Now I have finally settled back down to normal life I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who kindly voted for me the winner of the Global Campaigner section at this years Observer Ethical awards 2011.
It was a genuine shock to win, as I assumed Avaaz and the excellent work they do in promoting Human Rights across our world would win. Greenpeace were also up for the award and lets be honest, they are the greatest exponents of direct action campaigning on the planet, and boy do we need more direct action in a world were the politicians have abdicated all progressive action for maintaining power and the status quo.
Reflecting on the award it is a real vindication of all the hard work and effort that has gone into making Fairtrade Gold a reality. Although an individual receives the award, the creation of the fair trade revolution in jewellery and small-scale mining has been and will continue to be a team effort, and this is my opportunity to mention a few of the key individuals and organisations who deserve serious credit for giving the world a new way of doing jewellery.
Oro Verde were the inspiration on the ground that proved Ecological gold mining was possible. Americo Mosquera was with us at the award ceremony and it was wonderful to have him on stage to receive the award with me.
In an equal way but from the other end of the supply chain, the team at CRED Jewellery were the pioneers of Fair Trade in the UK and global market. Their unrivaled dedication to the idea and the technical side of the delivery of Fair Trade fine jewellery meant that the idea became a reality and they proved the concept. A tribute needs to be paid to CRED and Oro Verde, as in proving concept they spawned their own competition. Their generosity is their true legacy. They will always be the originals.
What can be said of ARM? A small group of dedicated practitioners who have worked over many years on behalf of small-scale miners. Their knowledge and wisdom of the sector has been invaluable. Cristina Echavarria’s ability to build a process that led to a certifiable product was immense. But also ARM’s ability to inspire the miners of South America to believe and keep believing as we faced many difficulties to achieve what everyone said was an impossible dream. ARM’s legacy to the world is that they did it. Fairtrade Fairmined Gold is not a dream, it is a reality and ARM like the miners they represent had to dig deep to find the rarest metal of them all, one that brings justice to the poor.
A special thanks to all those at Fairtrade Foundation in London who have worked to secure the market position of Fairtrade Gold in the UK market and beyond. Giving of their best, their belief in the underdog and their principled convictions that prosperity should be for the majority not the minority has meant that this project is in safe hands and they are the justifiable custodians for such a transformatory idea as Fairtrade Gold. They have the strength of arms to handle the most turbulent of products.
I would like to add personal thanks to the following people, who have suffered with my ups and downs and general tantrums and turbulence over the years as the fight to make this a reality waged around them.
Ruth and the kids
Ruth, Mali and Jemba have been a pillar of strength to me over the years and have never complained when I have had to travel. In fact on the many times that I felt the process was going to fall apart they consistently encouraged me to keep going. It is a testimony to know that your nearest and dearest are right there with you in the thick of the action. I love them all very much.
I met Marc Choyt at The Madison Dialogue in Washington in 2006/7 and in him I met a kindred spirit. A soul who was not prepared to sacrifice the future on the altar of profit. A rare person in today’s jewellery world and an even rarer commodity in the mining world. A world that is so corrupted by the stomachs of greed. Again a constant voice of encouragement for change. He co-founded Fair Jewellery Action and writes the best blog on jewellery in the world.
Catalina was the force that began Oro Verde. Meeting in the heat of the summer sun in London in 2003, Catalina was looking for customers for her product, Green Gold. It was her invitation to visit the miners of the Choco region, to embrace their life and gain understanding and wisdom on how mineral extraction could be a life fulfilling experience that helped me realise my vision. It was also her idea to start the Alliance for Responsible Mining of which I became a co-founder. Her dedication to the grass-roots remains strong as she now works to build peace and reconciliation in her country of Colombia.
I also want to give a special vote of thanks to Harriet Lamb, the mother of all that is Fairtrade. I met Harriet at Katharine Hamnett’s house around 2005 and we agreed to talk about Gold. She was passionate about the idea, became a champion of Fairtrade Gold within the Fairtrade Labeling movement, faced considerable opposition as we argued that small-scale miners deserve the benefits of economic justice through Fairtrade just like farmers and growers, and her weight behind the process helped to swing it in our favour.
In conclusion an award like this can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you treat it. For me it a marker in the land and a signpost for the future. A marker that reflects upon the massive task it has been for the many people who have worked tirelessly to make Fairtrade Fairmined gold a reality in 2011. A signpost towards the future that points us in the direction we have to travel if we are to succeed in transforming people’s perceptions of jewellery. Jewellery has an umbilical link to the mining sector, a sector that continues to operate in the shadows of our world, yet remains one of the most socially and environmentally devastating practices on our planet. We need our jewellery to be made of light, not darkness.
Jewellery should be work to beautify and enhance all that is glorious in our world. Its source should be as equally inspirational.