INTERVIEW – WJI 2030 creates momentum at Watches and Wonders, with a C-Suite Panel, during the launch of its second Stakeholder Report

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GENEVA – Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030 (WJI 2030) created new momentum in moves towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the watches and jewellery industry, at a high-level panel discussion at Watches and Wonders on April 10, 2024, focused on collective action. WJI 2030 Executive Director Iris Van Der Veken explains the key takeaways to Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough.

Why does collective action matter in the watches and jewellery industry, in order to make progress on the SDGs?

In September WJI 2030 was at the General Assembly where we heard the discouraging facts that 85% of the targets are not on track.

That’s why we need to forward faster across industries. For the watch and jewellery industry this is particularly important because we are in the business of building dreams. When consumers visit a boutique or retailer, they are looking for an emotional purchase, that is not only about beauty and craftsmanship, but also purpose.

Trust is key, for which the basis is transparency, and responsible practices.

In practice, this means we need to take care of our people, our connected value chains, and understand how our products are made, and where they are coming from. We also need to understand what positive and negative impacts we can have.

No one can do this alone.

Collective action has the potential to increase awareness, and foster education and capacity building across the value chain. The 2030 agenda is about leaving no one behind. We as an industry can work smarter together to protect the integrity of our creations.

What were the key takeaways from the WJI 2030 panel discussion at Watches & Wonders on April 10, 2024?

INTERVIEW – WJI 2030 creates momentum at Watches and Wonders, with a C-Suite Panel, during the launch of its second Stakeholder Report

I had indeed the pleasure to moderate a C-Suite panel of executives on the topic “Up to 2030: Why Collective Action Matters.” The panel included Cyrille Vigneron, President & CEO of Cartier; Dr Anino Emuwa, Founder of 100 Women @ Davos; Frederic Grangie, CEO of CHANEL Watches & Jewellery; and Dr. Daniel Klier, Advisor to the ESG Committee at WJI 2030.

Key takeaways included:

• We need to work together to protect the environment and advocate for social justice. This is an obligation. Collective action is mandatory: there is no other way. 

• We are in an industry that makes beautiful creations that are meant to last forever. This cannot be about only the big players but making sure the big brands can come together and support the smaller company players. We need to measure and KPIs (key performance indicators) are critical. 

• There is currently a competition for talent. The world’s diverse talent needs to be tapped into. Youth demo is becoming more important in this industry. It’s not only the right thing to do, the numbers show it. Diverse leadership brings better decision making and innovation. Culture matters. 

• We need accountability. Transparency matters, and it’s a journey. Reporting is not about storytelling. It is about collecting relevant data to show progress over time in an honest way. It’s about being fit for purpose in an ever-evolving regulatory landscape. Reporting accomplishes the following: it levels the playing field, creates consistency, and increases pace. 

• We see great progress with large companies leading the way as they have the capacity to do so. But to reach our collective goals by 2030 we need to bring suppliers onboard. It is about educating and building capacity across the value chain.

Going forward, how can WJI 2030 contribute towards collective action in the watches and jewellery industry?

WJI 2030 is truly a multi stakeholder ecosystem. It brings different key stakeholders together and has a strong governance to reach these goals.

It brings the whole supply chain together. It helps define fundamentals axis on the three pillars identified: building climate resilience, preserving resources, and fostering inclusiveness. It leads to implementing best practices, to measuring impacts, and monitoring progress.

WJI 2030 is an example to show that you can bring together key stakeholders who are competitors in the industry but have the same goals and responsibilities. Unless we act collectively, we won’t be successful.

Sharing best practices, implementing measurement tools, committing to transparent reporting, together, creates a true community of like-minded companies that expands the scope of actions. When efforts, investments and visions are shared, it multiplies their efficiency:

Within the luxury goods industry, I think we’re ahead on some of today’s challenges because we create products that are intended to last and be passed down from generation to generation. Yet we need to be conscious of our impacts and strive to reduce them.

INTERVIEW – WJI 2030 creates momentum at Watches and Wonders, with a C-Suite Panel, during the launch of its second Stakeholder Report

What is WJI 2030’s track record to date?

Over the past year, WJI 2030 has continued to strengthen its engagement with key stakeholders while embarking on a journey dedicated to action, collaboration, impact, and transparency.

The Annual Progress Report showcases progress of the Initiative and its Members in accelerating the pathway on the three strategic pillars – climate resilience, preserving resources and fostering inclusiveness.

Under Pillar 1 Climate Resilience, WJI 2030 has built member capacity on setting science based targets through face-to-face workshops, a series of webinars, resources and guidance materials on the science based target journey, and launched the SBTi for SMEs training module with help desk support with experts.

Looking back at 2023, significant progress has been made by members in their climate resilience journey, with 48% of Maison and Partner members meeting the minimum commitment on Climate Resilience to sign and submit the Science Based Targets initiatives (SBTi) commitment letter.

