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Tag Archives: Governance

Where RCS Global will speak in September 2015

10–11 September: Antananarivo, Madagascar. Workshop organised by GIZ

Artisanal Mining Sector: Governance and Initiation of a Permanent Dialogue (Atelier « Secteur minier artisanal à Madagascar: Gouvernance et initiation d’un dialogue permanent)

Join RCS Global Project Director Nicolas Eslava during a two-day workshop that will include the presentation of the RCS Global’s guidance for governments on how to manage artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), developed for the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF). It will include a discussion of the relevance of the ASM management guidance to Madagascar’s vibrant ASM sector.

23-24 September: San Jose, California, U.S.A.

CFSI Annual Conference 2015

Join RCS Directors Harrison Mitchell and Michèle Brülhart at the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative’s (CFSI) annual conference in San Jose, California, where they will be presenting the latest issues on quality of supply chain mapping data and related challenges for suppliers when exercising due diligence. RCS Director Michèle Brülhart will also be presenting the revised gold audit protocol during the CFSI focus group meeting ahead of the conference to select CFSI members and industry experts, to discuss improvements to the gold audit program.

7 reasons why trading companies disclosing payments to governments makes good business sense

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The trillion dollar commodities trading industry is under increasing pressure from advocates and policy makers to adopt more responsible business practices. In this first of a series of blogs on social and political license risks for the commodities trading sector I analyse a central concern of policy makers and advocates: the disclosure of commodities trading companies’ payments to governments.

Supported by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the global transparency standard in commodities, and Trafigura Beheer B.V., one of the world’s leading independent oil, metals and minerals trading companies, RCS Global has published a business case for the commodities trading industry to disclose data on commodities trading companies’ payments to governments. The report can be downloaded on RCS Global’s website. Continue reading…

A Quick Update on a Possible EU Directive on Conflict Minerals

A number of clients and colleagues have been asking me for updates on the potential EU Directive on conflict minerals– so I thought I would gather together the information we currently know and engage in some informed speculation.

Two recent speeches by EC DG Trade representatives Karel De Gucht  – the EU Commissioner of Trade and Signe Ratso, Director of the EC DG Trade allow us to glean the following:

  • The public consultation on the EU Directive has ended with 280 submissions, 80% from businesses. The EU is now undergoing an impact assessment of a potential rule. The subsequent European Commission legislative proposal and Communication are expected in December, 2013. If it doesn’t make it through this year’s agenda we can expect significant delays due to elections next year.
  • The impact assessment has been done (or largely done), according to this press release, and will be released in December as well. The impact assessment was conducted by iPoint  – also  a conflict minerals service provider of IT software and the press release states: “One major part of this study presents the results of a survey conducted with users of the iPoint”. One would assume that the impact assessment covers more businesses than iPoint users, as it would seem those iPoint users would be more likely to be first movers with greater exposure to conflict minerals legislation in the US, and thus be better informed than the average EU business that might be affected.
  • Consensus seems to have emerged that anything out of the EU should use the OECD Due Diligence Guidance (OECD DDG) as a reference in terms of both relevant products and scope. Note that the OECD DDG is worldwide in scope and not restricted to the DRC + 9 countries as the US SEC conflict minerals rule deriving from DF section 1502.
  • It seems likely that the EU is looking to target the upstream part of the supply chain – i.e. from mine to smelter, while at the same time complementing the DF1502 requirements with a view to provide information necessary for reporting to US for downstream companies. There was a suggestion that importers would be able to use “EU Responsible Import Certificates” when able to demonstrate that their minerals are from responsible sources.
  • Reasonable and effective are key words guiding the approach – with an emphasis on tackling the issues of conflict upstream without unnecessarily burdening downstream companies. Details of what that actually means are vague, but there doesn’t appear to be an appetite for strong legislation that would require companies to report. Rather one suggested approach could be company self-declarations monitored by OECD national authorities – in the same way as is done with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

So how does that potential translate into real world due diligence?

