A Platform to Support Responsible Sourcing, Peacebuilding, and Community Development

Solutions for Hope is a platform that supports companies, civil society organizations, and governments working together to responsibly source minerals from regions experiencing conflict where market access is limited by opaque supply chains. The program manages risk for participating companies and offers recognition for participation. 

Background and Challenge

Responsible sourcing from conflict-prone regions is challenging, particularly for downstream companies and stakeholders. Yet in many regions responsible development is an essential part of a post-conflict transition strategy. Differentiation of conflict-free commodities from these regions typically requires proactive and collaborative supply chain interventions that align downstream companies’ needs for compliance and risk management with regional stakeholders’ needs for development. While government regulations can enhance supply chain transparency, a purely regulatory response can lead to unintended consequences. For example, without a parallel in-region development strategy, a regulatory approach to conflict minerals could discourage downstream companies from sourcing minerals from the very regions the policies are meant to assist.

With additional regulatory action anticipated in the minerals sector, and with increasing consumer pressure on global companies to go beyond legislative requirements to ensure conflict-free sourcing, there is a need to learn from and expand existing voluntary initiatives to bolster capacity for verified conflict-free sourcing across the globe.

First Response: Sourcing and Capacity Building to Support Peace and Local Community Development

In 2011, Motorola Solutions and AVX joined forces and created the Solutions for Hope tantalum program to test the feasibility of responsible, traceable sourcing of tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to promote economic stability of the area.

This unique approach to mineral sourcing utilized a closed-pipe supply line and a defined set of key suppliers – mines (including artisanal cooperatives), smelter/ processor, component manufacturer and end user – identified in advance of initiating the project.

Over the past 3 years, the program has successfully demonstrated the following:

  • It is feasible for downstream companies to establish supply chains originating with conflict-free mines in regions impacted by conflict;
  • These supply chains can be independently validated as conflict-free, thus mitigating risks of in-region sourcing; and
  • Leaders from civil society support responsible sourcing from regions experiencing conflict and recognizes companies participating in SfH, as a complement to regulatory initiatives focused on transparency.

In 2012, the Dutch Foreign Ministry, Philips, Motorola Solutions, and other partners launched the Conflict Free Tin Initiative (CFTI), based on the Solutions for Hope model – further demonstrating proof of concept and market acceptance of this responsible sourcing approach.

In late 2013, with support from Motorola Solutions and Qualcomm, RESOLVE convened jewelers, electronics companies, refiners, producers, civil society organizations, and governments to explore opportunities to apply the model to gold. That group is formalizing and designing pilots to intervene in the supply chain to identify and support conflict-free gold sources in the GLR. For example, we are working to provide support for capacity building to miners, establish new models for in-region refining, and support collaboration between artisanal and large scale mining in the GLR.

In early 2014, we initiated a program in Colombia to support transparency in that nation’s gold, tantalum, and tungsten sectors in tandem with peacebuilding and economic development efforts. Pilots will focus on testing validation approaches with local refineries; supporting formalization programs; providing a sourcing opportunity for artisanal scale miners and cooperatives meeting conflict-free standards; and capacity building at all levels of the supply chain.

Solutions for Hope tantalum, CFTI, and these new pilots are examples of the benefits of proactive development-oriented intervention in supply chains. RESOLVE and its partners have now established Solutions for Hope as a global platform for supply chain initiatives designed to promote transparency, responsible sourcing, and local community development. The Solutions for Hope model starts with small-scale, pilot projects. Once tested, we will share learning and cross-pollinate across Solutions for Hope projects, and we will support policy initiatives to scale up and maximize impact.

Benefits of a SfH Platform

As Solutions for Hope expands its mineral and geographic scope, opportunities for shared learning and new efficiencies appear.

We will foster opportunities for dialogue and shared learning across geographies and across minerals. By building shared knowledge, a SfH platform will identify those challenges that are consistent across minerals, geographies, and political contexts. By developing a catalogue of potential solutions to these challenges, such a platform will fast-track solutions in new contexts by jumping to discussions about how to adapt existing models, rather than starting from scratch. Similarly, in developing an index of unseen challenges that arise in each new location, this platform will build an ever-improving set of guidance, expediting and enhancing the development of each new supply chain.

A common platform will also create opportunities for streamlined administration and sourcing. As SfH expands within regions, there may be opportunities to consolidate auditing, shipping, training, and administrative expenses across minerals from each region. As these supply chains grow globally, a broader umbrella brand can offer a “one-stop shopping” approach to companies seeking to source any of the 3Ts or gold. A broader SfH program also offers opportunities for increased reporting efficiency and streamlined implementation of due diligence policies across minerals and other commodities.