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The Secretary-General - Message to the Global Mining Initiative Conference

Toronto, 12-15 May 2002

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to this important conference, which marks a significant milepost in the Global Mining Initiative. The Government and people of Canada merit our recognition for welcoming so many participants from around the world.
The Global Mining Initiative for responsible mining is a good example of collaboration among governments, business, labour, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders on an issue of crucial importance for the world's quest to achieve sustainable development. In particular, through the Mining Minerals and Sustainable Development project, it has set out quite clearly the challenges that the industry - including labour - governments and civil-society actors all face in bringing the sector nearer to a sustainable future.

This effort comes at a critical juncture. The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg is fast approaching.

The mining and minerals industry is one in which there are real discrepancies between wealth creation for the few, and environmental and social costs for the many. On the one hand, the vital raw materials provided by the mining and minerals industry underpin much of modern life, finding their way into everything from airplanes to cell phones. And many countries have successfully diversified their economies using natural resources. At the same time, lives, livelihoods and sustainability itself are harmed by every polluted river, every degraded landscape, and every industry installation that spews toxins into the air. Many communities have been disrupted and no doubt many still will be.

Clearly, it is imperative that we do more to ensure that mining's fallout is mitigated, and that local communities - in particular the millions of artisanal miners who derive a livelihood from digging for mineral wealth - share in the benefits.

The Global Mining Initiative complements The Global Compact, the corporate citizenship initiative I launched three years ago that seeks to help make globalization work for all people and to give hope and opportunity to those who remain excluded from global markets. The Compact calls on businesses to take a precautionary approach to environmental challenges, and to promote social and environmental responsibility. Your initiative has the potential to respond to this challenge and could serve as the basis for a "Sectoral Global Compact."

This conference has mobilized an unprecedented coalition for change and has identified many important issues where cooperation and collective action can make a difference. The challenge now is to carry forward this momentum. I hope that large numbers of leaders from governments and business - working together with labour and civil society - will demonstrate real leadership and walk together along this new path of change, so that good ideas and good intentions will be transformed into action.