NGOs offer concerns to NAG & BJA Ethics Committee

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Round table discussion highlights challenges faced by mining industry.

Four leading non-Governmental organisations have presented a list of recommendations and actions focused on the policies and operations of jewellery industry to the NAG & BJA Ethics Committee.

In what has been described as a no holds barred session Global Witness, WWF, PACT and Earthworks recently came together in a round table discussion about the challenges the jewellery sector currently faces.

Issues raised included the fragile state of the Kimberley Process, new standards on conflict minerals and the lack of representation for artisanal miners in the global drive to meet demands for transparency.

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The NGOs discussed their work on the ground, government policies and the benefits and pitfalls of the various emerging initiatives which aim to improve social and environmental standards for gold and diamond supply chains.

Global Witness gave valuable information about the current crisis in Zimbabwe and discussed the Kimberley process objectives. The organisation has worked with many artisanal miners, but explained the difficulty in finding representatives of the miners and found that those involved in the trading of the diamonds tended to have a stronger voice.

Greg Valerio, an Ethics committee member and Fairtrade Gold campaigner was present. He said: “Artisanal miners remain marginalised from all the debates about the elimination of conflict from the mineral trade and the unintended consequences of all these Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development & World Gold Coulcil initiatives will be no change for the artisanal miner, which will mean no change in the conflict minerals story.”

Valerio also questioned the robustness of the enforcement of conflict free mineral policies and business in the most vulnerable developing countries. Many are rushing to meet compliance for conflict free supply chains without the inclusion of artisanal miners in the delivery of the changes.

WWF, whilst not currently engaged in mineral policy, offered the benefit of experience from other sectors such as the cotton industry and agriculture, where the successful creation of a chain of custody for supply chains have been implemented.

Patrick Laine of the WWF, which although not currently involved in mineral policy has similar experience in the cotton and agriculture sectors, thanked the roundtable for their open approach and for inviting the NGOs to attend.

Laine commented: “The complexity of the issue is not a valid reason to avoid solving it.” He suggested that any actions agreed by the committee should be inclusive and mainstream; and “not eco-niche” in their approach.

The committee also heard from No Dirty Gold campaigners Earthworks, who joined the conversation from the USA via conference call. Earthworks has created the Golden Rules for jewellers and have most recently been campaigning against the proposed Anglo American Pebble copper and gold mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

Simon Rainer of the BJA said of the meeting: “It was a hugely informative and interesting meeting.”

Vivien Johnston, founder of ethical jewellery brand Fifi Bijoux and campaigner for the use of Fairtrade Fairmined gold, moderated the session. She said: “These are exceptionally complex issues. The collective experience and knowledge the NGOs bring to the table is vital for developing a well-rounded perspective in order to tackle the challenges our industry is facing.”

The National Association of Goldsmith and British Jewellers Association Ethics Committee are now reviewing the recommendations made and plan to address these in future round tables with other key parties within the trade and also the banking sector.
 

 

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