Civil Society Recommendations for the UNSG’s Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals


Principles to Ensure Energy Transition Minerals Advance Justice, Equity and Human Rights


“One principle shines from the heart of this initiative – and that principle is justice. Justice for the communities where critical minerals are found… Justice for developing countries in production and trade; and justice in the global energy revolution.”

António Guterres, United Nations Secretary General
Launch of the Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals, April 26, 2024


The world urgently needs a just and rapid phase out of fossil fuels and a transition to a 100% renewable, zero-carbon global energy system. There is no justification for delay.

The idea that we have to prioritize either fighting climate change or upholding human rights, however, is a false choice. Climate change commitments will only be realized when human rights, equity, and inclusion are at the heart of climate policies.

The launch of the UN Secretary-General’s Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals is an opportunity to develop global principles to ensure that supplying the minerals needed to phase out fossil fuels advances justice, equity, and human rights.

To help guide the UN Secretary-General’s Panel,  our organizations, which bring together more than 230 Indigenous Peoples groups, unions and labor activists, and climate, environmental justice, child rights and human rights organizations, have developed recommendations describing how a transformative approach to transition minerals can contribute to a more just global energy system.

Principles to Ensure Energy Transition Minerals Advance Justice, Equity and Human Rights

1. Reduce Demand Equitably

1.1: Governments, especially in developed countries, should reduce energy and material use, in alignment with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030, to reduce overconsumption of transition minerals and enable equitable, efficient, and sufficient energy for all. They should ensure the overuse of energy does not come at the expense of a continued lack of access to energy in developing countries. Governments should support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of affordable, reliable and sustainable and modern energy for all. When measuring GHG emissions to inform decision-making, governments should ensure the whole lifecycle of goods consumed in their countries is taken into account, and not only their end uses.

1.2: Governments, especially in developed countries, should reduce mineral demand from the transportation sector through policies enabling systemic shifts towards deployment of electrified public transit and removal of barriers to access public transit; investments in urban planning processes that involve communities and that support walking, bicycling, and ride sharing; and smaller private vehicle and battery size.

1.3: Governments should promote and ensure effective implementation, including through regulation, of responsible use practices such as: increased circularity by redesigning systems and products to increase their lifecycle and enable the highest and best use of materials; requiring modularity, standardization, and ease of disassembly; promoting robust access to information for repairability, reuse, repurposing; and requiring appropriate recycling. Governments in developed countries should ensure their policies do not lead to industrial waste from processing facilities and technology rendered outdated being discarded uncontrollably in developing countries.

2. Protect People and the Planet

2.1: Governments and companies should protect and respect Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent prior to and during minerals licensing, extraction and processing, in full alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and International Labour Organization Convention 169 (Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention).

2.2: Governments should develop a robust framework to identify, evaluate, prevent and, or mitigate specific impacts on Indigenous Peoples’ territories if and where such extracting and processing projects take place and ensure Indigenous Peoples have access to this information before mining takes place. Financial institutions should adopt policies to scope for and report on the Indigenous Rights Risk of the companies they finance and in their own investments.

2.3: Governments and companies should ensure all communities and rightsholders enjoy the right to access relevant information and to participate in decisions affecting them in a safe, culturally and age appropriate and inclusive manner ensuring diverse and gender-balanced representation, through the full life cycle of projects, including in decisions on licensing and permitting new mining and processing operations, emergency response and preparedness, decommissioning, closure, and repurposing of existing sites. Governments should also ensure all citizens’ right to participate in policy making in the transition mineral sector.

2.4: Governments should negotiate, ratify and enforce binding treaties and national laws and regulations obliging companies to respect human rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights and labor rights across their whole value chain through the conduct of human rights and environmental due diligence and meaningful access to remedy for affected rightsholders.

2.5: Governments and companies should ensure that Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and workers in the formal and informal sectors have access to timely remedies and legal assistance where they are harmed by minerals extraction or processing, both through effective transparent state-based non-judicial and judicial processes and company grievance mechanisms, including through cross border cooperation when remedies in the host state are not accessible or ineffective.

