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Mercury: Aligning EU legislation with Minamata

18-03-2016

The United Nations' Minamata Convention on mercury was agreed in 2013 with a view to protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Although mercury use has declined significantly in recent decades, mercury released into the air, water and land remains a serious threat to human health and the environment. Once emitted into the air or water, mercury can travel over long distances, which makes it a global problem. Current EU policy bans exports of mercury, provides ...

The United Nations' Minamata Convention on mercury was agreed in 2013 with a view to protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Although mercury use has declined significantly in recent decades, mercury released into the air, water and land remains a serious threat to human health and the environment. Once emitted into the air or water, mercury can travel over long distances, which makes it a global problem. Current EU policy bans exports of mercury, provides for the storage of mercury waste, restricts the use of mercury in various products and seeks to address pollution caused by it. However, there are some regulatory gaps between EU legislation and the Minamata Convention. The European Commission has recently submitted a legislative proposal aiming to align this legislation with the Convention in view of its ratification. Stakeholders are divided over the proposal. The European Parliament's Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) is expected to consider the proposal in the coming months. A more recent edition of this document is available. Find it by searching by the document title at this address: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/home.html

South Africa: An economic powerhouse in decline

19-11-2015

South Africa's continental leadership is increasingly under pressure, seen for example in the fact that Nigeria became Africa's largest economy in 2014. South Africa still maintains its lead in the mining, car-making and financial services sectors, and is a well-functioning democracy. However, its material basis of power is shrinking, in particular because of a net slowdown in economic growth in the wake of the global financial crisis. A volatile international economic environment and internal structural ...

South Africa's continental leadership is increasingly under pressure, seen for example in the fact that Nigeria became Africa's largest economy in 2014. South Africa still maintains its lead in the mining, car-making and financial services sectors, and is a well-functioning democracy. However, its material basis of power is shrinking, in particular because of a net slowdown in economic growth in the wake of the global financial crisis. A volatile international economic environment and internal structural weaknesses curb hopes for improved growth in the short and medium term, in a country affected by deep inequalities and a high level of unemployment. Adopted in 2012, the National Development Plan 2030 provides a strategic framework to counter those tendencies, boost growth and reduce poverty.

Imports of minerals from conflict areas

11-05-2015

Mineral-rich countries afflicted by conflicts may face a vicious circle, under which revenue from illegally extracted resources feed armed revolts. To break this link, international organisations and the European Parliament have called for the setting up of due-diligence systems for firms in the mining supply chain. The Commission submitted in March 2014 a proposal instituting a voluntary due-diligence system aimed at importers and upstream producers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (hereafter ...

Mineral-rich countries afflicted by conflicts may face a vicious circle, under which revenue from illegally extracted resources feed armed revolts. To break this link, international organisations and the European Parliament have called for the setting up of due-diligence systems for firms in the mining supply chain. The Commission submitted in March 2014 a proposal instituting a voluntary due-diligence system aimed at importers and upstream producers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (hereafter 3T&G). The report by the International Trade Committee, to be discussed in the May plenary, introduces some important amendments with respect to the nature and scope of the due-diligence obligations.

Indigenous Peoples, Extractive Industries and Human Rights

18-09-2014

The present study examines the human rights impacts of the extractive industries on indigenous peoples worldwide. It finds that there continue to be significant human rights risks associated with mining, oil and gas extraction falling disproportionately on indigenous peoples. It argues that the growing demand for non-renewable resources and the need to explore and exploit resources in ever more invasive ways suggest that such activities are likely to impinge even more on the lands of indigenous communities ...

The present study examines the human rights impacts of the extractive industries on indigenous peoples worldwide. It finds that there continue to be significant human rights risks associated with mining, oil and gas extraction falling disproportionately on indigenous peoples. It argues that the growing demand for non-renewable resources and the need to explore and exploit resources in ever more invasive ways suggest that such activities are likely to impinge even more on the lands of indigenous communities living in countries with important resource reserves. The paper acknowledges the major efforts being made by industry associations to address these issues through voluntary guidelines but finds that, notwithstanding, conflicts and violence persist and that further measures are required to protect the rights and interests of indigenous peoples. The universal acceptance of the 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides impetus to renewed efforts to ensure implementation of the provisions in practice. The paper concludes by recommending, among other things, that the European Union as one of the regions championing the Declaration at the United Nations take the initiative to develop a region-wide framework for extractive industries that sanction companies and provide legal redress in cases where the human rights of indigenous peoples are violated.

Parlamendiväline autor

Julian BURGER (University of Essex, United Kingdom)

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative: state of play

24-06-2014

In 2003, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was launched as a voluntary multi-stakeholder initiative for the extractive industries, bringing together governments, industry and civil society. Its main objective has been to create a global transparency standard which allows light to be shed on all payments made by extractive-industry companies to governments of resource-rich developing countries, and to cross-check all revenues received by these governments from the industry.

