Creating a sustainable future can be controversial especially in the mining sector in Africa, with the need to balance environmental concerns, alleviate poverty, and create employment opportunities leading to economic empowerment of women.   IPAN Director Janice Denoncourt tackles those thorny questions, adding an intriguing IP rights dimension, in her recent article published in MDPI’s Sustainability Journal on 1 April 2022, titled ‘Supporting Sustainable Development Goal 5 Gender Equality and Entrepreneurship in the Tanzanite Mine-to-Market’.

Tanzania has been blessed with a highly desirable unique resource, tanzanite – the mesmerising purple-hued gemstone, that will be forever associated with the country.  Dr Denoncourt analyses how a strategy for Tanzania’s tanzanite coloured gemstone mining sector could foster gender equality and a role to leverage IP rights in the downstream mine-to-market (M2M) supply chain.    Given Tanzania’s substantial economic dependence on mining, a strict ‘keep it in the ground’ approach (while aspirational for the environment) that denies one of the world’s poorest countries the use of their unique natural resource is simply unrealistic at this point in time, she argues.  Rather, the exceptional characteristics of rare, single-source and recently discovered tanzanite (a post-colonial generational gemstone) has an undervalued, yet important, role to play in Tanzania’s future socio-economic and cultural heritage.

Intellectual Property and the Coloured Gemstone M2M

Further along the M2M tanzanite supply chain, there are a range of roles for women in value-adding post-gemstone extraction.  The creation of new IP rights such as trade marks when branding female-founded entrepreneurial micro businesses and SMEs is one new dimension.   Copyright and design in unique Tanzanian style tanzanite fashion and luxury jewellery is another.  Women’s creativity could also support Tanzania’s sustainable development activities to leverage the ‘Tanzanite’ gemstone name and association with the country – a form of national branding.  Finally, Dr Denoncourt identifies further contemporary value-creating opportunities for women in the downstream post-colonial Tanzanite M2M creative, cultural heritage and coloured gemstone tourism economy.

The open access article is available here.