2.6: Governments should ensure that companies extracting and processing minerals uphold the strongest international human rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, environmental and governance standards in their own operations and those of their affiliated companies, including through rigorous environmental, social and human rights impact assessments, based on best available technology and practice, human rights and environmental due diligence, and risk-based anti-corruption integrity measures.

2.7: Governments and companies should promote and advance gender equality in the mining sector, including promoting women’s participation in decision-making processes, addressing gender-based violence, and ensuring equitable access to benefits and resources.

2.8: Governments and companies should prohibit and avoid any mineral exploration or development in protected conservation areas and other locations of high biodiversity, conservation, and cultural heritage values, as well as high-value carbon sinks, and apply the precautionary principle to support effective environmental protection measures.

2.9: Governments and companies should minimize and be transparent about GHG emissions from minerals extraction and processing, including by rapidly eliminating the use of fossil fuels for energy, ensuring zero deforestation, and favoring extraction and processing methods with the lowest emissions intensity.

2.10: Government and companies should end criminalization of environmental and human rights defenders and recognize and commit to protecting their rights and legitimacy by adopting and disclosing relevant policies to protect them from attacks, assassination, extrajudicial killings, violence, harassment, including through the form of strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP), and repression, and provide effective reparation. Government and companies should protect and respect civic space and media freedom.

3. Support Equitable Development and Tax Policies

3.1: Governments of developed countries and international financial institutions should provide developing countries that produce transition minerals with adequate financing, in the form of grants, technical assistance and technology transfers necessary to responsibly maximize the value they capture from mineral extraction and processing and promote domestic production and use of renewable energy technologies.

3.2: Governments should enact, and international financial institutions promote, fiscal regimes and fiscal administration reforms that balance reliability and flexibility, and minimize tax avoidance risks, including by requiring the use of transparent pricing mechanisms such as benchmark prices where feasible, avoiding tax holidays and withholding tax relief, and limiting the scope and duration of stability clauses.

3.3: Governments, especially in producer countries, should ensure that the tax revenue generated by minerals extraction, processing, and transformation promotes sustainable and equitable development and generates tangible benefits for all citizens, and particularly Indigenous Peoples, local communities affected by mining, youth and children and women.

3.4 Governments should support an ambitious United Nations Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation global tax reform process to avoid tax evasion, abusive transfer pricing and other forms of tax avoidance in international operations, such as double tax agreements, and which improves information sharing across borders.

3.5: Governments should enact regulations and incentives which favor business models that deliver shared prosperity, throughout generations, through participatory governance, such as community full or co-ownership or co-management, supported by just fiscal terms, offering seats at the table for those affected by mining projects, including women, gender diverse and Indigenous Peoples, and artisanal and small-scale miners.

3.6: Governments should enact policies that promote the inclusion of local content requirements in mineral extraction projects, ensuring that local communities benefit from employment opportunities, skills development, and business opportunities related to the mining sector. Local content policies should be implemented in a way that ensures benefits are equitably distributed and free from corruption.

3.7: Governments should, through robust access to information legislation and policies, ensure transparency over revenue generated by minerals extraction, processing, and trading, including by requiring governments and companies to disclose licenses, contracts, partnership agreements, trade and investment agreements, beneficial ownership information, production, sales and processing volumes, costs, cost auditing information, project-level payments-to-governments, project economics and country-by-country tax reporting.

3.8: Governments and companies should establish risk-based policies that pursue zero tolerance for corruption in mining and mineral processing and trading, including in the award of licenses, permits and approvals, procurement and supplier contracts, commodity sales and trading, and governments should enhance institutional capacities to investigate and prosecute individuals and companies implicated in corruption.