Warning: Speculation below.

It seems pretty safe to assume that the OECD DDG will be at the heart of anything emerging from the EU. This is of course of immense relief to companies and experts who have been working for the last three years at actually implementing the OECD DDG and hoping that the EU would not derail the approach. In the consultation process, concerns were raised that the EU would basically try and translate the OECD DDG into law, something which would make compliance very difficult for companies as the Guidance doesn’t set clear criteria for implementation.

The likely worldwide application of the directive is a partial response to criticism that DF1502 had created a de facto trade embargo of sorts on 3TG from the DRCongo and surrounding countries. FARC rebels operating in Colombia and Venezuela were specifically referenced in one speech as areas where CM due diligence should be applied. One EU representative stated, “The EU text is intended to apply globally and will “provide incentives for sourcing from high risk areas” – but was short on details on how that would work exactly.

Finally, what could an upstream to importer approach look like? One speech noted that the pinch point in the supply chain was at the smelter level – which suggests more pressure on smelters to ensure they are sourcing responsibly. But with many smelters outside of Europe, it may be that the EU will seek to exert influence on companies that place material on the EU market as occurs with the EU Timber Regulation. The due diligence requirements of Timber regulation actually look very similar to the OECD DDG approach in that importing companies would have to conduct due diligence on the origin of the material, the supplier, as well as undergo a risk assessment and develop a risk mitigation strategy. The timber regulation also recognises certified timber automatically, which would also translate very well in the mineral sphere where a number of up and midstream certification schemes are already running.

In conclusion, while the OECD DDG seems like it will be at the heart of the EU approach, there are few hard details on what it will request of companies. If the EU approach is indeed a voluntary approach, or what really could be considered a weak approach through OECD national contact points, the EU Directive runs the risk of being completely side-lined by the strong regulation that came out of the US. After all the OECD DDG is already a voluntary mechanism that companies can follow and companies that are directly or indirectly affected by DF1502 are already moving to achieve compliance.

Please do contact me if you have any comments or further information at [email protected]

Thanks to Michèle Brülhart and Nicolas Eslava for their help with this post.

PS:  The Responsible Sourcing Network and the Enough Project have released a guidance setting out the information they expect companies to provide as part of their reporting obligations under DF1502.…

How to govern and how not to govern artisanal and small-scale mining

This blog has been adapted from a speech that RCS Global Senior Consultant, Dan Paget, gave at the Intergovernmental Forum On Mining, Minerals and Metals and Sustainable Development Forum meeting at the PDAC International Convention in Toronto, March 5th 2013.

RCS Global works with the private sector to help companies make a sustainable impact on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), but we work with governments too to help them govern ASM. The ways in which ASM has been governed until the present is the source of many of the challenges of ASM. ASM is a site of industry and innovation, but it is also one where formality, conflict, human rights, environmental, biodiversity, corruption and other sustainability issues are acute. In this piece, I provide a snap-shot overview of governments’ and donor organisations’ work on ASM today.

First, I talk through the past of ASM programmes since the early 1970s. Second, I discuss current programmes and practice and how these build on the past. Thirdly, I draw out the challenges that have persisted through the past and into the present. Lastly, I offer brief recommendations on the way forward for governments and donor organisations.

Approaches to ASM of the past
Government used a variety of ways to work with ASM, but most approaches from 1972 until 2001 fall primarily into one of three types.Technical assistance was offered by governments to change the technology, equipment or methods used by ASM operations. In the 1970s, this often involved attempts to upgrade ASM into more profitable and modern ventures. Technical assistance often took the form of training, subsidised or free equipment, and the provision of credit.

