More than 60 percent of the world's cobalt supplies are mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is a heightened risk of human rights violations in the mines and the entire local processing chain.
To counter such risks effectively and in the long term, Daimler developed the Human Rights Respect System, which is used to oversee human rights standards in the supply chains systematically and on a risk basis. In addition, Daimler entered into a project cooperation with the "Good Shepherd International Foundation" organization in order to improve the situation of the people in the Kolwezi mining region through educational measures. The aim is to improve the living conditions of more than 19,000 people by 2022. To this end, Daimler will be providing more than one million euros over the next four years.
We are supporting the local social structures and in so doing are meeting our social responsibility in the extraction of raw materials," states Renata Jungo Brüngger, Member of the Board of Daimler AG, Integrity and Legal Affairs. "Our commitment is aimed at creating the basis for long-term changes. The project is a useful addition to our own measures, and especially the Human Rights Respect System, with which we seek to avoid human rights violations in our supply chains."
Bon Pasteur is a charitable organization and was founded by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, an order with branches in 73 countries. The organization's aim is to support programs for children, girls and women. The focus is on combating poverty and ending all forms of discrimination and human rights violations.
"Our commitment in Kolwezi cannot fully succeed without partners such as Daimler. The joint project will bring permanent and sustainable social changes for the people in Kolwezi, by creating viable alternatives to working in the mines and secure economic conditions. It will also protect and further the fundamental human rights of people in the cobalt mining communities," says Cristina Duranti, Director of Bon Pasteur International.
The joint project by Bon Pasteur and Daimler rests on five pillars. One of them is the creation of alternative means of subsistence, especially for women, e.g. by developing sustainable agriculture or working as seamstresses. In addition, Bon Pasteur erects safe spaces in the communities for young girls and women, where they are protected from violence and exploitation.
Girls and women are also to have access to education and health care. Another focus of the project is to support children in giving up working in the mines and attending school. A network of social workers, teachers, psychologists and nurses assists the children in Kolwezi with suitable age-appropriate programs. The fourth pillar of the project will strengthen the improved solidarity among the local communities. The fifth pillar assists the personnel and material resources of the Bon Pasteur organization in Kolwezi, so as to be able to oversee changes on a sustainable basis.
Since 2012, Bon Pasteur has been supporting women and children in the mining regions of Kolwezi with the aim of improving their living conditions. By 2015, the organization was already able to help 5,000 people. More than 90 percent of the children cared for in the pilot project gave up working in the mines and are attending school.