SDG12: Responsible consumption and production

We are consuming more than the world can produce. We urgently need a more sustainable economy and lifestyle. And we all have to play our part.

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Image courtesy of the United Nations

We are living beyond our means. Earth Overshoot Day (the day by which we have used more from nature than our planet can renew in a whole year) moves earlier each year. If, as predicted, the global population reaches 9.7 billion by 2050, we would need three planets to sustain current lifestyles. We urgently have to make our global economy – and our own lifestyles – more sustainable.

Smallholder farmers are at the heart of our global agriculture system: Most of the world’s 570 million farms are small and family-run. Yet current trade policies marginalize farmers and workers in developing countries, fuelling inequality and driving many young people away from farming.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from, and want sustainable options. In a 2019 survey, 73 percent of participants told us they want to know how their food is produced. More than 80 percent want brands to take action on key global challenges such as climate change and global poverty.

How Fairtrade supports SDG12: responsible consumption and production

The FAIRTRADE Mark is a leading ethical label worldwide, and consistently named as the most recognised and trusted. A product with the FAIRTRADE Mark means the producers and businesses have met the stringent Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards.

But Fairtrade is more than a label. As a leader in the global movement to make trade fair, Fairtrade supports and challenges businesses and governments and connects farmers and workers with the people who buy their products.

  • Fairtrade brings together millions of consumers who are committed to buying sustainably. There are over 2000 Fair Trade Towns in more than 30 countries, including in the south, as well as countless schools, universities and faith groups all campaigning for fairer trade.

  • We are developing new markets for ethical consumption in emerging markets, such as India and the Philippines.

  • We advocate for Fair Trade criteria to be integrated into government’s sustainable procurement policies and for trade policies that put developing countries on an equal footing with industrial markets.

  • We support producers to confront policies at the national, regional and global level that impede fair trade and sustainable business.

  • A 2017 study in Germany found that the fair trade movement, through its public engagement, education and advocacy work, plays a positive role in changing consumer patterns and behaviour.

Fairtrade empowers producers to safeguard the world’s natural resources.

  • Fairtrade Standards ensure that small-scale cooperatives and plantations use environmentally friendly farming methods, including controls on the use of hazardous materials and no Genetically Modified Organisms.

  • We support and train farmers to reduce the impact of agriculture on the planet and incentivize organic farming by offering higher minimum prices for organic products.

  • Many farmers have invested their Fairtrade Premium in building sustainable farming systems, such as better irrigation, or improving productivity and yields without using more resources.

Fairtrade farmers and workers are farming more sustainably. Governments, backed by public pressure, are playing a stronger policy role. Businesses are offering more sustainable options. With every purchase you can vote with your wallet for fairer trade and drive progress towards a more sustainable future.

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Felisandro works in his banana plot near Piura, Peru.
Image: Fairtrade International

Adapting for sustainable farms and futures

A pilot project by Fairtrade and German retailer Kaufland enabled 200 Peruvian farmers to get a better understanding of climate change and its impacts on banana production while also identifying adaptation measures for their plots.

At three field schools, a train-the-trainers approach demonstrated sustainable agricultural practices, appropriate fertilization, and integrated pest management.

At the end of the project 80 percent of participants had taken up practices like mulching, pruning, deflowering, removal and protection of banana hands. Pests and diseases were under greater control and the amount of discarded crops was at a minimum.

With the project I learned how to best manage my plot. I also gain recognition and praise from my fellow farmers, which encourages me to keep improving because one never stops learning,’ says one of the participating farmers, Felisandro. ‘It is important to keep on training farmers.

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