PRESS RELEASE - On May 7th Solidaridad presented the first gold jewellery with the Fairtrade & Fairmined (FT&FM) label in the Netherlands to a large group of international guests from the jewellery and mining sectors. Fairtrade & Fairmined gold is the first certification initiative in the jewellery industry that guarantees a fair, safe and environmentally friendly way of gold mining. The Netherlands is the second European market where certified jewellery will be available to consumers after the UK.
Solidaridad Network, a worldwide group of development organizations, was founder of the first fair-trade label for coffee (Max Havelaar) back in 1988, and has since been innovating fair-trade and corporate social responsibility.
Ten Dutch jewellers followed the example set by over 50 British jewellers, including well-known designer Stephen Webster, and presented their first collection of jewellery with the Fairtrade & Fairmined stamp.
FT&FM certification enables small-scale miners to improve their working conditions and to ensure that mining does not pollute the environment. The small-scale mining sector employs over 20 million workers worldwide and over 100 million people depend on the sector for their livelihoods. Together with RJC, Solidaridad is also working on making large-scale gold mining more sustainable.
“The label is an important step towards making the whole sector sustainable,” explains Nico Roozen, Solidaridad’s director. Toxic mercury is widely used in small-scale gold mining and workers are working in unsafe mine shafts, receive too low a price for their gold, and the environment is affected unnecessarily.” In order to change this, Solidaridad has worked together with miners, traders, jewellery manufacturers, jewellers and fair-trade organizations for the past years on a process of more responsible gold mining.
Solidaridad's gold programme
Since 2006 Solidaridad's gold programme has been working in developing countries in Latin America to train miners how to improve their environmental and social practices and access the European market. Solidaridad works with local partner organizations to make this happen. Training is essential, since nearly all small-scale miners lack the skills to meet the standard on their own-or even to know that it exists. Solidaridad recently started support programmes for miners in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, where the mining conditions are even worse. This will make more FT&FM gold available to jewellery producers.
Nico Roozen explains: “We are absolutely on the right track with the FT&FM label, but worldwide there are still too many cases of poor working conditions. Solidaridad’s aim is that fair gold production becomes the standard. We keep striving for that."
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Solidaridad's goals are production with respect for people and planet, and reliable trade relations that give producers a fair deal. These can be achieved when companies are committed to meeting their social responsibilities and consumers know the story behind the product, allowing them to choose fair and green products.
Solidaridad wants to change the international economy to make it work for the poor. We do so by involving all stakeholders, from farmers to consumers, in sustainable production and consumption. Solidaridad invests in alliances between producers, companies, consumers, civil society organizations and governments in order to build sustainable value chains for products.
Solidaridad has launched several pioneering initiatives that have brought sustainable production into the mainstream. We were:
- in 1988, founder of Max Havelaar, the first fair-trade label for coffee
- in 1991, co-founder of the European network for fair-trade initiatives, the forerunner of Fairtrade International (FLO)
- in 1996, founder of AgroFair BV, the first fair-trade fruit company
- in 2001, founder of Kuyichi BV, the first fair-trade jeans brand
- in 2002, co-founder of Utz Certified, a label for sustainable coffee, tea and cocoa
- in 2004, founder of the Made-By Foundation, an alliance of fashion brands for more sustainable production
- from 2006 to present, the co-initiator / active member of round tables for soy (RTRS), palm oil (RSPO), sugar cane (Bonsucro), cotton (BCI) and beef (GRSB).