RESP Launches International Consultation on Sustainability of the Coloured Gems Industry

Gems Processing

On 8 June 2015, the Responsible Ecosystems Sourcing Platform (RESP) launched an international consultation process that will assist in the identification of key sustainability-related priorities for the coloured gemstones industry.

This consultation is the first of its kind and will seek to contribute to the development of a sustainability framework for artisanal and small scale mining of coloured gemstones and provide initial elements to assess its potential implementation through an international standard.

The coloured gemstone industry has a global reach with mining operations in 47 countries across the world. The industry accounts for around USD 10 billion per year and unlike diamonds which are controlled by a few major mining companies, the coloured gemstone depends on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) for a staggering 80% of its total global output. For this reason, the industry is increasingly important for the livelihoods of millions of people around the world.

However, the industry contains a complex set of sustainability issues which are only beginning to be understood. In recent years a number of initiatives have begun trying to clarify the sustainability landscape of the coloured gemstones industry, but the lack of an agreed international sustainability framework has become a major challenge to finding common ground from where to begin a structured discussion.

For this reason, in late 2014, the International Working Group on Coloured Gemstones (IWG-CG) of RESP launched a project aiming at identifying the prevailing sustainability issues that could be included within a sustainability framework for the coloured gemstones industry.

As part of the project, a targeted and representative consultation with key stakeholders representing the entire value chain will be undertaken to help determine the main components that a sustainability framework for the coloured gemstones industry could include, and provide recommendations that the broader industry might want to consider.

The consultation will have an overall international scope and will seek to cover the main sustainability elements related to social responsibility, environmental responsibility, and management systems.

Social responsibility may include the following topics: Labour and Working Conditions; Occupational Health and Safety; Emergency Preparedness and Response; Human Rights; Conflict or High-Risk Areas; Infectious Diseases; Community and Stakeholder Engagement; Benefit Sharing; Prior Informed Consent; Cultural Heritage; Resettlement.
Environmental responsibility may include: Water; Waste Management; Air; Green House Gas Emissions; Biodiversity; Protected Areas; Chemicals and heavy-metal management; Energy.

Managements systems may include: Traceability and certification of origin; Impact Assessment; Monitoring; Grievance; Remediation and restoration.

Through this action, the IWG-CG of RESP is reaffirming   its commitment to take a leadership position to proactively contribute to improving the sustainability performance of the coloured gemstones industry, in order to demonstrate that more responsible practices are possible to the industry-at-large.

For more information on the consultation process and/or on how to get involved please contact us at info@resp.ch.