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RCA research into gold supply chain sustainability showcased through online event

What does sustainability mean in our world today? How do government sustainability policies impact gold supply chains? An online event hosted by the Scottish Goldsmiths Trust in association with the RCA, will tackle these questions. 

Taking place on 22 and 23 June 2021, ‘Sustainability in the 21st Century: how policies impact gold supply chains’ features a series of talks and panel discussions with industry experts, initiative leaders and policy professionals. The event will draw on the latest RCA research into how ethical gold certification schemes and industry initiatives interact with regional and national government policies.

Gold is a finite and valuable resource. In recent decades, finding ethical and sustainable ways to source and use the precious metal have become pressing concerns. This event will explore how fair trade, social justice, the climate crisis and the circular economy manifest in government policy work, and in turn impact gold supply chains. The first day will focus on different aspects of sustainability and explore sustainability initiatives in Scotland. The second day will examine sustainable gold supply chains.

Government policymaking, international gold supply chains and consumer choice all seem very remote from one another until you are able to join the dots and see how they are interrelated.
Dr Peter Oakley
The event is a result of the ongoing research project, Ethical Gold & Government Policy. This project is led by Dr Peter Oakley, run in partnership with the Scottish Goldsmiths Trust, and funded by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund. The project developed from Dr Oakley's previous research into ethical gold sourcing in the jewellery and watch industries. This included following the development of the Fairtrade Gold and Fairmined Gold schemes and the Responsible Jewellery Council’s industry certification programmes.

portrait of Dr Pete Oakley
Dr Peter Oakley
Discussing his research, Dr Oakley commented, ‘understanding how government policies can help subsistence miners living in the developing world who want to mine responsibly, as well assisting European jewellers and their customers who want to support these miners' aspirations, is a key part of making ethical gold sourcing work in practice. Government policymaking, international gold supply chains and consumer choice all seem very remote from one another until you are able to join the dots and see how they are interrelated.’

The project has identified the key role played by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. First published in 2011, this obscure document has since exerted an enormous influence on legislation focusing on responsible mineral sourcing, including gold sourcing, around the world. It has directly informed laws passed in the US, EU, UK and Switzerland.

Later this year, the research team will be producing reports covering the relationships between Holyrood, the circular economy and sustainable sourcing, and developments over the past year at Westminster, Brussels and Zurich relating to corporate due diligence and ethical gold sourcing. 

The project will continue until summer 2022 and will include further public events next year.


‘Sustainability in the 21st Century: how policies impact gold supply chains’ is taking place online 22–23 June, 10–12 am.

Registration for the event is free.