Climate Leadership Now

Fairtrade Joint Press Conference with KPMG

Rob Cameron and Yvo de Boer address journalists

06 December 2011

Producers in developing countries have contributed the least to climate change yet suffer the greatest burden of its impacts – and thus need more and more effective adaptation funding, Fairtrade International CEO Rob Cameron told reporters at a joint press conference held with former Executive Secretary General of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Yvo de Boer, now a special adviser to KPMG, in Durban on Sunday.

Support for small farmers to adapt to climate change

Chief Adam Tanpuri, a Fairtrade certified cashew nut producer with the Gbankuliso Cashew Farmers Association in Ghana and the newly elected chair of Fairtrade Africa said he supported Cameron’s position when it came to sustainability and the role Fairtrade could play in achieving it.

“Climate change was destroying our lives and making us beggars, but today we have hope because of the Fairtrade systems we use. The improved agriculture practices and environmental preservation techniques we have learned from them have been a great help,” Tanpuri insisted.

Businesses taking leadership role

Retailers have increasingly become worried about the negative effects climate change is having on their supply chain, stated Cameron, and a number of those involved with Fairtrade have expressed an interest in helping producers mitigate its effects and implement adaptation strategies.

“We are keen to engage with businesses on this issue to see what we can come up with, as a collaborate approach is needed to achieve the outcome we all want – namely a supply chain that works for both the producer and the retailer.

“The idea that there will be no coffee available is worrying businesses. They know supply chains need to be made sustainable. Companies that once had a distant view of raw materials are starting to get closer to farmers,” said Cameron.

Yvo de Boer maintained that sustainability was a growing priority issue for businesses: “The idea of sustainability has become popular not only because of global climate concerns, but also because being efficient saves money, there is the potential to create products connected to it, and sustainability is an increasingly attractive concept to the general public.”

Traditionally supply chain costs were passed down the line to producers, said de Boer, but he is now seeing a trend in which companies are keen to ensure that producers are helped to cope with these costs in a fairer more equitable way. He said the "polluter pays" principle should be redefined so consumers, rather than producers, pay the full environmental cost of consuming a product.

"Business is already leading the way. It would be nice if the people we elected to lead us would also lead," de Boer said.

Fairtrade partnership with KPMG

Cameron expressed his approval at some of the developments taking place among KPMG clients in the private sector, saying Fairtrade was perfectly positioned to help such companies to achieve their sustainability approach.

Cameron said that Fairtrade and KPMG had come together recently to form a partnership that has benefited both organisations.

“KPMG has provided us with consultants who have an interest in developing on a personal level. They have looked at Fairtrade Africa’s financial and management systems and helped make them more effective. Looking ahead we don’t know what will happen yet. But our partnership is a relationship that we will develop over the coming years,” Cameron concluded.

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