State-sponsored buying programmes, especially gold-buying programmes, became a second major approach to ASM in the 1980s. In many countries, state companies or bodies became legal monopoly buyers of ASM gold production. Their objectives, in most cases, were to strengthen state gold reserves amid currency crises and to cut out trading intermediaries that were thought to be unduly profiting. In this respect, the approach was not about assisting ASM, or regulating it, but serving other national interests. Most state sponsored buying programmes operated ‘no questions asked’ policies. They required minimal documentation from their buyers, and so overlooked potential contravention of national laws and informality. This meant that a powerful source of leverage over ASM was overlooked.

Formalising and regulating ASM within a tailored framework emerged more recently and became a core part of government activity on ASM at the beginning of the 1990s. Formalisation, it was argued, integrated ASM into a system of government regulation, incentives and control that could be used to address various challenges associated with ASM. In this sense, formalisation became paradigmatically central to ASM reform. In the 1990s and onwards, a wave of mining law reforms saw the introduction of separate legal categories for ASM and efforts to integrate ASM into the formal economy.

Beginning in the 1990s but crystallising in the 2000s, governments have begun to focus on ASM more consistently as a development issue, and as a sustainable development issue. That has meant considering not just economic growth, but issues such as environmental impact, child labour, human rights, sustainable livelihoods. As a result, formalisation has stayed at the heart of national governments’ approaches to ASM. Technical assistance has also continued to play a key part in ASM approaches, but it has become more and more focused on managing the environmental impact of ASM, particularly mercury-reduction. National buying schemes, in contrast, have become unpopular. Many struggled to preserve a market share and to make a positive development impact, even though, hypothetically, well-managed programmes could strengthen government control over ASM.

Approaches to ASM of the present
Governments’ and donors’ focus on these issues – formalisation, technical assistance, economic development, buying schemes – was a good thing. It reflected a broad set of priorities and had a feasible end-point – a productive, formalised sector that would be governed by a regulatory system. However, this agenda has been diverted over the last ten years by two issues: mercury reduction and conflict minerals.

Mercury-reduction in artisanal and small-scale gold mining has been growing as an international issue since the 1980s, but in the 2000s, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other agencies have supported several international programmes with the objective to reduce mercury-use.

The ‘conflict minerals’ issue has attracted a series of international responses, beginning with the Kimberley Process and more recently the United States Dodd-Frank Act Section 1502, which requires companies to exercise due diligence to determine the origin of the mineral and metal content in their products.

I do not want to detract from the importance of both of those agendas, but while they have received international attention and funding, the core agenda of ASM formalisation and assistance was not championed with the same energy or forcefulness. Although Communities and Small-scale Mining – CASM – was founded in 2001, it facilitated debate and information sharing without effectively driving policy programmes. National governments have often been unable to focus on the core agenda, because donor leadership has driven them to focus on mercury-reduction and conflict minerals compliance instead.

Challenges to ASM governance
If these attempts to assist and regulate ASM in the past and present have one common feature, it is the low rate of success. There are qualified success stories, such as the reforms conducted by the Government of Zimbabwe in the early 1990s or the legal reforms by the Government of Peru in the late 1990s and 2000s. However, in most developing countries where ASM takes place, it continues to display the same challenges that governments and donors have been seeking to address for decades.

Part of the reason is that ASM has outgrown the responses. Across the developing world, ASM has increased in a number of key minerals and metals since the 1980s, and especially since 2002. As government task force and subunits have been set up to address ASM, ASM operations have quickly become too numerous for those units to deal with.

Other reasons for failure include a series of implementation challenges. First among them is government capacity. Regulating and assisting ASM requires technical knowledge, monitoring and enforcement activities and well-run administrative procedures on the ground and across the country. In their absence, regulation is easy to avoid, and costly to adhere to.

Second, little attention is paid to the incentives facing ASM operators. Technical assistance often relies upon providing alternative technologies to miners that they then adopt, and low rates of take-up often come down to under-appreciation by implementing agencies of the burden that a business faces to switch methods, especially if those methods do not yield improved, or even equally effective results.

