This year I was lucky enough to attend the OECD’s 12th Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains which was held at OECD headquarters in Paris, France April 17 - 19.
As background, the OECD, or Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development, (http://www.oecd.org/) has a mission to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world and publishes a series of voluntary business guidance documents designed to improve the quality of people's lives. One document, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas http://www.oecd.org/corporate/mne/mining.htm is pertinent to the jewelry supply chain because gold, diamonds and colored gemstones are frequently sourced from conflict-affected regions and countries.
I was impressed by the passion and professionalism of the attendees and the quality of the presentations. A couple of high level takeaways:
It was very well attended, with at least 700 attendees. One attendee who has been involved since the outset said, “You should have seen this event 10 years ago, there were 20 of us in the room!” It was also the first time that the diamond industry had ‘official’ representation through the attendance of representatives of the World Diamond Council, the body that represents the diamond supply chain at the UN-mandated Kimberley Process forum.
I was surprised at the number of responsible sourcing and supply chain transparency initiatives that were being developed and were presented, discussed, and launched at the event.
A short list of topics covered and initiatives I learned about include:
London Metals Exchange (https://www.lme.com/) announced they will publish a white paper about responsible sourcing of metals in the coming weeks which will include certain standards that their members will need to comply with or risk being de-listed from the exchange.
OECD conducted an Alignment Assessment of Industry Programmes with the OECD Minerals Guidance (including the Responsible Jewellery Council) and released their findings at the forum. You can find the assessment and more here: http://mneguidelines.oecd.org/industry-initiatives-alignment-assessment.htm
The Golden Line (www.thegoldenline.org) is an initiative to economically empower women in and around artisanal and small-scale mining communities in Tanzania and Ghana.
The non-profit organization Impact just launched ‘Just Gold’: (https://impacttransform.org/en/work/project/just-gold/) the first initiative to successfully trace conflict-free and legal artisanal gold from mine site to export while applying regional and international standards applicable to conflict-affected and high-risk areas.
Alan Bryden, Head, Public-Private Partnerships, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces shared the new knowledge hub for security and human rights, Addressing Security and Human Rights Challenges in Complex Environments: http://www.securityhumanrightshub.org/
The OECD will launch a new Portal for Supply Chain Risk Information by year end which will be a tool to assist companies and house supply chain information, country risk reports and mineral specific risk reports.
The EU is launching a really interesting science hub that will be a ‘Raw Materials Information System’. Not fully populated, the site is online and a work in progress, but a wealth of information! (http://rmis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/)
The 2018 Responsible Mining Index was launched, an evidence-based assessment of mining company policies and practices on economic, environmental, social and governance issues.: https://responsibleminingindex.org/en
The Revenue Development Foundation (http://erp.revenuedevelopment.org:8069/) is piloting a Customs Verification Portal with live data from Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The Colombian Mining Observatory is creating a portal to pool mining sector information. (www.ocmi.org.co)
You can learn more about the event and the OECD’s work on due diligence in mineral supply chains here: http://www.oecd.org/corporate/mne/forum-responsible-mineral-supply-chains.htm