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Earlier today, I was at the William J. Clinton Foundation in New York attending a conversation on Sustainable Sourcing and Fair Trade for All. The event brings together a small group of prominent leaders who, together, are transforming supply chains around the world. Heifer International CEO Pierre Ferrari was invited to the event on behalf of Skoll Foundation, Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, Avina Foundation and Fair Trade USA. Unfortunately, Pierre was unable to attend, but I was pleased to accept on behalf of Heifer.

Bill Clinton and Paul Rice President Bill Clinton (right) and Fair Trade USA President and CEO Paul Rice (left) at the William J. Clinton Foundation in New York on Dec. 11, 2012.

The Fair Trade concept can be traced to cooperation in the 60s, 70s and 80s that was formed out of a shared sense of justice and solidarity for coffee producers in Latin America. The result of this solidarity led (and still leads) to tangible improvements in the income, health and education of coffee growers. From there, simple technologies and support from various organizations transformed producers into processors and later into exporters. Income grew for coffee farmers, and so did the organizations supporting them. As momentum for Fair Trade increased, additional crops or goods were included, such as bananas, cacao, handicrafts and others.

Years later, what began as an expression of solidarity is now generating significant revenue and demanding more and more professional support for the organizations involved. That means the Fair Trade conversation has changed, although it retains its spirit.

At the William J. Clinton Foundation today, we talked about "sustainable sourcing," which takes environmental and social responsibility into account when procuring resources like coffee, and the barriers that keep sustainability from full integration into supply chains. Additionally, we discussed Fair Trade USA's Fair Trade for All vision, which sets out to double "the impact of Fair Trade for farmers" in the next decade and "improv(e) lives throughout the global coffee supply chain." Fair Trade USA's vision is centered on: 1) strengthening farming communities by investing in cooperatives and partnering with others to provide support services, with a focus on quality and business capacity, 2) including more farmers, farm workers and communities in the benefits of Fair Trade, and 3) engaging consumers to increase market demand for Fair Trade Certified products and grow sales and impact.

According to Paul Rice, president and CEO of Fair Trade USA, these elements provide a "new model for capitalism that aligns the interest of farmers, consumers and the Earth where everybody wins. The journey begins with the farmer/producer and brings the heart back into business and awakens the mind of consumers."

As you might expect, today's conversation was engaging and motivating. Tune in later this week to read my perspective on the event and how Heifer International fits into the picture.

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Abastecimiento sostenible y Comercio Justo para todos

Hoy más temprano, estaba en la Fundación de William J. Clinton en Nueva York, asistiendo a una charla sobre Abastecimiento Sostenible y Comercio Justo para Todos. El evento juntó a un pequeño grupo de líderes prominentes que juntos, están transformando las cadenas de suministros alrededor del mundo. El Presidente Ejecutivo de Heifer International, Pierre Ferrari, fue invitado al evento de parte de la Skoll Foundation, Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, Avina Foundation y Fair Trade USA. Desafortunadamente, Pierre no pudo asistir, pero yo estaba encantado de aceptar de parte de Heifer.

El concepto de Comercio Justo se remonta a la cooperación en los años 60, 70 y 80, el cual se formó desde el sentido compartido de justicia y solidaridad por los productores de café de América Latina. El resultado de esta solidaridad condujo (y todavía conduce) a mejoras tangibles en el ingreso, salud y educación de los cultivadores de café. Desde ahí, tecnologías simples y apoyo de varias organizaciones transformaron a los productores en procesadores y después en exportadores. El ingreso creció para los agricultores de café, como también las organizaciones que los apoyaban. Mientras que el ímpetu del Comercio Justo aumentaba, se incluyeron cosechas y bienes adicionales, como las bananas, el cacao, artesanías y otros.

Años después, lo que comenzó como una expresión de solidaridad, ahora genera beneficios significantes y exige más y más apoyo profesional de las organizaciones involucradas. Esto significa que el discurso del Comercio Justo ha cambiado, aunque mantiene su espíritu.

En la Fundación de William J. Clinton hoy en día hablamos de “abastecimiento sostenible”, que toma en cuenta la responsabilidad medioambiental y social  en la búsqueda de recursos como el café, y las barreras que evitan que la sostenibilidad se integre por completo en las cadenas de suministros. Además, discutimos la visión del Comercio Justo para Todos de Fair Trade USA, que propone doblar “el impacto del Comercio Justo para los agricultores” en la siguiente década y “mejorar vidas a través de la cadena global de suministro del café.” La visión de Fair Trade USA se centra en: 1) fortalecer las comunidades agricultoras invirtiendo en cooperativas y asociaciones con otros, para proveer servicios de apoyo, con un enfoque en la calidad y en la capacidad de negocios; 2) incluir más agricultores, trabajadores agrícolas y comunidades en los beneficios del Comercio Justo y 3) comprometer a los consumidores a aumentar la demanda en el mercado de Productos de Comercio Justo Certificados y aumentar las ventas e impacto.

De acuerdo a Paul Rice, Presidente Ejecutivo de Fair Trade USA, estos elementos proporcionan un “nuevo modelo para el capitalismo que reune los intereses de los agricultores, los consumidores y la Tierra, donde todo el mundo gana. El trayecto comienza en el agricultor/productor y trae el corazón de vuelta al negocio y despierta la mente de los consumidores.”

Como seguramente espera, la conversación de hoy fue comprometedora y motivadora. Sintonízate esta semana para leer mi perspectiva sobre el evento y cómo Heifer International encaja en la imagen.

Author

Oscar Castaneda

Oscar Castañeda is the Vice President of Heifer International's Americas Area Program and has been at Heifer since 2004. He was born and raised in the highlands of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. He is passionate about organic, local and Fair Trade food and how those processes connect people. Oscar loves running and spending time with his wife and son.

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