Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Sustainable Development Goals aim to end poverty “in all its forms, everywhere”, while leaving no one behind. This ambition is central to Fairtrade’s mission.

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Image courtesy of United Nations

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015 – are an ambitious set of 17 overarching global goals to combat poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030. Covering topics from gender equality to climate change, and education to clean drinking water, they represent a powerful opportunity to improve the lives of the 1.3 billion small scale farmers and agricultural workers upon whom the world depends to produce our food and protect our planet.

The ambition is laudable, but there is still a long way to go to achieve many of the goals. Despite progress, more than 780 million people live below the international poverty line. Worldwide, 152 million children are still involved in child labour. And climate change threatens to reverse progress on all levels. What’s more, the goals only provide a framework. It’s up to governments but also businesses and civil society to take action to ensure they are achieved.

How Fairtrade contributes to the SDGs

There is a large amount of cross-over between the SDGs and Fairtrade’s work. In fact, of the 169 targets underlying the goals, there is barely a single one that isn’t somehow related to food and farming. This means that smallholder farmers and workers have a central role to play.

While Fairtrade has a direct and indirect impact in all 17 goals, we have prioritised the eight goals which are most closely linked to our work.

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

This goal is central to Fairtrade’s mission. All of our work stems from this overarching goal, as we seek to ensure that trade enables smallholder farmers and workers to earn a decent living and have a brighter future for themselves and their families. Read more.

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Small-scale farmers continue to provide a large percentage of the world’s population with food. That means creating robust livelihoods is crucial for achieving this goal. Fairtrade enables more secure and stable incomes for small-scale farmers and supports them to build strong, resilient businesses. Read more.

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has identified that overcoming gender inequalities can reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 150 million. Fairtrade supports women to participate equally in agriculture, earn better wages and diversify their income and opportunities. Read more.

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

In line with the UN International Labour Organization and national legislation, Fairtrade promotes better working conditions, supports workers to negotiate for better pay and is striving to achieve living wages for workers on Fairtrade plantations. Our standards prohibit child and forced labour and we work with young people, their communities, producer organisations and governments to enable them to tackle the root causes themselves. Read more.

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Fairtrade is the leading ethical label worldwide. Through our campaigns and advocacy work, we bring together thousands of communities and millions of consumers worldwide to campaign for fairer trade. We are also developing markets in the South such as India, to enable the growing consumer base to make sustainable lifestyle choices. Read more.

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Small-scale farmers are already bearing the brunt of a changing climate. Fairtrade works with producer organisations and climate experts to build farmers’ resilience to climate shocks and stresses and thus be better equipped to adapt to, and mitigate their own impacts on global warming. Read more.

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Fairtrade focuses on building democracy from the ground up. Producers are equal owners of Fairtrade. From deciding on how to use their Fairtrade Premium, right up to determining global Fairtrade strategy, producers (including women, men, youth, migrants and people with disabilities) have a strong voice and are empowered to demand accountability of their organizations. Read more.

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Power imbalances in supply chains that favour companies over small-scale farmers in developing countries can be a barrier to implementing the SDGs. Fairtrade works with multiple partners – producer organizations, businesses, trade unions, civil society, governments and other multi-stakeholder bodies. Together we can support governments to build policies that enable fairer trade for all and which deliver on the SDGs’ ambitious agenda. Read more.

Fairtrade is also having an impact in many of the other areas of the sustainable development goals, as so many of the SDG targets are intertwined. For example the Fairtrade Premium has been used by producers to fund schools, healthcare and clean drinking water for their members and their communities (Goals 3, 4 and 6). The Fairtrade Standards prohibit discrimination and promote equality (Goal 10). And the network of more than 2000 Fair Trade Towns worldwide contributes to more sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11).

Fairtrade is closely aligned with the SDGs and – together with farmers and workers, civil society, governments and businesses – we are working to make the ambitious goals a reality. Why not partner with us?