It’s a natural human trait to focus on celebrating the good while giving less thought to the harmful. Reconciling contradictory behaviours can be difficult, especially when good intentions are challenged by uncomfortable questions about the problems we’re trying to solve.
Two areas where this is especially true relate to foreign aid and philanthropy. The provision of both undoubtedly improve lives and lift many out of poverty. Many problems addressed by these forms of giving are highly complex and difficult to solve. Generosity is vital to developing lasting solutions.
But is it a case of giving with one hand while taking more with the other? Whether it’s through agricultural subsidies, tax regimes that favour multinationals or profiting from low wage workers, it’s useful to reflect on a simple question:
Is it better for me to give more, or take less?
Continue reading “Incoherence: The contradiction of subsidies, aid and philanthropy”
Newton’s third law of motion states that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Two recent productions highlight how this is relevant in the world of fast fashion.
“World Factory” at London’s Young Vic theatre takes audience members on the journey of “operating” their own clothing factory in China for a year. The decisions and their implications create an eye-opening experience of how the seemingly innocuous can have far-reaching consequences.
In a similar vein, the recently released “The True Cost” film explores the way in which growing consumerism in developed countries has led to human suffering and environmental destruction, particularly in developing countries.
The productions raise uncomfortable and morally challenging questions. How can the actions of those in of us in developed countries be changed to prevent damaging reactions elsewhere in global supply chains?
Continue reading “Choice and effect: Review of “World Factory” and “The True Cost””
Much of the recent attention on falling commodity prices has focused on the impact of lower energy prices. However, crude oil and its refined products are not the only commodities to have seen recent price declines. Many agricultural products and precious metals – including those sold under Fairtrade certification – have experienced downward price pressure coupled with high volatility. Lower prices mean lower incomes for farmers and artisanal miners, creating a greater role for the Fairtrade premium.
Continue reading “Lower commodity prices: Why Fairtrade really matters right now”