Virtual Summit Blog

Collaborating for a Responsible Future

A Changing World

The global pandemic has forced the world to slow down economically. Thought leaders[1] have highlighted these challenging times as an opportunity for governments and private industry to take significant steps to fight climate change. The timing of the pandemic, coupled with the increasing call for responsible business practices from customers, investors and the market[2], sets a welcoming stage for the launch of The Copper Mark. With the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as its inspiration and organizing framework, the Copper Mark assesses copper producers – important actors in the supply chain of dozens of industries – against a set of responsible production criteria.

At the heart of the Copper Mark is the recognition that collaboration is key to promoting efficient and impactful responsible production practices. The Copper Mark was designed to be pragmatic, inclusive, recognition-based, progressive and rely on continuous monitoring. As a new organization, the Copper Mark has the benefit of learning from and collaborating with other organizations and current systems. By incorporating various perspectives and leveraging best practices, the Copper Mark aims to add value where it is needed and support ongoing efforts where they are working. This pledge to collaboration is evidenced through the Copper Mark’s adoption of an existing set of requirements and tools; development of an assurance system built around existing requirements and recognition; ongoing partnership on a multi-metal due diligence standard; and commitment to multi-stakeholder participation in governance.


Leveraging existing requirements and tools

The Copper Mark did not develop a “Copper Standard.” Rather, it has adopted the Risk Readiness Assessment (RRA) of the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI). The RRA is a self-assessment platform, already in use by RMI member companies. The Copper Mark designed its Assurance Framework to provide an independent, site-level, assessment of copper producer’s performance against the RRA’s 32 environmental, social and governance criteria for responsible production. The criteria are themselves derived from the requirements of over 40 voluntary sustainability standards implemented in mineral supply chains. These requirements can be applied not just to copper but any metal supply chain. While the requirements apply to mining companies, smelters, and refiners, end users in the electronics and automotive industries already use the RRA tool to complete their company due diligence. By promoting the RRA, the Copper Mark helps to connect metal producers with end user companies and facilitates the flow of information on responsible production practices.


Recognition

A core principle of The Copper Mark Assurance Process is to recognize as “equivalent” other systems where they match and meet the Copper Mark Criteria.[3] To that end, the Copper Mark engages existing standards and programs to partner on best practices, reduce assessment fatigue and expand the breadth of influence. In order to ensure consistency, the Copper Mark works with the RMI to publish the Criteria Guide and Equivalency Matrix to provide guidance and transparency on expectations and equivalent systems. Furthermore, the Copper Mark engages with LBMA regarding ways to align expectations for responsible sourcing practices.



Collaborative development

In partnership with the International Lead Association, the International Zinc Association, the Nickel Institute and the RMI, the Copper Mark leads the development of a joint Due Diligence Standard, aimed to be aligned with the OECD Guidance, as well as the accompanying tools and training materials. Through this collaboration, the Copper Mark and its partner organizations demonstrate their willingness to increase efficiencies and reduce the burden on companies required to comply with the new responsible sourcing policy of the London Metals Exchange (LME).


Multi-stakeholder governance

In addition to working with partner organizations, the Copper Mark embeds stakeholder engagement into its governance structure. The Copper Mark Advisory Council provides strategic guidance and oversight to the Copper Mark organization and programs. Representatives from the industry, investors, academia, and civil society participate in the Advisory Council to ensure a holistic approach.

As the organization grows, the Copper Mark will remain invested in finding more ways to further partner with industry, other initiatives, various supply chain actors, civil society and thought leaders. With this vision, the Copper Mark can effectively and pragmatically contribute to the SDGs.


About the Copper Mark

The Copper Mark is an assurance framework available for the copper industry to demonstrate its responsible production practices and its contribution to the United Nations SDGs. The Copper Mark offers a comprehensive system that addresses 32 environmental, social and governance issues related to the responsible production of copper, using the Responsible Minerals Initiative’s (RMI) Risk Readiness Assessment. Developed and funded by the International Copper Association (ICA), the Copper Mark is incorporated as an independent entity headquartered in the United Kingdom.


To learn more about the Copper Mark, please see our website here and view an introductory video here.


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[1] See, for example, The Economist and World Economic Forum [2] See, for example, Harvard Business School: Public Sentiment and the Price of Corporate Sustainability [2020] (George Serafeim): “A new research study by George Serafeim at HBS finds the valuation of corporate ESG performance increases as a function of public sentiment. The positive association between ESG performance and market valuation is stronger for firms with more positive public sentiment momentum. An increase in a firm’s ESG performance has nearly two to three times the effect on a firm’s market valuation for a firm with positive relative to a firm with negative public sentiment momentum… [T]he higher price of corporate sustainability as a function of public sentiment represents new evidence that not only investor sentiment about the stock market…but also public sentiment about firms’ sustainability activities affect the valuation of a firm.”


[3] The Copper Mark Assurance Process, Section 3.9


Hillary Amster, Director of Assurance and Impact, has both strategic and operational experience in the field of corporate social responsibility throughout supply chains and across industries. Most recently, she held the position of Director of Audit Operations at the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), where she oversaw the operational and quality management of RBA’s social and supply chain audit programs, including the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process. Previously, she consulted Fortune 500 companies, advising them on the development and implementation of corporate social responsibility strategies. Hillary formerly worked at a number of international human rights organizations across the globe. She holds a law degree with a certificate in international human rights from the University of San Francisco School of Law, and a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and Italian Studies from Tufts University.

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