THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) plans to revise guidelines for the Social Development and Management Programs (SDMP) of mining firms in the country to align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
In a statement on Tuesday, DENR Undersecretary for Integrated Environmental Science Carlos Primo David said that consultations are being conducted together with the mining sector to incorporate provisions in the SDMP that promote responsible business actions to achieve the SDGs.
“The whole world has agreed to adopt the SDG in 2015. Therefore, the SDMP — its whole framework, should be aligned with the SDG. Hopefully, the revised SDMP for next year would align its programs toward achieving SDG goals, given the newly proposed guidelines,” David said.
He also explained that additional provisions based on stakeholder consultations will be included in the SDMP guidelines and would not be revised entirely. Consultation with community relations officers of mining companies was held on November 16.
The SDMP is a comprehensive five-year plan aimed at improving the living standards of host and neighboring communities of mining companies.
It also aims to boost the economic contributions of mineral resources while protecting the environment.
SDGs, meanwhile, are the blueprint with 17 interlinked goals adopted by all UN member states in 2015 as a global call to protect the planet by addressing poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental protection, peace and justice.
Mining contractors and permit holders are mandated to allocate 1.5 percent of their operating expenses to the SDMP. Of the amount, 75 percent must be spent on community-development programs; 15 percent on mining technology and geosciences advancement programs; and 10 percent on information, education and communication programs.
The DENR said the approved SDMP commitment totaled P28 billion from 2002 to 2027, with P17.7 billion allotted for 2002-2022.
“So far, the reported SDMP expenditure for 2002-2022 is P13.2 billion, with potential for increased disbursement in the future,” it added.
SDMP activities include livelihood programs, educational support, health and medical assistance, public infrastructure, and sociocultural and religious support.
“The SDMP is a program that is unique to the Philippine mining industry, and we should be very proud of it. In all mining activities that we should be doing, this is something that we should be proud of,” David said.
However, he said that there are additional SDGs that the SDMP does not currently fulfill.
For instance, improvements in living standards should be sustained even after mining operations cease and communities should transition to alternative livelihoods, reducing dependence on mining income.
Moreover, the DENR said it is eyeing to include small-scale miners into the SDMP to capacitate them and enhance resilience in mining communities.