The conference organized by the Iseal Alliance took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from May 22 to 24. Iseal is a membership organization conformed of different sustainability initiatives that work on strengthening sustainablity standards for the benefit of populations and the environment.
In its ninth year, the conference explored the topic “driving change for greater impact”, focusing on how to “make standards work best for people, places and issues that matter”.
ARM, creator of the Fairmined and CRAFT sustainability standards, provided a concrete and pragmatic vision of the opportunities and challenges of interoperability, with a focus on mining companies, their communities and sustainable development.
Baptiste Coue, Head of Monitoring and Evaluation at the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), participated in the panel “Unpacking collaboration: fostering improvement for small-scale enterprises in mining, metals and minerals” where Participants exchanged experiences on sustainable and collaborative mining projects. Standards for the mining sector seek how to better meet the needs of small companies and how to provide effective support. Effects of collaboration between the different initiatives and its potential to nurture and generate real impact were discussed, as well as the challenges that may arise.
Baptiste introduced the CRAFT Code (Code of Risk-mitigation for Artisanal and small-scale engaging in Formal Trade) and the importance of interoperability in its development and future implementation, as well as the challenges for the future.
Interoperability is the effective collaboration between two organizations to resolve or improve common interest matters.
In addition to the continuous inclusion of artisanal and small-scale mining, governments and miners’ support organizations in its consultation processes, ARM develops relationships with various initiatives that create frameworks or standards for accountability and sustainability (such as the Swiss Better Gold Association (SBGA), Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), Responsible Mining Initiative (RMI), Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), Fairtrade and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), among others). This is essential to the continuous improvement of the application of our mining standards (CRAFT and Fairmined) and the sustainable development of the mining communities with which we work on a daily basis.
In his presentation, Baptiste reported that the CRAFT Code was born out of a need on each side of the supply chain. On one hand, the lack of a practical tool allowing the most vulnerable artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) to early connect to legal markets and embark on a gradual improvement towards the adoption of good practices has been identified. On the other hand, we know that buyers must put in place a due diligence process with their suppliers, and although the OECD Due Diligence Guide exists, in the past, there was no instrument to facilitate the connection of buyers with miners working in ASM. Baptiste underlined that the existence of this need shared by the two poles of the chain was a factor of mobilization of the actors around the construction of the CRAFT.
Baptiste noted that a positive aspect of including the various stakeholders on CRAFT Code governance committees from the outset was that these extended the scope of CRAFT consultation to their own audiences and networks by organizing workshops and webinars.
David Finlay, representative of Fairtrade International, presented a financing model for ASM producers driven in East Africa, and also stressed the need to create models to include the most vulnerable producers in the movement in adopting good practices. In this regard, Fairtrade and ARM presented a relatively well-aligned vision for the future of certification models, emphasizing the opportunity to make models more flexible and to create innovative alternatives that satisfy the need for impact on mining communities.
Reducing competitiveness to maximize efficiency
Also to be highlighted was the contribution of the RJC representative Monica Staniaszek, who talked about the possibility for her organization to collaborate with initiatives such as ARM and Fairtrade on issues where there are common interests and cost-benefit opportunities, for example the case of the joint audit pilot project for jewelers who are members of RJC and who purchase Fairmined Gold.
Baptiste and David concluded that it is important to see interoperability not so much as a long-term strategic merger, but as a concrete and pragmatic strategy, born from the identification of a shared need and/or opportunity between two or more organizations where collaboration maximizes the efficiency of processes and the generation of results and impacts for the people involved. In this sense, they see interoperability as a way of acting that can occur between many actors in the sector in which sustainability initiatives are implemented.