Bridging the Gap Between Local Action and Global Impact

Engineers Without Borders / Bridging the Gap

Mohandas Ghandi once said: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” This was the inspiration behind this year’s Engineers Without Borders’ (EWB) Bridging the Gap Conference held at UBC on March 27th.

Compelling keynote presentations delivered by Shauna Sylvester and Dr. Hans Rosling and several breakout sessions cut across four main themes: EWB’s Values and Capacity Building, Advocacy, Serving Global Society, and Connecting to the Developing World. According to Rogayeh Tabrizi, event organizer extraordinaire, “we came together to create a space for dialogue, for understanding, for sharing the passion, for helping each other see the world around us better.”

The Fair Trade breakout session encouraged critical discussion by walking participants through what it means to “trade fairly.” Workshop facilitators Stacey Toews, of Level Ground Trading, and Randy Hooper, of Discovery Organics, talked candidly about how true fair trade has to go beyond just putting a Fair Trade Certified logo on a package. From their perspective, building direct relationships with producers that are based in transparency, dialogue and respect is really what fair trade is about.

This contention resonates across the field of ethical and sustainable purchasing. Countless examples of successful ethical and sustainable purchasing (ESP) programs demonstrate that focusing on supplier or producer relationships is imperative. In interviewing leaders and pioneers in this field, Reeve has heard procurement professionals say time and time again that without building strong relationships with suppliers their ESP initiatives would have been less successful.

When you buy products or services do you just look for a third-party ecolabel to ease your conscious or do you go beyond to learn more about the supplier or producer who is behind the product? You may not have time to build longterm relationships with all your suppliers, but even just asking a few simple questions about their business practices or their relationships with their contractors will facilitate understanding and greater success in achieving your sustainability goals. To paraphrase Toews and Hooper, go beyond product labelling and dig deeper…get to know the people behind your products and enter into dialogue with them.

Reeve Help’s Bridge the Gap Between Active Canadian Citizens and Poverty Elimination in Africa

Engineers Without Borders / Bridging the Gap

Reeve Consulting has proudly sponsored students to participate in the 2010 Engineers Without Borders’ Bridging the Gap Conference, Western Canada’s premier international development conference.  This conference will engage youth and professionals from across the Lower Mainland on current issues related to international development and poverty reduction, including fair trade and sustainable supply chains.  Reeve staff has been helping to coordinate the conference on a volunteer basis and is looking forward to attending the conference as a potential workshop facilitator.  The conference is open to the public, so we encourage to attend!  For more information go to http://bridgingthegap.ewb.ca/.

Reeve ‘Out and About’: Bridging The Gap with Engineers Without Borders

Reeve Consulting participated in two panel discussions this past weekend as part of this year’s Bridging The Gap conference presented by Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

Held March 14th at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver, ‘Bridging The Gap’ explored how the collaborative actions of individuals, corporations, NGOs, and government can impact extreme poverty. With the theme “Collaborating for Human Development – the hidden power of our choices,” professional and student delegates examined the influence of their actions at home, on the development field, in parliament and in boardrooms.

The day was full of discussion, debate, collaboration, and learning. Workshops and sessions were led by an engaging line-up of speakers such as Parker Mitchell, co-founder of EWB and Dr. James Orbinski, president of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and Nobel Laureate. Kevin McCarty, who joined Reeve Consulting in October 2009, participated in the following panel discussions:

Fair Trade: The Story, presented the history and key principles of Fair Trade, as well as the unique firsthand Fair Trade experiences of the panellists. Kevin shared his experience working in Bolivia with two micro-finance organizations, where he examined the Fair Trade certification process from the producer’s perspective. He was accompanied by fellow panellists Lloyd Bernhardt of Ethical Bean and Karla Bloomfield, Fair Trade Textile Market Researcher and Capacity Builder.

The Power of Purchase: Ethical Decision Making by Consumers Like You, illustrated the common consumer’s ability to create equality and promote human development through purchasing decisions. Kevin, who was accompanied by Mel Phadtare of Junxion Strategy Inc., presented the difference between ethical, fair trade, social and green purchasing and demonstrated how ethical purchasing, in particular, helps to ensure human rights are respected throughout the supply chain.

Reeve Consulting would like to thank EWB for inviting Kevin to participate in this year’s Bridging The Gap conference and would like to recognize all the hard work that the EWB team of volunteers put into this year’s event. It was a great success, keep up the good work!