This engagement guide is intended to function as a possible tool for asset managers for engagement with mining companies on biodiversity. It aims to aid in the development of sustainable practices and policies adhering to SMART principles (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound), leading to an environmentally and socially responsible biodiversity management and conservation strategy. Using this guide, not all questions will be relevant for all mining companies; rather this guide is intended to be used as a supporting document from which most relevant questions can be selected.
This guide is a result of a joint working group on responsible mining by ACTIAM, Aegon Asset Management, NN Investment Management, Robeco, IUCN NL and VBDO. The joint group participants have been working on starting engagement with mining companies on pressing sustainability issues of which Biodiversity is one (the other two topics are Reclamation and Water Management). This engagement guide is based on multiple international standards and guidelines including IRMA, ICMM, IFC and the GRI.
Challenges of biodiversity for mining companies
The mining industry faces many challenges when it comes to biodiversity. Impacts on biodiversity are highly location specific as they are influenced by the local and/ or regional climate and local dependencies and uses, prompting the need for a tailored approach. This means biodiversity management and conservation methods can vary greatly per site. It is essential to involve local stakeholders to mitigate risks. When strong biodiversity management is not in place, on company level as well as on mine-site level, the surrounding environment can be damaged and local communities can be negatively affected, which can result in reputational and material risks. Inadequate biodiversity management can lead to unforeseen damages to human health and the environment, which are often irreversible.
Deciding on engagement
Assess the company’s views on biodiversity and biodiversity management including the materiality framework. How important is biodiversity conservation? What is being done and are there points in which to engage? The engagement process should clarify if and how biodiversity-related risks are on the company’s radar, and how it views biodiversity management in-general, on both a company and mine-site level. Ideally, the engagement process will enhance the company’s understanding of biodiversity-related risks and their importance; and induce improvements to their biodiversity management.