Building Resilient Economies – The Role of Policy

International Round Table on Materials Criticality and IRTC-Business Virtual Workshop

In the framework of the European Commission’s Raw Materials Week, online, 17 November 2020

Mitigation actions for raw materials supply risks range from those that are effective on company level to those that necessitate coordinated government action. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that companies’ ranges of action can be limited when it comes to large-scale disruptions on a global scale. Firms can hardly protect their supply chains from events of global magnitudes.

The probability of supply disruptions is difficult to predict due to its dynamic nature and the wide range of potentially relevant supply risk factors. However, the study of supply risk factors can help to identify vulnerabilities of current global economic systems. In order to mitigate potential risks, it can be helpful to focus on the development of more resilient supply chains that have a lower vulnerability to large-scale disruptions and distortions. There is a role of both companies and policymakers to anticipate possible bottlenecks and find solutions to mitigate supply disruptions in mid or long-term time frames to limit economic and social damage.

In times of crises, governments take a more decisive role, and their actions can have an essential impact on industry operations. How can the possibility of such global crises be anticipated in risk management, and how can these risks be effectively mitigated for vulnerable industries, while also balancing requirements for economic competitiveness? How can favorable framework conditions for risk mitigation be put in place in order to facilitate industry initiatives?

In a first part, various international experts in the field shared their experiences and valuations of the COVID crises’ influence on critical raw materials dynamics and the consequent impact on industries and society. In a second part, two expert groups discussed the role of policy-making for raw material risk mitigation and possible ways forward from a policy and industry perspective. The groups then reconvened to discuss the results in the plenary. The audience was invited to actively participate with questions, comments and any additional insights.