he announcement by Kering and Cartier (commissioned by Richemont) of the launch of the Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030 on 6 October 2021 caused a stir in the hushed world of luxury. For the first time, major luxury groups – competitors – were openly declaring their desire to “bring together watches and jewellery brands across the globe committing to a set of ambitious and common key sustainability objectives.”
It’s a strong signal, and one that is wholly in proportion with the magnitude of the environmental and social challenges that humanity must urgently face. As the IPCC confirmed once again in the report it published in April, time is running out. According to the intergovernmental group, if we are going to limit global warming to 1.5°C, it’s “now or never”.
- The Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030 was officially created during the last Watches and Wonders trade fair. Chanel Horlogerie Joaillerie, Montblanc, Rosy Blue and Swarovski have joined the association, following the example of Cartier, Kering, Gucci Watches, Boucheron, Pomellato, Dodo and Qeelin.
- ©Grégory Maillot / Point of Views
A numbers game
The 2030 Initiative’s purpose echoes the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as it contributes directly to Goal 17 of “revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development”. But that raises the question: why were all the other major players in the relevant sectors not involved from the outset? That would certainly have facilitated further development.
Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer at Kering, answers: “The approach is collective. The first goal is to commit ourselves, then to convince others as we go along – not only the big European brands, but also smaller ones from other geographical regions. We had a lot of discussions beforehand. It is a strong commitment, and it’s understandable that it should take time. The main thing is to get the momentum going in this decisive Decade of Action.”
- Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer at Kering
- ©Carole Bellaïche
Cyrille Vigneron, President and CEO of Cartier, says: “When we approached the brands, we could tell they were reticent, whether out of timidity or opacity. It was as if they were waiting for someone else to speak up first. But we no longer have the time. We therefore decided to launch the process with Kering. The aim is to solve the pressing problems we face in a collective way, to have the same objectives and to work in the same direction.”
“When we approached the brands, we could tell they were reticent, whether out of timidity or opacity. It was as if they were waiting for someone else to speak up first. But we no longer have the time.”
Encouraging first steps
At the beginning of April, new members began to join the initiative: Chanel Horlogerie et Joaillerie, Montblanc, Rosy Blue and Swarovski. Are we seeing a collective movement start to take shape? The founding members say they are satisfied with these first important steps. Both emphasise a key point: the joint nature of the approach.
“Our structure as an association, based at the Maison de la Paix in Geneva, allows for real leadership and coordination of efforts,” explains Marie-Claire Daveu. “If we are to remain below the 1.5°C temperature increase, we must pull all the levers. The Initiative enables us to share best practices on an open source basis, and even R&D for new innovative technologies. Brands, suppliers, NGOs and the whole supply chain can benefit.”
Cartier’s president stresses: “Within the Initiative, SMEs too will find help with their certification and value chain. It’s a great collective learning experience. We benefit from the invaluable know-how of Kering’s Fashion Pact [of 2019] which today brings together more than 250 fashion brands.”
Attitudes are changing, and these themes are becoming more and more central to brand discussions and communication. However, time is running out. How can we move the needle and overcome inertia? “We have to be very concrete, set ambitious goals, implement the right policies... and accept what is achieved or not,” says Marie-Claire Daveu.
- Cyrille Vigneron, President and CEO of Cartier
“Showing that it is possible to make this in-depth change, that it is not so difficult, will help to normalise the approach and accelerate the dynamic.”
Transparency and mindset change are inseparable from any genuine approach to environmental and social responsibility. Cyrille Vigneron points to the knock-on effect: “The paradigm shift will take place through the combined actions of rising expectations from end consumers, investors and employees. Showing that it is possible to make this in-depth change, that it is not so difficult, will help to normalise the approach and accelerate the dynamic. The luxury sector is not short of resources!”
Both share great hope that the 2030 Initiative will spread rapidly. Marie-Claire Daveu is convinced of it: “There are many discussions at the moment. The reactions are very positive, even if the internal processes are sometimes lengthy. I am very confident that over the course of the year, many brands will join the association.”
The CEO of Cartier adds: “Everyone is very concerned. Some are working on their own and don’t need the Initiative. But as long as the industry as a whole is moving in the same direction, we’ll make progress. You have to accept verifiable transparency, say what you are doing and show it. The Science Based Targets methodology is very useful for this. In any case, it is inevitable!”
“I am very confident that over the course of the year, many brands will join the association.”
What about the RJC?
It’s clear that the decision of Kering and Cartier to leave the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) on 30 March has slowed down the process somewhat and put the brakes on some of our aspirations.
What stage have discussions reached since their exit?
“Discussions are ongoing but no decision has been taken yet. We have to recognise the great work done in the past and build on that foundation,” says Marie-Claire Daveu.
Asked about the decision to leave, Cyrille Vigneron responds, “It was a question of ethics. The RJC Board did not want to make a decision on the suspension of activities with Alrosa. Cartier and Kering therefore went out on their own. Alrosa has now been suspended. Reforms will have to be undertaken to fulfil the obligation for complete traceability. I am hopeful that we are moving towards a re-evaluation of the status and governance of the RJC.”
“Alrosa has now been suspended. Reforms will have to be undertaken to fulfil the obligation for complete traceability. I am hopeful that we are moving towards a re-evaluation of the status and governance of the RJC.”
Individual and collective objectives
Before the industry as a whole can be brought together around common sustainability goals, and with the issue of greenwashing on everyone’s lips, what have Cartier and Kering achieved in this area?
At the end of 2021, Kering achieved one of the main objectives it had set itself for 2025: a 40% reduction in its environmental footprint, in terms of intensity. Its production sites run on 92% renewable or recyclable energy, and 100% of its gold supply is ethically sourced.
Cartier also reports promising results: the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 46% [carbon footprint Scope 1 and 2] by 2025 has already been achieved, and the objective of continuing to reduce them by a further 10% each year is well under way. All of the company’s shops and factories have a minimum of LEED Gold certification, one of the most demanding criteria for environmentally responsible buildings.
Frugal luxury at the heart of the debate
Marie-Claire Daveu shares her hopes for the future of this joint initiative: “I want us to gather the critical mass to reach the famous ‘inflection point’ that will totally change the supply chain, and have a presence on every continent so that the message can be spread throughout the world. But my fear is that we won’t be able to convince people quickly enough.”
Cartier president Cyrille Vigneron adds: “The hope is, of course, to achieve the objectives as quickly as possible and increase the number of memberships, but I would like to go further. Why not imagine an environment-friendly Swiss made sector? Frugal luxury is possible. Watchmaking is capable of doing so by consuming fewer raw materials and producing watches that are easy to maintain and can be passed on for generations. So is jewellery. My hope is that the industry will become clean and transparent as quickly as possible, that minimalism becomes the norm, and that people and the environment are always placed at the centre of our concerns. My biggest fear is that it will take too long, because time is running out. We need to hurry up and consume more slowly.”
“Why not imagine an environment-friendly Swiss made sector? Frugal luxury is possible. We must hurry up and consume more slowly.”
And so we have it: frugal luxury. Will the 2030 initiative succeed in rallying the critical mass needed for the inevitable paradigm shift? The commitments made and the objectives set by the two founders are certainly ambitious, and the means to achieve them equally so. “Join us to have more impact. It’s time to act together.” This is Marie-Claire Daveu’s rallying cry to the industry. “It’s a collective race against the clock,” says Cyrille Vigneron. “We need the whole profession to go faster. It is possible. We can do it together. Let’s go!”