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Sustainable Sourcing and Responsible Management of Critical Energy Transition Minerals: A UN-Led Initiative for a Just and Transparent Global Framework

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The global shift from fossil fuels to clean energy hinges on critical minerals like copper, lithium, nickel, and cobalt. Projections indicate a sixfold increase in mineral consumption by 2050, valued at $400 billion, surpassing coal extraction. Challenges emerge, encompassing environmental, social, economic, and geopolitical dimensions. Unmanaged production poses risks, including greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, and human rights abuses. Supply challenges create price volatility and geopolitical tensions, necessitating responsible mining and circular practices.

The proposal advocates for a just energy transition through responsible extraction, circularity, and rethinking industrial systems. Addressing concerns beyond mine sites, international cooperation, governance, and price regulation are crucial. Collaboration among stakeholders is vital for a resilient mineral value chain, emphasizing extended producer responsibility and transparency. Technologies like blockchain facilitate accountability and informed consumer choices.

The paper introduces a UN initiative led by UNEP to harness critical energy transition minerals for sustainable development. The initiative aims to build trust, resilience, and benefit-sharing in supply chains, transforming them for long-term sustainable development. The proposed UN Framework on Just Transitions for Critical Energy Transition Minerals will be developed by a coalition of UN agencies and partners, with a panel formed during COP28 to establish common principles. The initiative's second phase involves customization and testing in specific countries, addressing legal aspects, enhancing capacity, and exploring funding options. The overall goal is to achieve a collective responsibility for sustainable practices, transparency, and ethical standards in managing mineral resources.


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