Third, many programmes have put great faith in a fallacy that once ASM operation are given ‘a push’ up-scaling and formalisation will follow naturally. In the outcome document of a 1995 Roundtable on Artisanal Mining, there was great talk about ‘ASM transformation’. In reality, while there are possible virtuous cycles of formalising, up-scaling, and growth, there are many practical barriers that can only be removed with time and patience. Perhaps the greatest common mistake of governments, and donors in particular, has been to treat ASM challenges as something that might be fixed in a short intervention. To address ASM issues, governments must build and maintain a monitoring and enforcement system that must keep pace with a changing industry. It will take time, institutional reform, resources, and commitment.

Commitment has been one of the biggest shortcomings in approaches to ASM to date. It is important to appreciate that national governments have mixed interests to ASM reform. Many interested parties benefit from the status quo, none the least dealers and traders of artisanally mined minerals. ASM represents an important political constituency in any emerging democracy, but often politicians can gain more popularity by raising anger against large-scale mining companies or promising immediate support rather than committing to some gradual process of reform. Donors’ interest in ASM, meanwhile, has often been fleeting.

The summation of all of these common challenges in project design and implementation is that there are many straightforward changes that could be made to ASM projects.

  • ASM Baseline Assessments should be built-in consistently to ASM projects to ensure that projects are based on consistent information. This information could be used, for example, to calculate the potential benefits that governments and communities will gain from formalising ASM, such as gains in tax revenue;
  • Institutional and stakeholder analysis should be built into project design so that when donors work with national governments, they can assess what the institutional interest in – and opposition to – reform will be;
  • There are ways that ASM laws and regulations can be adjusted to incentivise formalisation and to encourage investment and up-scaling of ASM operations, such as creating legal subcategories for artisanal mining and small-scale mining, harmonising tax categories, and making transformation from one type of license to another feasible;
  • Conduct a cost-benefit analysis to assess the incentives that ASM operators face and test whether ASM programmes are aligned with their incentives and priorities; and
  • Treat ASM formalisation as an enforcement issue, and not just as a development issue. Formalisation will take place when it is feasible, but also when there are disincentives to remaining informal.

There are many more examples. Practical and process-based guidance on how to approach ASM effectively is something programmes often lack. A large number of challenges in ASM come down to shortcomings in project design and implementation, which could be avoided with proper precautions and project planning. While ASM approaches will always need to be informed by local realities, there are only fragmented pieces of good practice in the public domain. There is no ‘toolkit’ or ‘guidance’ for national governments and practitioners that informs for approach design. A toolkit could profile examples of successful methods, offer guidance on what approaches and responses work under a range of circumstances, and provide resources and links to other good practice that can be used by practitioners.

Beyond purely technical issues of project design, interested parties should take a fresh approach to how they can cooperate and coordinate on ASM.

There are plenty of ambiguities in the responsibilities on ASM support that different stakeholders should carry. In the absence of well-established norms to which stakeholders can be held to account, there will always be those that shirk or pass on their responsibilities to others. National governments and donors should lead a debate about what roles other stakeholders have in the process, including ASM organisations and representatives themselves. Whenever ASM have organised civically to represent their interests, ASM has become a stronger national priority, and often the governance of ASM has improved.

Equally, companies’ possible contributions to ASM issues have been neglected. While ASM is a development issue at large, for some large-scale mining companies it is an acute risk issue. Large-scale mining companies have had as little luck in sustainably resolving ASM issues in the past as national governments have, but a collection of companies have recently demonstrated their willingness to play a proactive role in addressing ASM issues, and have plenty of special capacities that they can bring to the process.

Moreover, downstream users of metals are potential partners in ASM initiatives. Some initiatives such as Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold have created demand-driven ways to improve and assist ASM. The challenge to Fairtrade Gold is scale. The success of Fairtrade will be confined by the size of demand, which is limited to a small consumer market. I believe that changes in the culture of due diligence mean that there are new opportunities to develop closed-pipe ethical certification initiatives that reach larger markets.

