Environment

Nature is in crisis. Earth’s species are dying out faster than ever before. Farming covers more than a third of the world’s land surface, and is the main driver of deforestation.

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Roberto, a member of CABRIPEL, stands at a waterfall in the cooperative's land. The coop produces certified organic and Fairtrade coffee in Honduras. "We've been working on protecting the environment here for 15 years already," says Roberto. "In particular we've worked on protecting the water sources, reforesting around them. We've used the Fairtrade Premium to do this work."
Image © Sean Hawkey

Without thriving biodiversity, we face increased food and water insecurity. A healthy natural environment is crucial for the quarter of the world’s population who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Farmers and farm workers are already suffering from degraded soil, desertification, salt water pollution, soil erosion and excessive use of toxic pesticides.

If we are to protect nature, we have to change the way we farm our land and produce our food. Vast areas of monoculture crops which ruthlessly eliminate all other biodiversity are unnatural and risk destroying local ecosystems, leading to the extinction of both animal and plant species. Reintroducing crop diversity and sustainable farming methods will have positive long-term impacts.

How Fairtrade protects the environment

Environmental protection is ingrained in Fairtrade. To sell Fairtrade products, farmers have to improve soil and water quality, manage pests, avoid using harmful chemicals, manage waste, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity.

Our standards prohibit the use of certain agrochemicals that are harmful to the environment and encourage farmers to reduce their use of pesticides. This allows farmers to improve their land and develop nutrient-rich soils which support healthy plants and encourage wildlife to help control pests and diseases. A large percentage of Fairtrade coffee cooperatives are also certified organic. The standards also forbid cutting down protected forests in order to plant more crops – a major problem, for example, in much of West Africa where cocoa production is a well-known driver of deforestation.

Fairtrade also organises training for farmers so they can learn how to grow in harmony with the local environment and avoid creating monocultures. Many producers also invest their Fairtrade Premium – the extra money they get for selling on Fairtrade terms – in various projects aimed at restoring natural areas or reforestation.

Building farmers’ skills and knowledge through technical support is also crucial. Being part of Fairtrade means farmers have access to training and information and are better aware of environmental issues and the impact these have on their lives and crops.

Fairtrade is a choice for nature, and a way of farming that safeguards both humans and the environment.

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Panamanian banana farmers from the Coobana cooperative have used some of their Fairtrade Premium to support a local NGO that helps to conserve leatherback turtles, the world’s largest turtles, which used to be abundant in the waters near Panama.
Image © Eduardo Martino

A helping hand for the neighbours

Fairtrade producers understand that a healthy environment is crucial to their own livelihoods.

The Coobana Cooperative in Panama uses a slice of the Fairtrade Premium they earn from selling bananas to protect endangered turtles that hatch on beaches nearby. With this money, they invest in a local NGO, patrol the beaches at night during hatching season and clean up the shoreline.

A separate fund helps protect and feed the local population of manatees who suffer from the high levels of pollution found in the rivers.