IUCN's Collaboration Agreement with Rio Tinto

14 July 2010 | News story
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The Collaboration Agreement, signed 12 July, 2010, between the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Rio Tinto London Limited (Rio Tinto) commits IUCN and Rio Tinto to focus their collaborative projects on innovative and ground-breaking biodiversity conservation activities and to ensure transparency between and within both Parties.

The key features of the IUCN – Rio Tinto Agreement are:

• Build a business-focused relationship that enables Rio Tinto to improve its environmental management and delivery of conservation outcomes;
• Increase awareness and understanding throughout IUCN of the conservation and business challenges facing the resources sector;
• Strengthen Rio Tinto and IUCN capacities for market-based approaches to environmental management and conservation;
• Jointly contribute to sector-wide improvements in the mining and closely-related sectors; and
• Gain recognition for both organizations as leaders in their respective fields and committed to environmental management and delivering sustainable development outcomes.

• IUCN will project manage and implement the Programme;
• IUCN will administer and coordinate the Programme on a day-to-day basis and, jointly with Rio Tinto, its implementation;
• IUCN’s administration functions and duties include: jointly carry out, with Rio Tinto, all acts necessary for the purposes of the Programme including compliance with all laws and contractual obligations; jointly with Rio Tinto, develop the annual Programme plan and budget; jointly with Rio Tinto, coordinate the development and delivery of the Communications Strategy; maintain accurate details of all monies received relating to the Programme and all Programme Expenses; and jointly with Rio Tinto, prepare comprehensive repots, meeting papers, and any other documents reasonably required by the Relationship Management Committee;
• IUCN will be responsible for the preparation of the annual Accounts for the Programme;
• Rio Tinto will provide the payment of the Financial Contribution for the collaboration Programme; and
• Rio Tinto will provide project contributions including: the provision of assistance to IUCN in the project management of work undertaken pursuant to this Agreement; the provision of all information and documents reasonably required by IUCN for the proper performance of its duties in accordance with this Agreement; the provision of advice and expertise relating to biodiversity and conservation management in the context of the mining industry; jointly develop and deliver the Communications Strategy with IUCN; jointly with IUCN, effect the implementation of the Programme; and take all reasonable action for the performance of the joint functions and duties of this Agreement.

• IUCN, in consultation with Rio Tinto, shall be permitted to utilize local partners and collaborators on any project undertaken pursuant to this Agreement in order to assist IUCN with the performance of its duties thereunder.

• Each Party will appoint a Relationship Manager responsible for the day-to-day management of the Relationship;
• The Parties shall establish a Relationship Management Committee comprised of six (6) members, three (3) for each Party, with each member having one (1) vote on any decisions made;
• The functions and duties of the Relationship Management Committee include: approving the Budget and Programme Plan for each Programme Year; ensure that both Parties contribute their respective Deliverables; ensure that the Objectives and Programme Activities of the collaborative relationship remain consistent with each Party’s organizational and strategic aims; agree on any major changes or additions to the Objectives, Programme Activities, and/or Budget; receive and consider reports and other documents from the Relationship Managers relating to the implementation and management of the Programme Activities, to consider any risks, issues, or new opportunities raised by the Parties, and to provide guidance, direction, and recommendations to the Relationship Managers with respect to the same; agree to undertake activities on behalf of the Relationship as may be required from time to time to ensure the proper and effective functioning of the Relationship, the Programme, and the Objectives; and receive and consider any recommendations arising out of a Review carried out for the Relationship.

• Both Parties may agree upon an independent person to be appointed to review and evaluate the performance of the Relationship and/or the Programme Activities undertaken in accordance with the Programme;
• A review may take place once each Programme year; and
• Recommendations for any variations to the Relationship or the Programme Activities arising out of the Review will be considered at a meeting of the Relationship Management Committee to determine how the recommendations will be pursued.

• The Parties will develop, agree upon, and maintain a joint Communications Strategy, including approval procedures and communication contacts, with an annual communications plan developed by the Parties’ Relationship Managers and approved by the Relationship Management Committee;
• Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to limit the freedom of IUCN to maintain an objective view of, or to comment in any way on, Rio Tinto and the Rio Tinto Group’s policies and/or actions, nor to limit the freedom of Rio Tinto to maintain an objective view of, or to comment in any way on, IUCN’s policies and/or actions.

• This Agreement ends following a period of three (3) Programme Years, from the Effective Date, unless terminated earlier;
• Either Party may terminate this Agreement without cause by giving six months notice in writing to the other Party; and
• If a Party fails to perform any of its material obligations under this Agreement, and fails to remedy that failure within thirty (30) days of receiving a notice from the other Party requiring it to do so, the other Party may terminate this Agreement with immediate effect by notice in writing to the Party in default.

• Under this Agreement the relationship of the Parties is not one of partnership, joint venture, or agency and nothing in this Agreement is to be treated as constituting or shall be construed to constitute a Party as the partner, agent, joint venturer, employee, or legal representative of the other Party for any purpose.

