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Partners in the future: Our commitment to the SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a United Nations-led proposed set of targets, to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals at the end of 2015. Mark Cutifani, chief executive, explains why their success requires the mining industry — and private sector as a whole — to have a change of mind-set. 

17 goals, 169 targets, 15 years. The launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, at the UN General Assembly this weekend, will set the development agenda until 2030. We welcome the milestone and are proud of the role we played in helping to develop the goals.

For the last three years we have engaged with the process led by the United Nations. We gave input into the development of the SDGs via the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and were signatories to the UN Foundation and Unilever-led Post-2015 Business Manifesto.

We recognise, however, that these goals are ambitious. Meeting them will require all of us — from business to government, civil society to non-government organisations — to work together in new and more effective ways.

The role of the mining sector

Our role, as a member of the private sector, is to support our host governments in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. That means doing our work with excellence and ensuring our presence in host countries leaves a positive lasting legacy. It means not leaving anyone behind — from supporting women in their careers to working with Indigenous Peoples in Australia, Canada and across South America. It also means achieving development while protecting our planet.

The current economic environment is challenging for miners. We are being forced to make tough decisions. But this does not — and should not — dwarf the transformative role our industry can play in development. 

At Anglo American, this means focusing on where we can make the biggest difference. We see three areas where we can best support our host countries: enterprise development, health and education.

Transforming small business

I have seen how mining can transform the economy of a developing country, if managed responsibly and in partnership with governments and civil society. Even with the challenges of the current economic environment we are partnering with others to invest in the hard-working, talented people around our operations.

For instance, at Anglo American, we have successfully led enterprise development programmes for the past 26 years. These programmes run in five countries and have helped support 100,000 businesses. Today, they generate an average of 10,000 jobs per year, with almost 50% of these businesses run by women and a large proportion by young people, in rural and urban areas.

These programmes offer a chance for individuals and communities to build sustainable livelihoods and services. As we look forward to the SDGs we intend to expand the number of people that share these economic benefits of mining, both inside and outside our supply chain.

Transforming health

Health involves all of us — all the organisations, institutions, resources and people whose primary purpose is to improve the well-being of their people. When it comes to health, then, I believe that mining companies can play an essential role in building healthy lives for all ages.

We have already started reviewing our programmes in this area, to maximise our role in promoting well-being. Last year, we tested and counselled nearly 110,000 employees and contractors for HIV and AIDS in South Africa and Zimbabwe, as part of the world’s largest private sector treatment programme.

Effective healthcare, however, is built on reliable information. To this end, our Coal team in South Africa built theHealthSource, providing easily accessible, confidential and accurate health records, irrespective of people’s health care provider. It builds good health on the strong foundation of good information.

Building local capacity

In my experience, a business is only as strong as its people, and its people are only as strong as the communities in which they build their lives. That’s why developing skills is not only a moral imperative — it also makes good business sense. 

It is crucial that mining companies make the most of our presence in this area, building capacity in local people and institutions, so we can help development to continue once our mines have closed.  

Last year, we launched a unique partnership with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to build such efforts in our mining and labour-sending areas. Called the Municipal Capacity Development Programme, it is designed to address the long-term needs of our communities, bringing together all levels of government to implement poverty alleviation programmes.

Beyond 2015

Every business has a role to play in making progress for those who need it most. I firmly believe that, as a sector, we can help achieve extraordinary things in the next 15 years by working towards ending extreme poverty, reducing inequality, and fighting injustice. Together, we can make a real difference.

Learn more about Sustainability at Anglo American.

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