|Motto||Resisting injustice, envisioning alternatives and taking action.|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California|
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (June 2009)|
Global Exchange is an advocacy group and non-governmental organization (NGO), based in San Francisco, California, United States. The group's mission is to promote human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice around the world.
In 1988, Medea Benjamin, Kevin Danaher, Kirsten Moller, and Kathie Klarreich founded Global Exchange. The formation of the organization was rooted in the increasing interdependence of national economies and the subsequent need to build political alliances across national boundaries to protect the economic, social and political rights. Since inception, Global Exchange has reached thousands of members and supporters, through educating the U.S. public about root causes of injustice and the impacts of U.S. government policies and corporate practices. The group builds people-to-people ties, engages grassroots education for action and linking social and environmental movements through public education, speaking tours, experiential travel called Reality Tours and activism.
Global Exchange has worked to increase public awareness of what it feels are the root causes of injustice, by changing the rules across the globe from a profit-centered global economy to thriving people-centered local economies; from the politics of greed to a living democracy that respects the rights of workers and nature. It works closely alliance with U.S. based and international NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Along with Rainforest Action Network and the Ruckus Society, Global Exchange played a central role in organizing the 1999 Seattle WTO protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) summit in Seattle in 1999.
Global Exchange gives Reality Tours to various countries of the world with the stated aim of educating the visitor with the realities of living in different cultures. Global Exchange Reality Tours organizes trips to over 30 countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Reality Tours offer experiential educational tours, connecting people to issues, issues to movements, and movements to social change social change. Global Exchange offers legal trips to Cuba for US citizens.
In 2001, Global Exchange began producing the Green Festivals in partnership with Co-Op America, now Green America, across the United States. Green Festivals bring together fair trade merchants, environmentally responsible and otherwise progressive companies to showcase their goods and services to consumers and environmental and social justice leaders from around the world for weekend long events.
The Global Exchange Fair Trade Stores in San Francisco, and Berkeley encourage the principles of socially and economically responsible business by selling products according to Fair Trade Federation standards. Also in 2001, Global Exchange began an annual Human Rights Award gala.
Global Exchange is a 501c(3) and its board of directors includes Walter Turner, Wanda Whitaker, Dale Wannen, Deborah James, and Allen Gunn.
Activities and programs
The Community Rights Program assists communities confronted by harmful corporate projects to assert their right to make important decisions that impact them by passing binding laws that place the rights of residents (and nature) above the claimed legal "rights" of corporations. It also focuses on advancing the Rights of Nature, a paradigm shift championed by the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth held in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010, by President Evo Morales. In 2011 Global Exchange released a book called, The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, with articles by Maude Barlow, Pablo Solón Romero, Vandana Shiva, Nnimmo Bassey and others.
The Economic Activism for Palestine project focuses on corporate accountability for human rights and international law violations from companies profiting from the occupation in Palestine. The program targets corporations that are directly involved in Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank – contributing to and perpetuating the restriction of Palestinian basic rights and in the exploitation of Palestinian resources and labor.
The Fair Trade Program works to promote Fair Trade, end child and forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa industry, as well as educate and empower children and adults to advocate for and purchase Fair Trade. Previous corporate campaign targets have included Starbucks, M&M's. Currently Global Exchange is working with Green America and the International Labor Rights Forum to go push The Hershey Company to go fair trade and end forced labor in the cocoa fields. The campaign is called Raise the Bar, Hershey.
The Mexico Program confronts the rising violence and unrest resulting from the relationship between criminal enterprises, Mexican power structures and U.S. military aid. The program develops dialogue and effective advocacy toward bi-lateral military policies, gun trafficking, drug policy and democratic reform.
The Elect Democracy campaign challenges corporate money in US politics. The campaign's strategy is to a) expose the impact of the FIRE economy (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate sector) campaign contributions and b) to provide factual examples of how a political campaign dependency upon corporate campaign contributions and subsequent corporate lobbying can lead to the prioritization of corporate interests over the needs of the 99% in Washington DC. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to increase accountability through campaign finance reform and to support a healthier U.S. democracy.
The Green Economy Leadership Training (GELT) program ran from 2010-2012 to implement green economy solutions (home weatherization, establishing urban gardens, etc.) while training individuals in how to build, work and live in a new green economy/clean energy framework. GELT was based in Highland Park – a low-income community in Detroit. Dozens of full-time volunteers worked side-by-side with Highland Park community members to put energy efficiency and LEED for Neighborhood Development guidelines into practice, demonstrating what the transition to and opportunities in a clean energy economy look like.
As part of their campaign to reduce oil consumption, on November 29, 2006, two protesters from Global Exchange and Rainforest Action Network, Mike Hudema and Matt Leonard, at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show walked onto a press stage where General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner was speaking and tried to get him to sign a pledge making GM the most fuel-efficient car company by 2010. Wagoner refused to sign, saying that he promised just that in his keynote speech.
The World Trade Organization has claimed that a number of websites such as the Global Exchange, etc., "contain accusations against the WTO which are based on incorrect information or downright falsehoods." The conservative think tank Capital Research Center claims that the group was responsible for violent demonstrations at the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle in 1999. It also claims that Global Exchange appears to be spearheading former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's public relations efforts in the United States by offering reality tours for American tourists in Venezuela.
- "Protesters Storm Wagoner Speech At L.A. Auto Show". By Reilly. November 29, 2006. Winding Road.
- Criticism, yes … misinformation, no!. World Trade Organization.
- "The American Friends of Hugo Chavez: Dial 1-800-4-TYRANT", by Ana Maria Ortiz and Matthew Vadum, Capital Research Center's Organization Trends, March 2008.