Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fair Trade and Development

When we think about the ethical implications of development and sustainability, it is important to incorporate protecting human rights into overall development goals. If one observes the global market place it can be found that many multinational corporations have been allowed to operate with permission from the WTO committing substantial human rights infringements such as use of child and slave labor, as well as environmental degradation, such as unsustainable waste methods and deforestation. As a global community we have to analyze the ethics of how we create economic growth and seek more egalitarian and just ways to expand wealth without hurting the environment and the poor.

Slave labor and low wages play a significant role in destroying livelihoods and perpetuating cycles of poverty in developing nations. The Fair Trade movement offers an alternative system to current global business practices. As consumers it is important for us to be acutely aware of the origins of the products we buy. At the very least, we can use our purchasing power to vote with our dollars on products which are produced ethically. This will incentivize companies to ensure their labor practices are not exploitative and that producers are receiving a fair wage. In the past thirty or so years there have been new efforts regarding ways in which to create more equitable forms of trade. The Fair trade movement began as a response to the injustices built into the current economic trade system between producers in the global south and suppliers in the north. “Fair trade is an economic partnership built on dialogue, transparency, and trust” ( It is a more holistic approach to conducting business which builds mutually beneficial relationships between all parties. It allows the producers to earn fair wages for the products they are producing and builds into their economic stability. Fair Trade Federation: Global Exchange: Greenheart Shop:

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