Legal frameworks need improving for environmental, social impact assessments on mines

Aerial view Cornwall mines. Image by suziedoe from Pixabay .

The Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) has released its newest report.

Guidance for Governments: Improving Legal Frameworks for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and Management provides IGF member states with a summary of good international practice in legal frameworks for ESIA and related management plans for large-scale mines.

Examples, strategies, and tools are included to aid in evaluating and improving legal frameworks and environmental and social aspects of resource governance.

A modern legislative regime draws clear lines of responsibility and accountability and establishes a foundation of good governance that leads to sustainable development benefits over the full life cycle of a mine, from the early days of exploration through to post-mining transition, IGF says.

A key recommendation is that Governments should adopt a comprehensive
legal framework for environmental and social impact assessment and management of the mining sector to ensure that it protects the
environment and optimizes opportunities to advance sustainable development.

“This report fills a gap in the literature on law and policy frameworks for environmental and social impact assessments [ESIA] and related management plans,” says Clémence Naré, IGF’s outreach manager and law advisor.

ESIA and related management plans are critical to minimize the potential negative environmental and social impacts and optimize the benefits from large-scale mines

“We surveyed global best practices and identified illustrative examples, strategies, and tools to help governments improve their governance and management of the mining sector’s environmental and social impacts,” Naré says.

ESIA and related management plans are critical to minimize the potential negative environmental and social impacts and optimize the benefits from large-scale mines.

“Too often, mining activity ramps up before the environmental and social impacts are properly considered,” Naré says. “For instance, in some cases, mines without adequate closure plans or related financial guarantees have been abandoned, leaving governments and communities with the heavy burden of managing the site.”

The publication is the fourth in IGF’s Guidance for Governments series. It is the result of consultations with governments and expert partners, which followed from an initial vote by IGF’s member countries that indicated a need for assistance with legal and policy issues surrounding ESIA. 

Read the full report here.

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