Last week, WFTO-Europe participated in the European Development Days together with some of the most important decision makers and advocates in the world: Presidents (from Norway, Ghana, Senegal, Bolivia and other countries), UN and EU representatives, NGO representatives, young leaders, entrepreneurs, CEOs and professors.
The agenda focused greatly on the involvement of the private sector and SMEs to achieve the Sustainable development Goals. Several sessions were on exactly this topic discussing how entrepreneurship in developing countries is one the ways to fight poverty and how sustainable business is the way to fight climate change.
Is was a true inspiration for the WFTO-Europe team to experience this market-based approach to development as it is in strong alignment with the Fair Trade Principles. The Fair Trade movement aims to fight poverty by creating opportunities to disadvantaged producers linking SDG 1 with Fair Trade Principle 1. Therefore, sessions focusing on creating economic development through agriculture were directly linked to our work in the Fair Trade Movement.
Other sessions focused on the power of female entrepreneurs in developing countries and the challenges they face with being women. These women do not only contribute to the achievement of SDG 1 and Fair Trade Principle 1, they also create gender equality and reduce discrimination achieving SDG 5 and Fair Trade Principle 6. At WFTO, we have recognized the huge potential of working women which let to our global campaign on International Women´s Day 2017 shedding lights on the unfair disadvantages women face in the workplace.
The agenda even included sessions specifically focusing on issues in the fashion industry and how to achieve the SDGs through ethical fashion. Sessions included representatives from Vivienne Westwood, Ethical Fashion Initiative, Danish Fashion Institute and Milano Fashion Institute. Here, we learned that ethical fashion is not only a trend, it is a new business model with an annual billion dollar potential that the industry must embrace, not only for profitable reasons but also to achieve sustainable development.
All in all, the European Development Days demonstrated that our “Trade Not Aid” approach is a strong way to create sustainable development emphasizing that the SDGs cannot be done without having everyone on board – we need the private sector as well as citizens.
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