Mining Industry Experts Gather to Help Set the State of Sustainable Development

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27 November 2012 – The Regeneration Roadmap recently co-hosted an event with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). The discussion was chaired by SustainAbility’s Rob Cameron and accompanied by esteemed panellists Anthony Hodge, president of ICMM and Tom Burke, Chief Environmental Policy Advisor at Rio Tinto. This was an opportunity for key figures in the mining industry and in the field of sustainable development more broadly to react to some of the findings of The Regeneration Roadmap. While the Salon ostensibly had a mining focus the issues discussed went beyond narrow industry-specifics, encompassing some of the more macro challenges faced by all industries in confronting issues of climate change, development and social well-being.

The discussion was opened with an introduction to The Regeneration Roadmap and some of its insights. Chris Coulter, GlobeScan President, shared the latest quantitative expert and global public opinion findings to help set the state of sustainable development.

“The extractive industry has been at the forefront of addressing sustainable development challenges for many decades,” said Chris. “The perspectives shared at the ICMM meeting have broad applicability to The Regeneration Roadmap’s goal of accelerating sustainable business leadership in the next five years.”

The survey of sustainability experts shows that while there is a clear expectation that governments should be exerting greater leadership, there is great disappointment in the performance of government, leaving a growing expectation that the private sector must fill some of this leadership gap. While dramatic solutions rather than incremental steps are generally seen as what is required, a lack of political will and vested interests and the complexity of the challenges present the most significant obstacles to this.

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Additionally, while business is starting to make its voice heard, it, like government, still suffers from a trust deficit. It is problematic for governments and businesses to be at odds with each other and a hopeful sign is that collaboration is seen as a possible solution. Despite this a sense of optimism about the future persists, particularly in developing markets but also elsewhere, and there may be some low-hanging levers of change to be grasped in terms of high levels of trust in scientists and academic institutions among the global public.

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The existing and future role of government came in for a great deal of focus throughout the discussion. While governments are rated highly on expectations to move the sustainability agenda forward they are perceived very poorly in their actual performance. But the question was raised – who exactly do we mean by ‘government’? There is often a disparity between very dedicated and committed civil and public servants and short-termist ‘politicians’ who are seen to hold the process up. There was some interest in possible future studies exploring the clarity around who in government is doing well, who is not, how we hold them to account, and how can we make use of those within government who are committed to making a real impact.
There also seems to be a strategic tension between ‘holistic’ and ‘focused’ approaches among businesses. It was noted that previously the issue was around ‘climate change’ as an imminent disaster facing every business, government and individual equally, however, it seems to have broken down into a myriad of individual environmental and societal issues that businesses focus on specifically. ‘Focus, focus, focus’ has become the mantra for many industries in recent years but it is worth considering whether this works to the detriment of more collaborative and all-encompassing approaches; to break down the wider environmental issue into multiple strands may be to ignore the ‘elephant in the room’ that is the imminent macro-threat of climate change itself.

There is a broad consensus that collaboration is absolutely essential but it hasn’t quite gained momentum yet. It is fundamentally difficult for companies, governments, and other actors to work together. This is an issue of cutting across global and corporate cultural barriers and creating a new culture of collaboration.

Cultural barriers are also not the only obstacle. Sustainability initiatives are simply not attractive at the moment. Top-down agreements are very hard to implement let alone achieving broad consensus and cooperation. What is needed is the enthusiasm from the bottom up which is how scaled change takes place. There is a sense that, in trying to stress the importance of sustainability and the dangers of climate change we are ‘selling them the journey and not the beach’. It could be a fruitful exercise to stress the benefits of creating a more sustainable and equitable world rather than purely focusing on the dangers of not doing so.

While consensus across the issues raised is often hard to find, there is little doubt that collaboration and dialogue, including between societal actors traditionally at odds with one another, must be an essential component if real solutions are to be pursued.

“The Regeneration Roadmap aims to create a new pathway for sustainability leadership,” said Rob Cameron, Executive Director at Sustainability. “It will succeed in its aims if it can bring influencers and businesses together to co-create the way forward. The ICMM meeting proved to be an ideal forum to achieve this – and rightly so given the importance of the extractive industries in creating a sustainable future.”

Through our on-going and future events in Beijing, Shanghai, San Francisco and Mumbai, The Regeration Roadmap will continue working to facilitate and consolidate this dialogue.

For More Information, Please Contact:

Robin Miller, Manager, Marketing and Communications
GlobeScan Inc.
+1 416 962 0707

About The Regeneration Roadmap

The Regeneration Roadmap is a collaborative and multi-faceted initiative by GlobeScan and SustainAbility that aims to provide a roadmap for achieving sustainable development within the next generation, focusing in particular on ways the private sector can improve sustainable development strategy, increase credibility and deliver results at greater speed and scale. The project is presented by BMW Group and SC Johnson and sponsored by DuPont, Cisco, Interface and Pfizer, and supported by many other partners including UNEP, National Geographic and the World Bank.
For more information and a complete list of supporters, visit

About GlobeScan

For 25 years, GlobeScan has helped clients measure and build value-generating relationships with their stakeholders. Uniquely placed at the nexus of reputation, brand and sustainability, we partner with clients to build trust, drive engagement and inspire innovation within, around, and beyond their organizations.
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About SustainAbility

SustainAbility is a think tank and strategic advisory firm working to inspire transformative business leadership on the sustainability agenda. Established in 1987, SustainAbility delivers illuminating foresight and actionable insight on sustainable development trends and issues.
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About ICMM

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) was established in 2001 to improve sustainable development performance in the mining and metals industry. Today, it brings together many of the world’s largest mining and metals companies as well as national and regional mining associations and global commodity associations. ICMM’s vision is one of leading companies working together and with others to strengthen the contribution of mining, minerals and metals to sustainable development.
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