Artisanal mining: time to broaden the "blood diamonds" conversation?July 07, 19
In a guest blog by Gabriela Flores on the website of the International Institute for Environment and Development, she lists what is needed to change the conversation about artisanal mining and conflict diamonds
"Millions of people in some of the world's poorest countries depend on diamond mining for a living. Yet a focus on dealing with so-called 'blood diamonds' stops a wider conversation about how to help these people thrive, " she wrote.
A conversation on how to support artisanal small-scale (ASM) diamond mining communities to become thriving small-scale producers is essential. The World Bank estimates that 20 percent of global diamond supply is produced by this sector. Aiming to 'leave no one behind,' the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a blueprint for action by governments, industry and civil society across all sectors, including ASM, Flores wrote.
Here are a few of her ideas:
- Environmental management is not purely a technical issue. Technologies and regulations alone are not enough to make sure that environmental impacts are managed. Participatory, inclusive processes - from the local governance level upwards - can help all parties arrive at a common understanding of the problems and, to some consensus on solutions and how to put them into practice. Participation increases the chance that ASM's environmental management will be effective.
- Engagement and communication are essential. Safeguarding the environment is a shared responsibility. However, it is said that when something is everyone's responsibility it quickly turns into no one's responsibility. That's why engaging all stakeholders is crucial: all need to be clear on everyone's roles and responsibilities, on agreed collaborative actions, on progress against environmental impact assessments and plans, on technologies and know-how available, and so on.
- We need more success stories and supporters. While there are some programs from agencies such as USAID and initiatives like De Beer's Gemfair that aim to support the economic development of diamond-producing communities, there aren't many more examples that shed light on how to unlock the sustainable development potential of diamonds ASM.