Designing Sustainablity Certification For Greater Impact: An analysis of the design characteristics of 15 sustainability certification schemes in the mining industry.

Published by: CSRM

Sustainability certification schemes are one key means for civil society actors to hold mineral companies to account and for companies to demonstrate that they are operating responsibly. This report identified fifteen (for more information see Table 1) planned and operational schemes applicable to the mining, minerals and metals industries and their supply chains and analysed the design characteristics of those schemes, including for instance the: objectives, governance structure in place, process for standards development and operation. The design characteristics under analysis were determined from a review of academic literature on sustainability certification schemes and their effectiveness.

This report represents the first stage of an applied research project looking into the effectiveness of certification schemes in the mineral industry and the potential role sustainability certification schemes can play to improve standards for responsible mining. In the next stages of this research project interviews and fieldwork will be conducted to investigate how the design characteristics of schemes influence outcomes on the ground and the overall effectiveness of individual schemes, and the collective practice of sustainability certification.

This report demonstrates that there is significant variation in how sustainability certification schemes in the mining industry have been designed to meet their objectives. Some of these differences reflect the history of the scheme, the unique geographic, industry, technology and demographic characteristics of the entities under certification, the level of transparency and accountability, and the stage of maturity or time since establishment of the initiative.

The content of this report will be used during the following stages of this research project (interviews and fieldwork) as a base to further explore how different design characteristics leads to better outcomes and to provide recommendations to improve the practice.

The research is being undertaken by the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) at The University of Queensland and funded by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation through a grant to the University of Queensland in America.

Sustainability Certification Scheme

Table 1 – List of sustainability certification schemes analysed.