In July 2006, after a more than two and a half years of discussions, CIBJO was accepted as a member of ECOSOC, which is the United Nations Economic and Social Council. As such, CIBJO became the first and only member of the greater jewellery industry to be officially granted consultative status by the United Nations.
CIBJO’s membership in ECOSOC and its forging of a formal relationship on behalf of the greater jewellery industry within the United Nations provided a timely opportunity for the sector. As members of diamond and jewellery industries had been made very much aware of in recent years, the approach by government is that social programmes cannot be funded by taxes and charity alone. The business community is expected to play its part, and in particular there is a demand that the luxury product sector must demonstrate that it abides by the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
At the CIBJO Congress in Cape Town in 2007, CIBJO members adopted a resolution reaffirming their strong commitment to shape a responsible and sustainable jewellery industry. The Cape Town Declaration, as it came to be known, spoke directly about the jewellery industry’s commitment to its new relationship with the United Nations. “The jewellery industry, as a member of the international business community, shares a responsibility toward the greater society in seeking practical solutions towards the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, as well as to developing a global partnership for development,” it stated.
On October 29, 2007, CIBJO organised a day-long conference at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. Conducted in part by senior representatives of the United Nations Development Programme, it aimed to investigate how CIBJO can build for the jewellery sector a model that will promote its contribution to the MDGs, through responsible business. It was at this event that CIBJO laid out an initial action plan for the development of a comprehensive CSR training programme for its members.
In November 2007, it was announced that CIBJO had reached an understanding with ECOSOC to develop a project that will assist in the creation of viable and sustainable jewellery industries in developing countries. It would involve the establishment of a body called the World Jewellery Confederation Education Foundation (WJCEF). Initial funding for the establishment of WJCEF was provided through generous grants made by the Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC) and the Gem Certification & Assurance Lab, Inc., (GCAL) of New York.
In January 2008, upon the advice of the United Nations, CIBJO retained the Association Internationale des Formateurs en Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Dévelopment (AIFOMD) to create a team of CSR experts that would undertake a feasibility study for the design and development of CSR/MDG-oriented training modules, which in turn would be made available to members of the jewellery sector.
In April 2008, at the CIBJO Congress in Dubai, the CIBJO General Assembly formally approved a resolution calling for the creation of WJCEF. The foundation was formally registered in December 2008 as a non-profit foundation under Swiss law.
WJCEF’s first Executive Course in Corporate Social Responsibility was conducted in Belgium in June 2010.
In 2010 WJCEF helped organise a workshop on CSR, which served as the keynote event of UNITAR Week in the United Nations Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. The event was attended by high-ranking UN officials, members of the Chinese government, jewellery industry leaders from around the world and other business leaders.
Under CIBJO’s banner, WJCEF was instrumental the creation in 2011 of the United Nations International Training Centre for Corporate Opportunities (ITCCO), which is headquartered in Antwerp. The ITTCO programme covers human rights, labour and environmental issues, business codes of ethics, corporate social investment, corporate sustainability and governance issues that are most relevant to the complete pipeline of the jewellery industry.