FLO Embarks on First-Ever Revamp of Fairtrade Standards

The Standards Unit kicks off its year-long project to make Fairtrade standards more efficient and effective for producers

04 February 2010

For the first time in its 12 year-history, FLO will introduce a new framework for its Fairtrade standards. The move is part of FLO’s overall strategy to strengthen, broaden and deepen Fairtrade’s impact by ensuring our activities best meet the needs of Fairtrade farmers, workers and traders.

The reorganization will be built on the current standards model but it aims to help strengthen producers’ social organization and self determination, reinforce the Fairtrade Minimum Price and create an even more effective Fairtrade system.

Andreas Kratz, Director of FLO’s Standards Unit says,
“A more relevant standards system will lead to a better cost-benefit ratio for producers and provide more incentives for them to invest in Fairtrade and become a certified partner. It’s the first systematic re-organization of standards with this aim and ambition behind it which also is embedded into a wider strategy.”

Unique to Fairtrade
The New Standards Framework is an ambitious project that will run until the end of 2010. Under the current model, Fairtrade standards are divided into Generic and Product-specific producer standards. This covers Small Producer Organizations, Hired Labor and Contract Production. There are also Generic and Product-specific trade standards that lay out the requirements for traders.  This structure makes it difficult to asses where Fairtrade actually differs from other sustainability initiatives.

The new framework changes all this by creating two sets of standards for producers and traders divided into three pillars: Production, Trade, and Business & Development.
The addition of standards that apply to Business & Development will be unique to Fairtrade since no other label or system has this model built into its standards.

Under the New Standards Framework there will still be two distinct sets of standards for producers and traders but they will generally share one set of Business & Development requirements that are unique to Fairtrade: like the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premium, sourcing plans and pre-financing.

Brief Overview of the Three Pillar Model
Standard requirements and FLO-CERT’s compliance criteria will be reorganized into the following structure.

Production: Production standards capture the ambition regarding the production of Fairtrade certified products, such as labor conditions, health and safety requirements and environmental management.

Trade: Trade standards include the Fairtrade requirements that are in line with conventional and internationally recognized trade practices such as the flow of goods and traceability.

Business & Development: This part of the standards covers two areas.
1.) Trade standards that are unique to Fairtrade such as detailed contracts, sourcing plans & pre-financing.
2.) Process-oriented criteria that specify the basic requirements producers have to fulfill to ensure that empowerment & development can take place: for example, social organization, transparent decision-making, development strategy and reporting requirements under Fairtrade monitoring & evaluation.

Additional Benefits
The essential content of the production and trade standards will not change dramatically and they are similar to other systems. However, one significant benefit of the new framework will make it easier for producers to prepare for and invest their resources for certification in a more harmonized way. This will mainly help those producers who seek or carry certification from other sustainability systems.

According to Kimberly Easson, Director of Producer Services and Relations (PSR) the envisioned changes will help her team be more customer-focused in their work with producers around the world.

 “In addition to our regular support services around certification requirements, we will work more closely with producers to design their own business and development plans, train them in key aspects of that plan and connect them to additional resources and partnerships to achieve their vision for their members and communities.”

Business and Development Pillar
Achieving certification against the Business and Development standards means that producers can make their own development plan, set their own ambitions and goals, self monitor and adapt according to their own pre-determined progress requirements. This is in contrast to the fixed progress requirements in the existing producer standards.  Many of those requirements will be deleted or transferred to a template to guide producers in setting their own development plans. The opportunity to adapt to individual situations will increase the self-governance aspect of a producer’s life as opposed to having to abide by a rigid framework of requirements. It is essentially a shift to a more producer-owned development approach.

For the Standards Unit at FLO, the New Framework is this year’s most significant project.
“It’s a privilege for the Standards Unit to be involved in rethinking the standards system,” says Kratz, “and to bring in its collective expertise, think creatively and to strive towards finding the technical solutions in order to reach the ambitious targets. It is a timely response to a changing world in which producers are increasingly marginalized and Fairtrade must demonstrate its relevance more than ever before.”

The Standards Unit will work closely with FLO-CERT in running a test phase with selected producers that will provide valuable data for creating the final version of the New Framework. The project will also include a consultation process to give stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback and to build a consensus.

For a more detailed overview of the project, timelines and objectives, click on the link below

For more information on standards contact:
Dorothee Jung

For media enquiries contact:
Laura Zonka

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