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Dear Global Exchange Supporters,

The 11th of February 2010 marked the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from nearly three decades of political imprisonment. On this historic anniversary, we at Global Exchange are reflecting on a speech Mr. Mandela delivered in 1998 when visiting Harvard University to receive an honorary degree:

"The greatest single challenge facing our globalized world is to combat and eradicate its disparities . . . we constantly need to remind ourselves that the freedoms which democracy brings will remain empty shells if they are not accompanied by real and tangible improvements in the material lives of the millions of ordinary citizens of those countries.''

Now several years later, Nelson Mandela's words still ring true. Tangible improvements and equality in a world where we have finite natural resources means we must envision alternatives in order to build a better world we all know is possible. Here at Global Exchange, we are mobilizing for positive change in communities near and far.

  • Global Exchange's Midwest Green Economy Campaign and partner organization, Energy Action Coalition have teamed up with several youth climate activists to create a clean energy economy. Michigan, and its neighbors Indiana and Ohio sit at the forefront of the recession. Once the cornerstone of American manufacturing, the drop in U.S. based auto manufacturing has left thousands unemployed in the Midwest and the Millennial generation in search of an economic future. The potential of the green economy in the Midwest and all over the U.S. cannot be overstated - it could revitalize our economy while maintaining environmental equity, thus sustaining future generations. Youth climate activists are no longer interested in waiting around for change to come around and have declared 2010 the start to Define the Decade with a clean energy future.
  • Small-scale farmer cooperatives are reaping the benefits of recent Fair Trade victories. First, Green & Blacks announces it will be going Fair Trade worldwide, then Ben & Jerry's commits their entire line of ice cream flavors to go Fair Trade by 2013. With Green & Blacks being the first subsidiary of a major chocolate company to seek Fair Trade certification for its entire product range and Ben & Jerry's as the only ice cream company converting their whole line to Fair Trade, the benefits for small-scale are far-reaching. From the prohibition of illegal child labor and slavery on cocoa farms, to the use of environmentally sustainable farming practices, and the hope of escaping poverty, by meeting basic human needs like shelter, food, and an education for their kids - positive change has been achieved. It was the combined efforts of activists like you who have led the call to bring about justice to farming communities to attain a more self-sustaining system.

Twenty years ago, Mandela's walk to freedom was made possible by the hard work and dedication of the thousands of South Africans and communities around the world that came together to overcome powerful forces of injustice. Today, we continue to take this lesson that through collective efforts, change is possible.

Thank you, as always, for your work on behalf of peace and justice,

Global Exchange

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