Journal article

Towards a sustainable development licence to operate for the extractive sector

The extractive sector now holds an even more predominant position for national economies following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. The sector can make significant contributions to the achievement of a large number of these Goals. Managing extractive resources has always presented a major challenge for many countries worldwide, but especially in the developing world. This paper documents the shortcomings of the existing governance architecture. It builds on the 'social licence to operate' and draws from its limitations to propose a new framework called the 'sustainable development licence to operate'. The latter is a holistic multilevel and multi-stakeholder governance framework aimed at enhancing the contribution of the mining sector to sustainable development. It is not intended to function as a licence in the regulatory sense. The underlying principles, policy options and best practices that form the basis of the proposed framework are outlined in the paper. This analysis should be viewed as a starting point, in recognition that the development of a robust sustainable development licence to operate depends on an open and inclusive approach to populating its normative content.


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