Co-Chairs’ Workshop Summary

The three international non-ferrous metals study groups - the International Copper Study Group, the International Lead & Zinc Study Group and the International Nickel Study Group – convened a Workshop on Sustainable Development in London (United Kingdom), 30 November to 3 December 1999. The Workshop was held at the Victoria Street Conference Centre and hosted by the UK Department of Trade & Industry.

The workshop was directed at the principle non-ferrous metals covered by the Study Groups but also drew on relevant experience from other metals such as aluminium. Some 225 representatives from 25 countries, international organisations, industry, and other non-governmental organisations participated in the workshop.

The concept of Sustainable Development was first proposed in 1987 by the World Commission on Environmental Development in "Our Common Future" (also known as the Brundtland Report). The Brundtland Report defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". It was premised on the belief that people could "build a future that is more prosperous, more just, and more secure". Simply put, sustainable development is giving future generations as many opportunities as, if not more than, we have today.

The member governments of the three Study Groups recognised they could provide a unique forum to discuss cross-sectoral social, economic and environmental issues related to the sustainable development of non-ferrous metals.

The workshop consisted of two parts. On the first day a plenary session provided various perspectives and thought provoking input to the participants. This was followed by small break-out groups who reported back to a plenary session. The break-out groups were each given the task of identifying social, economic and environmental benefits, and the issues and the challenges that need to be addressed for the extraction, production, use, reuse and recycling of non-ferrous metals. The Groups also proposed recommendations to address the issues and challenges identified.

The workshop participants recognised the important contribution of metals to the development and advancement of civilisation. Non-ferrous metals including Copper, Lead, Nickel and Zinc are used in a variety of applications that are considered essential for continuing to develop a better quality of life for everyone in society. Sustainable development provides the necessary framework for passing the benefits that are generated today by activities related to the production and use of non-ferrous metals to future generations through the integration of social, economic and environmental considerations in the decision-making process.

Workshop participants agreed that Sustainable Development requires dialogue and co-operation between many parties including governments, producing and consuming industries, environmental and other NGOs, and local communities (representing indigenous and other people). Although many of the latter groups were invited, their participation was limited to only a few in number. It was recognised that greater effort needed to be made to attract broader representation from these parties in future activities

The Workshop participants identified the following outcomes:


  • Multi-stakeholder approaches should be developed to move from confrontation to participation
  • Using, wherever possible, transparent voluntary agreements ,as an alternative or complement to regulations
  • carrying out risk assessments
  • Precautionary Principle needs to be addressed

  • Strive for joint studies and regular exchanges as a means to help build trust between industry and stakeholders including NGO’s and local communities

  • Continuing consultation process should be established with local stakeholders and communities,
  • Seeking to maximise social and economic benefits and minimise impacts
  • Industry should help to support this and keep it going

  • Collection and recycling could be enhanced through better product design and partnerships
  • Find ways to engage the public to increase recycling

  • Working with local communities
  • ease transition after plant/mining operations cease or are scaled back
  • integrate into or adapt to the local culture

  • Develop strategic alliances between workers and management looking to increase operating efficiencies while achieving environmental improvements

Responsible Management

  • Industry should develop a Mission Statement for the 21st Century

    - that would represent a cultural change

    - that would embrace SD as a guiding principle

  • that would foster increasing trust, confidence and credibility
  • Demonstrate continued progress on production, use, recycling, and disposal methods which enhances sustainable development, including responsible management of the processes and products throughout their life. This needs to be measurable and transparent (e.g. tracking recycling)
  • Operate in a transparent and open manner
  • Companies should develop and implement environmental management systems, e.g. ISO 14000, and communicate them to the public
  • Develop processes and products with a view to promoting sustainable development
  • Reduce emissions, reuse and recycle products
  • More R&D and education and training are required through the whole chain from exploration and product development to use, recycling and disposal to enhance sustainable development


  • Governments should seek a more objective and scientific rationale towards the regulation of metals

  • Government, industry and other stakeholders should develop appropriate decision-making framework and the necessary tools for screening and classifying metals and their compounds

  • Review regulatory framework affecting wastes to ensure they are not counterproductive to recycling and therefore to the environment

  • Regulations which impede sustainable development activities should be reviewed and replaced with regulations which support and encourage sustainable development, e.g., enhance recycling of metals and make better use of by-products from metal processing

  • Governments should recognise the importance of redistributing rents to the communities that are directly affected by associated industrial activities


  • To enhance transparency, information about the production, use and recycling of metals must be made available to the public

  • Models and methodologies used to assess metal should be appropriate for metals
  • Where there is a lack of data/science it is in the industry’s best interest to provide and develop the data/science.
  • Involve regulators as early as possible to facilitate transfer of results

  • All sectors, producers, manufacturers, recyclers and users, should share experiences and needs in order to promote synergies in the life cycle of a product to enhance sustainable development

  • Study Groups should take account of work already done in other forums, such as UNEP, ILO, WHO, and industry, and compile codes of practise on all aspects of metal production and use addressing environmental impact and social issues. All stakeholders should be involved in this work
  • Need to develop methodologies for calculating recycling, and to obtain better information on recycling rates, paths, and fates


  • Develop a long term strategy that recognises the important contribution of non-ferrous metals to technological progress and wealth creation, including its distribution to society, and that describes how non-ferrous metals can be used and re-used safely
  • Need to continue the dialogue between governments, industry, NGOs initiated by this workshop on issues such as assessing and addressing the contribution of metals to sustainable development
  • Increase public awareness of the contribution of non-ferrous metals recycling to sustainable development

Additional details and results can be found in the attached break-out group reports.

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