International business and human rights makes significant move forward in logistics sector

Logistics managers can profit by this example, say leaders in the mining and metals sector

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In an industry first, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) announced new membership requirements to advance the sustainability performance of the mining sector, committing members to implement the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Speaking at the UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, Tom Butler,ICMM’s Chief Executive announced ICMM’s new performance expectations that will define what mining with principles looks like in practice, by setting a benchmark for the industry’s environmental and social performance.

“ICMM’s Council of 27 CEOs have shown real leadership in being the first industry body to commit to implementing the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” he said.

“Importantly, other companies will also be able to publicly commit to our performance expectations and I hope this will lead the broader industry to further improve its social and environmental performance,” added Butler. 

The performance expectations will apply to all ICMM’s company members who manage almost 650 assets in over 50 countries, covering nearly half of the world’s iron ore and copper production, and over a quarter of all mined commodities by value.

As a consequence, said spokesmen, it will be the most far-reaching initiative to advance environmental and social performance in the mining industry.

The new performance expectations were developed with extensive input from NGOs, international organizations and academics. The initiative has CEO-level support within all ICMM company members.

In an interview with SCMR - our sister publication - Aidan Davy, ICMM COO noted that while this raises no new challenges for supply chain transparency,  it does provide those who source directly from ICMM members (whether they are consumer facing companies, refiners, smelters or traders) that the materials they produce have been responsibly mined.

“ICMM has repeatedly set the pace in the evolution of sustainability requirements for its industry, now including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights; and as a CEO-led organization it has the credibility and leverage to do so,” said Professor John Ruggie, Harvard Kennedy School, and the former UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights.

The performance expectations are the latest evolution of ICMM’s sustainability framework that set out a more comprehensive set of environmental and social requirements, including issues such as labor rights, resettlement, local content, gender, access to grievance mechanisms, mine closure, pollution and waste that will be validated at the asset level.

“We are not creating a system that provides end- to-end line of sight on the provenance of materials from the point of origin to the point of consumption,” Davy added in an interview. “Others are active in that space. However, this will provide confidence to those who source directly from ICMM members (whether they are consumer facing companies, refiners, smelters or traders) that the materials they produce have been responsibly mined.”

ICMM is currently developing guidance on how members will validate the performance expectations at the asset level including through independent third-party assessments. It expects this guidance to be complete in the middle of 2019. The guidance will be piloted during the second half of 2019 followed by full implementation across the membership.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [ protected]

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