Once it was possible to differentiate between gold mined by fair or unfair practices, we needed the best framework to allow the miners to profit from their own hard work and make positive changes for their communities. That system was Fairtrade.
There are many ethical product certification schemes, but Fairtrade is one of the most comprehensive, setting out a blueprint for sustainable development that covers social, economic and environmental impacts. The Fairtrade system is an international movement dating back over 60 years. Fairtrade goods are made across the Global South including Africa, Asia and Latin America where artisanal gold mining takes place. Any product carrying the Fairtrade mark is guaranteed to be child or forced labour free.
Fairtrade was set up by a group of international development and civil rights NGOs, including Global Justice Now, Traidcraft, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. It is built around the needs of the disadvantaged workers who produce raw materials and goods for consumers.
Most small-scale gold miners are subsistence workers, who barely make enough to feed their families. The Fairtrade system provides security. It is based on the idea of a fair price for the goods that workers produce. Unlike other standard setting systems, it guarantees a Fairtrade Minimum Price for all workers and producers. For gold that price must be at least 95% of the international market price.
By guaranteeing to buy their gold, Cred allows mining communities to plan for their future. Miners know they can earn enough money to provide a descent standard of living for their families and can begin to think for the long term. Fairtrade is a practical system, providing incentives to workers to meet the Fairtrade Standards that are based around fair labour rights, environmental protections and social and economic development.
Fairtrade helps miners to change their communities through the Fairtrade Premium. This is a community fund of US$2000 for every kilogram of gold they sell and is paid on top of the price they earn for their gold. It can be used to invest in social, economic and environmental development including essential infrastructure like roads, schools and medical facilities. Each community decides how the money should be spent; we do not dictate what their priorities should be. Since the launch of Fairtrade Gold in 2011 Cred has paid $460,000 in social premiums, transforming the lives of Fairtrade Gold miners and their families.
We love the community focus of Fairtrade. The Fairtrade model is based around collective decision-making. Over 80% of producers are small holders and many workers form co-operatives or associations to make their goods. The whole community benefits from Fairtrade and decisions on how to spend the money they earn are made democratically. Fairtrade promotes gender equality, guaranteeing women representatives are involved in all key community decisions, helping to build financial independence.
Crucially Fairtrade provides an independent guarantee that our gold meets these exacting Standards. FLOCERT is a completely independent organisation that audits all Fairtrade products at every level of the supply chain. Its auditors are usually based in the countries where they work and understand the local culture and language. They can choose to investigate the miners, the way the gold is transported or any aspect of how Cred uses the gold to make its jewellery. We must track and account for every gram of gold to maintain our Fairtrade accreditation. Our gold and silver are the first in the world to be mined in this way.