In a time of wavering leadership on sustainability and transparency, we can find inspiration in our peers. While hard-earned progress in environmental sustainability and jewelry transparency efforts face challenges at every level, one of the Jewelry Industry Summit community’s own members remains committed to empowering those in need, supporting the Paris Climate Agreement, and pushing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) forward in his own innovative way.
Since sharing their plans at the first Jewelry Industry Summit in 2016, Brian and Kendra Cook have continued their efforts to establish a mining model that empowers miners, their families, and the local community through the Bahia Golden Rutilated Quartz Sustainable Mine to Market Model.
Located in the meeting place of three extraordinarily unique biomes- Remedios, Novo Horizonte, and Bahia–this Brazilian Bahia Mine region exists in one of the world’s most exceptionally diverse natural environments. Being very rural, this ASM community depends almost entirely on extracting the mineral resources for income — affecting nearly 15,000 people in the region.
It is here that the Cooks and their team seek to implement a mining model that employs natural capital resources as the foundation for sustainable economic development, environmental stewardship, and community security for the village population of 500 people.
“The goal is to legalize, not marginalize,” says Brian, who has a long and personal history with the Chapada Diamantina region. The comprehensive plan to provide long-term sustainability includes legalizing areas for mining and miners themselves, establishing an on-site processing and lapidary school, and creating a local intensive organic farm as a key component in educating long term land and food stewardship. “This will be generational, not just the next five years,” Cook says.
Through setting up a lapidary school, the Cooks intend to provide training for cutting and polishing, adding value to the stones by cutting at the source. This school will provide opportunities to learn processing and cutting skills for the local community, help to maximize the quality and value of the materials being traded, add economic benefit. The Cooks seek to encourage a diverse approach to the area’s economic development beyond just mining, including a regenerative model organic farm, teaching conservation of natural assets, and identifying potential endemic plants to help sustain alternative revenue streams to the area.
“Mining inherently is not sustainable,” says Cook. “When and where possible, we as an industry, could help steer mineral dependent communities towards sustainable activities before the viability of the mines demise.”
“All the good things we can do around mining should be done: safety measures, improving mining methods, adding scientific innovation, et cetera- but the parallel part is creating economic sustainability in other areas.”
To address the intersectional nature of economic development, the Bahia model will also support the UN SDG’s on food security and the Paris Climate Agreement’s 4% Initiative. Cook will utilize an organic farming method native to the northern region of the state, named Mandala for its innovative design; which operates on solar power and natural irrigation. The organic farm will provide food directly to the mining community and contribute to carbon sequestration. The farm’s surplus will be sold at the market and revenue will be returned to supporting its upkeep. Furthermore, the organic farm will be open to the local primary school as an educational component on natural resources and food growing practices.
The Bahia Model seeks to be a replicable model for other areas of the world as many artisanal mining communities exist in poverty and remain disenfranchised. Brian hopes to reflect the potential of the industry to affect meaningful change:
“Shine a light on everyone doing good in this industry. The future needs to go this way. I want our industry to be a leader- be ahead of the game, not catching up.”
The Cook team is continuing with the planning of the Bahia Sustainable Mining Model and is seeking support from the Jewelry Industry Summit community in the form of financial management, advising, funding, and marketing. If you are interested in getting involved or helping to support the Bahia Sustainable Mining Model, please contact Brian Cook at email@example.com. For additional information or questions, please contact the Jewelry Industry Summit at firstname.lastname@example.org.