Between 50 to 70 percent of the world's cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This metal is essential for the creation of lithium-ion batteries found in mobile phones, computers, cars and electric bicycles. It has been labeled a “critical raw material” by the European Union, as it is crucial for our security and development, as well as to achieve a true green transition. Its demand is expected to grow 5-fold by 2030 and 15-fold by 2050.
An energy transition towards greener sources can not and must not be planned by sacrificing the most basic human rights of tens of thousands of children, who are exploited in the Country’s mines earning an average of 1-2 US dollars a day. They risk their health and lives every day.
Hi-Tech multinational corporations continue to turn a blind eye to their supply chain, and the law allows them to do so. At the moment, in order to sell electronic products and devices with cobalt-containing batteries in Europe, it is sufficient to present a list of suppliers, without any independent certification of the entire supply chain.
A new European directive on corporate due diligence is being debated in the European Parliament, which will then be negotiated by economic development ministers in the Council of the European Union. This directive will set minimum standards that each Member State will have to transpose into national legislation.
We launched a petition on Change.org to ask Italy and other EU Member States for timely checks on the entire cobalt supply chain, and a commitment to a green transition that respects human rights.
In particular, we demand:
We are sadly very familiar with the plight of child exploitation in the cobalt mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In early 2022 we opened an emergency and rehabilitation center in Kolwezi, the cobalt capital of the world. The school is named Pamoja (“together" in Swahili) and it provides high quality education to 60 students: all of them are former child miners. Our aim is to restore their inalienable rights to childhood and education.
In order to ensure their attendance at school and prevent them from returning to work in the mines, we deploy a holistic approach that includes outreach activities and distributions of basic necessities to families, as well as guaranteeing meals for our students every day.
Pamoja is the place where they can finally come to be simply children and learn.