Peter Dolega, Senior Consultant in the Sustainability Strategy and Disclosure Team at ERM, is undertaking a secondment opportunity with the Climate Champions Team in the run up to COP27 to lead engagement with the mining and metals sector. Here he discusses his role in the team, his passion for advocating for sustainability in mining and what he will take forward from this opportunity.  

Before joining ERM, I worked as a Senior Researcher for a research institute on various projects for the European Commission, German Environment Agency and UNEP, amongst others, focusing on sustainability and mining. I really enjoyed being involved in projects that had a direct influence on policy in this space – research projects are often for a period of between three to four years, so I really got the chance to learn about a topic in great depth. Now, being part of the Corporate Sustainability and Climate Change Team at ERM since joining in 2021, I’m mainly engaging with climate-related topics and life cycle assessments. I love having the opportunity to work internationally and meeting new people from across the globe in my role with ERM – I think I’ve worked with people from almost all continents in one year! But I don’t get the same opportunities to work on metals and mining, as I have done previously.  

When my Managing Partner, Kerstin Pfliegner, asked if I was interested in any secondment opportunities that had been circulated by the Global Sustainability Director, Linden Edgell, I was immediately drawn to a mining and metals role in the COP27 Climate Champions Team. This seemed like a good opportunity to combine my current climate-focused occupation with my previous experience in mining and metals. The Climate Champions are the only institution that have an official mandate to connect the work of governments with that of organizations, businesses, NGOs and other non-state actors to drive ambitions around decarbonization and climate action.  

My role within the team is split into two key parts – engaging with the sector to gain an understanding of what kind of actions are being taken, and also communicating the narrative around the crucial role that metals and mining plays in transforming towards a more decarbonized world. One huge challenge as part of my role is trying to translate lots of different issues - social, environmental, and sustainability related – into one message that can be easily communicated. Trying to acknowledge that there are things that need to be addressed and changed within the sector, whilst also trying to highlight the positive aspects of mining for broader society in relation to decarbonization, is difficult. My work at ERM has really helped me to get to grips with some of these complexities, as well as leveraging the insights of my ERM colleagues who are leading work in this sector in understanding client needs and current challenges they are facing. 

Probably the biggest highlight for me so far as part of my secondment has been talking with the Executive Director of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), Aimee Boulanger. Aimee has been in the sector for a long time and her name had regularly popped up when I was working in my previous role, so to be able to connect with her and discuss a whole range of topics related to the sector was really great. The conversation actually came about through an introduction made by a former ERM employee who now works at IRMA!  

I am only part way through completing my secondment but I’m hoping that I will gain an understanding of how COP comes together – it’s a huge event with lots of people working on it, so it will certainly be really fascinating to be a part of it. I also hope that I will be able to gain an understanding of how the mining sector wants to move forward and build some solid foundations for my successor to build off. I’m keen to develop and maintain some strong relationships with key people in the sector and to raise the profile of climate change in mining as a key issue that should be addressed.  

It has been challenging to balance my work at ERM with my secondment, but the support I have received from my ERM colleagues has been really valuable. It’s been great to be introduced to new people through this opportunity, but what I have really taken from the Climate Champions Team is their attitude. They are true optimists and believe that we can make a change. I personally like that and I hope to translate this into my work throughout the rest of my secondment and beyond. 

Peter Dolega is Senior Consultant in the Sustainability Strategy and Disclosure Team at ERM, based in Frankfurt, Germany. Peter is on secondment with the COP27 Climate Champions team until January 2023.