Principal joins expert UN panel to explore sustainability in the jewellery industry

29 March 2018
Professor Gillies joined an expert UN panel to discuss how the industry can engage with UN SDGs

The Principal Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE has joined the United Nations’s Lene Wendland on a panel investigating how the jewellery industry can engage with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Gillies was speaking at an event convened by Business of Fashion and Chopard in Switzerland to explore how the notoriously hard to regulate $148 billion industry could be made more sustainable. The UN estimates that more than five million women and children are employed illegally in mines and the industry’s ecological ramifications include an estimated 20,000 tonnes of mercury released illegally into the environment every year by the global artisanal and small-scale mining eco-system.

 

Citing GCU research, Professor Gillies told the panel: “What I love about the SDGs is there are intermediary things that we can measure. We now have evidence that we can share with businesses, that shows them that if they don’t engage with the goals then their profitability and their productivity will suffer. Paying more to employees on the ground, and creating educational and health opportunities, can impact productivity by 4.2 per cent. Measurement is critical, it’s the evidence base that can actually shape a new future — even for the recalcitrant companies.”

Lene Wendland, Adviser on Business and Human Rights at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, added: “The SDGs are the UN’s global agenda for sustainability, it is a plan of action for people, planet and posterity. There are 17 goals and the core message is: leave no one behind. As cash-strapped western governments reduce the amount of money they dedicate to international aid, and consumers show signs that they increasingly expect the brands they buy from to be ethically conscious, the changing funding environment around NGOs will make the role of businesses in achieving the goals fundamental.”

Jeweller Chopard has announced that it is to use only ethically sourced gold in its supply chain from July.