Even though sustainable economies rely on the contribution of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), these businesses are too often operating at a disadvantage when compared to larger companies, CIBJO (World Jewellery Confederation) President Gaetano Cavalieri told a meeting of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
The meeting took place during the United Nation’s 2019 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, which is currently underway at the UN headquarters in New York. The HPLF is the UN’s main platform for monitoring follow-up on the actions of states and other actors towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“One of the challenges we have faced in raising the positive developmental impact of SMEs in the jewellery and gemstone business is that, frequently, the due-diligence and financial requirements necessary to demonstrate that they comply with responsible business practices place them at a significant disadvantage,” Cavalieri said.
He added, “In the jewellery business this is particularly ironic because, although turnover is dominated by a relatively small number of large corporations and brands, employment and company ownership are overwhelmingly vested with SMEs, most of which are family owned.”
CIBJO was attending the HLPF in its capacity as the international jewellery sector’s representative in the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which is one of the six main organs of the United Nations and is the principal body for coordinating policy review, dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Opening the HLPF session the day before, UN Secretary General António Guterres had said that the world’s people are demanding “transformative change that is fair and sustainable.”
“The evidence is clear,” the UN Secretary General stated, “development is not sustainable if it is not fair and inclusive – and rising inequality hinders long-term growth.”