NIR Programme

Responsibility and Sustainability in Latin American Mining

Securing minerals for the green transition by addressing environmental and human rights risks

NIR’s new programme for responsible and more sustainable mining, also known by its Spanish acronym MARS (Minería Americana Responsible y más Sostenible), takes a regional perspective on the sustainability challenges posed by the increasing demand for minerals needed for the global energy transition.

The programme is the result of co-creation between business, the financial sector, embassies, experts and representatives of civil society. MARS is fully funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and implemented in cooperation with regional partners.

Latin America has become a key region for diversifying supply chains and securing access to transition minerals as it has some of the world’s largest known reserves of copper and lithium as well as significant amounts of graphite, nickel and other transition minerals. Mining therefore has the potential to become a growth engine in Latin American economies. However, mineral extraction is accompanied by risks that negatively affect the environment and communities, and social conflicts are rooted in mining in many regions throughout Latin America.


Why is this important?

Mining can lead to conflict between stakeholders and affected communities. Stakeholder dialogue and support to affected communities to actively participate in addressing mining-related conflicts are central to our initiative.

In consultation with affected stakeholders and companies throughout the mineral supply chain, civil society organisations and leading experts, and with support from the Swedish embassies in the region, we formed a Swedish-Latin American partnership to promote more responsible mining as a regional competitive advantage.

3 routes to impact

Inclusive water management in lithium extraction

Lithium is today a key component for the electrification of vehicles and the generation and storage of electricity. A large portion of the world’s lithium resources are found in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. Extraction of lithium can have an impact on local ecosystems and water resources, and in turn on the traditional economic activities of the surrounding communities. At the same time, it has the potential to contribute to job creation and better infrastructure.

Our partner, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), has developed a process for more inclusive water management. By promoting participatory processes and co-developing analytical tools, a fairer and hopefully more constructive dialogue may be achieved. Together, we can contribute to improved conflict management in relation to lithium extraction.

Multi-stakeholder dialogue in copper mining

Copper is important in renewable power generation, electric vehicles and wiring and cabling for energy storage, and is often mined on a large scale. In many countries, mining is key to economic development as it generates investment, tax revenues and can contribute to development in remote areas. At the same time, large-scale copper mining is one of the main causes of social conflict as it is linked to pollution, relocation of communities and disputes over the use of land and water resources in the arid Andean region.

In cooperation with the Inter-American Development Bank, we will promote an inclusive stakeholder platform by involving companies, local governments and communities in decision-making about development projects. This model has yielded promising results to resolve conflict in large-scale mining in the region and has the potential to be systematised.

Regional alignment of ESG standards and good practices

Through peer exchange, trainings and promotion of good practices, we support stakeholders across the region to align with and implement existing human rights and environmental sustainability standards and frameworks. Key partners include mining associations, civil society platforms and intergovernmental initiatives.

MARS will actively align with and strengthen existing regional initiatives and strive to increase leverage on sustainability challenges by involving our members, partners, regional business partners and other relevant stakeholders.


This executive summary presents the findings from the study “Workplace Cooperation: Finding Practical Solutions in the Colombian Context,” conducted by the Fundación Ideas para la Paz (FIP). The study evaluates the added value of the Swedish Workplace Programme (SWP) dialogue and cooperation model within the Colombian labor market.

Throughout 2022, FIP dedicated efforts to thoroughly understand the SWP model, including its concept, foundations, implementation process, and contributions to the labor market. In 2023, FIP documented the experiences of three companies—SKF Latin Trade, Securitas, and Epiroc—that implemented the SWP model in practice. The study also included face-to-face workshops to gather feedback from various stakeholders including civil society, businesses, government, academia, and international cooperation. The findings suggest that the SWP model has the potential to strengthen labor relations, contribute to decent work, and resolve workplace conflicts in Colombia.

The case studies highlight the importance of collaboration between employers and workers to promote decent work and sustainable development in Colombia. They demonstrate that social dialogue facilitates worker participation in labor decision-making, enhances their representativeness, and promotes cooperation between employers and employees, thus improving labor relations and contributing to the well-being of both employees and companies.

The SWP model is particularly noted for improving workplace relationships and commitment to jointly finding solutions to challenges faced by workers and the company. It empowers workers, enhances leadership, and helps integrate business policies into daily practices, reducing the initial disconnect between management objectives and the day-to-day realities of workers. The study also highlights the model’s capacity to manage conflicts constructively, transforming the perception of conflict as an opportunity for improvement. Structured dialogues deepen understanding of the underlying causes of conflicts, fostering empathy and facilitating effective resolution. This promotes a culture of collaboration and a democratic approach to decision-making, building trust.

Additionally, the model is recognized for enabling workers to make decisions, identify challenges, and propose solutions that impact their well-being, and bridging gender gaps in the workplace. Its inclusive approach adapts to the unique needs and characteristics of each company, promoting a stronger and more diverse organizational culture. It also drives good work performance and productivity by involving workers in problem identification and resolution, as well as in implementing improvements and efficiently identifying ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) risks for companies.

The document identifies the SWP model’s added value in empowering direct interaction among labor stakeholders in Colombia, overcoming historical or cultural reservations, and contributing to the development of stronger labor relations and improved workplace environments in the country.

Challenges and opportunities of the model are also discussed. The study points out the importance of addressing value chain risks, particularly in a global context where corporate clients demand decent work processes and due diligence. It emphasizes the need to integrate SMEs into this process and use anchor companies as drivers of social dialogue throughout the value chain. The role of the state in social dialogue and the importance of highlighting the benefits of the model for adoption across various business sectors are discussed.

The opportunities of the model include raising awareness of human rights in the workplace in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP), to strengthen due diligence, manage risks, promote long-term sustainability, and improve organizational culture. The document also underscores the importance of involving workers in change processes, leveraging their insights for continuous improvement of processes, and fostering innovation opportunities. Lastly, it suggests replicating the model in value chains to address work environment risks and gender biases, involving suppliers and contractors, and integrating the model into corporate policies to strengthen existing programs and transform organizational culture towards resource efficiency and effective participation of employers and workers.