Melanie Müller, Christina Saulich, Meike Schulze, Svenja Schöneich · 2023
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik

From Competition to a Sustainable Raw Materials Diplomacy

German and European businesses are highly dependent on metals. Demand for these raw materials is expected to grow even further as they will be needed for the green energy and electric mobility tran­sition, digitalisation and other emerging technologies.

Geopolitical developments influence security of supply. China’s central role in mineral supply chains is a major factor of uncertainty in this con­text.

The European Union has set ambitious sustainability targets. Implementing these in complex multi-tier metal supply chains is no easy matter, given the magnitude of environmental and human rights risks.

Nevertheless, sustainability should not be sacrificed for security of supply. Instead, the European Union should pursue a strategic raw materials policy that reconciles the demands of both.

The two biggest challenges in sustainability governance are: firstly, the diversity of standards and their inconsistent implementation and enforce­ment; and secondly, power asymmetries and lack of transparency along metal supply chains.

A sustainable raw materials policy must seek to reduce dependency through strategic diversification and partnerships with countries that share European values. Transparency-enhancing measures and a regu­latory “smart mix” will be decisive elements.

The study can be accessed here:

Contributors from our Network

Melanie Müller

Melanie Müller
German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

Melanie Müller is a Senior Associate with a focus on Southern Africa at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP) in Berlin and head of the research project „Approaches for Transnational Governance of Sustainable Commodity Supply Chains”. Melanie Müller has conducted research in various countries of the SADC region as well as in Ghana and Niger and published on the political and socioeconomic developments in Southern Africa, as well as on migration and on resource governance. Before joining SWP in 2017, she worked as a research associate and lecturer at Free University of Berlin and as a consultant for public and private actors with a focus on resource governance. She wrote her PhD about the impact of international conferences on local political actors with a focus on the UNFCCC conference in Durban/South Africa.

Read more about Melanie Müller ›
Svenja Schöneich

Svenja Schöneich
German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

Svenja Schöneich is Associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affais (SWP) in the project Transnational Governance of Sustainable Commodity Supply Chains. She received her M.A. degree in Social Cultural Anthropology, Sociology and Latin America Studies from University of Hamburg and was a Ph.D. Fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) and the University of Hamburg. Svenjas research interest lie in the governance of global supply and value chains, resource extraction, sustainability and human rights in Latin America. Currently she focuses on Copper supply chains the Andean region.

Read more about Svenja Schöneich ›

Share on:

Stay tuned on the latest news from our research network.