“Rule-based International Traceability of Critical Raw Materials Supply Chains”

Written by: A/Prof Jeanne Huang & Prof Luke Nottage

This is the theme for our project (with Jeanne Huang as one Chief Investigator) funded recently by the University of Sydney, jointly with institutional partner Fudan University (Shanghai). The sub-theme is “Climate and Environmental Justice between China, Australia, and Other Selected Countries”, including Japan. It is part of series of research projects aimed at advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and involves also from our Sydney Business School Prof Hans Hendrischke (specialist in China). The other Chief Investigator from the Fudan University side is A/Prof Ping Jiang, assistant director of the Department of Environment Science and Engineering.

Abstract: “The US Inflation Reduction Act and the EU Digital Product Passport both underscore the urgent need for enhanced Environmental, Social, and Governance data traceability across Australian miners, Chinese processors, and US/EU regulators and consumers of critical raw materials (CRM) like Lithium. Addressing this need, this project explores how to establish a rule-based traceability framework to foster sustainable CRM supply chains between Australia, China, the US, and the EU. It adopts a multifaceted approach, incorporating law-business-engineering interdisciplinary research, interviews, case studies, conflict-of-law concepts, and comparative law methodology to address cross-border legal and ethical tensions and promote circular economy within CRM supply chains. It aims to use traceability to enhance transparency, visibility, and trust in CRM supply chains, and promote responsible sourcing and consumption, crucial for global digitalization, electric vehicles deployment, energy transition, and ultimately achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

The first of many planned research outputs planned through to mid-2025 is our presentation (slides here) on 12 July 2024 at the “Law and Sustainability” conference at the University of Sydney, co-organised with Singapore Management University and Hong Kong University (program and other details here). We look forward to feedback as we develop our presentation, “Private International Law and Sustainable Development: Establishing International Traceability of Critical Raw Materials Supply Chains” into a full paper that assesses and adapts models particularly from international dispute resolution (arbitral award and judgment recognition) and other international treaty regimes to facilitate recognition of CRM certificates in cross-border supply chains.

Author: Luke Nottage

Prof Luke Nottage (BCA, LLB, PhD VUW, LLM LLD Kyoto) is founding co-director of the Australian Network for Japanese Law (ANJeL), Associate Director (Japan) of the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the University of Sydney (CAPLUS), and Professor of Comparative and Transnational Business Law at Sydney Law School. He specialises in international dispute resolution, foreign investment law, contract and consumer (product safety) law.