Environment Forum

Private sector’s role in reducing the use of ‘conflict minerals’


A view of a traditional gold mine, near the eastern Congolese town of Kamituga, a mining town.

The following is a guest host by Dunstan Allison Hope, managing director of BSR’s Information, Communications, and Technology Practice. He is also co-author of “Big Business, Big Responsibilities.” The opinions expressed are his own.

Buried in the 2,300-page U.S. financial reform bill that President Obama signed on July 21 is a little-noticed provision taking aim at a very different type of market: the international trade in so-called “conflict minerals” from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

These minerals — tantalum, tin, and tungsten — are found in everyday products from cell phones and computers to aircraft engines and cutting tools, and this first-of-its-kind legislation will require publicly traded companies using the minerals to file an annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission to declare if they, or companies in their supply chain, are sourcing from the DRC or an adjoining country.

With so many industries and high-profile brands using these minerals, it’s not surprising that the U.S. government is targeting global business and their supply chains to address the challenge of conflict minerals. No one likes the idea of using products containing conflict minerals — especially if you remember similar issues with “blood diamonds.” Given the choice, we would buy elsewhere.

Introducing 100 innovations

Gunter 9.2007-3

One man alone does not make a movement. But can he influence one?

There are no limits is the attitude espoused by PhD, MBA, entrepreneur, eco-designer, and visionary Gunter Pauli (above), who is now pouring his life’s work into a project to spark a new way of doing business, ergo a new economy.

He calls it the Blue Economy, because it’s not enough to be green and good to the environment. Blue creates a competitive and sustainable society and blue thrives on innovation. Blue is better than green, he asserts.

The 54-year-old founder and former CEO and president of Ecover is releasing the English and Korean editions of his book The Blue Economy at the Business for the Environment B4E Global Summit in Seoul today, Earth Day. It is to be published in 14 languages.

Oil sands and ethical investing at a price

A greenpeace activists protests outside the BP Canadian offices in downtown Calgary, April 15, 2010. The Greenpeace activists were "greenwashing" a tar sands sign outside in protest while similar protests were happening in London.At BP’s AGM on Thursday, ethical investors including the Co-Op and Calpers failed in their effort to convince BP to review its biggest planned investment in Canada’s oil sands.

Nonetheless, 9 percent of investors voted in favour of a review — a much bigger venting of shareholder angst about a single project than oil companies are used to hearing.

Was this a vote for the environment or a vote for ethical fund managers’ own businesses?

from Mario Di Simine:

Climate costs up front worth gains later, EBA chief says

Fiona Wain photoMany negotiators and large industry groups at the COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen argue that climate action is a question of cost, but the price paid up front is worth the savings later, says the chief executive of a leading business think tank.

The cost often referred to in talks is regarding initial capital expenditures, or capex, but climate change solutions should be compared with operational costs, which would be decreased, and they should also be compared with the collateral of damage avoided cost benefits, Fiona Wain, chief executive officer of Environment Business Australia (EBA), told Reuters.com in an interview.

"If you haven’t got pollution, if you haven’t got waste, if you haven’t got greenhouse gas emissions, that’s a significant lessening of the drain on the public purse in all countries," she said.