As a follow-up to a conference on "Foreign Direct Investment and the Environment", held in The Hague in January 1999, the OECD organised a major conference to focus on the mining sector. This event took place on 7 and 8 February 2002, in Paris under the umbrella of the CCNM Global Forum on International Investment .
The conference aimed to shed further light on the broader linkages between FDI and the environment in a sector, that is of particular importance for the economy in many developing countries, and where environmental concerns have frequently been voiced. It is intended to use the focus on the mining sector to derive broader lessons for the FDI - environment linkage. The conference deliberations focused on how best to integrate environmental and investment goals, ensure that environmental protection and investment liberalisation are mutually supportive and explore the significance of voluntary business approaches in encouraging 'best environmental practice'. More importantly, by addressing these issues, the conference provided inputs to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002.
The conference was structured around three main issues:
Environmental performance (broadly defined) in the mining industry, domestic and international, drawing on available empirical evidence, and its importance in overall FDI considerations.
Policy/institutional frameworks that integrate environmental and investment goals. This session discussed whether the application of environmental requirements may, or may, not be considered discriminatory. Italso discussed how the policies required to ensure environmental protection and liberal foreign investment regime can be made mutually supportive. The session, in addition, examined the positive role that foreign investors can play in contributing to environmentally and socially sustainable development in resource rich countries when the necessary policy/institutional framework is in place and capacity development is achieved.
Ways of encouraging "best environmental practice" through voluntary commitments from investors. The effectiveness of voluntary schemes promoted by the mining sector (e.g., such as the ICME Environmental Charter) would be examined in the context of the OECD's recently revised Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and experience in other industrial sectors.
The conference brought together a unique mix of about 100 participants including representatives from relevant OECD committees and working parties, non-member governments, the business community, NGOs and academia engaged in the mining sector.
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Presented papers do reflect authors' opinions, not official OECD positions.