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I've just read the brief summary above and look forward to reading more of the study.

My instinctive reaction is that this report focuses too much on government's role and too little on mining companies' responsibility. Good regulation is important, ethical and sustainable business performance is far more important.

This stands out to me " Over the past 20 years, while the mining industry has sought improved performance in the areas of ethical practice, social responsibility and environmental stewardship, evidence shows that conflict has still risen dramatically in frequency and intensity."

I heartily disagree with the premise. In my direct and indirect experience of ten years in humanitarian work and ten years in mining, social responsibility and environmental stewardship are not core business for mining companies and only get adequate attention during and immediately after conflict. I have yet to see them consistently and strategically implemented in a way that would prevent conflict.

Hi Luke,

thanks for reading the blog post and taking the time to comment. It could help to understand the scope we used for this Phase of the research to take a look at the abridged version of the Phase 2 research. Here it explains that this is the second phase of an ongoing research project, and focuses only on the policy tools available to host government in their role, and does not focus on other important aspects including companies’ role, the influence of political factors, and the important role of home governments where companies are headquartered. 

You will find a greater focus in Phase 1 of the research which was carried out by CIRDI prior to UNDP’s involvement, looking at the company-community interface and highlighting some of the issues you refer to in your post. 

If you look at page 60 in the conclusion of the abridged version, you will see a bit more context of the segment of the blog you quoted from in your comment. The sentence you quote from the blog is meant to indicate that while some companies (noted in the Phase 1 research and Phase 2 lit review section, such as larger multi-nationals who subscribe to international performance standards) have put some emphasis on social and environmental performance, the data shows this has not resulted in a reduction in conflict incidences. So while several reasons behind this are as you point out, up to companies more substantively and consistently integrate social, environmental and governance performance into core business, the Phase 2 study decided to focus just on the role of host governments and how this influences conflict linked to mining. We consider this research overall to be ongoing, and hope to do a 3rd phase that would look at other factors in conflict associated with mining. 

Our message is not to suggest that industry has no responsibility and it all lies with government. The message is that achieving sustainable mineral development depends upon collaboration by the key stakeholders including industry, government, communities and civil society and all delivering effectively on their respective roles. Our research demonstrates an important role host governments plays in setting the enabling environment for either conflict prevention or sustained conflict. No matter how good a company's Environmental, Social and Governance practices and programs are, if government is not delivering for its part on effective governance, we have observed that the efforts of the company have limited impact.

Hope you find the reports of some interest. Thanks!

Thanks or the reply Sarah,

I'm working through the abridged version now and am positive I'll agree with many of the conclusions. In fact, I agree with the conclusion that depending on improvements within the industry is only part of the solution.

My background is ten years in international humanitarian response followed by ten years in mining. That experience leads me to conclude that very few, if any, mining companies have actually implemented social and environmental approaches to the extent needed to reduce and prevent conflict irrespective of government regulation or capacity. I recognize that many companies are trying but I believe we need to move beyond social performance, or corporate social responsibility, to a place where we are discussing and embracing shared purpose. That definitively will involve governments, local communities, NGOs and the mining companies working together.

I do find the reports of interest and think that the research is highly valuable. I would just hate for a junior, or indeed a major, to say, 'ah ha, we've tried, it didn't work, so it must be the government's role.' I realize that is not at all the intent of your work!