On 28 September 2023, Prime Minister the Honourable Mark Brown participated in a Summit to discuss the future of critical minerals, joining other Ministers, industry leaders, heads of international organisations and civil society from around the world.
The first-of-its-kind Summit was convened by the International Energy Agency (IEA) at its headquarters in Paris, France. The IEA is an intergovernmental body concerned with the global dialogue on secure and sustainable energy for all.
The invitation for Prime Minister Brown to participate in the Critical Metals Summit followed a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Brown and the Executive Director of the IEA, Dr Fatih Birol, in the margins of the Group of Seven (G7) Leaders meeting held in Hiroshima, Japan in May.
Recently, the IEA was asked by governments around the world to make recommendations on options to diversify supplies of critical minerals and clean energy technology manufacturing.
Countries have already begun to take major steps in moving away from fossil fuels towards clean energy technologies, which include wind turbines, electric vehicles, and solar panels. This has raised the vital importance of strengthening the supply of critical minerals, such as cobalt, nickel and copper towards those efforts.
As the only Pacific Island country participating in the Summit, Prime Minister Brown highlighted the experience of Pacific Island countries dealing with increasing climate change impacts and the urgency to accelerate the global clean energy transition to net-zero.
“It is imperative that we look at all options to drive an effective transition to a net zero future. Critical minerals will serve not only to diversify our metal sources and aid the energy transition, but to also build our economic, energy and climate security,” said Prime Minister Brown.
Prime Minister Brown chaired one of the three sessions on accelerating progress towards diversified mineral supplies, and touched on the potential role that seabed minerals could play in increasing critical minerals supply, and the precautionary approach the Cook Islands was taking towards seabed minerals development.
“Marine sourced minerals alone are not a silver bullet, but they can be part of the solution that we have all committed towards. Together, we can increase the critical minerals pie.”
According to the IEA, the current planned critical mineral projects are not sufficient to meet the needs of net-zero by 2050. Bridging this gap will require a focus on critical minerals investment, recycling, technology innovation and behavioural change.
The Summit identified six key action areas to ensure secure, sustainable and reliable supplies of critical minerals: 1) accelerating progress towards diversified minerals supplies; 2) unlocking the power of technology and recycling; 3) promoting transparency in the markets; 4) enhancing the availability of reliable information; 5) creating incentives for sustainable and responsible production; and 6) strengthening efforts on international collaboration.
Within the margins of the IEA summit, Prime Minister Brown held bilateral meetings with US Undersecretary Jose Fernandez; Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry H.E. Yasutoshi Nishimura; the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation H.E. Liesje Schreinemacher; and IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol.
“Overall, I was pleased to be able to participate in the IEA Summit which brought together all the major consumers and producers of critical minerals, as well as key stakeholders. I applaud the IEA for its leadership on this important issue, and look forward to supporting the ongoing drive towards a net-zero future – as our future depends on it,” said Prime Minister Brown.
Prime Minister Brown was supported in his participation at the Summit by officials from the Seabed Minerals Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.