“How can we make sure that the things we’re looking at here are not just beautiful to look at but beautiful at source?” asked human rights lawyer Cherie Blair. This was the question explored by a group of ambassadors and experts at a panel discussion hosted by BoF, in partnership with Chopard, at the recent Baselworld watches and jewellery fair.
Certainly, the $148 billion jewellery industry has a complex and hard-to-regulate supply chain that does significant environmental damage, while failing to uphold the human rights of many of the workers it employs. The United Nations estimates that over 5 million women and children are employed illegally in mines where diamonds and other precious stones are sourced.
In 2016 the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals that collectively aim to end poverty, protect the planet and foster prosperity came into force. But how can jewellery businesses do their part to further these goals and integrate them into their strategies?
“We can help our CEOs to make baby steps along the way that will then encourage them to make the big step to dealing with some of their human rights issues and their employees in Africa or Bangladesh,” said Pamela Gillies, president and vice chancellor of the Glasgow Caledonian University. “Measurement is critical — it’s the evidence base that can actually shape a new future.”
“This is not about some parts of society, some regions of the world moving ahead,” agreed Lene Wendland, the advisor on business and human rights in the office of the UN high commissioner for human rights. “This is about leaving no one behind, this is about every single woman, man and child in all parts of the world.”
Listen to BoF’s Imran Amed moderate the panel discussion between Blair, Wendland and Gilles, as well as Phillipe Fornier, general secretary of the Swiss Better Gold Association and Nöella Coursaris, the founder and chief executive of Malaika, a foundation focused on educating and empowering girls in the Congo.
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