Paul Ekins – Trust and Sustainable Development Licence to Operate


My brief intervention will outline the critical role that trust will need to play in winning the mineral resources that will be required for the sustainable development of both the Global South, where many of the minerals are located, and the Global North, where they are needed for the clean energy transition. It will be built round the idea of a Sustainable Development Licence to Operate, which was the key concept underlying the recommendations of the International Resource Panel’s report on Mineral Resource Governance.


Paul Ekins has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of London and is Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London. From 2005-10 was Chairman of the UK’s National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP), the country’s most effective initiative at promoting resource efficiency in industry. In 2013 he was appointed to UNEP’s International Resource Panel, for whom he was lead author of a report on resource efficiency at the request of the German Government at the G7 Summit in 2015. He also co-authored the IRP’s 2020 report on mineral resource governance, published in 2020, and is leading another report for the IRP, Financing Critical Mineral Extraction for Sustainable Development, due to be published later in 2023. He was Vice-Chairman of the DG Environment Commissioner’s High-Level Economists Expert Group on Resource Efficiency from 2011-2014, and in 2012 was a member of the European Commission’s European Resource Efficiency Platform. He was one of two Co-Chairs of UNEP’s sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6), which is the United Nations’ flagship environmental report, and which was presented to the United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2019. In 1994 Paul Ekins received UNEP’s Global 500 Award ‘for outstanding environmental achievement’. In the UK New Year’s Honours List for 2015 he received an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for services to environmental policy.