On May 24th the SDSN co-hosted a meeting in partnership with the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, the UNDP, and the World Bank on how the extractive resources sector (mining, oil and gas, etc.) can support the Sustainable Development Goals. Many developing countries have significant natural resources upon which their economies depend. When managed appropriately, the sector can create jobs, support research and development, and improve infrastructure over long time horizons. However, in many countries corruption, weak institutions, and poor communication can lead to conflict between communities and companies over access to resources and environmental degradation, hindering progress.
The private sector has an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to all 17 of the SDGs, as has been described in the UN Global Compact’s SDG Compass. In addition, our publication, Mapping Mining to the Sustainable Development Goals: A Preliminary Atlas, describes the specific role of the mining industry in SDG achievement. The workshop built on this work, with participants discussing how the extractives sector can contribute to monitoring progress on the SDGs. Under the Global Reporting Initiative, many companies already report on key sustainability metrics. This data could be a key input for SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production, which seeks to monitor the number of companies publishing sustainability reports as a key indicator. Taking it a step further, companies could collect and report on a number of other SDG indicators, such as the percent of women holding managerial positions (SDG 5 on gender equality), or the frequency of occupational injuries (SDG 8 on productive employment and decent work). Companies could even go so far as to collect data on health outcomes, school enrollment, and access to water and sanitation in nearby communities.
Firms stand to benefit by supporting the SDGs and data systems to support their achievement. Better data can aid decision makers in identifying key areas where companies are not serving the community, and intervene before conflict arises. By working together with community leaders and other stakeholders in an atmosphere of trust and transparency, risk is reduced. Communities stand to benefit from development when resources are well-managed and benefits shared.
For more information on the SDSN’s work on good governance of extractive and land resources, visit our website.