December 16, 2020

The Swiss Better Gold Initiative

Despite a challenging year for all stakeholders involved in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining value chains, there has been serious work done to increase the sustainability of the sector.

© BGI

Actions taken to combat the vulnerability of Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners

In our collective memory, 2020 will remain as the year in which a global pandemic caused immense impacts and disturbances across the planet. Among other sectors, the outbreak of Coronavirus exposed the already vulnerable Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) group even more. Poverty, amplified insecurity, health issues and limited access to governmental services marked the year of many ASM miners.

The value chains were – and some still are – massively disturbed. Production, as well as the demand for responsible gold, have both been affected by the sanitary and economic crisis. Reacting to the threats from the Coronavirus outbreak in ASM, the Swiss Better Gold Initiative (BGI) has immediately responded with several emergency measures, whereby demonstrating not only the continued engagement for ASM, but also its flexibility, driven by mutual trust established among the stakeholders.

Within this complex and dynamic context, many measures on different levels have been implemented by the public-private partnership. The following list (non-exhaustive) shows several of the measures achieved in 2020.

Swiss Administration

1. Switzerland submitted a proposal to the World Customs Organization (WCO) regarding an amendment to the international customs duty classification for gold. The aim of the proposal is to improve transparency and traceability in the international gold trade by making it possible to distinguish between various classes of gold. Switzerland will implement the proposed amendment for gold imports into Switzerland from Friday, 1 January 2021. The existing competitive conditions for the Swiss gold sector will be maintained at an international level.

2. The Swiss Parliament approved the Swiss international cooperation strategy 2021–2024.[1] This strategy lays the legal ground for future interventions in the development cooperation, and hence also for the Better Gold Initiative.

3. The Swiss Government is in a close dialogue with various stakeholders, including civil society organizations, academics, refiners and commodity traders on the Swiss proposal for increasing transparency, competitiveness, innovation, sustainability and further dialogue for the sector.

4. The Federal Council adopted the revised CSR Action Plan 2020-2023 and hence confirmed the commitment to responsible business conduct. The CSR Action Plan sets out expectations of companies with regard to their conduct, as well as the Confederation’s CSR-related activities.

5. The Federal Council approved its anti-corruption strategy for the 2021–2024 period. [2] This strategy defines numerous objectives ranging from prevention and law enforcement to international cooperation.

© SBGA