In 2003, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was launched as a voluntary multi-stakeholder initiative for the extractive industries, bringing together governments, industry and civil society. Its main objective has been to create a global transparency standard which allows light to be shed on all payments made by extractive-industry companies to governments of resource-rich developing countries, and to cross-check all revenues received by these governments from the industry.

Tax Revenue Mobilistation in Developing Countries: Issues and Challenges

11-04-2014

In recent years, domestic revenue mobilisation in developing countries gained increasing prominence in the policy debate. Several factors explain this, including the potential benefits of taxation for statebuilding; independence from foreign aid; the fiscal effects of trade liberalisation; the financial and debt crisis in the “West”; and the acute financial needs of developing countries. Governments in developing countries face great challenges in mobilising tax revenues, which result in a gap between ...

In recent years, domestic revenue mobilisation in developing countries gained increasing prominence in the policy debate. Several factors explain this, including the potential benefits of taxation for statebuilding; independence from foreign aid; the fiscal effects of trade liberalisation; the financial and debt crisis in the “West”; and the acute financial needs of developing countries. Governments in developing countries face great challenges in mobilising tax revenues, which result in a gap between what they could collect and what they actually collect. Tax gaps are hard to quantify for reasons that are discussed in the report. However we know that significant contributors to tax gaps include tax evasion and avoidance, tax exemptions, and inequitable rent-sharing in the extractive sector, amongst others. The report discussed European and international actions to improve revenue mobilisation in developing countries and it suggests some recommendations for future.

Parlamendiväline autor

Giulia MASCAGNI (Institute of Development Studies - IDS , International Centre for Tax and Development - ICTD, the UK), Mick MOORE (Institute of Development Studies - IDS) , International Centre for Tax and Development - ICTD, the UK) and Rhiannon MCCLUSKEY (Institute of Development Studies - IDS, the UK)

A changing environment for Greenland

30-01-2014

Greenland, a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark and one of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) associated with the EU, faces major challenges. New opportunities have arisen thanks to Greenland's rich resources of critical raw materials which are becoming increasingly more accessible due to climate change.

Greenland, a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark and one of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) associated with the EU, faces major challenges. New opportunities have arisen thanks to Greenland's rich resources of critical raw materials which are becoming increasingly more accessible due to climate change.

New Options for Strengthening Standards on Social and Environmental Responsibilities of Corporations and their Implementation

12-06-2013

The negative external effects of profit orientated businesses on the environment and society are most visible and destructive in developing countries, where compensation measures for adversely affected groups rarely exist and where high corruption rates often impede meaningful enforcement of existing legislation. But what role can Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) play in developing countries? How can CSR be generally strengthened by EU policies to contribute to the achievement of sustainability ...

The negative external effects of profit orientated businesses on the environment and society are most visible and destructive in developing countries, where compensation measures for adversely affected groups rarely exist and where high corruption rates often impede meaningful enforcement of existing legislation. But what role can Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) play in developing countries? How can CSR be generally strengthened by EU policies to contribute to the achievement of sustainability goals in a meaningful manner? This study is an attempt to get a solid overview of the current situation of CSR at the international level. Strengths and weaknesses of the implementation of CSR are analysed both in general terms and more specifically in a case study on the mining sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The study ends with a suggestion for future policy action to enhance CSR as a complementing tool to legislation for a range of economic, social and environmental challenges. Different actions are outlined and discussed.

Parlamendiväline autor

Timo KAPHENGST (Ecologic Institute, Germany), Lucy SMITH (Ecologic Institute, Germany), Paul HOHNEN (Chatham House, the UK), Friedel HUETZ-ADAMS (Südwind Institute, Germany) and Antje SCHNEEWEISS (Südwind Institute, Germany)

The Democratic Transition in Guinea Reaches a Critical Point

30-05-2013

The optimism that Guineans and their international partners felt two and a half years ago, when the country's junta was replaced by an elected president, has largely given way to frustration and confrontation. The organisation of the long-overdue legislative elections has become the central source of disagreement between the government and the opposition, and protests have grown increasingly violent. Despite international mediation, cross-party dialogue is almost non-existent, and the growing tension ...

The optimism that Guineans and their international partners felt two and a half years ago, when the country's junta was replaced by an elected president, has largely given way to frustration and confrontation. The organisation of the long-overdue legislative elections has become the central source of disagreement between the government and the opposition, and protests have grown increasingly violent. Despite international mediation, cross-party dialogue is almost non-existent, and the growing tension may derail the transition and even threaten the country's stability. This is particularly dangerous given Guinea's institutional fragility, exacerbated by political turbulence and violent episodes — most notably, the massacre at the national stadium in Conakry on 28 September 2009, when over 150 people were killed. Despite some progress under the new government, the current impasse is undermining the urgently needed security sector reform, the fight against impunity and planned investments in the country’s crucial mining sector.

Mining in the EU: regulation and the way forward

19-12-2012

The EU mining industry may be part of the solution to Europe's raw material shortage, but limiting the environmental footprint of mining is a key requirement if it is to be revived.

The EU mining industry may be part of the solution to Europe's raw material shortage, but limiting the environmental footprint of mining is a key requirement if it is to be revived.

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