Fair Trade USA founder to deliver keynote in Thailand at 2019 SeaWeb Seafood Summit

Published on
February 14, 2019

Fair Trade USA founder and CEO Paul Rice has been announced as the keynote speaker for the upcoming SeaWeb Seafood Summit, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand from 10 to 14 June. 

A four-time recipient of Fast Company magazine’s Social Capitalist of the Year award, Rice founded Fair Trade USA – North America’s leading certifier of Fair Trade products – in 1998 after graduating from Yale University with a degree in economics. At the time of his organization’s founding, he had recently returned from Nicaragua after spending 11 years leading a Fair Trade coffee export cooperative with local farmers. 

His work in Nicaragua left Rice longing to bring the Fair Trade model to consumers, businesses, and farmers worldwide. Over the past 20 years, Rice has seen Fair Trade USA do just that, transforming from a coffee-industry initiative into a leading market-based model of sustainable production, trade, and consumption, with the organization amassing 1,300 partners spanning more than 30 industry categories so far. 

Fair Trade USA has generated over USD 550 million (EUR 487.4 million) in additional income for farmers and workers in more than 70 countries over the course of two decades. In 2017, U.S. consumers purchased an estimated USD 7 billion (EUR 6.1 billion) in Fair Trade Certified products from household names including Patagonia, West Elm, Gap Inc., Green Mountain, Starbucks, Dole, General Mills, PepsiCo, Whole Foods, Costco, Target, Walmart, and more.  

For his keynote address at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit, Rice will discuss “The Human Face of Sustainability: Empowering Fishers, Farmers and Worker,” sharing insights from his 30-year Fair Trade journey. Topics to be covered during his talk include how Rice views the link between sustainability and profitability, the impact of everyday purchases, the larger shift toward “Conscious Capitalism,” and how Fair Trade USA has recruited titans of industry to shift to a Fair Trade model, according to Summit organizer Diversified Communications. 

“Paul Rice’s long-held vision of business as a force for social and environmental change is one that many of the business leaders, conservationists and others who attend the SeaWeb Seafood Summit share – and increasingly, it’s a vision shared by mainstream consumers,” said Brenna Hensley, event director for Diversified Communications, which produces the summit in partnership with SeaWeb. “Paul’s work across several consumer industries is inspiring and instructional and we’re thrilled to welcome him to the Summit as our keynote this year.”

Rice will deliver his keynote address on Tuesday, 11 June, from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok. His talk will follow a full-day pre-conference seminar focusing on amplifying worker voice through technology and ethical supply chains, and serve as a pre-cursor for the summit’s packed schedule of diverse educational sessions and experiences, including breakout sessions, plenary talks, Q&A opportunities, and optional offsite field trips both during and after the program. 

Summit speakers and registered attendees include global representatives from the seafood industry, the conservation community, academia, government, and the media. Industry members and guests who register at the event’s website before 23:59 EST on 13 March can save USD 650 (EUR 573) on a conference pass, which includes the 10 June seminar, the organizers said. The field trip on 14 June, however, will require an upgrade.

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