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CRJP Asks WWF-UK to Withdraw 'Deeper Luxury' Report

Rae cites errors of commission and omission in condemning analysis

Dec 7, 2007 1:19 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... The Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices (CRJP) took issue with a recent report published by WWF-UK (read) titled Deeper Luxury.

CRJP's CEO Michael Rae distributed a letter  to the group and other NGOs, CRJP members, and the media stating the WWF-UK and its publisher "deserve the strongest condemnation for the completely undeserved and unwarranted criticism" regarding several CRJP members. WWF-UK scored Tiffany &  Co., LVMH, PPR, Richemont, Bulgari and others for sustainable environmental record, as well as the way in which the brands have been judged by non governmental organizations and the media. (Scroll to end of the story to read the letter.)

Rae stated to WWF-UK that the report be withdrawn "until such time as its errors of commission and omission are rectified."

First of all, the CRJP believes scoring used for Deeper Luxury was fatally flawed and did not include consultation with the companies named in the report. "A simple phone call, letter or email to the CRJP or any one of its member jewelry companies would have revealed the nature and value of the work being done with WWF and others to progress the professed agenda of Deeper Luxury," Rae wrote.

The CRJP was profoundly concerned that WWF published Deeper Luxury with "exceptionally unprofessional content and tone" and the industry group was "bitterly disappointed" that the report would adversely reflect upon the WWF and its staff after having collaborated with CRJP and its members in the past.

Deeper Luxury made no mention of proactive practices taken by (in particular) Bulgari, Cartier, LVMH, and Tiffany, together with WWF through the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, Madison Dialogue, and the Diamond Development Initiative. "[Deeper Luxury] also fails to acknowledge the fine work WWF has pioneered in this area through the Framework for Responsible Mining and the Mining Certification Evaluation Project," Rae wrote.

"These omissions also deny the report the opportunity to effectively compare and contrast between the pro-sustainability initiatives evidenced by the gold and diamond jewelry sector in collaboration with WWF and other NGOs, as against a general failure to progress the sustainability agenda in other consumer goods sectors.

"If the report had contained such information it would have been far more useful to WWF as a campaigning tool to advance the adoption of sustainable practices in the other sectors of the consumer goods industry," Rae wrote.

 

----------------------


Mr. David Nussbaum,   
Chief Executive Officer,
WWF-UK
Panda House
Weyside Park
Godalming
Surrey GU7 1XR


Dear Mr Nussbaum,

Re: “Deeper Luxury”

I thank you for the opportunity for the telephone conversation we had on Wednesday, 4th December, 2007, to discuss the major concerns the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices (CRJP) has with the recently released WWF-UK report on sustainability and the luxury goods industry, entitled “Deeper Luxury.”

I write this letter to formally register with WWF the CRJP’s profound disagreements with some of the contents of, and omissions from, the report.  Consequently, the CRJP strongly recommends that WWF withdraw the report until such time as its errors of commission and omission are rectified.

The CRJP believes the report and WWF-UK, as its publisher, deserve the strongest condemnation for the completely undeserved and unwarranted criticism the report contains regarding a number of CRJP Members and, indirectly, the entire “brand” of gold and diamond jewellery.

The CRJP believes the scoring methodology used in the report is fatally flawed, based as it is on a seemingly perfunctory review of company and media websites, with no actual direct consultation with the companies named in the report.  The CRJP is very concerned that not one of its Members named in the report was consulted by the report’s authors prior to publication.  A simple phone call, letter or email to the CRJP or any one of its Member jewellery companies would have revealed the nature and value of the work being done with WWF and others to progress the professed agenda of “Deeper Luxury.”

The CRJP can only wonder as to the unprofessionalism, or perhaps motives, behind the many glaring omissions in the report relating to the work being done by the CRJP’s membership in the gold and diamond jewellery sector – often in collaboration with WWF - to address the very sustainability issues raised in the report.  The CRJP was founded to advance responsible practices in the gold and diamond jewellery industry from mine through to retail.  CRJP Members are publicly committed to ensuring that the provenance of gold and diamond jewellery meets consumers’ expectations regarding responsible environmental, social and ethical performance.

The CRJP is profoundly concerned that WWF, a NGO previously respected by the CRJP and its Members, would publish something with the exceptionally unprofessional content and tone of this report.  At the same time, the CRJP is bitterly disappointed that this report will undoubtedly adversely reflect on the professional capacities of WWF as an organisation and those WWF staff who are both blameless for the content of this report and who have intelligently and honourably collaborated with the CRJP, its Member companies and other NGOs in a number of fora to address responsible practices in the gold and diamond jewellery industry.

The CRJP believes the report to represent a classic example of an “own goal” by WWF, in that it severely damages the WWF brand because of its demonstrably poorly conducted research, research that comprehensively failed to acknowledge the exemplary collaborative work being undertaken by industry and civil society, including NGOs such as Earthworks, Oxfam and Conservation International, to achieve sustainability in the gold and diamond industry. It would be laughable if it were not so tragic that much of this work has been in partnership with - and often led - by WWF.

