Artisanal mining: the SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals were developed and launched in 2015 by the United Nations, setting a standard for all countries and all sectors to work towards improvements in the human condition by 2030. Of the 17 goals, at least 11 are directly relevant to artisanal diamond mining operations and communities. The chart below demonstrates how DDI’s work contributes to the achievement of development progress in each of these 11 areas.

1 Poverty – End poverty in all its forms everywhere More than a million African and South American artisanal diamond diggers and their families live in absolute poverty, working outside the formal economy, three quarters of them in countries struggling to recover from the ravages of war.  By formalizing the artisanal diamond mining sector and professionalizing their operations, DDI works to ensure that miners improve their productivity and receive fair pay for their work.
2 Food - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture Many miners are also seasonal subsistence farmers, at the mercy of unstable yields. Others are migrant workers, with no land to farm and therefore no reliable source of food. Additionally, artisanal and small-scale mining operations have a direct negative impact on food security by degrading arable land and waterways. The Maendeleo Diamond Standards require responsible use of land and water, and rehabilitation of mine sites for other purposes, including agriculture. Miners who receive fair pay will also be able to buy food for their families.
3 Health - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages Miners, working in or close to polluted water, are vulnerable to water-borne diseases, malaria, infections and skin conditions. Some sites present safety risks. Sexually-transmitted diseases are common in areas with a high percentage of transient workers. The Maendeleo Diamond Standards contain numerous provisions for the health and safety of miners, including first aid training, safe working conditions, clean drinking water and proper sanitation.
4 Education - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all A large number of artisanal diamond diggers are children who are missing out on their education. DDI requires complete absence of child labour on certified sites, and is working to provide access to education for children, beginning with mobile schooling as a bridge to long-term education. Work-related training is also provided to miners.
5 Women - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls Only a small number of women are diggers and very few are mining operation owners, but they provide a wide range of support services in artisanal mining operations with little recognition or remuneration.  Maendeleo Diamond Standards ensure fair treatment and pay for all workers, and provide protection of human rights, including protection from harassment and violence for women.
6 Water - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all Most artisanal mining communities are far from cities and outside areas serviced with basic infrastructure or sanitation. Children especially are susceptible to diarrhoea and disease and many die before the age of 5. DDI requires that mining sites provide clean drinking water and basic latrine facilities, sometimes providing wells where there is no other source of clean water for entire communities.
8 Economy - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all Artisanal diamond diggers are the poorest link in the lucrative supply chain of gem-quality diamonds from mine to retail, often working for under $2 a day. Miners and local traders have little understanding of the value of the stones and are vulnerable to exploitation. DDI provides knowledge on diamond value, enhancing the miners’ ability to negotiate and therefore improve their economic security. The MDS program, certifying responsibly sourced diamonds from mine to retail, creates sustainable economic development for diggers, traders and their communities.
9 Infrastructure - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation Artisanal mining is a system of exploitation that has remained relatively unchanged for 75 years. ADM communities often lag behind in terms of infrastructure and development By bringing informal miners and communities into the formal sector, DDI gives them a stake in the sustainability of an industry that is key to the economies of more than 15 African countries.
14 Marinosystems - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development Artisanal mining is largely an alluvial operation, taking place in and around small waterways. Diverting the course of rivers and streams to facilitate digging for diamonds may seriously compromise water systems that are essential to farming, fishing and human habitation. A site that is certified by DDI demonstrates respect for marinosystems, including the water and the plant and animal life it supports.
15 Ecosystems - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss Artisanal diamond mining has stripped thousands of square miles of topsoil from arable land across Africa. Vegetation and animal habitats have been damaged or destroyed. Unregulated mining practices rarely incorporate environmental sustainability. DDI trains miners and site operators in environmentally sound operations and requires a rehabilitation plan for the land when the site is closed.
17 Sustainability - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development Unregulated mining operations are a breeding ground for corruption, exploitation and social and environmental degradation. DDI brings together governments, the diamond and jewelry industries, civil societies, donor agencies and technical experts to find sustainable solutions for the development issues faced by artisanal miners and their communities.

For more information visit The Sustainable Development Goals.