The Swiss Better Gold Association is a pioneering network of industry, finance and other service providers which support the creation of responsible gold value chains from mine to market.
The Swiss Better Gold Association takes the following approach:
- Accept only metal originating from accredited responsible artisanal, small and, when significant social and environmental impact can be achieved, medium scale sources
- Achieve shorter supply chains and facilitate direct exports for ASM gold producers
- Mobilise stakeholders along the supply chain to establish and improve their efficiency
- Promote environmental and social improvements locally through the Better Gold Fund (BGF)
- Identify member-funded projects that enable faster ASGM improvement
Continuous improvement is a core principle of Swiss Better Gold and one that is fundamental to its success. Participating artisanal and small-scale gold mining operations are incentivised to continuously improve their practices and, step-by-step, demonstrate conformance with the Swiss Better Gold sourcing criteria (see below). This progressive approach is known as the Swiss Better Gold Continuous Improvement Escalator.
Swiss Better Gold Continuous Improvement Escalator
The Swiss Better Gold Continuous Improvement Escalator has three steps throughout which the ASGM operations are accompanied by the Swiss Better Gold implementing partners to make social and environmental improvements and meet the Swiss Better Gold sourcing criteria, maintain the good practices achieved, and make use of the Swiss Better Gold premium. For producers that wish to enter specialist markets, Swiss Better Gold supports those ASGM operations on a separate process to gain certification by a voluntary sustainability standard body such as, for example, Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). The Swiss Better Gold approach is summarised in the Swiss Better Gold sourcing strategy (see below).
Each step of this Continuous Improvement Escalator is linked to a specific incentive which encourages miners and panners to continue to work towards better practices and improve their organisational capacity, as well as mine more productively, efficiently, safely, and cleanly. For that purpose, the Swiss Better Gold Association has identified the following incentives for ASGM:
Access to Swiss Better Gold Association Members Market
For many artisanal and small-scale gold producers, having access to Swiss Better Gold Association's members’ value chains brings greater economic benefits as association members offer better trade conditions.
Technical Assistance by Swiss Better Gold Initiative
Supported by the Swiss Better Gold Association and SECO funds, the Swiss Better Gold Initiative's teams reach many ASGM operations with the potential and willingness to become part of the Swiss Better Gold programme and comply with the Swiss Better Gold sourcing criteria with due support from the teams on the ground.
Co-Financing Community Development
The Swiss Better Gold Association offers eligible ASGM operations co-funding for community development projects that contribute to the social and/or environmental development of their mining communities.
The performance of ASGM producers is tracked and reported in two ways. Firstly, the Swiss Better Gold implementing partners, such as the Swiss Better Gold Initiative, continuously monitor the progress of ASGM operators, maintain records of performance and report to the association secretariat. Secondly, a series of verification “events” by independent Swiss Better Gold verifiers trigger accreditation of ASGM producers at different steps of the escalator by the association secretariat.
Swiss Better Gold incentive system
As an industry association, the Swiss Better Gold Association has always remained pragmatic and rational in its approach. The association members have collectively developed a sustainable self-funding incentive approach. The incentive of 1 USD per gram generated through purchases of Swiss Better Gold is reinvested in ASGM production via technical, social, and environmental development projects on the ground, as well as used to finance verification costs.
Swiss Better Gold sourcing criteria
The Swiss Better Gold sourcing criteria are the basis of the Swiss Better Gold Continuous Improvement approach. They are aligned with international standards and guidelines, such as the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas or the LBMA Responsible Sourcing Programme.
If you want to know more about the Swiss Better Gold sourcing criteria, visit the Swiss Better Gold Initiative’s website.