The report makes no mention of the proactive role the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices' Members (including Bulgari, Cartier, LVMH and Tiffany & Co. amongst others) have taken, together with WWF, through the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) http://www.responsiblemining.net, the Madison Dialogue http://www.madisondialogue.org and the Diamond Development Initiative http://www.ddiglobal.org to achieve sustainability in the gold and diamond industry. It also fails to acknowledge the fine work WWF has pioneered in this area through the Framework for Responsible Mining http://www.frameworkforresponsiblemining.org and the Mining Certification Evaluation Project http://www.minerals.csiro.au/sd/SD_MCEP.htm 

These omissions also deny the report the opportunity to effectively compare and contrast between the pro-sustainability initiatives evidenced by the gold and diamond jewellery sector in collaboration with WWF and other NGOs, as against a general failure to progress the sustainability agenda in other consumer goods sectors.  If the report had contained such information it would have been far more useful to WWF as a campaigning tool to advance the adoption of sustainable practices in the other sectors of the consumer goods industry.
 
The CRJP views WWF as an important stakeholder in the Council’s efforts to ensure responsible practices in the gold and diamond jewellery industry – from mine to retail.  To that end, this letter is copied to senior WWF officials, including the WWF-International Secretary-General and the CEOs of WWF-USA, WWF-Australia, WWF-Sweden and WWF-Denmark.  The letter has also been copied to the CRJP’s partners in IRMA, the Madison Dialogue and the Diamond Development Initiative and posted on the CRJP website.

In conclusion, I reiterate the CRJP’s strong recommendation that WWF withdraw the report “Deeper Luxury” until such time as its errors of commission and omission can be rectified.  In preparation for the rewriting of the report, WWF should direct the authors to consult with all relevant WWF staff members engaged in efforts pertaining to the sustainability of the gold and diamond industry, particularly in IRMA and the Madison Dialogue.  The CRJP and its Members look forward to being consulted by the authors.

Yours sincerely,
 
Michael Rae
Chief Executive Officer 


 

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Waste of ink, paper and pixels
Dec 10, 2007 10:50AM    By Jennifer Truman
Deeper Luxury, despite Bendell's pathetic reaction to Michael Rae's letter, suffers from a complete lack of professional rigour and a total absence of intellectual substance. The report reads like a school project done by a teenager. Rae missed the point simply because the report is pointless. We all missed the point. Those "journalists" who extracted rubbish from the report ought to be ashamed of themselves. I feel sorry for the WWF supporters who contributed to financing this waste of ink, paper and pixels. Even by the standards of intellectual masturbation, the report is a truly sad piece of work.
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Inaccuracies in this story
Dec 7, 2007 3:53PM    By Jem Bendell
As the independent consultant working on this report, not speaking for WWF-UK and not contracted by them at this time, I would like to note some inaccuracies in this story and letter.

The story says the researchers "did not include consultation with the companies named in the report." However, at least two people from each luxury group were contacted by fax and email with a survey, in the summer of 07, with a reminder also sent. Only Loreal, Swatch and Richemont were prepared to meet the research team. Given this, data from such consultation could not, therefore, be included in the report.

The accusation is that the report has: "exceptionally unprofessional content and tone". However, the report is being welcomed by many in the industry as a constructive and positive document (for instance see www.authenticluxury.net). To speak of "tone" without providing examples makes it difficult to respond to effectively.

The story says "Deeper Luxury made no mention of proactive practices taken by (in particular) Bulgari, Cartier, LVMH, and Tiffany," However, the report makes a number of mentions of work being done by these companies, including in partnership with WWF, and also welcomes the initiative of CRJP including a link to the website even in the text of the report. Global Witness has made criticisms of the lack of progress in establishing systems for verfication of codes, and misleading PR. We mention the criticisms and the progress being made in a chapter that provides an overview of public concerns, to illustrate the importance of the luxury sector to sustainable consumption.

Mr Rae's letter seems to misunderstand the methodology, which uses the same approach as much of the world's socially responsible investment industry, by comparing and contrasting corporate policies, programmes, stakeholder dialogues and reporting. There is nothing, therefore, unusual about the report's approach. If the companies communicated their work on environmental and social issues better to ethical investment research firms in standardised ways, then people managing the trillions of dollars of assets now committed to responsible investment would find it easier to assess such claims. This is why one of our key recommendations is for more work by these companies with the Global Reporting Initiative.

I understand that Mr Rae had a distinguished career with WWF in the past and is therefore personally concerned with some parts of this report now that he works with the companies affected. His criticisms tend to miss the point of the report, however, which is to promote the business case for a more responsible and sustainable form of luxury, and to encourage credible reporting of performance on that. I will be in touch with him directly about this but post this comment now as the story has been released on this site.

I encourage readers to make their own minds up at www.wwf.org.uk/deeperluxury

Regards, Dr Jem Bendell, Lifeworth. www.lifeworth.com (coauthor of Deeper Luxury)
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