Sustainability in raw material extraction

As early as 2002, the Federal Government presented the first national sustainability strategy, which has since been updated several times. In the version of 2016, the Federal Government emphasises the responsibility for, among other things, establishing decent working conditions and appropriate sustainable economic growth. Germany is to live up to its “role as one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly economies […] at home and worldwide”.1 For the raw materials sector, this objective was reconfirmed in the raw materials strategy2 adopted by the Federal Government in January 2020. Being one of the world’s leading technology locations and an export nation, Germany is dependent on a secure supply of raw materials. This goes hand in hand with the responsibility to work for a sustainable, socially acceptable and careful use of natural resources.3
The 2030 Agenda, adopted by the United Nations in 2015, defines 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the environment and social and economic development. They serve Germany as a “compass … for all policy fields”4 and thus also for the extraction of natural resources.
“Sustainable development” refers to balancing environmental, social and economic challenges as com- prehensively as possible along the entire value chains of the many different extractive industries. In this chapter, a number of important contributions in this regard will be discussed; besides reference should be made to various sustainability reports issued by stakeholders from the public, private and civil society sectors.

1 The Federal Government: German Sustainability Strategy 2016, p. 122.
2 Raw Materials Strategy of the Federal Government, https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/DE/Publikationen/Industrie/rohstoffstrategie-der-bundesregierung.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=4
3 Raw Materials Strategy of the Federal Government, p. 2.
4 BMZ Extractives and Development Sector Programme: Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, https://rue.bmz.de/de/international/SDG/index.html, p. 1