Acknowledging that SMEs require special support and guidance. We are proud to have launched the SME Solutions Lab in collaboration with United Nations Global Compact.

Under Pillar 2 Preserving Resources, WJI 2030 acknowledges that this topic is challenging for many of its members, and therefore additional capacity has been invested through expert helpdesk sessions, face-to-face workshops, and webinars, to enable and activate companies on their nature journey.

The Nature Primer was launched to guide members on first concrete actions and to build members’ awareness and familiarity with new global goals for nature, frameworks, and regulations – and begin to make connections to their business.

Currently, on the commitment of setting up a Nature Roadmap for their company commensurate to their level of ambition and capabilities, less than one third (29%) of Maison and Partner members have achieved this goal whereas the remaining members (71%) are in progress or just getting started – with 22% yet to get started.

As a result, WJI 2030 has activated the Nature Roadmap and Nature Playbook to be launched in 2024, and will provide an action pathway aligned with recognised global goals and frameworks, including the work of Business for Nature, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Capitals Coalition, World Economic Forum, and the overarching ACT-D (assess, commit, transform, disclose) model, alongside the guidance and methodologies under development for the Science Based Targets for Nature (STBN), the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), and new reporting standards and regulations such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the Global Reporting Initiative’s updated Biodiversity Standard.

Under Pillar 3, Fostering Inclusiveness, the focus this year has been on building capacity in the operationalisation of Human Rights Due Diligence, Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) implementation, and an introduction to Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Engagement.

A Human Rights Navigator Tool has been developed in December 2023, and the first phase of a Gender Responsive Procurement (GRP) pilot in collaboration with UN Women was completed, and a case study with 9 leading members at the UN General Assembly in September 2023 was published.

Transparency and disclosure is important. In partnership with ESG Book, WJI 2030 has diligently worked over 12 months building a reporting framework aligned with the new regulations and best practices in ESG Reporting.

WJI 2030 and ESG Book identified key topics aligned with WJI 2030 commitments across dominant frameworks and standards, drafted a framework with a distribution of KPIs across three pillars, validated select KPIs with internal and external stakeholders, and developed an accountability mechanism for reporting governance.

Moving forward, a testing period with members will be launched, enabling organisations to interact with the framework and trial a test disclosure on the ESG Book.

As WJI 2030 acknowledges these milestones, they remain humble and are committed to support their members on the implementation of the minimum commitments. All the work that is being developed will ultimately become open source, for the wider industry and beyond.

INTERVIEW – WJI 2030 creates momentum at Watches and Wonders, with a C-Suite Panel, during the launch of its second Stakeholder Report

What are the top immediate priorities? Will partnerships play an important role?

We believe a partnership model is the only way forward. This has been the philosophy of WJI 2030 since the start. Our work with UN Women, the Global Compact and ESG book reflects this vision. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our members, partners, and stakeholders, as well as through cross-industry cooperation, to advance our different workstreams and create measurable positive impact.

Now that the foundation is set with a robust governance, fully operational workstreams and expert partners, it is critical to measure and learn from what works and doesn’t work.

In parallel, we will be engaging with the wider industry to further develop a long-term vision that interconnects climate, nature and human rights.

As regulations are evolving our work on piloting the Interlinkages between CSDDD and CSRD, understanding better the requirements for in scope companies for human rights due diligence and environmental due diligence will give us meaningful insights to share with our members and the wider industry.

As a final question, WJI 2030 has been actively working on Diversity and Inclusion under your third pillar. You have been an activist on this for 20 years. What is happening there ?

Yes, I believe in inclusion. We as an industry need to all understand how critical it is to embrace this topic on the CEO agenda.

Diversity and inclusion are essential in business today as a healthy variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures provides us with the balance of voices and diversity of thought that we need for greater innovation and creativity.

A diverse workforce will let a business stand out from those businesses that still function with only ‘one voice’.

And let’s explore the enormous potential of your customers/potential customers across different markets. You have such a great opportunity to be able to market your jewellery and watches to people from different backgrounds.

Unfortunately, this topic is often not yet integrated at a strategic level, so there is a huge opportunity for our industry to lead the way.

We launched a DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) Taskforce in January 2024, spearheaded by Dr. Anino Emuwa, Founder of 100 Women of Davos with champions from WJI 2030 members and key stakeholders.

We believe it is key to align corporate DE&I programmes with existing frameworks such as the Women Empowerment Principles, adapting DE&I initiatives to the local context while ensuring a global perspective and ambition, positioning accountability for DE&I at the CEO and executive level; and developing, tracking, and disclosing metrics for DE&I consistently and transparently to drive impact.

We will focus on rolling out further programmes on capacity building and engagement with experts and developing a Roadmap as an open-source tool to accelerate progress for our industry.

There is no excuse not to start the journey and we urgently need to step up.

INTERVIEW – WJI 2030 creates momentum at Watches and Wonders, with a C-Suite Panel, during the launch of its second Stakeholder Report