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Toolkit on corporate responsibility in the extraction of natural resources

Extraction of natural resources involves high risks for violations of human rights and severe impact on the environment. This toolkit aims at giving companies and civil society organisations an understanding of such risks and the links to business operations. How does the extraction of natural resources affect people and the environment? What responsibility do companies have?

 

The global economy is dependent on the extraction of natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals, and wood. The extraction of raw materials creates millions of jobs and is an important source of income for many countries, especially for low-income countries.

According to the World Bank, some 3.5 billion people live in countries rich in oil, gas or minerals. By managing these assets responsibly, the gains from mineral extraction can reduce poverty and increase societal wellbeing. However, while the opportunities are considerable, the extractive industries are a high-risk sector in many ways due to their extensive social and environmental impacts.

What responsibilities do companies, that in different ways are engaged in the extractive industry, have for the effects on people and the environment that their own operations or business relationships cause? How can companies understand the various risks that they themselves can meet and that their suppliers or customers may face? How can these risks be managed?

This training material is designed for companies that want to learn more about the extractive industries’ impact on people and the environment and how companies should ensure that they respect human rights and the environment across their operations. The material is also designed for civil society organisations working on issues related to sustainable business and that monitor company behaviours.

Mining

 

Due to the considerable impact of mines on their immediate surroundings, there is vigorous debate over to what extent mining can be conducted sustainably. To date, there are few if any examples of fully sustainable mining.

 

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Oil and Gas

 

In many countries, the extraction of oil has severe negative impacts on people’s health and safety, the environment and access to clean water. Oil and gas are typically transported long distances using pipelines.

 

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Forestry

 

Logging can be conducted responsibly with limited negative impacts. However, in many parts of the world, logging often causes serious human rights abuses and environmental problems.

 

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Small-scale mining in Congo Kinshasa. Photo: Roland Brockmann/MISEREOR

This training material has been produced with financial assistance from the European Union (EU) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The contents of this material are the sole responsibility of Forum Syd and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the positions of the EU or Sida.

Swedwatch has provided content to some parts of this material.