16 Nov 2022

“At COP27, I am raising my voice for climate justice” A climate conversation with Fairtrade Producers Ines Zairi and Submi Granados

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt – For two weeks in November, the sunny resort town of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, is the centre of the world, abuzz not with the usual cacophony of beach-going tourists but with the frantic negotiations of climate advocates working against the clock.

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27, has brought world leaders, Member State delegates, climate activists and civil society actors to this Egyptian seaside town on the Red Sea coast, to ensure concrete action to keep global temperatures below the 1.5C° threshold before it is too late. But time is working against them. The clock is ticking. And the race to ensure that climate justice and social justice are fully aligned is yet to be won.

Fairtrade and Fairtrade producers are on the ground at COP27 to ensure that fair and sustainable food systems remain at the centre of each and every conversation. That’s because building sustainable food systems is not only fundamental to spearheading the global green transition, but it is also key to ensuring a more equitable future for all – not least for the small-scale farmers in the frontline of climate change.

But what does a fair and sustainable food system look like? And which global stakeholders do we need on board to ensure meaningful climate action?

To answer these questions and more, we reached out to members of Fairtrade’s COP27 delegation and spoke to Ines Zairi, Fairtrade producer and location manager at Tunisia’s Desert Joy HLO, and Submi Granados Escobedo, a coffee producer from the Asociación de Cooperación al Desarrollo Integral de Huehuetenango, ACODIHUE, in Guatemala, to get their take on what building a fair and sustainable future should look like.

How has climate change impacted you and your community?

Ines Zairi: We are located in the south of Tunisia, which is considered to be a fragile ecosystem where water scarcity threatens the sustainability of the agriculture. This is mainly due to industrial and mining activities and is worsened by climate change. Water scarcity has restricted agricultural investment and local authorities have also limited the digging of any additional wells which means a reduction in new agricultural investments. Moreover, social tensions are increasing due to water conflicts.

Submi Granados: For us in Guatemala, climate change means new generations are not seeing a viable future in agriculture. This is worrying since small-scale producers feed a large portion of the world. Appropriate finance and fair conditions are imperative to make agriculture attractive to younger generations, so they see value in it and a future.

How do you envision the future of sustainable supply chains? What do you want to see happen?

Ines Zairi: I would like to see sustainable supply chains built around water efficiency systems, where each drop of water is optimized and farmers have equitable access to renewable energy. The green economy should be leading the innovation processes for all agribusinesses and social transformations. I would also like to see the promotion of low carbon supply chains, the use of recyclable materials, and carbon sequestration. I have come to COP27 to raise my voice and ask governments and businesses to make sustainable supply chains a priority of their climate efforts. We need to governments to regulate the social and environmental risks associated with the existing supply chain and we need businesses to prioritize sustainable targets within their procurement processes.

Submi Granados: I would like to see more actions to engage and foster the interest of younger generations of farmers so they are still involved in agriculture. They are, and will be, disproportionately affected by climate change and bringing support to them to tackle new ways of working is imperative. I often see people with a lot of ideas, but finance is needed to get there.

What kind of value added does partnering with Fairtrade deliver for you?

Ines Zairi: As a leader in social justice and innovation, Fairtrade provides us with much-needed guidance and the necessary mindset to deliver new approaches to building a fairer future. Fairtrade is the standard cooperatives such as ours need to promote fair practices and support all workers and managers in promoting workers’ rights and sharing tangible benefits. Being a Fairtrade Partner means joining a growing community to build a better and fairer world and as a member of the Fairtrade Africa Board, I feel that we, as producers farmers and workers, are at the heart of decision making. We can fuel change and make a difference.

Submi Granados: As a small scale coffee producer, Fairtrade has brought tremendous value to me. Fairtrade’s principles have impacted our community in a highly positive way on social, economic and environmental matters. On the latter, we have switched to more environmentally friendly ways of producing which had not been tackled by our past generations.

What does climate justice mean to you?

Ines Zairi: As a form of environmental justice, climate justice is the equitable and fair treatment of all people through policies and projects that address climate change as well as the systems that create climate change and perpetuate inequity and discrimination. In other words, climate justice, is about human rights and finding equitable solutions for humanity to cohabitate on this planet while "leaving no one behind." We are all accountable for climate change, but decision-makers must take action in guaranteeing a better world for next generations and for preserving the environment.

Submi Granados: To me climate justice means that we can all, no matter how big or small, use our knowledge and skills to protect our planet and its biodiversity.

Which global actors do we need on-board to make sustainable supply chains a reality?

Ines Zairi: We need the private sector to change their processes and integrate sustainable energies into their supply chains. We need decision-makers in government and the public sector to promote appropriate legislation and legal frameworks as well as initiatives that support farmers in achieving climate resilience. We need the media and press to raise awareness of sustainable supply chains among the general public and urge consumers to be part of the change. And we need civil society to focus on shifting from risk mitigation to advancing strategic priorities in ensuring sustainable supply chains become the norm.

Submi Granados: As producers we are doing what we can to switch to greener ways of working. I see a lot of effort around my community to adapt. But climate change does not depend on us entirely. Everyone, particularly governments of larger nations, have a role to play. That’s only fair.

READ MORE about what InesI, Submi Granados, and Fairtrade are fighting for at COP27