Bettercoal visit to Colombia

March 6, 2017

Between the 6th and the 10th of March this year, Bettercoal organised a visit to Colombia, one of the major thermal coal exporting countries in the world. The purpose of the visit was to strengthen Bettercoal’s engagement with coal producers, government and other local stakeholders, as well as to build the foundations for Bettercoal’s Colombian Country Strategy.

The week started with the meeting of the Technical & Advisory Committee (TAC) (6-7 March), held in Bogotá with the support of Drummond Ltd. Colombia. The TAC is a multi-stakeholder committee within the governance of Bettercoal, that supports the Bettercoal Board by reviewing, developing and ensuring the quality of Bettercoal’s standards, assurance process and impact assessment and reporting. The main topics discussed during the meeting were Bettercoal’s Country Prioritisation Strategy, documents part of the Assessment Programme (Policy of Association, Sampling Methodology, Assessment Scope, Assessment Rating, Assessment Cycle, Assessment Manual, Bettercoal Code revision timelines and revised Self-Assessment Questionnaire) and the transition to the new online Bettercoal Assurance Platform, developed in partnership with Branded Trust.

Watch this video with Wendy Tyrrell, Technical & Advisory Committee – non-industry participant:

On the 8th of March, Bettercoal brought together major Colombian coal Suppliers (Drummond Ltd. ColombiaCerrejónGlencoreProdeco and CNR) and Bettercoal Members (DraxENGIEFortumRWEVattenfall and Uniper) to discuss Bettercoal’s future, to give an opportunity for coal producers (Drummond Ltd. Colombia and Cerrejón) to share their feedback about their experience taking part in the Bettercoal Assessment Programmeand to highlight Members’ committment to Bettercoal. The meeting was held in Bogotá with the support of Cerrejón. It was unanimously agreed that both Members and Suppliers are on the same side of the table and that they should be working together towards improving practices in the coal supply chain globally. Cerrejón expressed their willigness to advance to the next step in the Bettercoal Assessment Programme this year, Glencore/ Prodeco stated that they will participate in the Bettercoal Assessment Programme in 2017, while CNR showed their interest for 2018. Mining companies in Colombia suggested that Bettercoal Members consider the possibility of supporting them in setting up a Fund which could contribute to the Peace Process and help improve the image of Colombian coal.

Photo above: Bettercoal Members, Colombian coal Suppliers and Bettercoal Secretariat

The visit to Colombia continued with Bettercoal Members and non-industry participants from the TAC visiting Prodeco’s La Jagua coal mine. The group visited the mine site, the compost area and La Victoria community located in the proximity of the mine. The participants had the chance to find out more about community’s waste collection and recycling programme and met with the owners of a small local coffee business. Bettercoal was happy to see Prodeco’s official support of the Colombian Peace Process published the next day after the mine site visit.

During this week in Colombia, Bettercoal also engaged with representatives from the government, National Mining AgencyColombian Mining AssociationCREER, the President’s Advisor on Human Rights, the media, as well as with Jasper Groen (Dutch MP) and Pax . Bettercoal’s Colombian Country Strategy will now be presented to the Board of Directors at the end of March, the work of the Technical & Advisory Committee will advance throughout 2017 and beginning of 2018, while Bettercoal will continue engaging coal Suppliers globally.

Photo credits: Thomas Maddox and Irena Popa-Antohi

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