Greg Valerio, champion for traceability, transparency and ecological standards in gold sourcing, has been awarded The Observer Ethical Award for Global Campaigner.
As Greg himself says Maverick, pain in the arse, social entrepreneur, out of the box, radical, passionate, emotional, unmanageable, direct, to the point, breath of fresh air, rebel, visionary, scruffy, non-conformist and dangerous bastard have all been used to describe Greg and his commitment to human rights, ecological responsibility and fair trade in the jewellery sector.
Greg has been a great ally to the UK presence of the campaign to protect Bristol Bay - the world's greatest wild salmon fishery - from the Anglo American proposed open-pit gold and copper mine. His organisation Fair Jewellery Action co-sponsored a screening of the film RedGold in November 2010, he has helped network the issues to other jewellers, organised for ethical jewellers CRED to work in partnership with the campaign with their customers, and most recently attended the Anglo American AGM to question the Board about the proposed Pebble Mine .
Livia Firth presented Greg with the award. Livia is another ally in the effort to protect Bristol Bay and recently signed the Bristol Bay Protection Pledge.
On Wednesday, UK jewelers announced the launch of "Fairtrade" gold jewelry. Some jewelers have already been using gold from these same Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) mines, but two of the mines have recently been certified "Fairtrade." What are these mines, and what does "Fairtrade gold" mean?
The mines, one in Colombia and one in Bolivia, demonstrate both the potential benefits and the problems of the Alliance for Responsible Mining/Fairtrade Labeling Organization certification standards for "Fairtrade" and "Fairmined." The mining and certification may well benefit the communities on the short-term, and the Colombian Oro Verde mine does not use mercury or cyanide. On the other hand, reclamation and restoration standards are poorly defined at both mines, and the Bolivian mine allows mercury use and is located in a National Park. The Colombian mine is in the Choc , a department that has experienced significant armed conflict.