Country Working Groups

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In 2018 Bettercoal set up country working groups to facilitate a more coordinated approach to the monitoring of continuous improvement plans for Suppliers as well as build knowledge and measure impact. The first two groups which were set up were Colombia and Russia.

Colombia Working Group

Bettercoal has been working with Colombian coal companies since the foundation of the organization and we are very proud to be working with 3 of the 4 large coal exporters in the country. One of the aims of this group is to foster better relationships with all stakeholders involved in this complex environment, from business to government, to international NGOs and local communities. The Colombia Working Group is currently formed of Bettercoal Members Enel, ESB, RWE, Vattenfall, Fortum and chaired by Uniper.

A report on the progress made by the CWG in 2019 can be found here in English and Spanish.

The Covid-19 crisis has forced us to adjust the planning and implementation of the original 2020 Work Plan, particularly with regards to in person engagements with stakeholders. Despite being unable to travel to Colombia, we have engaged virtually with as many of them as possible, to keep up our engagement and remain well informed of current local developments.

The global pandemic posed additional challenges for the operations all Bettercoal’s Colombian Suppliers – Cerrejón, Drummond Ltd and Prodeco. Nevertheless, we engaged with all three of them to follow up on their Continuous Improvement Plans as well as discuss other relevant contextual topics e.g. increasing threats against social leaders, challenging negotiations with trade unions and of course the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Suppliers´ operations. The CWG appreciates the engagement of Suppliers and openness to comment on the challenges they are facing and seeking advice from Bettercoal and its Members to implement the proposed actions with the objective of continuously improving their operations.

The CWG has also held online conversations with other relevant stakeholders to gather insights and have a better understanding of broader topics relevant for the mining industry, including PAX, the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the Netherlands (CNV), the Human Rights and Business Resource Centre, the Development and Peace Programmes (PDP in Spanish), Regional Centre of Responsible Business and Entrepreneurship (CREER in Spanish), National Union of Ill, Disabled, Mining Workers (SINTRADEM in Spanish),  Sintracerrejón and IndustriAll.

The input received throughout all these meetings has helped the CWG refine its original 2020 Work Plan and identify specific actions where Bettercoal can add value. The updated version of the Work Plan can be found here.

In line with this commitment and as part of the implementation of the Work Plan 2020, we are pleased to announce that members of the CWG have agreed to support the Regional Centre for Responsible Businesses and Entrepreneurship (Centro Regional de Empresas y Emprendimientos Responsables or CREER) multi-stakeholder dialogue project Building Trust in Cesar, one of the most important coal mining regions in Colombia. We are also pleased to see that CREER have begun to work also in La Guajira. This support is part of Bettercoal’s commitment and activities to promote continuous improvement in the mining and sourcing of coal for the benefit of all people impacted by the industry, workers and coal mining communities.

Despite the challenges faced during this year, we are confident about the progress made by the CWG in 2020, which can be accessed here.

Russia Working Group

Russia is the third largest exporter of coal in the world. Since 2016, Bettercoal’s presence in Russia has grown significantly with some of the country’s largest coal suppliers going through the Bettercoal Assessment Process. The Russian Working group is formed of Bettercoal Members Enel, ESB, Fortum, RWE, Vattenfall and Uniper.

2019 Progress

Since the end of 2018, the Russia Working Group (RWG) has made significant progress. The primary targets have been to engage new stakeholders and raise the profile of the Bettercoal organization as a whole. This has been achieved through a regular and in-depth follow up on the Continuous Improvement Plans (CIPs) with the Bettercoal Russian Suppliers; an in-country workshop in Russia; and the mapping of environmental and social (ESG) risks related to the Russian coal supply chain.

Report: “Bettercoal in Kuzbass: ESG risks in the Russian coal mining sector

Bettercoal engaged external advisory expertise from TDI Sustainability to look at the ESG risks across the Russian coal supply chain and produce the report on “Bettercoal in Kuzbass: ESG risks in the Russian coal mining sector”. Russia has long been an important coal-supplying country to Bettercoal as it represents a 39% of European coal imports. In recent years, this importance has only increased. In 2018 Bettercoal set up the Russia Working Group (RWG) to develop a coordinated approach to the monitoring of the suppliers’ improvement plans, enhance in-country context expertise, address risks arising from the country context, grow supplier participation and improve communications with key stakeholders.

Bettercoal places a fundamental importance on a risk-based approach as well as transparency and stakeholder engagement. We decided to get external advisory expertise on the risks faced by the Russian coal mining sector in order to further increase our contextual understanding of the Russian context beyond the results of the Bettercoal Assessment Reports.

TDI Sustainability produced a detailed independent report identifying the ESG risks. This Executive Summary presents some of the risks and challenges which could be resolved or improved upon through increased collaboration, dialogue and technical expertise. You can access the document in English and Russian.

2020 Engagement

The goals set for the group in its Work Plan 2020 are based on the learning of its first year of work. Although the Covid-19 pandemic context will inevitably affect some of them, the RWG is committed to continuing as much as possible its work and engagement virtually.

One of the main activities planned for 2020 was the organisation of round tables with Bettercoal Russian Suppliers on relevant topics. The first one was organised in June, hosted by Bettercoal Member RWE, to share experiences and best practice on Health and Safety (H&S) operations in the Russian context. The key issues covered during this session were the COVID-19 pandemic and how Bettercoal Suppliers in Russia were dealing with the crisis; sharing best practice on Health and Safety and how to manage risk, beyond compliance; and RWE’s sharing an update on their ‘Mission Zero’ HSE Project.

The next webinar took place in November, hosted by Bettercoal Lead Assessor Paul Mitchell on Environmental Monitoring and Methane Utilisation and Abatement.

Both sessions were well attended by a large number of engaged and committed Bettercoal Suppliers and coal producers operating in Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as Bettercoal Members who are sourcing from them.

These successful webinars are part of the work done throughout the year. You can access a comprehensive summary report with the progress made by the RWG in 2020 here.