Our theory of change

Fairtrade International has developed a theory of change that shows what we do and why. It is a framework for our monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) system so we can assess our impact.

Our theory of change maps out how Fairtrade's model and actions will achieve the change we want to see in the world. It provides the basis to measure the results of our work and progress towards our goals.

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How does Fairtrade make a difference?

In 2020, we commissioned a comprehensive review of Fairtrade’s impact focusing on aspects related to global trade, sustainability and farmers’ and workers’ livelihoods. This review included 151 studies published between 2016 and 2020, providing us with a better understanding of what’s working and what’s needed.

The review showed that Fairtrade has a clear impact in a number of areas, including:

  • Improved income, well-being and resilience among farmer and worker households;
  • Stronger, well managed and democratic organizations for small-scale farmers;
  • Decent work for workers, including labour conditions and freedom of association of workers; and
  • Increased awareness of and commitment to fair and sustainable trade among citizens and shoppers.

We adapted our theory of change to hone in on what brings the greatest benefit for farmers and workers, and to be transparent about what we measure.

Connecting theory to action: Our global strategy 2021-2025

We also used the learnings of the evidence review to inform our global strategy.

For instance, we are developing new business approaches that will help us grow existing markets and expand into new ones creating, opportunities for farmers and workers. Our investments in traceability and transparency contribute to fairer markets, and we are advocating for policy changes that will lead to fairer terms of trade for all farmers and workers.

2021 Dominican Republic_Marcelino Blas_Banelino_870
Marcelino Blas is a banana farmer and member of BANELINO in the Dominican Republic. "Fairtrade gives us small farmers the opportunity to grow and develop. Thanks to the help of the agricultural engineers that the cooperative sends us for advice, I was able to improve the quality of my bananas and switch to organic farming."
Christian Nusch