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Iris Van der Veken Joins Cartier-Kering Initiative

Jul 12, 2022 5:28 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT... Iris Van der Veken, former head of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), will lead an organization established by a consortium of luxury brands to promote sustainability in the jewelry industry.

Cartier, part of Richemont, and Kering launched the Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030 (WJI) as a collaboration to drive three core sustainability goals: building climate resilience, preserving resources, and fostering inclusiveness. The targets are based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new body was established in October 2021, and formalized in April.

“This is quite a groundbreaking initiative in that two important players in the jewelry and watch industry have started this as a coalition with very ambitious goals,” Van der Veken told Rapaport News. “The fact that you have these leaders in the luxury sector that will drive that agenda is very good news for the whole industry.”

The appointment as executive director and secretary general of WJI comes three months after Van der Veken resigned from the RJC over the standard body’s handling of Alrosa’s continued membership after Russia invaded Ukraine. Richemont and Kering brands were among the companies that also quit the RJC, though they subsequently rejoined. The Russian miner eventually stepped down from the organization voluntarily.

The coalition is keen to forge alliances with other bodies, including the RJC, recognizing they fill different roles in the industry. Whereas the RJC is mandated to shape standards for the industry and ensure those are aligned with international best practices and policy, WJI’s focus will be on action and measuring impact, Van der Veken explained.

“Of course, there will be synergies, and I think that’s where the opportunity lies to work together because you will have companies that implement a standard but want to go beyond to measure impact,” she said. “I think that’s where we can be a driver of change.”

WJI will use data to measure its progress, Van der Veken noted. It is currently identifying what data is most relevant and material, she added. It will rely on existing initiatives such as Science Based Targets (SBT), which is focused on corporate climate action, as well as newer areas such as biodiversity protection, and materials and business-model innovation, the group added.

Other companies have joined WJI since its inception, including Chanel, Montblanc, Pandora, Rosy Blue, and Swarovski, and it is looking to grow its membership across the supply chain.

“When the SDGs came into action, for the first time there was so much more stakeholder consultation and much more of a role for the private sector,” Van der Veken said. “You need CEOs and business to step up. Governments, of course, have a responsibility to set policies, but CEOs can really move the agenda.”

WJI is based at Geneva’s Maison de la Paix (House of Peace), where Van der Veken will build her team. 

Image: Iris Van der Veken. (WJI)

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Tags: Avi Krawitz, Cartier, Chanel, diamonds, Iris Van der Veken, jewellery, Jewelry, kering, Maison de la Paix, Montblanc, Pandora, Rapaport, Rapaport News, Richemont, rosy blue, Swarovski, watches
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