Press release 5 May 2022
Today, the Mistra Geopolitics report “Climate risks and community resilience in the mining sector” will be presented by authors from Stockholm University and discussed with prominent speakers. In the report, the adaptation responses of the 37 largest global mining companies are analysed, and to what extent such private initiatives have been regulated by states.
The mining sector is critically important for the low-carbon transition and the fulfilment of the UN 2030 Agenda. Mining is, however, associated with pressing environmental and social challenges in extraction sites, many of which are likely to be exacerbated by climate change.
The report is written by Isabella Strindevall, Maria-Therese Gustafsson and Lisa Dellmuth from Stockholm University and Mistra Geopolitics. Lead author Isabella Strindevall said:
“Increasingly, private actors, not just within the mining industry, are seeking to adapt to the physical risks of climate change. However, responses are of varying maturity. Private adaptation responses may have significant impacts, both positive and negative, on society. Therefore, it is important that we seek to understand how private companies choose to adapt to climate change.”
At the launch event on 5 May at 2-3pm (CEST), a high-level seminar panel including esteemed speakers from the Ford Foundation, the International Council on Mining and Metals, and the International Finance Corporation, will discuss the report’s conclusions with the authors.
Climate action is largely driven by investors
The authors conclude that the push for climate action within the mining industry is largely driven by investors rather than civil society and governments. Mining companies are thus more incentivized to cater to the investment community than local stakeholders and this may come at the expense of the climate resilience of local communities.
“Despite that sustainability challenges known to the mining sector may be greatly exacerbated by climate change, a number of mining dependent countries are failing to include climate considerations in key mine governance instruments,” lead author Isabella Strindevall from Stockholm University said.
Mining companies’ responses to climate risks
While the topic of private adaptation is relevant for several industries, the mining sector makes an important case study for three main reasons:
- The mining sector plays a critical role in the low-carbon transition but is also an important driver of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Mining operations are extremely sensitive to climate-related risks.
- Mining companies’ responses to climate risks can have far-reaching impacts on societal climate resilience.
Associate Professor Maria-Therese Gustafsson, Senior Lecturer at Stockholm University and researcher within Mistra Geopolitics said:
“It is interesting that private companies have started to take climate risks seriously. At the same time, we found that private adaptation is mainly focused on ensuring business resilience, while there is insufficient attention to the adaptation needs of local communities.”
Companies are starting to respond to risks, but challenges remain
The authors point out that the European Union plays an important role in improving corporate sustainability standards. In the report, they summarize their main conclusions:
- Companies are starting to respond to risks, but significant gaps remain when it comes to ensuring that local communities’ benefits from such initiatives.
- Private adaptation is mainly driven by investor requirements, whereas governmental regulations and pressures from civil society organizations are weak.
- Going forward, it would be important to integrate climate risks in key mining governance instruments.
- International organizations, such as the UNFCCC and UNDP can support the abilities of developing countries to improve climate adaptation governance.
- The European Union plays an important role in improving corporate sustainability standards, for instance through mandatory due diligence requirements.
“Further research is needed in this area to ensure that business resilience does not come at the cost of societal climate resilience. Therefore, public regulations are critical,” Associate Professor Maria-Therese Gustafsson at Stockholm University concluded.
Journalists are welcome to join the event with prominent speakers and the authors of the report from Stockholm University and Mistra Geopolitics.
Authors from Stockholm University and Mistra Geopolitics
The report is written by Isabella Strindevall, Maria-Therese Gustafsson and Lisa Dellmuth from Stockholm University and Mistra Geopolitics.
Lisa Dellmuth is a Professor of International Relations at Stockholm University. Lisa is leading the Research School of Mistra Geopolitics. Her research focuses on legitimacy and redistribution in global governance, and global climate change solutions. She leads the 5-year research program GlocalClim (Glocalizing Climate Governance: The role of Integrated Governance for a Just and Legitimate Adaptation to Climate Risks) funded by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas).
Telephone:+46 8 161 076
Maria-Therese Gustafsson is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science, Stockholm University. Prominent themes in her research are natural resource governance, political participation, and climate security. She has published a research monography Private Politics and Peasant Mobilization: Mining in Peru (Palgrave MacMillan), articles in Third World Quarterly, WIRE Climate Change, the Latin American Research Review and Canadian Journal of Development Studies, and has edited two anthologies. She is a researcher in Work Package 3 and heads the Research School in the Mistra Geopolitics programme.
For interviews, please contact:
Ylva Rylander, Press and media contact of Mistra Geopolitics at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
[email protected] +46 731 503 384
Isabella Strindevall, Lead author of the report and Research Assistant at Stockholm University
[email protected] +46 760 217 814
Maria Cole, Communications Lead of Mistra Geopolitics at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
[email protected] +46 702 242 022