Following a healthy, summer hiatus from blogging — it’s great to get the creative juices flowing in the aftermath of the World Social Forum (WSF), where more than 35,000 people from 125 countries converged in Montreal – to present, learn and network around some of the most pressing social, economic and political issues of our times.
Convening this massive and cross-cutting event in the Global North – was a “first” for the World Social Forum. The shift was a visual attempt to better bridge the North and the South, and to convey the message that a “healthier, friendlier and more equitable world is possible” – when people come together across geographical and cultural boundries with viable and appropriate solutions. With global challenges, such as climate change, poverty, hunger, violence and the abuse of peoples’ personal and collective rights and freedoms, we must similarly rely on global solutions.
The WSF is an annual gathering of civil society organizations to engage in democratic debate and solution-oriented discussion about the world’s most pressing social issues. For more background on the history of the organization, visit: WSF 2016 Montreal
Another “first” for the WSF was to have a strong and coordinated Fair Trade presence. With leading advocacy organizations from around the world working together with dedicated Fair Trade companies and farmer cooperative organizations, we were able to highlight a myriad of critical issues related to trade policy, economic justice and collective empowerment.
The coordinating body, comprised of the World Fair Trade Organization, Fair World Project, Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Fair Trade Federation, Canadian Fair Trade Network, Association Quebecoise du Commerce Equitable and CoopCoffees, came together collaboratively some 9-months prior to the event — breathing life into a series of thematic workshops around economic, environmental and social justice, and a flurry of activity under the tent of the Fair Trade Village and during informal networking events. Workshop topics ranging in focus from “Hot Topics in Fair Trade” to “Small-Farmers Cool the Planet” to thinking “Beyond Certification” — were well attended and provided lively debate.
Felipe Gurdian, our Latin America Green Coffee Buyer, set up an amazing coffee tasting table, side-by-side with our Montreal-based roaster, Santropol, and farmer representatives from Norandino, COMSA and CCDA to offer coffee samples to a constant stream of curious consumers and coffee connoisseurs during the EcoSphere weekend and Fair Trade Village activities!
We rounded out the week with one-on-one meetings with our participating producer partners, local industry allies, and international allies in town for the events.
A big thanks from this broad network went out to CoopCoffees, who really stepped up with generous support to help make so much of this happen. Meanwhile, hearty appreciation went out to our producer partners who traveled from Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Ethiopia; to our Canadian roaster members who traveled from Chicoutimi, Ottawa, Toronto and Whitehorse, in the far Northern Yukon Territory; and to our Fair Trade allies who came from Italy, Beligium, the USA… and all the way from New Zealand!
It was amazing to have roasters, allies and our producer partners all under one roof in the discussions and in the festivities.. and a delightful time was had by all!