On a closing note, I’d like to observe that ASM issues are not special. In fact, they are challenges that we can trace through history; struggles between state authorities that wish to regulate and economic ventures that wish to access land while avoiding interference. The lessons from the past are that the goals are attainable, and that the only obstacles are practical. Interested parties need to shift their focus from conceptual issues to how implementation can be improved and standardised. ASM challenges can be met by governments and other stakeholders, but only if they have the will to do so.

RCS Global works at the forefront of ASM strategy in the contexts of government policy, mining company – ASM relations and co-existence and downstream company due diligence. For more details, please contact RCS Global’s Head of ASM Practice, Nicholas Garrett.

Towards more effective and sustainable corporate responses to artisanal mining – Part 1

This is the first of two posts in which I will write about corporate artisanal mining responses. Artisanal mining, which remains an ill-defined and misunderstood phenomenon, is a reality in some of the most promising mining countries in the world.

Mining companies that are already or that may come into contact with artisanal mining need to take artisanal mining seriously, and develop and implement a response framework that is based on a well-defined business case.

That business case comprises elements of legal compliance, risk mitigation (operational, reputational, socio-political, commercial and legal compliance risks), and the company’s sustainable development contribution, as well as the prospect of more profitable and sustainable operations.

Nevertheless, many companies still lack response frameworks for artisanal mining. Site management will often only start to think about an artisanal mining response when the activity becomes an “issue”. It is then often addressed in an ad-hoc manner, which fails to sustainably mitigate the risks associated with artisanal mining, and prevents the company from fully capitalising on the company’s artisanal mining response business case.

Ad-hoc measures often lack focus because guidance documents in the public domain are too general and sometimes incomplete and do not help companies to make sense of their options. In reality, there are viable and sustainable responses mining companies can adopt to fully capitalise on the response business case.

Looking back at five decades of company responses to artisanal mining, it is evident that the approaches that companies have chosen to respond to artisanal mining can be grouped into four broad categories: ignore, force, contain and formalise.

Ignoring an activity beset by risks significantly escalates a company’s risk exposure in all five risk categories mentioned above, and I would not recommend it.

Responding with force, which would include, for example, drawing on state security forces to evict artisanal miners from a concession or erecting permanent physical barriers (i.e. “the wall”) around a mine site. These measures can work unless those security forces or physical barriers are resisted, which in time they will be. This is why responding with force severely escalates a company’s exposure to reputational-, socio-political- and legal compliance risks. I would therefore not recommend it.

Containing the activity is the most common approach and can sometimes be successful, but is in many cases not sustainable. Containment includes, for example, measures to ensure company staff do not cooperate with artisanal miners, or using company security and community policing to control access to the concession.

These measures seem particularly successful in areas where artisanal mining is a traditional activity, pursued by a manageable number of people (up to hundreds, rather than thousands), and/or in cases where the social license firmly rests with the mining company. In geographies or circumstances where this is not the case, containment approaches have proven to eventually fail, increasing companies’ risk exposure.

Formalisation remains a misunderstood concept in many ways, but in this context I use it to mean providing active support to artisanal miners to meet legal requirements and become formally organised and licensed operators, which are in the process often “upgraded” to formal small-scale mechanised operations. This suggestion is often met with the response “Nick, are you mad?”, and I often have to spend some time explaining why formalisation can work, despite existing examples of failure.

Historically speaking, formalisation attempts have often failed not because the idea of formalisation is “mad”, but because of the way in which formalisation processes were prepared and implemented. Formalisation, which can be coupled with containment elements, can therefore potentially provide a sustainable solution to otherwise unruly artisanal mining activities, if the formalisation process is well prepared and implemented. This is especially so in cases where other approaches, such as containment, have failed, and companies are left with a choice between “force” and “formalise”.

That said, formalisation is particularly promising in geographies where legal frameworks do not prohibit companies from formally engaging with artisanal miners and where the company and the artisanal miners are not permanently competing for the exact same resource.

