The producer networks become co-owners of FLO
May 25th 2007 will be remembered as an historic day for FLO. During the General Assembly, the Producer Networks, CLAC (Coordinadora Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Comercio Justo), AFN (African Fairtrade Network) and NAP (Network of Asian Producers) officially became full members of FLO.
This expansion of membership was only possible through a change in FLO’s constitution which was approved by FLO’s Meeting of Members in November 2006. The Labelling Initiatives (LIs) which were previously the only members of FLO unanimously voted to adopt a new constitution allowing Networks of Fairtrade Certified Producers to become members of the Association. “This unanimous decision to expand FLO General Assembly membership to include Producer Networks is an important step for FLO to become a truly multi-stakeholder organization" said Barbara Fiorito, Chair of FLO Board, after the new constitution was approved.
Producer Networks are organisations which Fairtrade Certified Producer Organisations may join if they so wish and which are recognised by FLO as the representative body of farmers, workers and others belonging to Fairtrade Certified Producer Organisations. At the moment, there are three producer networks in the three continents, Africa, Asia and Latin America, where Fairtrade Certified Producers Organisations are.
"The face behind the fairtrade movement is the southern producer and the inclusion of Producer Networks in the FLO constitution is a welcome step towards further strengthening Fairtrade" says Binod Mohan, NAP Chairman.
Raymond Kimaro, Chairman of the AFN, is of the same opinion as Mr. Mohan and is very positive about the enlargement of FLO's membership to producer organizations: "We are optimistic that the new FLO Constitution shall ensure that right arrangements are in place to sufficiently accommodate member producer aspirations and expectations. The new arrangement should facilitate more understanding of the difficult living conditions in the south and possibly trigger urgent transfer of wealth to the south where the poor are badly in need”.
Peter Gaynor, Director of Fairtrade Mark Ireland, one of the 20 Labelling Initiatives which voted in favour of the enlargement, also expressed his confidence that this move will help to shape the future development of Fairtrade Labelling in benefiting the producers in the South: “We think it is important that producers are now co-owners of FLO – we are working to improve their situation and need to know what their priorities are. Whilst what we do is very simple – it’s important that we listen to each other and then do what will make the most difference to people in developing countries.’
FLO's new governance Structure
The new membership structure of FLO also means some changes in its governance.
Both the Producer Networks as well as the Labelling Initiatives now have their respective Assemblies, the Producer Network Assembly and the Labelling Initiatives Assembly, where both stakeholder groups discuss issues which are mainly relevant to them.
It is in the Annual General Assembly that all members get together to decide on membership issues, such as approval of the annual accounts and possible admission or expulsion of members. The General Assembly also elects the Board of Directors, which is responsible for the strategic direction, financial management, risk management and employment of the Chief Executive of the association. Its composition is as follows:
- 5 representatives from the Labelling Initiatives (LI)
- 4 representatives from Fairtrade Certified Producer Organizations (at least one from Latin America, Africa and Asia
- 2 representatives from Fairtrade Certified Traders
- 2 external Board Members