Social and environmental impacts associated with fossil and mineral supply chains - a quantitative assessment of the EU’s international spillover effects

Arunima Malik, Guillaume Lafortune, Camille Mora, Sarah Carter, Manfred Lenzen

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Fossil and mineral raw materials enable sustainable development and undermine it, causing unintended and detrimental environmental and social impacts via extraction and production processes. The reliance of humans on minerals has led to wide-scale mining and depletion of resources. In this study, we analyse how consumer demand in the European Union drives environmental and social impacts in mining sectors worldwide. We employ multi-regional input-output analysis to quantify positive (i.e., income, female and male employment) and negative (greenhouse gas emissions, accidents at work, and modern slavery) impacts of mining in raw material sectors, as indicators of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We trace these environmen­tal and social impacts across the EU’s trading partners to identify sectors and regions as hotspots of international spillovers embodied in the EU’s consumer demand and find that these hotspots are wide-ranging in all continents. We estimate that across all sectors, EU’s consumption is associated with about 4200 cases of fatal accidents at work and 1.2 million cases of modern slavery annually. Raw material supply chains are respectively responsible for 5% and 3% of these totals, but also 14% of imported GHG emissions. These impacts take place primarily in Central Asia and the Asia Pacific as well as Africa. Our results underline the need for further reforms in mining industries and trade policies to eradicate modern slavery and other adverse social and environmental impacts and to implement safe workplaces for workers. Our results also highlight the need for transitioning to circularity in global supply chains for addressing the climate crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

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