NEW YORK, USA: JUNE , 2017 – Gaetano Cavalieri, the President of CIBJO, has joined a high-level delegation from the Republic of Fiji, led by the country’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, at the Oceans Conference at the United Nations in New York, to outline and promote the development of a sustainable pearl farming sector in Fiji. The project will work to fulfil UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, relating to the health of the oceans, seas and marine environments, as well as provide sustainable economic and sustainable opportunities for the country’s citizens.
Among the members of the Fijian delegation, which presented the project at an official side event during the Oceans Day Conference, were the country’s Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau, and Justin Hunter, Chairman of the Fiji Pearl Association, with which CIBJO has worked to formulate a plan for the development of a national, community-based, pearl farming industry that will enhance the effectiveness of locally managed marine areas, integrated coastal management, and land and sea management programmes, while also creating meaningful employment and income-generating opportunities for communities involved in pearl farming.
The Oceans Conference, which is being co-hosted by the governments of Fiji and Sweden and coincides with World Oceans Day, is intended to advance the conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment, reversing the decline in the health of the earth’s oceans and seas.
“There is one sector of the jewellery industry, where both the product and business associated with it are potentially sustainable, and that is cultured pearls,” said Dr. Cavalieri in his address to the gathering. “For unlike a mine, which has a finite life span, a pearl farm can continue producing indefinitely, on condition that it is responsibly managed. In other words, we have an asset that can be renewed and sustained, which in turn can act as a source of sustainable economic and social opportunity.”
“The Public Private Partnership that is being proposed in Fiji is an example of what a successful pearl industry can aspire to achieve. It offers the promise of building an industry, from the grass roots up, founded on a sustainable and valuable product that is supported by responsible and sustainable environmental practices, which in turn generates sustainable economic and social opportunities for the country and its inhabitants,” Dr. Cavalieri continued.
“Built into the equation is a very positive element of co-dependency. Just as the potential economic and social benefits to the country are dependent upon a viable business model, the business model requires an economic environment in which all stakeholders feel they are benefiting. The one goes hand in hand with the other. And this is all only possible over the long-term if the marine environment is responsibly managed. It is the very epitome of a win-win-win situation,” he added.
The Fijian plan proposes the development of community-owned pearl farms, which will become the stewards of the oceans, while providing opportunities for coastal villages, and especially for woman and young people. The Fijian pearl oyster is officially classified as an indicator species and is well known to be environmentally sensitive. Any decline in water quality has a direct impact on the oyster’s health, reducing the quality of the pearl that is produced. Strict environmentally responsible standards are necessary, therefore, to ensure the economic viability of the project.