents a “crucial
juncture” between resources, ecosystems and people, all of
which have an essential role to play in advancing
sustainability and equity, the UN chief said on
Tuesday.

Speaking at the Global Roundtable on
Transforming Extractive Industries for Sustainable
Development, Secretary-General António
Guterres
said:
“Our shared responsibility is to ensure that the benefits
of mineral resources reach all people in society, not just
elites, while safeguarding the natural environment today and
for future generations”.

Extractive industries
refers to businesses that take raw materials from the earth,
including oil, coal, precious metals, and other minerals, by
drilling, pumping, quarrying and mining.

Mineral
potential

As one of Earth’s “great endowments”,
he said that their extractions play a “dominant role” in
the economies of 81 countries, generating large foreign
exchange earnings, foreign direct investment and government
revenues.

“They have the potential to drive economic
growth and poverty reduction”, said the UN
chief.

While mineral-rich countries account for a
quarter of global Gross Domestic Product, half the world’s
population – nearly 70 per cent of their people – live in
extreme poverty. And of the world’s 72 low or
middle-income countries, 63 have increased their dependence
on extractive industries over the past two
decades.

They have the potential
to drive economic growth and poverty reduction —
UN
chief

Mr. Guterres noted
that some call mineral extractions “the resource curse”
because of their association with “a litany of ills” –
from corruption, exploitation and racism to environmental
degradation, worsening climate change and biodiversity loss,
along with armed conflict, gender-based violence and human
rights violations.

Common thread

Common to all
regions has been the need for the extractives sector and
resources generated to be managed “sustainably,
inclusively and equitably”, according to the UN
chief.

“This means taking into account the needs and
rights of women, indigenous peoples, local communities and
other stakeholders who are affected by the industry yet
excluded from the design and benefits of extractive
operations”, he spelled out.

Improve governance,
reduce dependency

The Secretary-General highlighted
four imperatives that must be enacted, beginning with the
improved governance of extractive resources, including for
independent monitoring and addressing corruption, revenue
mismanagement and illicit financial flows.

“This is
especially important regarding new minerals and metals on
which the technological revolution depends”, he
said.

Secondly, the UN chief upheld that countries
must reduce their dependency revenues from these industries
by diversifying their economies, adapting tax systems to new
needs and accelerating work on a just transition for
employees and communities dependent on extractive
resources.

“Overall, the sector should be supporting
investment in public services, the Sustainable
Development Goals
(SDGs)
and human rights”, he said.

A low-carbon
future

In his third point, Mr. Guterres advocated for
more investment in a low-carbon future by aligning all
public and private finance in the extractives sector with
the SDGs and Paris
Agreement
.

Recalling that countries representing
73 per cent of carbon emissions have committed by
mid-century to net zero, he said: “Decarbonization of the
global economy is inevitable”.

Rapidly deploying
renewable energy technologies and phasing-out fossil fuel
must be supported by ending the use of coal, shifting
subsidies from fossil fuel to renewable energy and promoting
technology transfer, according to the UN chief.

“I
urge multilateral development banks, development finance
institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other
institutions to support this process decisively”, he
said.

Strengthen cooperation

Greater regional
and global coordination to “manage shocks and ensure a
smooth, just and sustainable transition process”, was the
UN official’s final point.

He said that the UN Regional
Economic Commissions
will continue to play an important
role this regard and also invited Member States and others
to create a UN-hosted Working Group on Extractive Industries
to help transform the sector.

‘All hands-on
deck’

The Secretary-General closed by calling for
“all hands-on deck” to address the triple threat of
climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution and to
promote equitable, inclusive development where no one is
left behind.

“I…look forward to working together
to reap the benefits of extractive industries for all while
guarding against the
pitfalls”.

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