4. Promote Equitable International Trade and Investment

4.1: Governments should reform international investment and trade frameworks to encourage a race to the top in governance, social, and environmental standards and allow countries to add value to minerals extracted from their territory. Resource-rich countries should have the ability to manage their mineral exports in alignment with their national development strategies and to experiment with the different policy tools at their disposal in a transparent, responsible, inclusive, and democratically accountable manner.

4.2: Governments should withdraw from or terminate existing agreements that provide for investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS), remove ISDS-related clauses from existing agreements, and find mutually beneficial agreements that do not threaten the sovereignty of countries and their ability to strengthen domestic legal systems and human rights and environmental policies, while ensuring disputes can be resolved in a transparent and stable manner.

4.3: Governments should cancel and restructure debt for low and middle-income countries, as needed, to remove the debt-traps which prevent minerals contributing to producer countries’ sustainable development and create more fiscal space to support domestic industrialization and economic diversification. Governments should heavily scrutinize any minerals barter agreements, resource-backed loans, and other minerals agreements with a view towards ensuring public and local benefits.

5. Ensure Strong United Nations Action on Transition Minerals

5.1: Governments should build on multilaterally and equitably agreed voluntary standards and principles, including those to be issued by the United Nations Secretary-General Panel, through binding treaties and national laws and regulations that require governments and companies to respect human rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, protect the environment, and adhere to good governance best practices, with the view that only binding frameworks can lead to change.

5.2: The United Nations Secretary-General should establish a United Nations mechanism, based on an inclusive and participatory approach that ensures access for affected local communities and Indigenous Peoples, tasked with monitoring, investigating, and addressing complaints on human rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, environment, or governance related to the extraction and processing of minerals.

5.3: The United Nations Secretary-General should task and resource a multistakeholder working group, including direct participation of Indigenous Peoples, labor unions, local communities hosting transition minerals mining, women, and civil society groups, to oversee an implementation plan to follow up on the recommendations of the Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals, including through an annual meeting to track progress on implementation.

Signatory organisations:

