Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fair Trade in the Middle East

For my next stage in research on Fair Trade, I focused on seeking out what already exists with regards to fair trade specifically in the Middle East region. Here are some links to fair trade products that are either being exported from the Middle East or imported from other countries. Additionally, I included a list of fair trade organizations based out of or dealing with the middle east.
This organization exports Fair Trade olive oil to the states from Palestine to benefit the olive farmers there in the midst of the challenges they are facing as a result of the conflict.

The AFSC, the American Friends Service Committee, has won a Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts towards humanity. Their focus is on service, development, social justice, and peace programs throughout the world, including Palestine, Iraq, and Africa.
I mentioned about Ten Thousand Villages in my post about the history of Fair Trade. They are a fair trade organization and of course have found a niche for fair trade in the Middle East, in addition to the many countries around the world they are support, their focus being in Egypt and the West Bank. They profile the artisans they support and share about their stories and handcrafts on their website. It is a very creative way to present the products, such as the beautiful olive wood carvings in Bethlehem.
Here is a very in depth article about the economic hardship the Palestinians face because of the Israeli occupation and talks about the many organizations selling fair trade Palestinian Olive Oil under the umbrella of the Palestinian Fair Trade Organization that was opened in 2003 in an effort to boost revenues for the Palestinians as well as the price of their oil. It lists the websites of the companies that sell this organic fair trade olive oil. They also plant thousands of olive trees.

A list of websites of fair trade producers in the Middle East:
This is an amazing article about fair trade between Israel and Palestine. Another product they trade is za2tar.
In addition to oil and za2tar, Palestinians are also selling fair trade produce. Here is an article about the involvement of Palestinian representatives at a fair trade meeting in UK. This is an article update on the topic of the FREE trade situation in the Middle East with regard to the GCC.

No comments:

How Can Sustainability and Social Responsibility Contribute to the Future of the Middle East?

With their potential for economic growth and their financial wealth, Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf countries have the potential to become front runners in the Middle East in considering the environment and social responsibility, and I hope to help them to start that foundation.
The Middle East is a fascinating place with so much cultural richness and financial prosperity. People of the region are increasingly growing aware of the changing climate of business and of the world as a result of globalization and as such there is growing potential for development here. We can see already a substantial amount of growth and innovation in a very short period of time through the example of Dubai. Unfortunately, one area that still lacks a greater awareness is the environment and how it is being impacted by the current practices of companies and individuals. This problem affects all aspects of life from physical health to the natural beauty of the region. This problem however can also be viewed as a treasure box of opportunity for those who have vision and initiative and wish to consider sustainable concepts and how they can adopt them in their businesses.

I chose this cause because I love the Middle East. I am originally from Latin America and study in the University of Washington and I am studying abroad in Kuwait. I had so much success here and fell in love with the region so much that I was looking for a way I could give back to a place that had given me so much. I realized quickly that the region overall had great issues with regards to the environment. The beautiful beaches of the gulf were littered with garbage, there were little if any recycling programs, no awareness campaigns and lesson plans for the schools with regards to the environment, all of the landfills were unplanned and unlined and the waste seeping into the soil and polluting the storm water drains. Yet I could not understand how such a wealthy country with the financial means to take care of this issue and with a government committee assigned to the environment was allowing this to be this way. I decided I would try to see how I can help make a change for the better just as many countries have also done with regards to such issues as waste management such as the UK.