AWARDS – Environmental health nonprofit Pure Earth honors jewelry industry leader Iris Van der Veken with Impact Award


The international nonprofit Pure Earth, a leader in addressing global toxic pollution, will honor jewelry industry leader Iris Van der Veken with the 2023 Pure Earth Impact Award in a ceremony at the Pure Earth Benefit on October 16 in New York City. 

The Pure Earth Impact award is given annually to individuals whose contributions have resulted in extraordinary impact on global issues protecting people and the planet. Recipients serve as inspiring examples to all who take action to make positive change in this world.

AWARDS – Environmental health nonprofit Pure Earth honors jewelry industry leader Iris Van der Veken with Impact Award

Iris Van Der Veken

Iris Van der Veken is being honored with the 2023 Pure Earth Impact Award for her exceptional leadership over two decades, her long-term commitment to sustainability, the successful partnerships she has developed on the ground, and her strong activism on human rights and gender.       

“Iris has spearheaded ESG reporting, initiated the United Nations Global Compact Network for Belgium, and was the first woman to successfully lead the Responsible Jewellery Council. In her new role based in Geneva at the Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030, she is again advancing the 2030 agenda through a multi stakeholder approach and a strong partnership with United Nations Global Compact, UN Women and ESG Book. She is truly a change agent and she has sparked a movement that will not only protect the environment, but also the lives of so many people working along the watch and jewellery supply chain,” says Richard Fuller, President and Founder of Pure Earth.

“I am deeply honored to receive this Impact award from Pure Earth. The jewelry industry is an important part of the solution and the work Pure Earth is doing to reduce global mercury emissions by championing responsible, mercury-free gold mining practices, that includes the reforestation of damaged land. We all have a shared responsibility in leaving no one behind. Sustainability is a journey and it takes CEO leadership and everyone’s involvement throughout the supply chain to create a positive impact on the ground. It is not easy and it requires hard work and commitment. I would like to dedicate this award to everyone in our industry, from mining to retail, that advances the 2030 agenda,” says Van der Veken.

Iris Van der Veken is currently the Executive Director of the Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030 (WJI 2030). Founded by Kering and Cartier, WJI 2030 is guided by the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. WJI 2030 brings together CEOs and decision-makers from all watch and jewellery players with a national and international footprint, to make a meaningful difference on three key pillars: climate resilience, preserving resources, and inclusiveness. Its members engage with global experts on business and sustainability in a multi-stakeholder ecosystem. The work is focused on delivering concrete and measurable impact to the global jewellery and watch industry and society at large. In an ever-evolving consumer and regulatory landscape, WJI 2030 guides its members to be fit for purpose, building trust through transparency and measured progress.

Why Pure Earth Works Collaboratively with the Jewellery Industry

The watch and jewellery industry holds the key to a better world without mercury
pollution and poisoning because much of the mercury released into the environment today is the result of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), which supplies about a quarter of the world’s gold. Mercury released into the environment travels around the world and contaminates rivers and oceans, fish and other marine animals, and eventually the global food chain.

Pure Earth works collaboratively with the jewelry industry on projects to help train
artisanal and small-scale gold miners worldwide in mercury-free techniques. In the Peruvian Amazon, Pure Earth is the leading organization working directly with miners to go mercury free and to restore land damaged by destructive mining practices.

The centerpiece of Pure Earth’s ongoing collaboration with the jewelry industry is the annual Pure Earth Pure Gold collection, which aims to raise awareness about the global impact of mercury pollution from gold mining, the plight of artisanal and small-scale gold miners, and the solutions being implemented in the Amazon rainforest and beyond. The annual auction raises funds to support Pure Earth’s work.

Previous Pure Earth Impact Award recipients include Beth Gerstein, the co-founder and CEO of the global jewelry company Brilliant Earth, which is working with Pure Earth to test and establish the first mercury-free gold supply chain from the Peruvian Amazon.

About Pure Earth

Pure Earth is a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and improving lives and protecting the planet by solving disease-causing pollution in low-and middle-income countries. Pure Earth prioritizes actions that protect the developing brains and bodies of children and pregnant women living in toxic hot spots with a specific emphasis on lead and mercury exposure. Partnering with governments, communities, and industry leaders, Pure Earth aims to elevate pollution as a global priority, create sustainable change, and support a healthier future. Watch “One in 36 Million,” the Pure Earth film about childhood lead poisoning in Bangladesh that was recently awarded the Grand Prix prize at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health For All film festival.