Today marks the official launch of the CSO Coalition on Raw Materials, a vital convergence of over 40 civil society organisations (CSOs) from the EU and beyond. This coalition responds to the escalating demand for metals pivotal in ushering green and digital transitions globally.
Ahead of the IEA Raw Materials Conference on 28th September in Paris, the newly formed coalition underscores the critical need for more inclusive discussions on sustainable raw material policies, advocating for a stronger representation of civil societies in global forums that dictate the future of raw materials.
The present demands on raw materials are experiencing exponential growth, a trajectory that accompanies severe repercussions including biodiversity loss, environmental infringements, and rampant human rights abuses. These repercussions are inextricably tied to the encompassing value chains from mining to end-of-life raw materials management. This alarming trend, facilitated by corruption and inadequate regulations in many regions, poses a substantial threat to vulnerable ecosystems and wider communities, often leaving the concerns and voices of indigenous peoples and local communities unheard.
In July, the collective of CSOs voiced critical concerns before the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), and International Trade (INTA) voted on the Critical Raw Materials Regulation (CRMR). It emphasized the urgent need for detailed evaluations of human rights and environmental impacts instead of a mere focus on certifications. Additionally, the group called for a reduction in the EU’s raw material consumption by at least 10% by 2030, championing a circular economy approach in the CRMA as essential to fulfilling the goals of the European Green Deal.
The coalition aspires to a transformative future, aiming to guide EU policies towards sustainability, safeguarding both people and the planet. The agenda is clear: to diverge from an unsustainable growth-based economic framework dependent on ceaseless extraction, to one prioritising the planet and human rights over profit.
Urgent Action Points
The coalition is urging for a transformative approach to consumption, moving away from a reliance on extractivism to a system that prioritizes resource efficiency and sufficiency. This approach envisions fostering a circular society that not only reduces production and consumption but promotes sharing over ownership and encourages the adoption of initiatives such as urban and waste mining over the extraction of virgin materials. To realize this, the coalition believes the EU must establish binding targets and robust legislative frameworks that can nurture alternative business models.
Additionally, the coalition calls for strengthening regulatory mechanisms that oversee global corporate operations. This involves creating inclusive legislations that hold corporations accountable for upholding human rights and environmental standards. The coalition proposes designating certain areas as environmentally sensitive and thus off-limits for mining and imposing a moratorium on deep-sea mining in both international and EU waters. Transparency is highlighted as a critical element in this new regulatory landscape, emphasising engaging communities transparently through all stages of a mine’s life cycle and promoting openness in EU mining projects.
Robin Roels, Associate Policy Officer for Raw Materials at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the Coordinator of the Coalition remarked:
“Today, as we unveil the Raw Materials Coalition, we are not just launching an initiative; we are igniting a movement, one that thrives on cooperation, respects every voice, and honors the intrinsic value of our natural resources.”
“The Coalition is a call to action for a more equitable and just tomorrow, not as an option, but as the only way forward. For too long, the voices of civil society have been sidelined in critical discussions shaping our world’s future. It’s time to change that.”
The Raw Materials Coalition invites all stakeholders, including governments, businesses, and civil societies, to join hands in this endeavor, amplifying the voices that matter, promoting a discourse steeped in respect for human rights and environmental integrity, and echoing the sentiments of communities at the grassroots level.
Notes to editors
Read our position paper for a full overview of our main demands regarding the Critical Raw Materials Act