9. Roadmap to a Sustainable World
This scoping paper has described the role and contribution of the extractive industry in a sustainable world. However, this is clearly a world of the future. It also raises the question: What can mining and metals companies do now to move towards a sustainable world? Setting the vision is only the first step in the journey. The sector has long lead times – mining in particular is grounded on assets with life cycles of 30 or more years. If the sector is to be operating in a sustainable world at any point in the next 50 years, the planning needs to start today. Through a series of concerted changes by mining and metals companies, some of which have been under way since the Global Mining Initiative was developed by leading firms in the industry in 1998, the sector will both promote a sustainable world and be positioned to operate successfully within it.
The manner in which mining and metals companies respond to the seven drivers of change detailed in section 8 will affect how quickly and efficiently the sector will be positioned to operate in and contribute to a sustainable world. Taking the first step will require initiative and courage; moreover, the road to a sustainable world will be complicated. However, for those sector companies and stakeholders brave enough to accept the challenge, a range of opportunities lies ahead. The following are some of the activities that the sector can consider pursuing now:
- Re-emphasize the journey: Businesses need to have a decisive conversation with stakeholders (companies, civil society, governments) about their visions and milestones for a sustainable world.
- Invest in R&D: Mining and metals enterprises must start developing the technologies to operate in a clean, affordable and safe environment in frontiers previously considered inaccessible.
- Define shared value: To prepare for operating in a sustainable world, companies in the sector need to look at what drives value for their customers and the communities in which they operate.
- Rethink multistakeholder models: Mining and metals companies can accelerate the transition to a sustainable world by embracing multistakeholder models.
- Cultivate the workforce: The skills and capabilities required to operate mining and metals companies in a sustainable world will be different; this needs to be considered, planned for and developed in advance.