1 Mar 2021

Connecting the dots between Fairtrade, the environment, and climate

Environment work - Fairtrade Premium - CABRIPEL
'We've been working on protecting the environment here for 15 years already. In particular we've worked on protecting the water sources, reforesting around them. We've used the fairtrade premium to do this work." says Roberto Pineda Gonzalez, president of Cooperativa Agropecuaria Brisas del Pelon Ltda, CABRIPEL
Sean Hawkey

You just bought your first Fairtrade chocolate. You found out (or knew already) that we strive to better the lives of farmers and workers, for instance helping strive for living income and wages. But, did you know we also support farmers and workers to be more resilient when it comes to the environment and climate change?

Whereas climate and the environment might not be the first two things that spring to your mind when it comes to our work, there are several activities we drive globally on these areas, in collaboration with many partners. From improving agro-forestry cocoa systems, to initiating a climate leadership academy, to establishing emergency funds to improve climate resilience. Take the start of this month as an opportunity to catch up on what we do.

1. Building the climate leaders of tomorrow

112 young people from 41 Fairtrade certified organizations have participated in the Climate Change Leadership Schools across Latin America and the Caribbean. These have been taking part in in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Ecuador, through the Regional Project for Climate Change Advocacy and Leadership, EXCHANGE.

Merling Preza, Vice-President of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fairtrade Small Producer and Workers (CLAC) Board of Directors believes leadership schools in climate change create new types of leaders which are environmentally conscious, and also contribute to the development of local economies.

COVID-19 did not put a stop to these activities. During 2020, the academy moved online. For instance, in Ecuador the training was offered through an online educational platform where producers could explore different topics while carrying out practical exercises related to leadership, advocacy, and climate change.

“I have been trained as a leader in the face of climate change, it has been a very important issue for us. We have also learned about the importance of leadership in our networks, in our organizations and as young people we have committed to undertaking new challenges, taking care of the environment,” said Irene Huarachi Arcayne, producer of the National Association of Quinoa Producers (ANAPQUI) and representative of youth in the Quinoa Network in Bolivia.

Find out more

Group photo ecuador climate change school
Producers across Ecuador coming together online to learn about climate change leadership

2. The power of everyday changes

As Fairtrade Africa’s Board Chair, Mary Kinyua emphasized in the Climate Ambition Summit 2020, producers have a role to play in mitigating climate change effects by choosing environmentally friendly technologies and switching to low carbon production. But, is crucial that there is support for farmers and workers when it comes to the cost of switching; it would not be fair to expect producers to absorb all these costs, when they are sometimes not even able to earn a living income and a living wage.

This also applies to the day-to-day activities of their communities and how we can offer support. When it comes to our work, for example, as part of the Fairtrade Carbon Credits’ work with Gold Standard, in Burkina Faso 180,000 households now use cook stoves. This has positively impacted the lives of 190,000 people and reduced 120,000 of carbon dioxide.

Find out more about similar projects, for instance, how coffee farmers are opting for environmentally friendly energy sources for their day-to-day life in Kenya here.

3. Climate Eventualities and Catastrophic Events Fund

Last year, besides COVID-19, small-scale producer organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean faced two Hurricanes: Iota and Eta. Both left considerable damages to countries that already had faced the effects of droughts and heavy rains at different times of that year.

Going forward, climate change could mean more drastic changes in temperature, rainfall and extreme phenomena, affecting crop productivity and agricultural practices.

Effects - Honduras Eta Iota Hawkey
Hurricanes Iota and Eta left considerable damages across Central America and southern Mexico.
Sean Hawkey

Find out more, including how to get involved, here.

Given the current pandemic, it might be tempting to put issues such as environment and climate change aside. Yet, it is critical to keep it high on the agenda and consider the impact we are having. The increasing intensity and frequency of major climate events stresses the imperative to relate climate action to human rights and trade justice. And we all have a role to play.