Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Catholic Relief Services participates in Fair Trade Conference

the Inland Register

(From the Nov. 10, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

“Living a Fair Trade Life” was the theme of the 2005 Fair Trade Futures Conference held in Chicago, Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

Over 700 individuals representing businesses, consumer and activist groups and faith-based communities gathered for the three-day conference to network and participate in workshops focusing on the future of the Fair Trade movement here and around the world.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was an active participant in the conference with a delegation of diocesan representatives and CRS staff in attendance.

CRS is the U.S. bishops’ overseas development and emergency relief agency.

Attending from the Spokane Diocese was Pam Vail of Colville, the CRS coordinator in Eastern Washington.

The Fair Trade movement is a global network of producers, traders, marketers, advocates and consumers committed to building equitable trading relationships between consumers and the world’s most economically disadvantaged artisans and farmers. Fair Trade organizations follow a set of principles, including: trade as a tool for poverty alleviation, transparency and accountability, capacity building, fair prices, gender equity, safe working conditions, no child exploitation and concern for the environment.

The Fair Trade Futures Conference was sponsored by a number of organizations, including the Fair Trade Federation, A Greater Gift/SERRV International, Luther-an World Relief, Oxfam America and CRS, which launched its Fair Trade Chocolate Campaign on the first day of the conference.

Kwabena Ohemeng-Tinyase, the director of Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana was keynote speaker, representing nearly 50,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana who have directly benefited from the sale of fairly traded chocolate. “Fair Trade is the answer to poverty,” Ohemeng said. “With 65 million Catholics in the U.S., we know we have an assured market,” referring to the newly launched CRS chocolate campaign.

Throughout the conference, participants attended workshops and plenary sessions to gain a broader perspective on the Fair Trade movement and to share ideas about what it means to live a Fair Trade life.

Joan Neal, CRS Executive Director for U.S. Operations, spoke of the active involvement of CRS in 99 countries around the world and its mission in the U.S. to engage Catholics here with issues that impact people who live in the countries where CRS works. CRS’s partnership with Fair Trade organizations will empower those living in poverty who struggle to support their families.

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