While this is all good in theory, how should companies go about developing and implementing a response framework and implementation strategy? The most important point to remember is that the process for developing an ASM response framework and eventually implementing activities is a key determinant for success or failure.

Stage 1: Corporate ASM response framework and guideline
At a corporate level, few companies have a developed ASM response framework with usefully elaborated guidelines, reflecting the company’s global good practice and legal commitments, which set the macro parameters for sites to frame their site-level response. This means that when artisanal mining becomes an issue at a site, corporate headquarters may find themselves unable to provide practical guidance to site managers. Under these circumstances, site managers have proven to ad-hoc measures that can provide some relief, but often turn out to be unsustainable over the long-term.

It is therefore important that the company adopts a corporate-level response framework. This framework sets the macro-parameters to ensure a consistent and compliant company-wide approach to artisanal mining. Again, site managers often say to me “Nick, are you mad, our circumstances are totally different to those on other sites”. Circumstances do in fact differ, which is why the framework provides guidance and direction without preventing sites from tailoring responses to local circumstances.

Stage 2: ASM Baseline and risk assessment
It sounds extreme, but at site level, the success or failure of an ASM response can stand and fall with the quality of an ASM baseline and risk assessment. Only when a site understands key aspects of the “ASM situation” it is dealing with, including the socio-political aspects of the artisanal mining activity at hand, has a response a chance of success. A high-quality baseline study and risk assessment should thus provide enough information for the company to make the right decision on whether containment or formalisation approaches will be required to find a sustainable solution to the artisanal mining challenge at hand. Taking this step seriously will save the company significant sums of money later on in the process.

Stage 3: Supplementary Studies
For containment and formalisation approaches to live up to their potential, they need to be underpinned by supplementary studies prior to strategy implementation. Depending on the company, a Human Rights Impact Assessment and/or Voluntary Principles Assessment should inform a containment strategy. This is to ensure it is compliant with the company’s commitments on human rights and for it not to increase the company’s reputational and socio-political risk exposure.

Formalisation approaches, on the other hand, require both a mineral resources assessment so as to identify a suitable area for the formalised ASM operations to mine, as well as a census in order to refine baseline study data and determine the number and status of participants in the formalisation process. A census is a relatively more time-intensive endeavour than a baseline and should be undertaken with sufficient legs on the ground and time to analyse the gathered data thereafter.

Stage 4: Strategy development
Once the decision has been made to either “contain” or “formalise” and supplementary data has been gathered, the implementation strategy has to be developed. The reason why I do not mention “ignoring” or “forcing” ASM here is because a company will do so at its peril and I do not recommend it. Containment and formalisation strategy development is an expert task, for which companies like my company ( have amassed years of knowledge and hands-on experience. A good strategy defines and elaborates the objectives, based on the baseline and risk assessment, and in line with a company’s artisanal mining response framework.

For containment the strategy development should take into consideration several implementation options, such as, for example access control, community policing, or measures to prevent staff from cooperating with artisanal miners. For formalisation the strategy development should take into consideration several aspects, including the determination of resource availability, number and nature of participants in the formalisation process, as well as, various implementation options, including legal, organisational, commercial and technical support elements.

For both response options, the implementation strategy needs to map out clear roles and responsibilities of key partners, such as government and sometimes other mining companies, as well as expert advisors and implementation NGOs, along with the community and the artisanal miners themselves. In countries, where I have come across artisanal mining as a prevalent phenomenon, it has been absolutely pivotal to ensure that government is a participant and a political supporter of both containment and formalisation processes.

With these deliberations in mind, the implementation strategy provides a clear roadmap and timeline for ensuing activities. These include engagement with government, implementation partners, the community and the miners, as well as implementation of containment and/or formalisation activities and – importantly – monitoring and evaluation of the process. Because this strategy works within the parameters set by the corporate artisanal mining response framework, it will honour the company’s global good practice and legal commitments.

