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Oscar and Bafta-winning British actor Colin Firth is a passionate and dedicated activist. Over the last ten years he has worked hard, both in public and behind the scenes, to become an extremely knowledgeable and highly respected campaigner for Oxfam.
As one of the main supporters of Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign, Colin has lobbied hard on behalf of millions of poor people disadvantaged by unfair trade rules. In 2004, he met the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, in 2005 he travelled to Brussels to meet the EU Trade Commissioner, and in 2007 he met with Gordon Brown and the UK Trade Minister.
Colin has shown an enormous commitment to understanding and contributing to complex trade negotiations.
Fair trade advocate
In 2005, Colin travelled to Ethiopia, where more than fifteen million poor people are dependent on the coffee trade. He met coffee farmers struggling to bear the burden of collapsed world coffee prices.
Following the trip, Colin lobbied on behalf of Ethiopian coffee farmers in their dispute with Starbucks over rights to the names of some of the country's most famous coffees. Ownership of such trademarks enables farmers to charge a higher price for their products. The dispute has since been resolved: Starbucks agreed to recognize Ethiopia's ownership of the names, and not to block Ethiopian attempts to win trademarks for them.
Until recently, Colin was a director of Café Progreso, a chain of fair trade coffee shops; his devotion to the cause of fair trade has even seen him drenched in coffee for an Oxfam photo campaign.
In 2008, Colin appealed for funds to expand Oxfam's emergency response in Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Kenya, as soaring food prices left millions on the edge of destitution. In the same year, he joined a host of stars including Scarlett Johansson and Sir David Attenborough to call on world leaders to tackle climate change at the UN climate meeting in Poland.
In addition, he has supported the work of Oxfam Italy – Oxfam's observer member organization in Italy. Married to Italian filmmaker Livia Giuggioli, Colin speaks fluent Italian. In January 2009, he visited Rome to talk to the Italian media about their country's failure to follow up on its promise to increase overseas aid, and his hopes for the Italian presidency of the G8. The Oscar-nominated actor also met with some of the biggest names in Italian cinema, to galvanize them into putting ministers under pressure.
Philanthropist and campaigner
Colin's work for Oxfam is wide-ranging. He has helped highlight issues and rally support by speaking to the media and writing articles. He has hosted fundraising events in the US and Italy and in 2007 attended the International Indian Film Awards (IIFA), of which Oxfam was an official charity partner. He has also helped to promote the Oxfam Unwrapped gift catalogue. His donations to fundraising auctions have included a portrait of himself as Mr. Darcy – a prop from the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; tickets to the "Mamma Mia" film premiere; and, most recently, Colin has supported Oxfam's Haiti Appeal by donating to auction the opportunity to attend the premier of "A Single Man". All of which have raised significant sums of money for Oxfam's work.
Colin's humanitarian work for Oxfam has been widely recognized. In 2006, he won the European Voice Campaigner of the Year Award for representing the interests of poor countries at World Trade Organization talks. In 2008, he won the inaugural Philanthropist of the Year Award from US magazine The Hollywood Reporter. He also won the BAFTA Britannia Humanitarian Award in 2009.
We congratulate Colin on his outstanding successes at the 2010-2011 season’s award ceremonies. He won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of King George VI in The King’s Speech, and his performance in the role has also earned him a Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award and a Bafta.
Colin is a powerful advocate and a sincere champion for poor people around the world. His steadfast, intelligent support and tireless efforts on behalf of Oxfam have made a significant international impact.