May 21 has been designated “World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development” by the United Nations. Why the focus on diversity? How is cultural understanding tied to economic development?
It’s estimated that 75% of the world’s conflicts are caused, at least in part, by cultural differences. That means differences in religious beliefs, ethnicity, language, economic status, and more are causing the vast majority of the world’s conflicts. The UN believes that “bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability, and development.”
These ongoing cultural conflicts wreak havoc on local economies, paralyzing economic development and leaving millions of people living in war-torn communities in poverty. By facilitating dialogue based on mutual respect and understanding, the UN is bringing diverse populations together to build community and bring lasting peace to their nations.
What’s this have to do with fair trade? One of the Fair Trade Federation’s fair trade principles is Respecting Cultural Identity. According to the FTF, “fair trade celebrates the cultural diversity of communities, while seeking to create positive and equitable change. [We]... respect the development of products, practices, and organizational models based on indigenous traditions and techniques to sustain cultures and revitalize traditions.” By empowering producers to earn a fair wage and share their communities’ traditional art forms and stories with consumers around the world, fair trade companies contribute to the UN’s efforts to encourage economic development and promote cultural understanding in conflict zones.
Artist Elhadji Koumama from Niger
Check out some of our favorite traditional sterling silver crafts from Elhadji that are in our shop.