Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Chatham House event highlights influence on business of global environmental campaigns

Fri Jun 02 15:12:00 BST 2017



— The book presents the findings from a campaign for ethically-sourced gold in the consumer jewellery market.


New researcher in our Department of Social & Policy Sciences, Dr Michael Bloomfield, spoke at Chatham House, London on the expanding role of business in global environmental politics.

Dr Bloomfield, from our Centre for Development Studies who specialises in the political economy of resource supply chains, has recently authored ‘ Dirty Gold: How Activism Transformed the Jewellery Industry ’.

Dirty Gold focuses on what happened when Earthworks, a small Washington-based NGO, launched a campaign for ethically-sourced gold in the consumer jewellery market, targeting Tiffany and other major firms. It explores how the campaign unfolded and its impact on the industry. The book also unpicks how and why individual company responses to the campaign differed so drastically from one another. In doing so, it offers important lessons in business influence on global environmental politics.

At the talk in London, Dr Bloomfield presented findings from the book, focusing on how three companies ended up leading the industry response to the ‘No Dirty Gold’ campaign: Tiffany, Wal-Mart and Brilliant Earth. These examples serve as important case studies in how some firms come to lead the response to activist pressure, as well as the implications of their responses.

He explained: “One of the main drivers of increasing business engagement in global politics can be attributed to changing activist tactics. Activist groups have been increasingly targeting big, branded companies in their campaigns to change practices along industry supply chains. It is important that we understand how companies are responding and, especially, what these responses mean for people and the planet.
“Dirty Gold tells the story of a specific campaign targeting a specific industry. But the book is about much more than this. It is about improving our understanding of activist-industry dynamics: why they do what they do and what effect they are having on global environmental politics.”

Find out more about Dirty Gold, published by MIT Press.