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The Sustainable Development Goals

With our strong focus on sustainable development there is great potential for ICMM to support the mining and metals industry in making an important and lasting contribution towards the UN’s global goals. We need to work with members and partners to catalyse lasting social and economic progress that supports an end to poverty, protects the planet and ensures prosperity for all.

What are the SDGs?

Adopted by 193 heads of state and governments at a special UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015 the SDGs are a set of 17 individual goals and 169 separate targets that seek to address a wide variety of development issues. Member states are expected to use these goals to frame their development agendas for the next 15 years.

For more information see the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

How mining and metals connect with the SDGs

Unlike many other sectors there is no primary point of connection between mining and one single SDG. Instead, operations have the extraordinary potential to contribute to several different goals at any one time. This is due to the multifaceted impacts (both positive and negative) that companies and operations can have on communities, ecosystems and economies. These, coupled with the fundamental importance of metals and minerals to modern life, the influence of mining on all of the SDGs becomes apparent.

In addition, many mining and metals companies have acquired valuable experience of working in partnership with governments, civil society, and development agencies in order to operate effectively in some of the world’s most remote, environmentally sensitive regions that also need assistance in building institutional capacity and governance. This knowledge and experience needs to be captured and shared in new ways in order to unlock the potential that mining can bring to the ambitious, integrated global agenda represented by the SDGs.

The links between the ICMM 10 Principles and the SDGs  

Each of the 17 SDGs in some way connect with or can be directly influenced by the work of ICMM. We have mapped the ICMM 10 Principles against the SDGs to gain a better understanding of where we can best add value and support universal progress towards sustainable development.

In parallel, we have provided input to a process initiated by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Columbia Centre on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) called Mapping Mining to the Sustainable Development Goals: A Preliminary Atlas. This is intended to trace the main points of interaction between mining and the SDGs and the resulting implications on future operations. This work is ongoing. 

We have drawn extensively from and supplemented this work in our analysis of how mining and metals companies can make a positive contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals. This anaysis is available here.

How the SDGs are themselves strongly interrelated

While the SDGs identify 16 distinct goals for sustainable development, and a seventeenth that encourages partnership approaches, in practice the goals are strongly interrelated. This has two implications. Firstly, by contributing to one SDG there is likely to be a positive influence on others. Secondly, significant progress on one SDG, such as poverty (SDG1), will not realistically be achieved without progress on several others.

That is, poverty alleviation will to varying degress touch on the goals of decent work and economic growth (SDG8), quality education (SDG4), good health and well-being (SDG3) and gender equality (SDG5). And vice versa. Similarly progress to conserve biodiversity (the focus of SDG15, life on land) will not be possible without complementary action on food security (SDG2), climate change (SDG13), improved stewardship of water (SDG6), stronger institutions (SDG16), and progress on sustainable consumption and production (SDG12).