‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world’ Mahatma Gandhi
Fairtrade supporters in Guernsey will remember the two visits to our island some years ago by Greg Valerio MBE. Greg inspired many of us and opened our eyes to the challenges faced by small scale producers in the artisanal gold mining sector. Yet of even more importance, he showed us from his first hand experience how Fairtrade can be a solution.
In a new initiative, Greg shares the following with us: “Over the years as I have worked as a Fairtrade jeweller and community activist, I have collected the residue of refined gold that has come from the certified Fairtrade Gold mines. This residue, when re-refined, is Fairtrade Silver. What better way to use these kilos of silver, than to create a limited edition ring, profits of which will go directly to the restoration of The Society St Columba’s Celtic Education Centre (Community Education Learning Training and Innovation Centre).
The urgency of tackling the climate chaos that is now enveloping our beautiful world is an urgent CALL TO ACTION. As a jeweller, I witness how large scale mining destroys entire ecosystems and displaces resident communities. I witness small-scale miners using mercury to process gold, oblivious to the toxic impact mercury has to human health and ecosystems. I currently work alongside communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have been devastated by the ongoing mineral funded conflicts of the region. The legacy of ethical jewellery must be greater than just the jewellery itself.
The Society of St Columba at Chanctonbury has a vision for an ecologically biodiverse and sustainable community farm. St Columba’s Farm is all about investing into a model of community-based living here in England. They have taken on a derelict heritage cattle farm and outbuildings and through prayer, work and education have set about restoring the farm, the land and the wildlife to a thriving integrated ecosystem. The Celtic Education Centre is the education hub of this vision.
Education is best served up as an experience, and in a restored centre where school kids, communities groups, and interested parties can come and learn about how we can restore our beautiful local environments and world to their original glory.
Discover more of the work here. An education centre dedicated to truth-telling and practical experiential learning is a legacy worth investing into.
Please visit my website gregvalerio.com/chanctonburyring to buy one of these limited edition rings.”
Fairtrade farmers are among the people who have contributed the least to climate crisis – but are already feeling the worst effects. 17 people from Cote d’Ivoire have the same carbon footprint as one person in the UK, but studies have shown that Africa is the continent most vulnerable to climate change.
But across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania, it is small-scale farmers who are often feeling the worst effects of climate breakdown. This is because they are less likely to earn a living income due to exploitative global trade and more likely to rely directly on the land they farm for their livelihoods. Climate change is making it harder to farm the land productively, while rigged trade systems which favour the powerful leave farmers unable to earn enough to adapt to the rapidly changing climate.
Ebrottié Tanoh Florentin, a cocoa farmer in Côte d’Ivoire, talks about what climate change means for cocoa farming communities in West Africa. ‘Climate change is a global issue. We, the farmers, have to deal with its consequences every day. For instance, this year we lacked food because of the heat. The production decreased this year too, so this affects the economy. People harvested less and received less money. So we all suffer from the negative consequences of the climate: it impacts the environment and our economy.’
Planning a wedding? Don’t forget, Ray & Scott on the Bridge, St Sampson’s and Wink Jewellers, High Street, St Peter Port stock a lovely range of Fairtrade gold including wedding bands. Make your day memorable and help poor farmers and producers at the same time. And, don’t forget Fairtrade flowers, Fairtrade wine, chocolate and Fairtrade favours!