Driving change. Putting small-scale producers in the driver’s seat of battery-mineral supply chain regulation

This project develops a framework for ‘putting small-scale producers in the driver’s seat’ when it comes to electric vehicle (EV) batteries and other mineral supply chains in the DRC. Companies that purchase minerals are increasingly held to account for environmental, social and human rights problems in their supply chains, and expected to conduct due diligence to prevent these harms. The EU and European countries are adopting domestic due diligence regulation that requires corporate actors to disclose and address the origins of the minerals in their supply chains.

Yet the speed with which new regulatory initiatives are being created means that the meaningful participation of communities and small-scale producers in decision-making around supply-chain initiatives lags behind. ‘Putting small-scale producers in the driver’s seat’ means ensuring their meaningful participation in transnational supply-chain regulation, which includes taking due account of social dynamics and local knowledge in the mines.

In this project, we will investigate small-scale producers’ involvement in decision-making processes and whether they have ‘a seat at the table’. A number of recent private or multi-stakeholder initiatives in responsible sourcing are trying to include small-scale producers and affected communities through steps such as facilitating their access to markets. A key question that our project will seek to answer is whether such initiatives foster ‘real, authentic participation’, and what needs to be done for this to happen.

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