• A number of projects have been identified, with the initial focus for the three-year agreement to include: verification of Rio Tinto’s biodiversity Net Positive Impact (NPI) commitment (develop, test, and implement an independent verification process to assess Rio Tinto’s compliance against its NPI target); environmental economics capacity and natural capital projects (identify and quantify the biodiversity and ecosystem service values in key regions where Rio Tinto operates, under business-as-usual and conservation scenarios); and general collaboration (benefit from each organization’s specialist skill sets, experience, and networks by working collaboratively or providing input into each other’s projects).

The Spanish version of the above will be available in due course.

A number of reactions have been received in follow up to the signing of the collaborative agreement with Rio Tinto by IUCN. We publish them on this page, together with IUCN Director General’s response (also available in Spanish and French).

IUCN intends to be fully transparent and will continue to post responses on this page. An area for comments has been established below. IUCN welcomes the views of its constituents.


1 Andrea Athanas IUCN
Response for Andrea Athanas
That said, suggestions for other measures of biodiversity performance and outcomes (particularly those relating to ecosystem services) are most welcome! In our engagement with ICMM there is discussion about reasonable expectation of change and agreement of the need for performance assessment.
November 2, 2010 - 18:29
2 Andrea Athanas IUCN
Response from Andrea Athanas
An additional point of leverage which IUCN has engaged on is the reporting framework which the mining community uses for sustainability reporting – the strengthening of biodiversity indicators in the Global Reporting Initiative’s Mining and Metals Sector Supplement. In mining industry Sustainability Reports there appear to be elements of a structured approach to biodiversity management emerging although we could perhaps be a little clearer about our expectations and benchmarks of progress.
November 2, 2010 - 18:28
3 Andrea Athanas IUCN
Response from Andrea Athanas continued
it is perhaps not surprising that it is difficult to track ‘on the ground’ implementation of the work we did in the Dialogue. It is the companies themselves, and not the IUCN ICMM Dialogue, that we must look to for evidence of real change. It is, in part, all the more reason to realign our work within the mining sector to work with individual companies where we can more directly influence the operationalisation of standards such as those outlined in the Good Practice Guidelines that you led for IUCN.
November 2, 2010 - 18:26
4 Andrea Athanas IUCN
Response for Andrea Athanas Senior Programme Officer, IUCN
Monitoring impact of our work with the extractives sector (and more generally, as a conservation community) remains challenging, but also critically important to ensure the investments we are making in our work have real returns. The IUCN ICMM Dialogue – as a global process – was focused on setting internationally relevant standards for the mining community on biodiversity issues and providing a forum for raising difficult issues of free and prior informed consent and legacy sites. ICMM is not a mining operator, but an association of companies striving to be leaders in the industr
November 2, 2010 - 17:56
5 Richard Cellarius Sierra Club and CEESP/SEAPRISE
More on follow up
The IUCN/ICCM Dialogue Review, Draft Final Report, May 28th 2008, p. 3, said the following as the "Impact" of the agreement:
"It is not clear to what extent the Dialogue has contributed to tangible changes in the performance of the mining industry with regard to biodiversity conservation, which was an important motivation at the outset. This is because no definition or mechanism for measuring or assessing performance improvements was put into place at the outset."
Again without assessing the actual performance of the extractive industries in relation to these agreements, they are useless
August 1, 2010 - 19:27
6 Richard Cellarius Sierra Club and CEESP/SEAPRISE
Actual in-the-field Results
The real problem with these agreements, including with ICMM and Shell as well as Rio Tinto, is there is no analysis if any improvement has been made in ANY mining or oil operation, including proper treatment with prior informed consent of the local and indigenous communities. Unless such analysis is made, all these talking agreements seem to be a useless waste of time and human and financial resources. The IUCN Council must insist that such analysis be included in any agreement and follow up impacts of past agreements, i.e., with ICMM.
August 1, 2010 - 19:20
7 Piet Wit CEM
Of course we are not selling out IUCN or nature, allowing companies to greenwash their profile with our logo. IUCN’s collaborative agreement with Rio Tinto is a first step that should lead to improved access to the mining sector as a whole and the sector-wide adaptation of environmental standards and application of best practices of ecosystem management. This will require instruments like Clearing House mechanisms, benchmarking, guidelines, all typically products where the Commission on Ecosystem Management can and will contribute.
July 26, 2010 - 10:54
8 JM Alvarez IUCN
Response From the IUCN Secretariat
There is little doubt that the due diligence of Rio Tinto is one of the most extensive and thorough processes followed by IUCN, in engaging a member of the private sector. IUCN has carefully followed every required step of the Operational Guidelines and continues to set the bar in openness, transparency, and honesty regarding specifics of the Rio Tinto collaboration.
July 23, 2010 - 16:22
9 JM Alvarez IUCN
Response From the IUCN Secretariat
It should be noted the depth and extent to which IUCN undertook the due diligence required by the IUCN’s Operational Guidelines for Private Sector Engagement (approved by IUCN Council, February, 2009) and which included the participation of various Council members.
July 23, 2010 - 16:21
10 JM Alvarez IUCN
Response From the IUCN Secretariat
If this were indeed the case, it would seem much more likely that the past efforts of governments and NGOs would have had many more successes than are available as a case for this strategy. On the contrary, IUCN believes that engagement of the private sector, together with governments and NGOs, is the best, and perhaps only hope that we have to stem a continuing decline of biodiversity.
July 23, 2010 - 16:20
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