Responsible supply chains

4th Workshop "Responsible Gold in Germany"

04.12.2020 |

Gold has a special meaning for many people. Wedding rings or other pieces of jewelry that we wear every day are forged from gold. Between 10-20% of the gold produced annually is mined in so-called artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). This often takes place illegally and the small-scale miners, some of them children, are exposed to various risks: poor occupational safety and collapsing shafts, as well as the use of toxic chemicals such as mercury. However, risks do not only affect miners themselves, but may also have an impact on their ecological and social environment. Forests may be cut down and rivers polluted. In some places, violent conflicts are financed by the illegal trade in gold.

The Sector Programme "Extractives and Development" (Sector Programme) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) supports the development of responsible gold supply chains.

The workshop series "Responsible Gold in Germany" facilitates the exchange of information between business, civil society, science, and development cooperation. As part of the series, on 30 November the Sector Programme of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) hosted the fourth workshop on the topic of fair gold. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop took place virtually as a webinar for the first time. In total, 22 participants from business, civil society and academia had a lively virtual discussion.

Thematically, the workshop focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the gold sector. The results of a recent study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small-scale gold mining in 20 countries were presented. It became clear that women in particular are suffering greatly from the effects of the pandemic. Furthermore, the pandemic is putting the advances that have been achieved in the reduction of child work and combatting conflict financing at risk. Furthermore, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on large-scale, industrial gold mining were presented.

The workshop participants discussed the impact of the pandemic on the domestic gold sector and current challenges in their supply chains. In addition to production stops and transport restrictions, the need to develop and implement hygiene concepts was identified as a central challenge by many participating companies.

Many of the participants shared the impression that the general interest in sustainable consumption had increased due to the public discussion on the planned German law on responsible supply chains and the "Fridays for Future" movement.

The need to increase public awareness of responsible gold supply chains was commonly expressed in the round. The workshop participants also agreed that many challenges still need to be overcome for fair gold to be known to the public as well as fair trade bananas or coffee beans.

There was a great interest among the participants in the continuation of the workshops and the further deepening of the cooperation. Further events are planned for every six months for the future. The next meeting will take place in April 2021.

For more information, please contact Dr. Nataly Jürges.

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