Press Release

Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals

09 May 2024

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Launch of the Secretary-General’s Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals in New York on 26 April:

I am delighted to join you to launch our Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals. 


And I thank you all for your involvement – particularly our co-chairs – Your Excellency Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko of South Africa, and Your Excellency Ditte Juul Jørgensen of the European Commission. 


One principle shines from the heart of this initiative – justice: 


Justice for the communities where critical minerals are found; justice for developing countries in production and trade; and justice in the global energy revolution. 


That revolution is in full swing.


New wind power was up sixty percent last year, compared to 2022; and new solar soared by eighty-five percent – according to the International Energy Agency. 


There’s no question: the lights are going out on the fossil fuel era. 


Delaying tactics from the fossil fuel industry can’t change that. 


Misinformation, distortion, and spin can’t change that – no matter how many billions of dollars are thrown at them. 


But to keep the worst of climate chaos at bay – by limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius – we must supercharge both the roll-out of renewables, and the phaseout of fossil-fuels. 


We need to flip the script. 


Between now and the end of this decade the share of electricity generated by fossil fuels must fall from sixty to thirty percent. And the share generated by renewables must rise from thirty to sixty percent – according to the IEA. 


Critical minerals are at the core of this shift. 


A world powered by renewables is a world hungry for copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth metals: 


Electric cars need six times more of these minerals than cars powered by fossil fuels. 


Offshore wind farms need thirteen times more than similar gas power plants. 


In a world heading to net zero by 2050, the IEA projects demand for critical minerals multiplying three and a half times over this decade. 


For developing countries with large reserves, critical minerals are a critical opportunity: 


To create jobs, diversify economies, and dramatically boost revenues. 


Critical minerals could be a golden ticket to sustainable development. 


But only if they are managed properly. 


Too often, production of these minerals leaves a toxic cloud in its wake: pollution; wounded communities, childhoods lost to labour. 


And developing countries and communities have not reaped the benefits of their production and trade. 


This must change. As we reshape how we power our societies and economies, we cannot replace one dirty, exploitative, extractive industry with another. 


The race to net zero cannot trample over the poor. 


Developing countries cannot be shackled to the bottom of the clean energy value chain – relegated to suppliers of basic raw materials. 


Little wonder that resource-rich developing countries are calling for urgent action to ensure that they, and their communities, benefit from the production and trade of critical minerals; and that people and nature are protected. 


This Panel is an important part of the United Nations’ response. 


You – our panel members – from across government, industry, civil society and more – are evidence that there is a real desire to do things differently. 


Every voice must be heard. And I welcome your engagement. 


Your task is to develop a set of voluntary global principles to guide governments, industry and others involved in critical minerals value chains. 


These should address fairness, transparency, investment, sustainability and human rights. And they should draw from existing standards and initiatives – strengthening and consolidating them. 


I have asked for initial recommendations ahead of the UN General Assembly in September. 


The whole United Nations system is behind you. 


This work is complex – but the world cannot wait. 


The renewables revolution is happening – but we must guide it towards justice. 


Your vital work to help make that a reality starts today. 


Thank you. 


UN entities involved in this initiative

United Nations

Goals we are supporting through this initiative