📅 1 September 2022
Since the industrial revolution, extractive industries have been major drivers of economic growth. For instance, minerals play a significant role in the economies of 81 countries that account for a quarter of global GDP, half of the world’s population, and nearly 70 per cent of those living in extreme poverty. Mineral production and trade will likely play a more prominent role in the global economy as the demand for minerals and materials is rapidly increasing.
Critical raw materials are required for sustainable development and the transition to a green or circular economy, including renewable energy, industrialization, mobility, and urbanization. They are indeed critical in the search for diversifying energy sources, be they nuclear or renewable, among others. While the extractive industries have immense potential to drive growth and reduce poverty, they are also associated with financial, economic, governance, social and environmental concerns. The challenge is to ensure that the sector transforms itself into a sustainable system and contributes to the green transition. At the same time, when a such transformation is enabled, resource-rich countries attain economic and social benefits from their extractive activities while protecting the environment.
To address the above issues, an initiative on Extractive Industries was launched in October 2020 as part of the “Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond” Initiative (FfDI). Subsequently, five Regional Roundtables were hosted by the United Nations Regional Economic Commissions (RECs). The roundtables were followed by the UN Secretary-General’s policy brief, which set out a list of recommendations to transform the sector. These were then presented to and discussed by the Member States and other high-level representatives during a Global Roundtable on Extractive Industries held on 25 May 2021. One of the recommendations was to set up a Working Group (WG), which was launched on 26 January 2022.
The Working Group on Transforming the Extractive Industries for Sustainable Development is tasked to:
- Coordinate extractives-related work across the UN and beyond through joint work, planning, and collaboration;
- Serve as an information and knowledge hub to scale up and replicate good practices;
- Provide policy advice and technical assistance to stakeholders in the sector;
- Assist in integrating the extractive industries’ work into other UN-wide initiatives such as FfDI.