1 June 2023 Speech by Federal Minister Svenja Schulze at the High-Level Forum on Mineral Supply Chains
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Executive Secretary Caholo,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Germany and the European Union have committed themselves to a comprehensive economic, environmental and social transformation in order to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda and of the Paris Agreement. Under the Green Deal, the EU has adopted the goal of achieving climate neutrality and zero pollution by 2050. If these goals are to be achieved, a quick and smart energy and transport transition is needed. We are working on that in Germany. By 2030, 80 per cent of the electricity used in Germany is to come from renewable sources. And 15 million all-electric cars are to be registered in Germany by 2030. This was laid down in the German government's coalition agreement. These are ambitious goals, but they are important and necessary for climate change mitigation.
At the same time, it is clear that this transition is vitally dependent on mineral resources. Without resources such as copper, cobalt, graphite, nickel and lithium, Germany will not manage to accomplish its transition. These resources are part of all electronic products. They can be found in the electric cars in the parking lot, in the wind turbines of offshore wind farms, and in the technology used in this hall. Demand for such resources will continue to rise in the coming years. By 2040, demand for graphite will double, demand for cobalt will quadruple, and demand for lithium will increase sixfold. More than ever before, Germany is dependent on stable mineral resource supplies.
This requires two things.
First, the resources that have already been used need to be managed more responsibly. In other words, electric devices must be recycled. Not thrown away. As the circular economy requires.
And second, a smart strategy is needed on how to extract and process primary raw materials in the future. On the one hand, the growing need for mineral resources offers great potential for producer countries, because the sector creates jobs, incomes, and tax revenue. On the other hand, the people who have to extract these resources work under difficult conditions. Illegal logging, human rights violations, corruption and environmental degradation are key terms that are often associated with resource extraction. The German Development Ministry therefore would like to ensure that people are able to do this work under decent conditions – that they are not exploited.
How does my Ministry do that? For instance by helping our partner countries to introduce sustainability standards in mining – for example in the Andean countries. And by strengthening responsible extractive sector governance by producer country governments – for example in Mauritania. And by helping enterprises to implement the due diligence act which we enacted this year – for instance through our Helpdesk on Business and Human Rights.
Together with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the BMZ is working, for example, to create transparent and efficient governance institutions and legislation for a responsible extractive sector, so that the sector will benefit workers and mining companies alike. This includes ensuring that people in artisanal and small-scale mining will no longer be informally employed but get formal work contracts, and incomes on which they and their families can really live.
Let me give you another example. The Development Ministry is working together with the International Conference on the Great Lakes region. Together, we introduced a regional certification system. The system is intended to enable mining companies to ensure, and demonstrate, that their resources are extracted and processed without fueling conflict. This does not only protect workers in the mines. It also enhances security and stability in the entire region. And it highlights the strength of fair supply chains – because all stakeholders benefit.
Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has shown how individual players are using economic dependency to exert political pressure. So one of my concerns is to develop and enhance partnerships with producer countries and to diversify mineral supply chains, so that Germany and the EU become less single source-dependent for their raw materials. I am eager to build strong alliances with countries in the Global South. In that context, it is important that the players involved work together on an equal footing and in mutual confidence, and that they are able to voice their interests clearly. That is why my Ministry is working at the multilateral level to make sure that our partner countries' concerns, too, are duly taken into account – for instance in the design of the European Commission's Critical Raw Materials Act. What I consider especially important in this context is the development of local value chains in our partner countries.
So I would like to extend a warm welcome to the many representatives of our partner countries and partner organizations who have joined us today. The BMZ has been working closely with you for many years. We want to continue and intensify this cooperation.
Thus, I wish you an inspiring conference with interesting discussions.