Mining and the Sustainable Development Goals

Lead PI:

Unit Affiliation: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI)

January 2016 - Ongoing
Project Type: Research Outreach

DESCRIPTION: In September 2015, the UN member states agreed on a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which represent the global agenda for equitable, socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable economic development until 2030. Mining companies have the potential to become leading partners in achieving the SDGs. Through their direct operations, mining companies can generate profits, employment, and economic growth in low-income countries. And through partnerships with government and civil society, mining companies can ensure that benefits of mining extend beyond the life of the mine itself, so that the mining industry has a positive impact on the natural environment, climate change, and social capital.

Mining companies will be called on to extract responsibly, waste less, use safer processes, incorporate new sustainable technologies, promote the improved wellbeing of local communities, curb emissions, and improve environmental stewardship. Mining companies committed to the SDGs will benefit from improved relationships with governments and communities, as well as better access to financial resources. Those that fail to engage meaningfully with the SDGs will put their operations at risk in the short and long term.

OUTCOMES: CCSI worked with the World Economic Forum, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to create a shared understanding of how the mining industry can most effectively contribute to the SDGs. The report can assist mining companies to navigate where their activities – exploration, operations, and mine closure – can help the world achieve the SDGs. Governments, civil society and other stakeholders can also identify opportunities for shared action and partnership with the mining industry.

A draft report of Mapping Mining to the Sustainable Development Goals: A Preliminary Atlas was released for public consultation in January 2016; the final version was released on July 19, 2016. The executive summary and the full report (available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese) are available here: (


World Economic Forum, United Nations Development Programme, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network


mining sustainable technology sustainable development goals natural environment


Sustainable living