Chairmen's Message



Porto, Portugal

November 12-13, 2001


When the member countries of the three international non-ferrous metals study groups convened the first meeting of the Non-Ferrous Metals Consultative Forum on Sustainable Development in Brussels, Belgium a little over 12 months ago, it marked the launch of an important new direction in the context of mining, metals and sustainable development - to identify and implement actions collectively to move this sector towards the goal of sustainable development. The Forum was convened as a multi-stakeholder led initiative designed to build on the outcomes of the Workshop on Sustainable Development held in London in November 1999. The strong spirit of co-operation during the Forum discussions and the desire on the part of participants to maintain the momentum and to continue working collectively towards achieving tangible results led to the establishment of three working groups.

The three working groups, one for Production, one for Product Stewardship and one for Science, Research and Development were established earlier this year with a mandate to bring together existing work, share information, identify gaps and to rapidly initiate relevant activities identified by the Forum for future action. Over 100 participants came together from governments, industry, industry associations, non-governmental organisations, academia and multilateral institutions to participate in the work of the three Working Groups.

At this, the second meeting of the Forum here in Porto, Portugal, you will begin the task of reviewing the progress made to date and to seek opportunities to take this work forward. In looking at the progress, we need to recognise and celebrate our successes as they were achieved through the entirely voluntary efforts of the global group of stakeholders committed to the working groups' activities. In addition to the individual tasks identified for each working group, the working groups collectively prepared an overall "vision" for the contribution non-ferrous metals make to sustainable development. This vision statement provides a useful check-list against which we can measure our progress and help set our priorities for the future. In addition, it is recognised that this vision will only be achieved by engaging all interested stakeholders and by moving forward constructively together.

In less than a year, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, will meet in Johannesburg, South Africa and bring a world-wide focus on issues related to sustainable development. Preparations over the coming months are underway to identify agenda items for the Summit. This provides governments with a unique opportunity to place issues related to mining, metals and sustainable development on the Summit's agenda, and thus promote and build on the outcomes of the Consultative Forum. Already, these issues have been identified for priority action at the Summit's regional preparatory meetings for Europe/North America and Africa. We would encourage you to keep this important event in mind when reviewing the work to date and while seeking opportunities to move the collective works of the three Working Groups forward. You should recognise that governments will not wish to establish new bodies to undertake the actions agreed to at the Summit - rather, they will look to existing multilateral and multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the Consultative Forum, to do the necessary work. Therefore, it is important to keep the momentum going and to produce tangible results. In this way, we can raise the profile of this unique multi-stakeholder activity and begin to address, through collective action, issues identified in London and Brussels.

Finally, as the Chairmen of the Consultative Forum, it is with a deep sense of regret that neither one of us can be with you for your deliberations over the next couple of days. It is not for a lack of commitment to this initiative, but rather because of individual circumstances beyond our control that precludes our participation in Porto. We wish you all success over the next two days and we are confident that through the able Chairmanship of Mr. Alec Estlander of Finland and Mr. Gerry Miles of the United Kingdom, you will collectively find the best way to continue to move forward this important and unique initiative.

Sauli Rouhinen

Environment Counsellor

Ministry of the Environment & Secretary General

of the Finnish National Division Commission

on Sustainable Development


Alek Ignatow

Executive Director

International & Domestic Market Policy Division

Minerals and Metals Sector

Department of Natural Resources


International Copper Study Group International Lead and Zinc Study Group International Nickel Study Group