Gold mining in Peru and trade to Europe and Switzerland

Gold nugget
Gold nugget. Photo: pixabay / Hans

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is an important income-generating activity in the region of Madre de Dios in southeastern Peru. However, while it contributes to people’s livelihoods, it also has severe impacts on the environment and on the health of the local population. Mining is therefore related to a range of conflicting interests around rainforest destruction, biodiversity loss, mercury poisoning of humans, animals, and water, and land conflicts.

The project “Gold mining in Peru and trade to Switzerland and Europe: Identifying entry points for transformation” of the Wyss Academy for Nature aims to achieve concrete improvements in the currently socially and ecologically unsustainable practice of gold mining in Madre de Dios. It aims to do so, by

  • advancing the understanding of concrete activities;
  • identifying entry points towards deforestation- and mercury-free gold value chains in Madre de Dios that would benefit both nature and the people working in the sector; and
  • identifying levers of change in EU consumer countries and especially in Switzerland.
Gold mining area at the Madre de Dios River
Gold mining area at the Madre de Dios River, Peru. Photo: Julie Zähringer

CDE’s role in the project

Based on their expertise in sustainable trade, CDE researchers

  • advise the Wyss Academy’s Hub South America on establishing links to the relevant global debates, international governance frameworks, and actors in sustainable mining;
  • help the project team to better understand the Swiss buyer market, including its history, framing, interests, and narratives;
  • help to identify levers of change in Switzerland; and
  • participate in the development of co-designed solutions.