DE BEERS EXPLORES SUSTAINABILITY OF MINING DURING DIAMOND MINING CONFERENCE
BY KATLEGO RAKOLA
Gaborone hosted the third annual De Beers Group Diamond Conference on the 7th of November with a focus on the sustainability of the diamond industry. Delegates representing government, United Nations and leading diamond industry experts, convened at the Gaborone International Convention Centre, GICC, to discuss how the diamond mining practice can be conveyed sustainably and preserved for the next generation.
The Ministry of Mineral resources, Green technology and Energy security, together with the United Nations office for partnerships, played key roles in the conference, with the UN taking advantage of the platform to share United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Chief Executive officer of De Beers group, Bruce Cleaver, said the topic of sustainability has become a vital one for the diamond industry, as they look at ways of how to mine without harming the environment and how to have a bigger impact on the societies they operate in.
“This interdependence between businesses, and the wider world in which we operate, is something that the Sustainable Development Goals bring into sharp focus for all of us. As leaders in the industry, we are privileged to be in a position not only to support, develop, and grow the global diamond sector; but also, to support, develop and grow the people, communities and societies that we interact with, through our varied business activities,” said Cleaver.
Cleaver said they are looking at sustainability in a broader perspective, and are now taking account of how commercial activities of the diamond sector impact the social, environmental and ethical activities of the wider world.
When giving the key note address President of the Republic, Ian Khama, said the conference was rather a celebration of Botswana’s partnership with De Beers, which has allowed the country to undertake several economic activities to sustain the nation. However, Khama mentioned the importance of sustaining the industry especially as government efforts remain focused on diversifying the economy.
“There is a need for Government to continue to engage its stakeholders and partners on platforms of this calibre to explore, as well as interrogate, opportunities that accelerate sustainable shared values and implementation of outlined developmental strategies,” said Khama.
He showed appreciation to the conference, which he said accords government the first steps towards achieving shared values, the pillars outlined by Vision 2036 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
When presenting on how the private sector can implement Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, UNDP representative in Botswana, Jacinta Barrins, said the private sector remains a key player in Africa’s economy, and as a result should be key drivers of SDGs. Barrins said the private sector contributes 60 percent of Gross Domestic Product and that it employs over 90 percent of Africa’s working population.
She said as the UN, they are looking at ways to engage the private sector, and called out to companies to contribute towards the SDGs.