Wednesday, March 26, 2008


For my next task, I am to start compiling resources on fair trade, including the history of the concept, the main organizations, the products available throughout the world (in groups like coffee, cotton, etc..) the arguments for and against, are there sources in the region? etc...
I must also outline the advantages and disadvantages facing an organization that wants to deal in fair trade goods, looking at it both from the perspective of an environmentalist as well as from the perspective of a businessperson who's main concern is profit etc.. and how they would approach selling the idea to each type of person. I am very excited about this project. I remember when I had my first experience with fair trade, before fair trade was even called "fair trade." A friend of the family loved my country Guatemala, and he had started in the coffee business while at the same time giving back to the people who were producing the coffee, mainly the Guatemalans at this time. He was the founder of Seattle's Best Coffee, before it became part of Starbucks Corporation. At any rate, I really admired how he did his business through developing relationships of trust and through this getting a quality product but making sure the producers not only got fair pay, but he also did community development projects for them. At any rate, he gave me some good insight about fair trade just recently that I want to share with you.

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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.