Making Futures 2021

Resilience Through Leadership and Organisational Form

The seventh edition of our Making Futures biennial international research conference will be held on 16th September 2021.

Dr Peter Oakley

Material Engagements Research Cluster at the Royal College of Art| Investigator; Sustainable Materials in the Creative Industries| Ethical Gold & Government Policy| Thai Textiles|

Ethical Gold Sourcing: A Decade of Action

The first ethical gold sourcing programme, a partnership between the Alliance for Responsible Mining and the Fairtrade Foundation, launched in London in 2011. Over the subsequent decade, small-scale and artisanal gold mining (ASGM) communities across the developing world and committed licensee jewellers in Europe and North America have sought to create and sustain gold sourcing schemes that both demonstrate the material's provenance and provide direct benefits to the miners extracting the gold. These exceptional partnerships have not only straddled the global north-south divide but have also established direct and meaningful contact between disadvantaged communities living and working in some of the world's most remote regions and numerous individual jewellers and small creative businesses based in cities, towns, and even villages across the post-industrial West.

Drawing on a decade of fieldwork undertaken amongst licensee jewellers, certification programme managers, miners, campaigners and activists, this paper will describe the initiation, launch, development, and current situation of the leading ethical gold sourcing schemes. It will also demonstrate the wider impact of these initiatives on the international fine jewellery and watch industry as well as on the practice of the contributors themselves.

This presentation will identify the key drivers and participants behind the creation of these 'ethical gold' schemes and how they have grown and evolved over the course of the past decade. It will also explain the significant barriers the activists initially faced from within the jewellery and watch trades and determine how the programmes have changed in response to the appearance of wider issues, including a growing recognition of the global climate emergency and the rise of the international sustainable development goals. It will conclude by considering the future viability of the existing certification programmes and their possible role in delivering social justice over the next decade.



Dr Peter Oakley is Reader in Material Culture and Lead of the Material Engagements Research Cluster at the Royal College of Art. He has conducted fieldwork in Alaska, California, China, Kazakhstan, New Mexico, Thailand, and the UK. Dr Oakley is currently Principal Investigator for three funded research projects: Sustainable Materials in the Creative Industries, Ethical Gold & Government Policy, and Thai Textiles. He is also leading the UK contribution to 4Cs: From Conflict to Conviviality through Creativity and Culture.