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People in mining-dependent countries fare better in SDGs

In the last two decades, people's quality of life has improved faster in countries where mining plays a big part in the economy, than those who don't.
┬ęCathy Yeulet
A report by the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) uses the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and finds that most mining-dependent countries have significantly improved their social performance over the 20 years leading up to the launch of the SDGs in 2015.

People in the 25 countries that are mining-dependent are now generally healthier, better educated, and enjoy improved access to affordable and clean energy, water and sanitation, and telecommunications and financial services.

The report shows that people living in these countries are better off in absolute terms and that they outperformed countries that are not resource dependent.

Closing the gap

Of the 25 mining-dependent countries, 21 are closing the gap on best performing countries. The Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Namibia, while making progress in absolute terms, are falling behind relative to the world’s best performers in terms of social progress. Overall, mining-dependent countries improved on more than 78% of over 30 metrics that link to 11 of the UN’s SDG’s although results were uneven.

The report looks at the regional level in four countries; Chile, Ghana, Indonesia and Peru, and reveals that social progress at a sub-national level has been widespread. In absolute terms, mining-dependent regions advanced on three quarters of social progress indicators.

The gap between mining-dependent and the best performing regions narrowed in all four of these countries. In Ghana, both mining-dependent regions closed the gap on best performing regions, while 93% of Peru’s and 80% of Chile’s and Indonesia’s mining-dependent regions made similar strides.

However, the report cautions against attributing causality between the prevalence of mining alone and observed social progress. There are other factors at play, including government capacity and policies, quality of governance, economic activity in other sectors, and the effectiveness of social programmes (run by the government, the private sector, and NGOs).

The report reaffirms the potentially important contribution the mining sector can make to shaping social progress. The observed gaps in the social performance of mining-dependent countries could also help mining companies and other stakeholders identify priorities for engaging in productive partnerships with host governments, communities, and civil society.
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