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CIBJO 2017 Congress Kicks Off With Focus On Sustainability, CSR

The World Jewellery Confederation CIBJO underlined its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability in the greater jewellery and gemstone industry by kicking off its 2017 Congress in Bangkok with a session on the subject.

CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri said the organisation’s approach to CSR rests on three principles. The first is defensive, with CIBJO strongly supporting measures that enhance the integrity of the gemstone and jewellery chain of supply, ensuring that the legitimate trade does not include products that are tainted by conflict, human rights violations, money laundering, terrorist financing, health and safety infractions, child labour and other work-related violations, and environmental mismanagement.

The second is social activism, with CIBJO promoting measures that ensure that the industry acts as a progressive force for sustainable social, economic and environmental opportunity, for all of its participants and stakeholders, and especially for those residing in underdeveloped areas where raw materials are sourced and processing takes place.

Thirdly, Cavalieri said, the approach much be inclusive, with CIBJO insisting that programs be reasonable and achievable by all committed participants in the jewellery and gemstone industries, irrespective of size or turnover.

Turning to the coloured gemstone sector, Cavalieri said it derives up to 80 percent of its raw supply from artisanal and small-scale miners. “Unless we devise practical means of enabling artisanal miners in the coloured gemstone sector to legitimately access our chain of distribution, it will be impossible to meet our commitment to equal opportunity between and within nations,” he said, referring to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

He proposed working towards creating a Kimberly Process Certification Scheme-type structure for rough coloured gemstones, which will enable the industry to demonstrate the integrity of its chain of distribution through a combination of government monitoring, and self-administered due diligence. He acknowledged the difficulties of implementing such a scheme, noting that unlike in the diamond industry, where a few companies controlled over 90 percent of supply, some 80 percent of coloured gemstone supply comes from thousands of small-scale and artisanal miners. He said however, that a certification scheme was achievable if all stakeholders worked together and with involved governments.

Addressing the session, Erik Jens, CEO of ABN AMRO, which sponsored the session, said the industry faced several challenges, and one was that it is polarised through having many groups and organisations. “Do we really share all our best practices in diamonds or coloured gemstones. I call for a combining of groups to work together and develop a system that is good for the coloured stone business, as we also have to persuade consumers that we are doing good. Look at Botswana, for example. It has succeeded because of the good that diamonds do. Diamonds also have a good impact in India with its widespread diamond manufacturing and trading infrastructure. We don’t tell these stories to consumers about the good we do. It’s all about story-telling. Coloured stones have a great story to tell but we are not telling the consumer this and it’s time that we did.”

Sakhila Mirza, Executive Board Director and General Counsel of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), described of her organisation’s work in ensuring CSR goals are met. “We are the world authority for precious metals. One of our prime objectives is to build integrity, quality assurance and transparency. You should not compromise integrity and the way you do business, and we must also be concerned with the planet, and issues such as human rights abuse, anti-money laundering and terrorism financing,” she stated.

Anne-Marie Fleury, Standards and Impacts Director at the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), spoke about the importance of the industry being involved in the formulation of new regulations and legislation. “When it is made without industry participation, then it can be detrimental all around, so we must play a role in defining proposed changes and having an impact on legislation,” she said.

Corrado Facco, Managing Director of the Italian Exhibition Group, which partners with CIBJO in the promotion of Corporate Social Responsibility, proposed a sustainability charter to be signed by the jewellery industry participants interested in meeting the challenges of the changing market.

“We also need a communications and training system that is open and affordable to all, with companies involved in everything from manufacturing to retail. We also need to empower the World Jewellery Confederation Education Foundation (WJCEF), through a huge programme of e-learning courses,” he stated.

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