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Foresight & Insight

Green Conflict Minerals:
The fuels of conflict in the transition to a low-carbon economy


International Institute for Sustainable Development

Scope of Work

  • Research
  • Literature Review
  • 3 Horizon Workshop
  • System Mapping
  • Report with Recommendations

Using a 3 Horizons approach focused on possible pathways to a future where relevant mineral supply chains are conflict-free, Helen Kerr is looking at the Future of Green Minerals 2040 as part of IISD’s larger study on the implications of Conflict Minerals in the emerging low-carbon economy. New “green” technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and energy storage demand new materials, which in turn require the extraction of different minerals. Global mining projects of these minerals are growing at a phenomenal rate, while regulation and international best practices are not being universally applied.

“Conflict Minerals” are so named because of the corruption, violence and environmental and social damage their extraction causes in local communities. The need to monitor and establish standards for such resources as cobalt, lithium and rare earths, among others, is an urgent global challenge. It is essential, if the world is to move towards a new age of true sustainability, that steps be taken to establish safe and fair extractive practices. As a world leader in mining, Canada has the potential to leverage our influence to create protocols, laws and policies to broadly improve standards, especially in mineral-rich fragile states. “Civil society groups, the private sector and governments must work together to ensure that the future is one in which the green technologies designed to improve the planet also improve life at the local level.” It is a significant undertaking.

About the International Institute for Sustainable Development
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank championing sustainable solutions to 21st century problems. Their mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability.

The IISD addresses the root causes of some of the greatest challenges facing our planet today – ecological destruction, social exclusion, unfair laws and economic rules, and a changing climate. Through research, analysis and knowledge sharing, they identify and champion sustainable solutions that make a difference. They report on international negotiations, conduct rigorous research, and engage citizens, businesses and policy-makers on the shared goal of developing sustainably.

Established in 1990, IISD has offices in Canada, Switzerland and the United States, and their work impacts economies, communities, ecosystems and lives in nearly 100 countries.

View the final report here.


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