The restructuring of energy and transportation infrastructures is underway worldwide. The demand for critical and strategic raw materials such as copper, cobalt, lithium and rare earths will grow rapidly. In this issue, we discuss new dynamics in resource extraction, its impacts and, above all, opportunities for change.
Change is sorely needed: While the competition between the United States, China and the EU, as well as Russia, for access to resource-rich countries has become fiercer, people and civil society organizations in many places are fighting back against resource extraction and for fairer rules, because their livelihoods are being destroyed and their future is threatened.
We – the Heinrich Böll Foundation and its partner organizations – support them in this fight, for instance by providing legal assistance and through public relations work. This publication is intended to provide insights into this important topic.
As far as the raw materials partnerships of the European Union and Germany are concerned, one thing is clear: They must be designed in a way to avoid environmental damage and achieve greater social benefits in the resource-rich countries, for instance through new mining methods, more employment, processing capacities and redistribution and through respect for human rights. Restrictions must continue to be placed on mining in general: The deep sea must be declared off limits, as must headwater and biodiverse regions. The local communities must be involved in prospecting and in the approval process of new mining projects. It is also essential, however, that we reduce our consumption of raw materials altogether – by means of more durable and repairable products, recycling and new usage patterns such as sharing. This, too, is part of what we are working for – hopefully alongside you and with your support.