What is Fairtrade?
Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, etc. Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Nearly 3000 Fair Trade shops exist in Europe. The sale of Fair Trade labelled food is growing fast. However, the sale of Fair Trade handicrafts is growing very slowly. Most of the WFTO members are handicraft producers. Thus this is what Fair Trade aims to achieve: supporting as many producers as possible to make a decent living. New markets in the USA and in the South give a small answer to this growing demand from producers. Europe, traditionally the biggest Fair Trade market, has huge potentials.
What they say about themselves: “ we are a global organization working to secure a better deal for farmers and workers. “
Everyone can benefit from Fairtrade because:
1. They protect the environment in which they work and live. This includes areas of natural water, virgin forest and other important land areas and dealing with problems of erosion and waste management.
2. They develop, implement and monitor an operations plan on their farming and techniques. This needs to reflect a balance between protecting the environment and good business results.
3. They follow national and international standards for the handling of chemicals. There is a list of chemicals which they must not use.
4. They not, intentionally, use products which include genetically modified organisms (GMO).
5. They work out and monitor what affect their activities are having on the environment. Then they must make a plan of how they can lessen the impacts and keep checking that this plan is carried out.
Other benefits are:
- the shoppers can buy products in line with their values and principles
- they can choose from an ever growing range of great products
- By buying into Fairtrade consumers support producers who are struggling to improve their lives
- since its launch in 2002 the Fairtrade Mark has become the most widely, recognised social and development label in the world
- Fairtrade offers companies a credible way to ensure that their trade has a positive impact for the people at the end of the chain
During its history of over 60 years, Fair Trade has developed into a widespread movement with recognition on a political and mainstream business level. But there are still a lot of challenges ahead of us, which we need to take up together.