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Panasonic recognizes that for countries in conflict areas*1, the issue of conflict minerals*2 as a source of funding for organizations that are involved in human rights abuses, environmental destruction, bribery, and other unlawful activities is a grave concern.
In order to fulfill its social responsibility in its procurement practices, Panasonic therefore has adopted a policy of non-use of conflict-affected minerals as raw materials. In the unlikely event that Panasonic discovers that it is inadvertently using conflict-affected minerals, the Company will immediately take steps toward their non-use.
To put this system in place, Panasonic sent a communication to all members of the Panasonic Group in December 2010, ordering them to make sure that they are not using conflict-affected minerals. In February 2011, Panasonic began encouraging its main suppliers to identify their mineral sources.
However, in conflict areas there are still companies and individuals who are engaged in legitimate business. The Company must make every effort to ensure that its decision not to use illegal minerals does not harm the business activities of these legitimate operators.
This is why it is important for Panasonic to maintain contact with the various stakeholders in the legitimate mineral supply chain in conflict-affected areas, including government, corporation, and NPOs. For this reason, Panasonic participated in the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals in Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas project that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) began in August 2011.
By participating in this project, following OECD guidelines, and adopting a management process that is in accordance with global standards, Panasonic is contributing to international efforts that seek to overcome the conflict minerals problem.
*1 Democratic Republic of the Congo, and neighboring nations
*2 Tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has issued guidelines for responsible mineral procurement. In August 2011, Panasonic began to participate in a pilot project for implementing this guidance.
In addition to corporations, the pilot project involves governments that are members of the OECD and located near regions of conflict in Africa, NGOs, and research institutions. The project aims to foster debate and attempts to create a conflict-free supply chain for minerals.
Drawing on its own experiences in conducting proprietary pilot survey and its awareness toward issues from a suppliers perspective, Panasonic actively put forward recommendations
Panasonic is a member of the Responsible Minerals Trade Working Group of the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), which aims to educate and enhance the effectiveness of supply chain tracing and validation through industry collaboration.
The Responsible Minerals Trade Working Group collaborates with other industries, holds seminars on how to properly address the problem of conflict minerals, does presentations to recommend common tools and techniques for supply chain mapping and validation, and holds joint conferences on the supply chain survey.
Panasonic has joined a select group of industry, government, and civil society leaders as a member of the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA). The PPA was formed with the goal of promoting minerals procurement solutions that do not contribute to the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighboring central African Great Lakes region countries where the minerals are mined.
The central Great Lakes region of Africa is home to many producers of tin, tantalum, and other minerals, some of which are feared to be a source of financing to rogue militant groups involved in human rights violations and environmental destruction.
Panasonic will participate in the PPA to support the ongoing initiatives that foster responsible minerals trade, and thus, contribute to the healthy economic development of this region.
The PPA is supporting the establishment of validated, traceable mineral supply chains, and providing a platform for alliance stakeholders to discuss and collaborate on initiatives to achieve sustainable, responsible minerals trade in the region. PPA members jointly fund projects to bring targeted solutions to mineral supply chain gaps in the region. Among the PPA' s initial projects were development support of a traceable conflict free mineral chain for artisanal gold from Orientale province in the DRC, and support for the implementation of an early warning system of the mining sector in the South Kivu province of the DRC.
As part of our corporate citizenship activities in this region, we established the Panasonic NPO Support Fund for Africa in 2010 to strengthen the advertising foundations for NPO/NGOs working to resolve problems in African nations. This support goes to groups like Terra Renaissance, which is working to prevent use of land mines, small arms, and child soldiers in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other areas.