I will write more about this second half of the process and the activities it includes in the second blog of this two-blog series. Watch this space!

RCS Director Harrison Mitchell speaks at the Munich Center on Governance workshop on Standards and Certification in the minerals trade

Spring came early to Munich this year, with two sunny days on March 22 and 23 for the workshop on Standards and Certification in the minerals trade held at the Munich Center on Governance (MCG) in Germany. Hosted and sponsored by BGR (the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources), MCG and Cost (European Cooperation in Science and Technology), the workshop bought together academics and practitioners to discuss international approaches to certification in the sector.

RCS was represented by our Director Harrison Mitchell. Notable attendees included Paul Mabolia, in charge of Promines, the mining sector reform program of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who discussed the efforts to work on certification in the Congo. A key problem he identified was the sustainability of the traceability schemes, due to the expense of financing them. He noted that it makes no sense to “tag an empty bag” and suggested that there was a sense of urgency to ensure material could be sold internationally in the first place. Reviewing his comments on the de facto embargo in place, RCS was reminded of a warning we gave to the international community back in April 2009, when we suggested that “banning, or even disrupting the trade will have a severe effect on the livelihoods of up to one million people in the Great Lakes region.”

While the debate has come a long way since RCS’s first reports on Congo’s mineral trade in 2009 and 2010, many of the issues raised are still relevant.

How can gold be traced when the trade is currently 95% informal? Are certification schemes just a distraction away from the real problems of entrenched poverty in the DRC’s mineral sector? How are the schemes going to be financed?

Angeline Gough discussed the Forest Stewardship Council’s work in the forestry sector providing pro-poor value chain assessments. The FSC has been holding workshops to identify where local communities could achieve more value in their supply chains, by cutting out the middle men or improving efficiency. We speculated with her about whether such a method could work in artisanal mining communities.

Of particular concern is the fact that achieving more value likely results in cutting out the middleman (a commonality between forestry and minerals), who has a vested interest in maintaining the current status quo. From experience, middlemen often act as considerable spoilers to attempts to formalise and help artisanal miners achieve more value. They can be gatekeepers to information about the value of the resource, or encourage dependency through the monopoly of capital that is needed to fund activities. The silver bullet consists in convincing the middlemen to join community efforts to achieve increased value together… while taking a pay cut.

Harrison spoke as a panellists with Dr Philipp Pattberg (Associate Professor for Transnational Environmental Governance at the Institute for Environmental Studies), Anna Stetter (Chair of Global Governance and Public Policy at the Geschwister-Scholl-Institute of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität) and Julia Steets (Associate Director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin). The discussion called into question the effectiveness of certification as an effective instrument to achieve sustainability objectives in the first place. Dr Pattberg noted that there exists a ‘paper reality’ (great term!) as there is a lot of desk research, but not a lot of information on the impact on the ground. Anna Stetter’s work is interesting in its attempts to identify an ideal certification scheme that balances effectiveness, legitimacy and efficiency. However, the panel later noted that structure should follow function and objectives of a scheme first and foremost. Harrison discussed the fact that both the design and implementation of certification schemes often are a political process, where the priority of Northern and consumer states trumps the needs of Southern producer states. The result is Southern states jumping through hoops that tick the boxes of Northern consumers, but which may have little to do with the sustainability and economic growth concerns of producers.

Finally, Harrison noted that there were often “successes by accident” in certification schemes. For instance, the Kimberley Process for diamonds cannot be said to be successful in tracing diamonds (for a number of reasons), but has done a lot to formalise the international export and trade of diamonds. This has resulted in an increase in export revenues by exporting states. Likewise, the various conflict mineral schemes are at an early stage, but market pressures to comply with the schemes are already resulting in mid-level companies adopting and implementing policies on labour standards and human rights, where sometimes there were none before.
Thanks to the organisers for a highly worthwhile conference.