11.11.11 Belgium
AbibiNsroma Foundation Ghana
Aboveskye Nigeria
ActionAid International International
ADII Cameroun
Advocates for Health and Development Initiative Nigeria
African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD) Nigeria
African Coalition on Green Growth(ACGG) Africa
African Women’s Development and Communication Network FEMNET Africa region
AIDA Ecuador
Aide, Assistance et Développement Communautaire de Côte d’Ivoire (ADC-CI) Côte d’Ivoire
Akina Mama wa Afrika Uganda
Albanian Center for Development and Integration Albania
Aminci Centre for Social Advocacy and Development initiative CSA Nigeria
Amnesty International UK
Anti corruption revolution Nigeria
Association Guinéenne pour la Transparence Guinée
Aube Nouvelle pour la Femme et le Développement ANFD non-profit NGO DR.Congo
Bantay Kita – Publish What You Pay Philippines Philippines
Batani Foundation Russia/USA
Business and Human Rights Resource Centre UK
CAFAGB Cellule Associative des Femmes Actives pour la Gouvernance les Droits Humains et le Bien être CAMEROUN
Cafe Sitia limited Uganda
cambiaMO | changing MObility Spain
CAN Africa Morocco
Center For Rural Economic Social Development CREESOD Nigeria
Care for the elderly intellectuals PU Azerbaijan
Caritas Europa Belgium
Center for Environment Peace and Youth Development (CEPYOD) Nigeria
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) United States
Center for Peace Education and Community Development Nigeria
Center For Rural Economic &Social Development ( CREESOD) Nigeria
Center for Transnational Environmental Accountability USA
Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research Nigeria
Centre for Human Rights and Development Mongolia
Centre for Sustainability PH Philippines
Centre for Transparency Advocacy Nigeria
Christian Aid United Kingdom
Christian Foundation for Social Justice and Equity (CFSJE) Nigeria
Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights Nigeria
Community Development Initiative Nigeria
Civil expertise Kazakhstan
Climate Action Network – International (CAN-I) International
Climate Action Network (CAN) Zambia Zambia
Climate Action Network Canada Canada
Climate Action Network Southeast Asia (CANSEA) Malaysia
Climate Generation United States
Climate Justice Programme Australia
Climate Rights International United States
Coalition Biodiversité – Non au Bti Canada
Comissão de Atingidos por Barragem de Vila Regência e Entre Rios. Brasil
Community Development Initiative Nigeria
Community information and advocacy initiatives Nigeria
Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy (CODWA) Nigeria
Company of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul USA
Courageous people health and development initiative Nigeria
Fair Habitat Foundation’ Nigeria
Cultural Survival Inc. United States of America
Democracy Monitor Public Union Azerbaijan
Development Watch Network Nigeria
Disability Not A Barrier Initiative Nigeria
Divine Era Development and Social Rights Initiative (DEDASRI) Nigeria
DiXi Group Ukraine
Earthworks United States
Echo Public Association Kazakhstan
ECOS Belgium
Edmund Rice International USA
Endorois Indigenous Women Empowerment Network (EIWEN) Kenya
Enemas Resources Foundation Nigeria
Equal Right UK
Equality Bahamas The Bahamas
European environmental bureau Belgium
Fair Finance International Netherlands
Fair Habitat Foundation’ Nigeria
Fast For the Climate Canada
Femmes Bladi pour le développement et le Tourisme Morocco
First Food For Family Initiative (FIFFA) Nigeria
Foundation For Environmental Rights,Advocacy & Development (FENRAD Nigeria
Friends of the Earth Europe Belgium
FTAO Belgium
Fundación Foro Nacional por Colombia, Capítulo Foro Región Central Colombia
Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN) Argentina
Fundación Terram Chile
GAIA United States
GDMR- Grupo Para o Desenvolvimento da Mulher e Rapariga Mozambique
Gen-Z Movement Support Team Myanmar
Gender inclusive and development advocacy Nigeria
Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights México
Global Justice Now United Kingdom
Global Media Foundation Ghana
Global Organization For Youth Enlightment And Development Nigeria
Global Witness Belgium
Goa Foundation India
Governance and Economic Policy Center Tanzania/ Kenya
Governance Links Tanzania
Grandmothers Advocacy Network Canada
Green Concern for Development (GREENCODE) Nigeria
Neighbourhood Environment Watch ( NEW) Foundation Nigeria
Greenpeace Global
Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation. Nigeria
Human Power Organisation MALAWI
Human Power Organisation Malawi
Groupe d’Action Francophone pour l’Environnement Haïti
Groupe de Recherche et d’Action pour le Développement Minier Résponsable Sénégal
Groupe de Réflexion et d’Initiative pour l’Avancement de la Grand’Anse (GRIAG) Haiti
Groupe Agir pour Garantir la GouvernanceEconomique etSociale Cameroun
Hawkmoth The Netherlands
Heinrich-Böll Foundation Germany
Human Power Organisation Malawi
