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The Okavango Delta, the region straddling the borders of diamond-rich Botswana and Namibia that De Beers has launched a sustainability program together with National Geographic. (PhotO Colin Watts@unsplash)

EXPANDING THE DIAMOND’S RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS PARADIGM:

DO NOT HARM, BUT MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE AS WELL

 

Generation Z consumers, it is widely believed, are more inclined to demand that the products they buy have social, as well as economic value. This, the market analysts say, is especially relevant where it comes to luxury products, which are generally non-essential and often are purchased to express an emotion, like love, or to enhance ones prestige or feeling of self-appreciation.

What does this mean in effect? Faced with two alternatives, the deciding factor for the consumer may be the products claims to be contributing to the campaign to save the rain forests in the Amazon, or is helping fight the scourge of malaria in central Africa. Neither of those worthy causes are directly related to the item on offer, but the commitment to making the world a better place enhances its brand value.

It’s a concept that for the diamond industry expands the definition of Corporate Social Responsibility. For most of the past 19 years, since the launch of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme at the start of 2003 to help bring about the trade in conflict diamonds, the primary goal of a responsible diamond company has been the make sure it does no harm. That’s also the overriding principle of the Responsible Jewellery Council’s Code of Practice.

But since 2015, the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals have assumed an ever more prominent profile – in the business world particularly but also in consumer consciousness. They have 2030 as their declared target date.

The SDGs themselves are an extension of the Millennium Development Goals, which were defined in 2000 by the then UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, who provided a 15-year period for their completion. What they and the SDGs are essentially are calls to action to address a series of social, economic and environmental challenges, and instilling an undertsanding that doing this is not only up to governments, but also to society and the business community.

A CALL FOR A SUSTAINABLE JEWELRY COALITION

Writing in a recently release special report, Jonathan Kendall, the President of the Marketing and Education Commission of CIBJO, the World Jewelry Confederation, implored members of the industry to become directly involved in the effort to combat climate change.

“This is not a time to point fingers and expect others to act on our behalf.,” he wrote. “It is all our responsibility to respond urgently, changing the way we work, the way we think and the way we live. It is vital that as a planet we dramatically reduce our carbon emissions, or we could see temperatures rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius by as early as 2034. Already today we are witnessing the devastating impacts of increasingly unstable climates. The consequences of even more extreme temperature increases are difficult to contemplate.”

Kendall called on the industry to come together in a concerted fashion. “I have a personal dream that, as an industry, we become carbon positive by 2030. Would that not be a wonderful place to be? We need to come together across the industry in a Sustainable Jewelry Coalition, to share ideas, best practice, collaborate and work creatively on carbon reduction solutions.”

“We share one earth and the only way to make change happen is to switch from being part of the problem to becoming the solution, before it is too late,” writes Jonathan Kendall, President of CIBJO’s Marketing & Education Commission, who has called for the creation of a Sustainable Jewelry Coalition

“We share one earth and the only way to make change happen is to switch from being part of the problem to becoming the solution, before it is too late,” he continued. The new Sustainable Jewelry Coalition must be created and achieve fast momentum across the industry, delivering solutions for the future.”

“We share one earth and the only way to make change happen is to switch from being part of the problem to becoming the solution, before it is too late,” he continued. The new Sustainable Jewelry Coalition must be created and achieve fast momentum across the industry, delivering solutions for the future.”

DE BEERS AS A SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST

The role of the diamond industry as a social and environmental activist is one that David Prager, De Beers executive vice-president and chief brand officer has been promoting.

“What if the precious De Beers diamond around your neck played an active role in safeguarding precious endangered species in the area where it was found?” he asked in an industry communique. “What if the De Beers Forevermark diamond studs you bought yourself to celebrate that new job had a role in creating 10,000 women entrepreneurs in the places where it was found? “And what if owning a diamond discovered by De Beers meant you were playing an active role in the fight against climate change because the unique properties of the kimberlite rock your diamond was liberated from pulls carbon from the atmosphere and safely stores it away for a millennia, turning a diamond mine into a carbon vault?”

For its part De Beers Group has announced a new partnership with the National Geographic Society called “Okavango Eternal.” Its goal is to protect endangered animal species in neighboring Botswana and Namibia’s Okavango Delta, and at the same time provide water and food security for more than one million people, and develop livelihood opportunities for over 10,000 individuals.

“De Beers has been in a 50/50 partnership with both Botswana and Namibia for decades, making their people significant shareholders in De Beers and our commitment to the long-term sustainable development of the countries a core part of our business,” stated Bruce Cleaver, the De Beers CEO.

“By sharing our expertise and resources and working with local communities, governments and other NGO partners, we will deliver a positive impact that is far greater than what any of us could achieve on our own, and ultimately protects the natural world and improves people’s lives,” he said.