Sustainable Development and Rio+20
by Mercy Investment Services Social Responsibility Team
In 1992, global leaders gathered for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to develop and adopt an environmental and development agenda for the 21st century. The summit produced an agreement for countries to work together on climate change and biodiversity, as well as pursing progress for each country’s sustainable development.
Today, representatives from around the globe are gathering for Rio+20, also known as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The conference looks to further the work of the original Rio summit, addressing political commitment to sustainable development, reviewing progress on agreements reached in 1992, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Socially responsible investors, including Mercy Investment Services, will closely watch the developments from Rio+20 to see how it can direct and support corporate engagements on environmental issues including climate change, water use and greenhouse gas emissions.
For 20 years, investors have been addressing issues from the 1992 conference, including mining, in a variety of venues. In April, Mercy Investment Services and other faith leaders met with Peruvian Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno and bishops from Bangladesh, the Philippines and Chad recently met at the World Bank to review the status of mining, discuss mining’s impact on fragile and conflict-affected countries, and plan for protecting the rights of communities impacted by mining. Conference participants also discussed how to ensure communities benefit from the development of extractive industries.
For the Sisters of Mercy, especially those in the Caribbean, Central and South American community who live and work in areas near the mine sites of Doe Run in La Oyra and Yanacocha in Cajamarca, mining in this area of Peru is of great concern. Given their close proximity to these mines, the sisters have raised concerns about the sustainability of mining in these areas, the impacts of mining on the water, air and soil, and the impact on the local people including lead levels in the children, the availability of health care, and education. Despite concerns over the health and environmental impacts, demand continues to grow for the products being mined including metals such as copper, lead, molybdenum and gold, and hydrocarbons such as oil, coal and natural gas.
During the meeting, participants discussed a draft paper on responsible mining, which includes eight principles that form the core of future activities and discussions: social and environmental assessment; transparency; acceptance by stakeholders; food production trumps questionable mining; compliance with international standards; corporate prequalification before permitting; insurance and performance bond; and royalties, taxes and fees. If the mining industry cannot meet these principles, mining would be prohibited in this zone. The draft is available online.
Mercy Investment Services will continue to collaborate with sisters to promote company practices and policies that ensure accountability and transparency regarding the effects of the mining industry and mining processes on the local communities and the environment. You can also follow the progress of Rio+20 online.