Oxfam United States
Human Rights and Grassroots Development Society Nigeria
Igbehinadun Agroforestry (I.A) Nigeria
individu Canada
Initiative for Collective Development Efforts Nigeria
Institute Internationa of Education of Brazil Brasil
Instituto Escolhas Brasil
Jamaa Resource Initiatives, Kenya Kenya
Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement Togo
Kiferu youth and community development initiative Bauchi state of Nigeria Nigeria
Knowledge and Community Development Awareness Initiative (KCOMAI) Nigeria
Kogi Research Support Nigeria
Koyenum Immalah Foundation KIF Nigeria
Les enjeux de l’insecticide sur la biodiversité Canada
London Mining Network United Kingdom
makere water project kampala/uganda
Malach Consulting USA
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers USA
Mater Natura – Instituto de Estudos Ambientais Brasil
MenaFem Movement for Economic Development and Ecological Justice Morocco
Mercy International Association – Global Action United States
Millennium Development Centre Gusau Nigeria
Mineral Inheritors Rights Association India
MiningWatch Canada Canada
Motherhen Development Foundation Nigeria
Natural Justice South Africa
Natural Resource Governance Institute Nigeria
Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation Nigeria
NGO Consortium for promotion of EITI in Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan
Niger Delta Study Group on Extractive Sector Nigeria
Nigeria environmental (society Kano chapter)r Nigeria
Northern Confluence Initiative Canada
Transparency And Economic Development Initiatives Nigeria
Nyika Institute and Chair PWYP Malawi Malawi
Observatoire d’etudes et d’appui a la responsabilite sociale et environnementale ( OEARSE ) RDCongo
Observatório do Clima Brazil
ODRI – Office against discrimination, racism and intolerance Germany
Oearse Republique democratique du congo
Organisation Tchadienne Anti-corruption (OTAC) Tchad
Oxfam United States
Oxfam DRC Republique Democratique du Congo
Oxfam Senegal senegal
Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative Nigeria
Passionists International United States
PCQVP Melaky Maintirano/Melaky/Madagascar
Peace Movement Aotearoa [email protected]
Population Council India
PowerShift Germany
Public Administration New Initiative NGO Mongolia
Public Citizen USA
Public Foundation Nash Vek Kyrgyzstan
Public Service of Ukraine, Poltava Branch. Ukraine
Publish What You Pay Australia Australia
Publish What You Pay Indonesia Indonesia
Publish What You Pay International Global
Publish What You Pay Madagascar Madagascar
Publish What You Pay Nigeria Nigeria
Publish What You Pay Uganda Uganda
Québec Meilleure mine Canada
Rainforest Foundation Norway Norway
Razom we stand Ukraine
Reacción Climática Bolivia
Southern Africa Region Climate Action Network (SARCAN) Southern Africa Region
Recourse International
Rede Vozes Negras pelo Clima Brasil
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary NGO United States
Réseau de Lutte contre la Faim (RELUFA) Cameroun
Resource Matters Belgium and DRC
Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) UK
ROTAB Niger Niger
Rural Initiative for Change Nigeria
Sahar Initiative for Sustainable Development and Support, Bauchi State Nigeria
Satya Bumi Indonesia
Servicios Ecumenicos para Reconciliacion Reconstruccion – SERR Reconstruccion United States
SETEM Catalunya Spain
Sinatsisa Lubombo Women and girls Empowerment organization Eswatini
SIRGE Coalition Belgium
Sociedad Amigos del Viento Uruguay
Society for International Development (I’m signing on an individual capacity) Philippines
Society for Threatened Peoples Schweiz
Southern Africa Region Climate Action Network (SARCAN) Zimbabwe
Stand up for your environment foundation Nigeria
Stop Ecocide NL The Netherlands
Sukaar Welfare Organization Pakistan
Tea Longo Ho Soa Madagascar
Temple of Understanding USA
The Future We Need India
The Integrated Social Development Centre Ghana
The NGO of “To healthy life” Azerbaijann
The Trust and support foundation Nigeria
Transparency And Economic Development Initiatives Nigeria
Transparency International Australia Australia
Transparency International Madagascar Madagascar
Trócaire Ireland
Uma Gota no Oceano Brazil
Union of Concerned Scientists USA
United action for democracy (UAD) Nigeria
Universidad Externado de Colombia Colombia
Village Farmers Initiative (VFI) Nigeria
Viração Educomunicação Brazil
VIVAT International United States
WECF International Germany
Women, Infants and Children Care Initiative Nigeria
Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) USA
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Germany
Women’s Organisation for Dev and Empowerment of Communities Nigeria
World Christian Life Community USA
Yobe Voice and Accountability Mechanism Nigeria
Young Leaders Education-Training and Development Publc Union Azerbaijan
Youth and Women for Change in Eswatini Eswatini
Zukunftsrat Hamburg Germany
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