With fewer than nine weeks to go to the opening of the 2023 CIBJO Congress in Jaipur, India, on October 3, 2023, the second of the pre-congress Special Reports has been released. Prepared by the CIBJO Sustainability Development Commission, headed by John Mulligan, its considers the increasing demands upon the jewellery industry to respond appropriately to the world’s unprecedented environmental and social challenges.
“No matter how vital or intrinsic we may believe the role of beauty, creativity and symbolism in our lives, as expressed via jewellery, these elements cannot be isolated from the pressing and, sadly, growing threats to global stability and prosperity – from climate change, biodiversity loss and persistent poverty and inequality,” Mulligan writes.
“As a market that is wholly dependent on discretionary spending, the jewellery sector may have to make additional efforts to move beyond demonstrating that it is exercising due diligence in managing its supply chains. Companies will likely need to consider not only how they minimise their possible negative impacts, but how they might also contribute to potential positive outcomes of demonstrable benefit to the planet and its people.”
In the report, Mulligan draws a distinction between the often interchanged concepts of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), whereby CSR typically refers to voluntary and self-regulating initiatives to demonstrate progressive corporate behaviour, whereas ESG is often more quantifiable and enforceable. “The global trend has, over recent years, been to shift priorities from CSR to ESG strategies,” he notes.
He also reviews what he describes as significant initiatives by the jewellery industry to implement change and contribute to wider social and environmental progress, specifically citing those of the Responsible Jewellery Council, the Watch and Jewellery Initiative 2030, as well as the Gold Industry Declaration of Responsibility & Sustainability Principles, alongside the programmes of the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO).
By transitioning its Responsible Sourcing Commission to have a wider focus on the industry’s sustainability impacts, through its conversion into the Sustainable Development Commission, CIBJO signalled its commitment to supporting greater member and industry awareness of jewellery’s potential social and environmental consequences and contributions, Mulligan wrote.
“Abandoning ‘business as usual’ to reorientate companies to consider a wider set of risks and possible outcomes may initially seem daunting. But if jewellery business leaders have not yet embarked on this journey, the time to do so is now. However, they should find comfort and confidence in the fact that they are certainly not alone, and there are very substantial tools and reference points to guide them along the way,” Mulligan writes.
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