The international development community no longer has the luxury of being able to ignore the ASM sector. But with the SDGs and the MDGs before them having been designed without recognizing ASM’s importance, it has proved difficult to build a case for supporting the sector’s operators. The former, however, are fairly flexible: if packaged in development terms, strategies which seek to improve the sector and give it the visibility it deserves could gain some traction.

In the case of SDG 8, the starting point is formalization, which, if successful, provides a platform for identifying and addressing more comprehensively the needs of different operators. In recognition of the eclectic collection of activities found in ASM and the need to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past by devising yet another inappropriate framework or set of standards, the chapter highlights three priority areas for governments: (the management of) mercury, work practices and support. Improvements made in these three areas of the sector would go a long way toward addressing the targets set under SDG 8. The strategies pursued to do so, however, will ultimately vary, depending on the setting.