Diamond miner and jeweler De Beers’ latest collaboration is an environmental one: The jeweler has partnered with National Geographic in an effort to protect the source waters of the Okavango Delta, one of Africa’s most important ecosystems.
The Okavango Basin, which is the source of water for Botsawana’s Okavango Delta, has been affected by climate change, deforestation and commercial agriculture. The project, dubbed Okavango Eternal, addresses one of the biggest conservation challenges in Africa, and De Beers has committed to it for five years.
Unlike the delta, the basin doesn’t hold protected status, so the aim is for De Beers, whose ethical and sustainable practices aim to be anchored by authenticity and traceability, and National Geographic to secure permanent protection for the Okavango Basin and safeguard the waters of the Delta and the livelihoods it supports.
The partners plan to achieve this by raising awareness about the importance of the delta; funding conservation research; supporting local communities by providing water, food security and job opportunities, and providing long-term wildlife protection.
The Okavango Delta is home to lions, cheetahs, hundreds of species of birds and the largest remaining elephant population, and the projects’ partners said caring for this ecosystem is essential in protecting the wildlife. De Beers also wants the project to create “self-sustaining, conservation-based tourism economies” that will support the region’s local communities.
“Our commitment to the long-term sustainable development of both Botswana and Namibia is a core part of our business. As part of our Building Forever mission to ensure every De Beers diamond creates a positive and lasting impact in the place where it is discovered, we manage half-a-million acres of land for conservation across southern Africa, protecting wildlife, supporting livelihoods and creating education and eco-tourism opportunities for the surrounding areas,” said Bruce Cleaver, chief executive officer of De Beers Group.
“However, many areas in southern Africa are still at risk, including the critically important Okavango Basin,” Cleaver said. “That’s why our partnership with National Geographic is vital. By sharing our expertise and resources and working with local communities, governments and other NGO partners, we will deliver a positive impact that is far greater than what any of us could achieve on our own, and ultimately protects the natural world and improves people’s lives.”