Cristina Maria Villegas is the director of the Sustainable Markets program at Pact, a global nonprofit organization at work in 40 countries worldwide. She is a leading expert on responsible mineral sourcing, specializes in artisanal and small scale mining (ASM), and has experience across Africa, Asia and Latin America. She best known for her specialty in jewelry-relevant minerals and as co-founder of Moyo Gems, a responsible miner to market initiative focused on the women gemstone miners of East Africa. Cristina is a member of the Gemstone Knowledge Hub, a Gold Expert for the UN Environmental Program, is a technical advisor to the Conservation X Prize’s Amazon Grand Challenge, and is on the Board of Directors of Ethical Metalsmiths. In addition to her work at Pact, she lectures for Columbia University’s Executive Course on Extractives and for Columbia University’s Massive Open Online Course. In 2021, she won the top prize in jewelry reform: The IAC Award for Leadership in Responsible Practice in Jewelry.
Cristina will discuss Pact’s active ASM gold projects in West Africa, including Pact’s behind the scenes work to assist miners with Sierra Leone’s first formalized ASM Gold mine. Pact supported them into becoming formal and going mercury-free. She will also discuss Pact’s ongoing work to engage vetted gold refiners as offtake partners in order to sustain the gains of donor-funded work and to begin to transform the jewelry sector. Pact has active ASM gold projects in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mali, and Mauritania.