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Thank you very much and happy new year.
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening to everyone joining today.
It was a pleasure to listen to the contributions and hear about the work we need to do.
Thank you to the Deputy Secretary-General and the Executive Secretary for your kind invitation to this event.
I welcome this timely initiative by the United Nations to organise today’s Roundtable on Extractive Industries.
This initiative can help us answer the question of the role of these industries in sustainable development; achieving the Paris Agreement and strengthening global resource security.
I want to lay out the EU’s main contributions to this issue.
We want to shift investment towards raw material projects that are sustainable, support UN initiatives that raise public awareness of the role of extractive industries and set expectations as a large consumer region for sustainable and responsible sourcing by the extractive industry.
And as the EU Commissioner for Financial Services, I want to talk about the contribution that sustainable finance can make and how to redirect financial flows towards sustainability.
The EU is committed to the Paris Agreement and the global fight against climate change.
We want to be a global leader on climate and environment. That’s why the Commission in December 2019 adopted the European Green Deal.
The Green Deal is our ambition and our determination to become the first climate-neutral continent. But it’s not just about climate change and climate targets.
The Green Deal is also based on our ambition to be a global leader on green energy and the circular economy.
These ambitious goals will require significant changes in our economies and supply chains, including raw material supply chains.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of secure access to resources and the resilience of supply chains. We witnessed interruptions in vital supply chains. And we saw how vulnerable some supply chains are.
The European Commission’s Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials sets out concrete steps to increase the sustainability of our industrial ecosystems and the resilience of supply chains for raw materials.
As a large consumer of raw materials, the EU must minimise our consumption and improve circularity.
We also need to ensure responsible and sustainable sourcing within and outside the EU.
We are ready to share good practices and social and environmental standards, as well as develop strategic partnerships with countries that produce raw materials.
We already have close contacts with Australia and Canada, neighbouring countries like Ukraine and Serbia, the African Union and Latin America.
Transparency of supply chains is key for responsible sourcing. In this regard, we realise that the voluntary approach is not enough.
That’s why we are developing a horizontal approach through our initiative on sustainable corporate governance, which the Commission will put forward later this year.
And this is intended to help companies better manage the sustainability of their operations with regard to social and human rights, climate change and the environment, as well as to ensure due diligence in their value chains.
Specifically for batteries, we’ve introduced Battery Passports: an obligation on economic operators to show due diligence for clean, ethical battery raw materials and traceability, as part of the EU Batteries regulation.
The transition to a green and digital society will be a very significant change, and we’ve only begun to understand how deep the change will be.
We will need to make our economy more circular, and reuse all the materials that we can, rather than relying on new raw materials.
So we are building knowledge about secondary raw materials to better tap into ‘urban mines’: how to recover minerals from the large amounts of electrical and electronic waste that we produce.
We built the European Innovation Partnership on raw materials and the new European Raw Materials Alliance to help to mobilise the raw materials community and connect with downstream industries and wider society.
Through Horizon Europe, our flagship research and innovation funding programme, we are financing projects to improve the efficiency, safety and environmental performance of the extractive industry, including transforming the “extractive-waste problem” into a “resource-recovery opportunity”.
And you can count on the EU’s continuing support for UN initiatives in this area. The UN Resource Management System and the UN Framework Classification for Resources can help countries with the management and development of resources, including critical raw materials for the green and digital transition, and the potential of secondary raw materials.
Exploration, mining and processing projects rely on access to finance.
The European Raw Materials Alliance is currently developing the investment pipeline for rare earths and permanent magnets, and securing future supplies of sustainable raw materials for the EU’s green and digital transition.
In the EU, we have an ambitious agenda for sustainable finance, to redirect capital towards sustainable investment.
Part of this work is cooperation with global partners in the International Platform on Sustainable Finance. The Platform’s members represent over half of the world’s emissions, half of the world’s population and half of the world’s economy.
We also have EU legislation on a taxonomy for sustainable finance.
This Taxonomy is a classification system to help guide investment in sustainable activities.
It provides a common understanding of environmentally sustainable economic activities in sectors relevant to achieving climate neutrality and our Green Deal objectives.
It will be a key reference point for companies and investors in identifying green investment opportunities.
It will also help businesses in sectors covered by the Taxonomy to use the taxonomy to upgrade their environmental performance and attract investors interested in sustainable investments.
We are currently developing the criteria for activities that contribute to the aims of climate mitigation and adaptation.
Our recent public consultation received over 45,000 responses – demonstrating huge public and business interest in this topic.
It's important that we get this right. It’s an important step in reorienting our financial system, including towards transition.
This year, we started developing sustainable financing criteria for the extractive industry.
These criteria will address the enabling potential of the industry and the need for the sector to minimise its impact on climate and the environment, reflecting life cycle considerations.
So in conclusion, with our work on sustainable finance, we want to send clear signals to investors and companies.
We want to let them know which industries are sustainable – and which industries have a clear plan for their transition to sustainability.
This includes the extractive industries.
But we cannot do this alone. We need the entire world to take part in these efforts. We need to work together.
Sustainable products must be made from clean and ethically sourced raw materials.
That is why the European Union will work on responsible sourcing in partnerships with mining countries and the extractive industry in the European Raw Materials Alliance.
I would like to thank again our colleagues from the United Nations for organising this roundtable. We welcome global initiatives to look at our future resource needs and how they can be met sustainably.
I look forward to seeing the results of the roundtable and wish you fruitful discussions in the panels today.