On 8th June 2017, Zama Nkosi, ACP YPN Private Sector Expert, spoke at a panel discussion “Responsible mining – partnerships to help achieve the SDGs” as part of the 2017 European Development Days. She spoke alongside Lawrence Dechambenoit (Vice President of Corporate Relations for Africa at RIO TINTO), Herbert Lust (Vice-President and Managing Director for Europe at Conservation International) and Sergio Piazzardi (Policy Officer: Private Framework Development, Trade, Regional Integration at the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development in the European Commission). Sanoussi Bilal (Head of the Economic Transformation and Trade Programme at the European Centre for Development Policy Management) moderated the session.
Zama discussed: (i) the importance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in partnerships towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); (ii) what young people would like these partnerships to achieve (iii); artisanal mining as a preferred occupation among young people in mining communities and (iv) some of the key elements of a partnership from a youth perspective.
Zama highlighted the importance of civil society in collaborating with the mining sector towards the delivery of the SDGs. She emphasised that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), such as ACP YPN, often have direct understandings of the local communities, their expectations and perceptions. She linked this to a critique that often emerges from young people about a lack of consultation when initiatives are designed for local development in mining communities.
Secondly, she elaborated on the critical areas a partnership should tackle from a youth perspective. She argued that, in this sense, the main areas of interest are job creation and skills development. She also emphasised the need to weave women’s rights in the jobs that are created, the working environment and the types of skills developed. She cautioned that these expectations need to be measured against the trends in the mining sector and their potential to absorb unemployed youths and to design skills programmes that they desire.
Thirdly, she highlighted artisanal mining as a key occupation among young Africans in some mining communities and the importance of incorporating this reality in partnerships. She explained that traditional mines have not been able to absorb the numbers of unemployed youth that wish to participate in the sector. Therefore, many young people have taken up artisanal mining, because of its low barriers to entry and its potential to provide immediate financial relief. She stated, “This [artisanal mining] is a reality that is not going to change overnight. These young people’s needs, aspirations and expectations need to be part of the debate. Simply wishing them away will not work.”
Lastly, she listed some of the key elements of a partnership, such as the need to be cognisant of the local context in which they operate, not simply centring a single stakeholder and the need to balance power asymmetries without simply ignoring their existence.
The panel discussion is part of an ongoing series of policy debates on how a multi-stakeholder coalition can work together to achieve the SDGs. A wide range of perspectives were brought forth, but some of the main issues centred around the need to learn from the experiences of existing partnerships and the importance of advancing transparency and trust among different stakeholders.
By Zama Nkosi
Want to know more about the role of the private sector in trade and development? Get in touch with Zama: LinkedIn & @nkosiz