News / 16 May 2012

Launch of ‘good gold’ in the Netherlands

The Netherlands follow the United Kingdom and became the second country where 'good gold' is being sold. On May 7th the official launch of 'Fairtrade-Fairmined gold' took place in Amsterdam. Highlight was the handover of the first golden bracelet with this certificate to Katja Römer-Schuurman by a Peruvian miner. The bracelet is symbolic for good gold and will be worn with pride by Römer-Schuurman. "The circle is now complete", says Lina Villa, director of the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), who was involved in the project since the beginning.


Villa has been involved in the certification process, which led to this international standard for gold since the beginning. The launch of Fairtrade-Fairmined gold in the Netherlands, in cooperation with Solidaridad and Max Havelaar, means a lot to her. "It has a symbolic meaning. Dutch organizations such as Both ENDS believed in the project when it was still a small-scale, local initiative. We can now finally show that production and trade of good gold is in fact possible and has positive local impacts"


Inclusive process
The production of gold often causes huge ecological and social problems, such as deforestation, water pollution and human rights violations. In order to counter these negative impacts and create possibilities for sustainable gold mining and -trade, network organization ARM started developing its own alternative certification system in 2004. Villa: "It had to be a truly inclusive process, involving everyone". Over 30,000 people have been involved in the development of these standards. "During our workshops miners from all over the world discovered that they faced the same challenges. The exchange of experiences, problems and solutions were extremely stimulating for these miners."


Big breakthrough
However, one of the biggest challenges turned out to be reaching the general public. "A lot of consumers do not know the origin of their gold and are unaware of the social and environmental problems", Villa explains. She calls the cooperation with the internationally renowned Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO) a big breakthrough. "Their expertise and reputation possibly have saved us 10 years of work."


Yet ARM has not yet reached its targets, Villa emphasizes: "We are proud of what we have achieved, but we want to further expand our networks - also in other continents, such as Africa and Asia." ARM wants to guarantee the role and rights of marginalized and often criminalized small-scale miners by involving governments in the process. The organization is also committed to increasing the visibility of female miners.


Something Special
In the Netherlands, jewelry with the Fairtrade-Fairmined label is available at several designers and jewelers. Miners are paid a higher price for their sustainably extracted gold; the proceeds are invested in further increasing the sustainability of gold mining and the development of local communities. Villa believes that more and more people will decide to choose good gold. "Gold isn't something you really need, it is something special. As a consumer you have the power to change people's life. That is what makes it really special."


Photo: Guillaume Collanges

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