Umicore and the Global Battery Alliance
What is the Global Battery Alliance (GBA)?
It is a public-private partnership that brings together 80 different organizations including government bodies, industries and NGOs to help shape a circular, responsible and sustainable battery value chain. Umicore is one of its founding members.
Why the GBA?
Founded in 2017 with the support of Umicore, the GBA was created to help establish a sustainable battery value chain by 2030.
Batteries are considered to be one of the major drivers towards low-carbon transport and for the power sector to contribute to the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to below 2°C and of striving for no more than 1.5°C. However, action is needed to ensure that the acceleration of battery deployment is set in sustainable market conditions and developed on a level playing field. It is, in other words, critical to combine the fight against climate change with the protection of human rights, the preservation of the environment and the creation of high quality jobs worldwide.
How is the GBA organized?
It is built on 3 pillars:
- Establish a circular battery value chain as a major lever to achieve the Paris Agreement goals
- Establish a low-carbon economy in the value chain, create new jobs and increase economic value
- Safeguard human rights and inclusive and sustainable economic development in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Based on these key pillars 10 GBA principles for a sustainable battery value chain were adopted. Umicore strongly believes in these principles and, in particular, calls for immediately and urgently eliminating child and forced labor, strengthening communities and respecting the human rights of those employed in the value chain.
How is Umicore involved in the GBA?
Umicore is one of the founding members and is actively involved in key projects of the GBA:
Development of a battery passport
Umicore supports the battery passport initiative to share reliable information and data to consumers about the level of sustainability of a battery. More precisely, the battery passport will trace the origins of materials in a battery and log its carbon footprint, and monitor the battery during its entire lifecycle . The passport would provide a type of quality seal on a global digital platform that enables the eradication of unacceptable practices from a social and an environmental perspective. The passport and platform help create a level commercial playing field for companies invested in sourcing ethically and sustainably, so that those efforts are visible and valued by customers, end-users and society.
This global solution will not only enable transparency, but will also allow progress tracking of the entire industry while helping set new standards.
Development of a standard for responsible artisanal mining in the Cobalt Action Partnership (CAP)
The CAP brings companies, NGOs, and local stakeholders together to address the socioeconomic risks linked to the cobalt mining activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including child labor.
The partnership seeks to coordinate stakeholder engagement on responsible cobalt production practices and sourcing expectations, with a clear focus on on-the-ground projects. One key example is the development of a common standard for artisanal small-scale cobalt.
Umicore makes no compromise when it comes to safeguarding human rights and believes that the value chain must eliminate child and forced labor while helping local populations have access to fair revenues. Umicore was the very first company to have established due diligence on its cobalt supply chain and has established a Sustainable Procurement Framework for Cobalt.
Fund for the Prevention of Child Labour in Mining Communities – A Global Battery Alliance Collaboration
The Fund seeks to address the issue of child labour in DRC’s cobalt mines by strengthening communities and addressing the root causes of the problem. Through a multi-sectoral package of interventions, the Fund -supported projects will contribute towards alleviating poverty (SDG 1 No Poverty), strengthening social services for children, supporting responsible production and consumption (SDG 12) and getting children out of mines (SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth). Activities will focus on mining communities in DRC’s copper belt across 6 health zones with an initial target of US$21 million over a three-year period. The Fund is administered and programmed by UNICEF and implemented in cooperation with government entities and civil society organizations with a local presence in the DRC.
Read more about the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Global Battery Alliance:
"Umicore is proud to be the first contributor to the Fund. This is in line with our engagement in GBA and pioneering role to promote a sustainable value chain for battery materials. Umicore was first in the EV space to provide its customers with materials of a certified sustainable and ethical origin that excludes any form of child labor. We invite all players in the value chain to contribute to the Fund. Children should be in schools and not working in mines.”
Marc Grynberg, CEO