Press release 283/2012
28 November 2012
Today, on 27 November, Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala opened an international two-day conference on socially and environmentally responsible mining in Dipoli, Espoo. The conference, organised by the University of Eastern Finland, the Academy of Finland and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, focuses particularly on the prospects of the poor countries under the circumstances of the prevailing mining boom.
In her address, Minister Hautala underscored the importance of open processes, transparency, and accountability of all parties, as well as fair distribution of benefits collected from natural resources throughout the population.
“Serious shortcomings have become revealed even in such a developed and well-organised country as Finland. These have resulted in extensive and very serious environmental problems in the mining sector,” Hautala pointed out.
“As the critical and loud popular feedback this conference has been subjected to shows, it is of utmost importance for all actors within the mining sector to engage in an open dialogue with local people, environmental activists, media representatives and other stakeholders. Listening sincerely to other parties can provide a way to correct mistakes, improve processes and achieve better results,” Hautala stressed. On her initiative, the demonstrators outside the conference building were invited into the meeting hall to express their views on the subject.
In the conference, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs launched the toolkit for responsible mining, “Environmental Security, Mining and Good Governance within Wider Europe Initiative”. The Wider Europe Initiative is the Ministry’s own initiative. The toolkit authored by Gaia Consulting, Zoï Environment Network and experts from Kyrgyzstan provides guidance on how to draw up environmental and social impact assessments, thus promoting conflict prevention.
Finland welcomes initiatives for additional transparency in the extractive sector with an aim to ensure that revenues from mining operations end up as tax revenues needed by the states involved.
“This would give poor countries an opportunity to free themselves from dependency on outside assistance. The mining boom provides totally new development opportunities, but entails also major risks. The more accountable and open policy a government pursues, the higher the probability that even the poorest people benefit from the natural resources,” Hautala states.
The Minister’s speech at the conference is available in English at http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=263620&nodeid=15145&contentlan=2&culture=en-US
Additional information: Milma Kettunen, Press Attaché to the Minister, tel. +358 40 522 9869, firstname.lastname@example.org