Second Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, 2005
The products of craftspeople, such as pottery and textiles, are increasingly recognized as embodying the cultural heritage of their makers, and the best examples are strikingly beautiful. With the advent of the Internet and eCommerce, those products increasingly are finding a global market. The ability to sell their handicrafts to consumers in the United States and Europe via the Internet is enabling many craftspeople in the developing nations to escape from poverty. Now UNESCO is giving them a hand!
The UNESCO SEAL is a “stamp of approval” that guarantees that a handicraft product or product line meets the highest standards of quality and has been produced with careful regard to cultural authenticity and environmental conservation.
Originally piloted in Southeast Asia in 2000-2003 in cooperation with the ASEAN Handicraft Promotion and Development Association (AHPADA), the Seal of Excellence has succeeded in raising the standards of South-East craft products, as well as in improving their marketability. The Seal of Excellence has been awarded to more than 70 South East Asian handicraft products.
In 2005-2006, the SEAL program has expanded into Central Asia with the Central Asian Crafts Support Association (CACSA) and the World Crafts Council Asia-Pacific Region (WCCAPR).
During 2006-2007, UNESCO plans to extend the SEAL of Excellence to: West Africa, East Africa, North Africa/Arab States, Central America and the Caribbean, and Central Europe.