November 16, 2011
The U.S.-government-initiated Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA) officially launched in November 2011 in its effort to help the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and surrounding countries break the link between the minerals trade and armed groups and support local communities' economic development. Sony decided to take part in it to support the aims of the alliance.
The alliance is composed of numerous stakeholders including government organizations, particularly the U.S. Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), private companies, industry associations, and NGOs. The alliance has 21 member companies and organizations from throughout the world. Following its launch, the alliance will undertake various endeavors. First, it will assist with the development of pilot supply chain systems that will allow businesses to source minerals from mines that have been audited and certified to be 'conflict-free.' Second, it will provide a platform for coordination amongst government, industry, and civil society actors seeking to support conflict-free sourcing from the DRC. Finally, the PPA will establish a website designed to serve as a resource for companies seeking information regarding how to responsibly source minerals from the DRC.
This type of alliance has become important since in recent years several issuess, including the destruction of local environments and human rights violations, have arisen in the process of mining particular minerals (such as rare metals) that are indispensable for the production of electronics, and interest has been grown among diverse stakeholders to resolve these issues. There is concern that the mining of these minerals has created a source of funds for armed groups in Central Africa and may be contributing to conflicts in countries including the DRC. In response to these concerns, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed in July 2010 in the U.S., and the law requires that companies disclose information on their use of particular minerals mined in the DRC or surrounding countries ("conflict minerals"). On account of this, measures to cut armed groups out of the mineral trade and to alleviate the negative impact on local economies are urgently needed. One concrete measure to accomplish this is the launch of this alliance since it is necessary to certify conflict-free mines and promote responsible minerals trade.
As one effort to promote responsible minerals trade, the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), which Sony is a member of, and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) have developed the industry-wide Conflict-Free Smelter Program and are promoting various efforts including certifying conflict-free smelters and issuing the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template, a tool for surveying suppliers. Sony is actively taking part in these industry-wide efforts, and in August 2011, Sony launched supplier surveys on conflict minerals by adopting the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template.
By participating in this alliance, Sony is not only supporting activities in these local areas but is also working on minerals procurement as a CSR issue by cooperating with the efforts of industry associations such as the EICC.