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From development to action

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Bettercoal Progress Report 2012-2014
From development to action

At Bettercoal we have a theory of change. Change should occur on both sides of the equation – on the coal buyers’ side and on the coal supply side. The Bettercoal initiative facilitates this change through its Code and Assessment Program. This is our initial focus. In time we foresee a supply chain where good, ethical, social and environmental performance is valued and recognised.

Please open or download the PDF version to read in full or follow the links below to review the highlights:


Marga EdensForeword

Marga Edens, VP Corporate Responsibility RWE
Chair of Bettercoal Board of Directors

Is there a need for Bettercoal?

In July of 2013, after a global consultation, Bettercoal members adopted the Bettercoal Code. The Code is the first consolidated sector specific standard encompassing ethical, social and environmental performance. But, what need does Bettercoal fulfil?

In keeping with general scrutiny on supply chains, questions were rightly being asked of coal buyers, regarding the impact of their sourcing – particularly environmental and social impacts at a mine level. Developments such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, revised OECD guidelines and regulatory developments on supply chains all provided a set of new standards to abide by. At the same time, some coal buyers were undertaking individual audits of their suppliers’ operations without clear alignment with existing norms. Furthermore, some companies in the mining sector were making efforts to address impacts and safeguard their licence to operate. It made sense, therefore, to create a single, efficient Code and shared assessments that avoided duplication and against which companies could benchmark themselves. And so Bettercoal was born.

What does Bettercoal want to achieve?

Undoubtedly the energy sector has undergone a marked transition in recent years. That said, globally, coal continues to be important in the generation of power and manufacture of products such as steel and cement. While this continues to be the case, I believe that all participants of the coal sector must evaluate the shared risks surrounding ethical, social and environmental performance along the entire supply chain.

So how can we deliver impact together? Current and future Bettercoal members can demonstrate responsible sourcing practices by incorporating Bettercoal assessment data, so reflecting good performance in purchasing decisions. All Bettercoal members’ suppliers are strongly encouraged to participate in the assessment process. This first Bettercoal Progress Report presents the groundwork and traces out future actions. I encourage decision makers involved with coal to join us to explore the benefits that aligning with the Bettercoal Code can bring you and your stakeholders.

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Martin ChristieForeword

Martin Christie, Executive Director

We have made good progress since Bettercoal was established in 2012, developing the Bettercoal Code and associated Assessment Toolkit; constructing our Assessment Database and engaging coal suppliers to participate in the initiative. Mines in Australia, Colombia, Germany, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa, the USA and UK are already included in our Assessment Program.

Bettercoal is evolving. Our membership is growing and suppliers are beginning to participate in the Bettercoal Assessment Program.

In the coming year we will strengthen services to members and seek further involvement by suppliers, thereby increasing the scale and impact of our Assessment Program. Our aim is to consolidate and grow Bettercoal, seeking members from outside Europe, adding members from other coal using sectors, broadening our reach to include traded coal. We also wish to reach out to a wider set of stakeholders. We will reinforce engagement and partnership with international organisations and other bodies setting standards.

From the outset, Bettercoal established a multi-participatory process and platform for dialogue. We would not have developed without the active involvement of our members and stakeholders – particularly our Civil Society and Coal Supplier Stakeholder Panels. While Bettercoal is a business-led initiative, the advice and challenge we receive from the Panels is vital and means that Bettercoal evolves as a pragmatic, comprehensive solution to deliver improvements throughout the coal supply chain.

Part of our development includes greater levels of reporting and transparency. I am pleased that this first progress report contributes to this. Though brief, we hope it provides an insight into our organisation.

We believe that whilst coal is used, coal consumers must be assured about the provenance of that coal. We now set a line in the sand and wish to share Bettercoal’s journey from development, into action. Join us on the road ahead.

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Bettercoal in numbers

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Where does Bettercoal fit in?

Bettercoal Code

We aim for the Code to become a globally accepted benchmark for ethically, socially, and environmentally responsible practices in the coal supply chain that can be assessed by independent, third-party Assessors qualified by Bettercoal. To fulfil this aspiration, the Principles and Provisions of the Code focus not only on policies and processes but also create a platform for judging performance. It is important that the code builds on existing performance standards and encompasses contemporary international norms, supporting harmonisation with other standards and initiatives.

Bettercoal Code is...

….a global standard that includes provisions relevant to coal mining companies, including:

  • General performance, including national and international laws and regulations, and management systems
  • Business ethics, including disclosure and transparency
  • Human rights and social performance, including health and safety
  • Environmental performance, including pollution prevention and biodiversity

….a comprehensive mining standard that covers many international standards against which companies can benchmark their management systems, including:

  • ILO Conventions
  • IFC Performance Standards
  • Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative
  • Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Framework
  • UN Convention against Corruption
  • UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • UN Guiding Principles on Business on Human Rights
  • UN Global Compact
  • Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Supports cross-recognition with existing standards and initiatives:

  • ISO14001
  • OHSAS18001
  • Social Accountability (SA)8000
  • The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

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Bettercoal Code

The Bettercoal Code sets out the ethical, social and environmental principles and provisions that members of Bettercoal expect organizations producing coal in their supply chain to align with.

Join Bettercoal

By joining Bettercoal, your company will take part in a global effort to make a real, on-the-ground difference for workers, communities, local companies and the environment impacted by coal mining.