The EU Chairmanship of the Kimberley Process and the ongoing review of the KP provide a unique opportunity to transform it into a tool not just for conflict prevention, but also for sustainable development, the AWDC told us yesterday afternoon. The gathering momentum for transforming the KP's very narrow definition of conflict diamonds during this year’s Chairmanship will only be brought to fruition through the concerted efforts of all the public and private actors across the diamond value chain.
To this end, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) this week organized a debate in the European Parliament in Brussels (view the video here). Entitled "Transforming the Kimberley Process into a tool for sustainable development", the debate was hosted by MEP Iuliu Winkler, former draftsman of the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation and Vice Chairman of the International Trade Committee at the European Parliament. One of the main messages emerging from this high-level event was the need for multi-stakeholder engagement to mobilize the relevant forces with a view to realizing specific socio-economic objectives in diamond-producing countries.
Taking place less than a month before the Kimberley Process Plenary meeting in Brussels, the debate gathered representatives from the three pillars of the KP and stakeholders from across the political spectrum, including EU KP Chair Dr. Hilde Hardeman, the Executive Director of the World Diamond Council Marie-Chantal Kaninda, the Director of the International Peace Information Service Filip Reyniers and AWDC CEO Ari Epstein. Key EU institutions and third-party stakeholders shared their ideas on how to use the KP reform agenda as a catalyst for economic growth and sustainable development, particularly for local communities in diamond producing countries with extensive artisanal and small-scale mining operations.
Since its initiation in 2003, the KP has successfully fulfilled its mandate of tackling conflicts in diamond producing countries. Over the 15 years of its existence, the KP has seen the percentage of trade involving conflict diamonds decline from 15% to less than 1%. "Looking back, the Kimberley Process has been an effective tool of conflict prevention,” says Dr. Hilde Hardeman. “It has also helped to change global and local attitudes, tying in closely with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The ongoing review and reform process must help ensure that the Kimberley Process remains fit for purpose, fostering peace, prosperity and sustainability.” The question now is whether the KP’s mandate can be broadened beyond the admittedly narrow definition under which it has operated.
Sharing the experience of the industry working with KP participants, Ari Epstein advocated just such an expansion of the KP, and outlined three key areas for KP reform: extending its scope to include environmental and social sustainability issues; improving its effectiveness by establishing permanent administrative structures; and improving its governance through revisiting the peer review system. “The industry is committed to supporting this ambitious agenda and hopes that governments will also understand the need to redesign the KP,” highlighted Mr. Epstein during his intervention at the event. Going beyond the KP reform itself, MEP Iuliu Winkler, host of the event, reiterated: “Given the strong commitment of the European Parliament to address sustainability horizontally, today’s event is also an excellent opportunity to discuss what complementary EU policies could be used to enhance the livelihood of the local communities.”
Since the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals has been at the top of the agenda for policy makers and the industry across all sectors of the economy. Searching for innovative ways to implement the goals, however, should not prevent us from using instruments such as the KP, the success of which has been nothing less than remarkable given the situation it inherited. The event served as a good reminder of some words of wisdom: Don’t lose a diamond while chasing glitter.