Report on the IUCN-ICMM Planning Meeting, 11-12 November 2010, Gland, Switzerland

Richard Cellarius, CEESP Finance Officer, was an invited participant at the "Planning Meeting" between IUCN and representatives of the International Council for Mining and Metals (ICMM) at IUCN headquarters in Gland on 11-12 November, 2010.

Richard Cellarius, USA Photo:

He provided the following report:

As stated in the invitation, the objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Identify levers that IUCN and ICMM are well positioned to use to improve performance across the industry
  • Identify opportunities for enabling implementation of good practice in national/regional contexts and drawing lessons from national/regional experiences into global standards.
  • Create a shared understanding on the work of the Dialogue to date
  • Expand the group of people from the IUCN and ICMM constituencies engaged in the Dialogue

Another implied objective was to see if the two organizations should renew the Dialogue established by the initial 5-year (2003-2008) Terms of Reference agreement that resulted, among other things, in the production of the "Good Practice Guidance for Mining and Biodiversity" (ICMM, 2006).

I was the only representative of both CEESP and an NGO member at the meeting, although CEESP member and IUCN Counselor Diana Shand also participated. Along with a representative of the Commission on Ecosystem Management, we were the only participants from IUCN who are not IUCN staff. On the other hand, there were a number of people from mining companies (Barrick Gold, Vale International, Rio Tinto, Freeport-McMoRan. BHP-Billiton). Multiple staff from the IUCN and ICMM Secretariats participated.

The first day of the meeting focused on reviewing the "History and Milestones" of the IUCN-ICMM relationship as well as presentations on the work related to ICMM's Sustainable Development Framework (see and on various aspects of IUCN's work, including Greening the Economy, Forest Landscapes Restoration, and the Ecosystem Management Programme. The second day was spend exploring possible topics for collaborative work, both from a systemic and a project perspective. The final result of the meeting was the following list of potential joint project areas with an indication of their priority ranking by the participants:

  • Developing a landscape perspective for the mining projects in a larger area and related biodiversity/endangered species/ecosystem management concerns that goes beyond individual sites and species for a more comprehensive overview of the total impact of mining and conservation needs.
  • (tie) A "strategic communication" program to inform communities, companies, and local and regional organizations about mutual concerns and interests.
  • Developing a program to include protection of ecosystem services in mining projects.
  • Building in impacts on climate change and reducing CO 2 emissions in mining.
  • Work to improve water protection and supply in mining projects.
  • (tie) Restoration and rehabilitation of legacy mining sites.

The overview of the two organizations was mutually educational. ICMM emphasized that it is a relatively young and small organization, and its 18 member companies are committed to improving their performance. This includes public reporting of their performance as measured by their own sustainability principles and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Mining and Minerals Supplement 3, and "Independent Assurance" that they are meeting their commitments though review by independent outside assessment organizations. They have published two compilations of case studies of mining and biodiversity protection efforts, which are impressive in what they say but disappointing in not describing the multiplicity of problems.

It seemed clear from the overall tenor of the meeting that despite the implied intent to see if further "dialog" would be useful, the preordained conclusion was that the conversation should continue, and the real purpose of the meeting was to begin the generation of a work plan leading ultimately to a new "Terms of Reference" for the relationship.

There will undoubtedly be continued opposition-or at least explicit concerns raised-from those with direct evidence of mining companies poor (at best) practices. However, my own perception from this meeting is that there could be additional value to continuing the relationship with ICMM. The staff of ICMM itself-at least those at the meeting- good environmental credentials, as do a number of the staff of the mining companies who participated. The concept of the new stage of the dialogue including a "brokering" function to connect local NGOs with mining companies operating in their area could be useful at the earliest stages of the mining operation and potentially avoid at least armed conflicts. Also, whatever ICMM can do to influence improved performance of nonmember companies through its examples and work products would also be extremely valuable to ecosystem and biodiversity protection.

In the rights arena, ICMM's lack of a strong position in support of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a major concern . In his presentation at the meeting, Aidan Davy, Director of ICMM's Community and Socio-economic Development Program, said that only "where legally mandated, the Guide [Good Practice Guide: Indigenous Peoples and Mining; see Section 2 specifically, available at http:/ ] is a valuable resource to support FPIC compliance; [however,] where governments don't fully embrace, companies can't unilaterally endorse; [but] the Guide supports members to implement their progressive commitments." See also . This is clearly an area where continued pressure on ICMM is imperative in order to meet the concerns of IUCN's NGO members.

On an historical note, I was the only member of the original Working Group on Extractive Industries and Biodiversity (WGEIB) present at this meeting. That group had a significant influence in improving and clarifying IUCN's intent and role in the Dialogue, which resulted in significant revisions to the original Terms of Reference (Dialogue agreement). The original WGEIB concerns centered on IUCN's apparent lack of full understanding of and attention to the implications of having a relationship with ICMM at the inset. I felt that the IUCN staff presentations on the first day of this meeting were not as directly targeted toward its main purpose as were the ICMM presentations, and fewer staff fully participated in the second day's discussions. I wonder if there is again an element of too narrow IUCN attention to the implications of the Dialogue as these discussions move forward.

At the conclusion of the meeting, I said that there were two important things that needed to happen, at least from IUCN's standpoint:

  • IUCN should revive the WGEIB, composed of representatives of NGO members, State members, and commissions. The group should be consulted and meet regularly, at least by e-mail and conference calls. It should have a role in reviewing the agreements and terms of reference with extractive industry companies and organizations such s ICMM before they are signed/finalized. This may go beyond the principles in the Operational Guidelines for Private Sector Engagement (Version 2.0, 2009), but in contested relationships it is essential for the Secretariat to get such internal review and comment.
  • Based on the constructive interaction between the IUCN "delegation" and the ICMM delegation at this meeting, there should an annual face-to-face meeting of comparable groups from each organization including member representatives. The WGEIB mentioned above would be a logical source for a portion of the IUCN delegation. The purpose of this meeting would be review progress, suggest additions and/or revisions to the workplan, and, perhaps most importantly, put a living face to each organization for the other.

A number of the ICMM participants thanked me for this statement; however, the IUCN response seemed less enthusiastic.

However this proposed renewal of the Dialogue turns out, it is essential that IUCN-in the spirit of the "One Programme" concept-continue to include its Members and Commissions in its efforts not only to the improve mining industry performance both in biodiversity and ecosystem protection and in indigenous and community rights and meaningful participation but also openly to criticize poor performance.

Work area: 
Social Policy
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