Social and ecological aspects

Leave No One Behind - LNOB in the extractive sector

ASM Miners Kono Westafrica

"Leave No One Behind" (LNOB) is the guiding principle of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. It forms the global framework of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The global community has agreed to focus on the weakest of the weak and to reach those first who are currently furthest behind. But how does LNOB fit into the extractive sector and what is German development cooperation doing to ensure that responsible raw material production "leaves no one behind"?


Three quarters of the people affected by poverty live in countries whose economies are heavily dominated by raw materials. The relevance of the raw materials sector will continue to increase in the coming years against the background of political decisions such as the energy and mobility transition. On the one hand, renewable energy technologies are urgently needed to meet the climate targets of the Paris Agreement, but on the other hand they are very resource intensive. According to estimates by the European Commission, eighteen times as much lithium and five times as much cobalt will be required in the EU by 2030. It is therefore even more important that marginalized people and groups as well as people in extreme poverty become the focus of development processes in the raw materials sector and that structural causes of inequality and discrimination can be dealt with.

  • According to estimates by the World Bank, around 40 million people worldwide work in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) - mostly as informal workers - and are often exposed to unsafe working conditions such as a lack of occupational health and safety.
  • Of these, 30-50% are women, depending on the country, while only 10% of employees in industrial mining are women. The working reality of women in the mining sector is characterized by structural disadvantage, wage injustice and inadequate health protection. In addition, they are often affected by sexual violence and prostitution in the vicinity of the mines.
  • In addition, according to estimates by the International Labor Organization (ILO), around 1 million children around the world work in mining. Child labor in mining is one of the worst forms of child labor. There is a lack of legal regulations and enforcement mechanisms as well as school and vocational training. This results in a lack of economic prospects.
  • Indigenous people are also severely affected by the negative effects of the raw materials sector. In regions rich in natural resources, violent conflicts and the destruction of livelihoods can arise. According to estimates by the United Nations, around 15 million indigenous people are forcibly relocated every year due to large investment and development projects, particularly in the extractive raw materials sector. Collective consultation and consent rights (free, prior and informed consent, FPIC) are often disregarded. Indigenous people are also disproportionately affected by historical discrimination and racism.
  • Extraction of raw materials requires the use of large amounts of water, which are returned to rivers as toxic wastewater. Negative consequences can be the loss of biodiversity, soil degradation, damage to health, water pollution and the deprivation of livelihoods, thereby pushing people into poverty and marginalization.

Project examples of German development cooperation for anchoring LNOB in the extractive sector

However, the raw materials sector not only has negative effects on people, it is also an attractive source of income and thus has a lot of potential to enable people to find their way out of poverty. The examples given give an outlook on how the raw materials sector must be designed so that this happens sustainably and "nobody is left behind".

Integrated economic development in the raw materials sector in Mauritania

  • Promotes local added value in industrial mining.
  • Carries out a study on mercury-free alternatives in gold extraction in small-scale mining and thus contributes to better working conditions, health protection and environmental protection.
Sustainable economic development in the mining sector in the DR Congo
  • Accompanies mining cooperatives in their activities to support them in compliance with international standards in the mining sector.
  • Contains standards on the subject of human rights with a special focus on the eradication of child labor. In this context, a catalog of standards will be developed, and information and training modules will be set up.
Promoting good governance in the mining sector in Afghanistan
  • Strengthening the participation rights of mining communities: Supports mining communities through community-based monitoring processes at the provincial level in being able to additionally supervise mining activities with regard to environmental and social issues. This enables the local population to express criticism, make suggestions and demand more accountability in the context of multi-actor dialogue events. The community-based monitoring processes particularly consider the role of women in the mining sector.
  • Supports the development and implementation of a gender policy for the Ministry of Mining and Petroleum (MoMP) and thus helps to reduce existing inequalities between the sexes.
MinSus - Project in the Andean region
  • In the Andean region, the MinSus project works with the Ibero-American Foundation of Ombudsmen (FIO) and supports the ombuds authorities in improving their complaint mechanisms.
  • Advises the ministry of mining in Colombia on optimizing and implementing its gender strategy.
German development cooperation is already actively implementing the LNOB principle in several projects in the raw materials sector and thus contributing to the inclusion of marginalized groups and people in development processes.

Factsheet LNOB ENG

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