5 Oct 2022

Fairtrade pioneer Dieter Overath receives the Federal Cross of Merit

For his long-standing commitment to global trade justice, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier honoured the former CEO of Fairtrade Germany with the Federal Cross of Merit.

"Building bridges" - this was the motto of this year's award ceremony for the Federal Cross of Merit in Berlin. A fitting setting to honour Dieter Overath and his outstanding commitment to Fairtrade: for 30 years, he continuously and persistently built trade bridges, but also bridges of understanding between disadvantaged producers in the global south and consumers, business and politics in Germany. Overath became one of the outstanding protagonists of Fairtrade.

What he started in 1992 as a "one-man-show", he and his steadily growing team developed over the following three decades into the non-profit association Fairtrade Deutschland, which works within the global Fairtrade system to make Fairtrade without alternatives - in Germany and worldwide. A life's work that has now been honoured with the Federal Cross of Merit by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Bellevue Palace in Berlin.

Fairtrade creates impact and participation

At the award ceremony, Dieter Overath looked back on eventful decades that give courage for the future. "The most beautiful confirmation of more than 30 years of commitment to Fairtrade are the many meetings with partner organisations in the global south: to see how Fairtrade has developed and creates impact and participation at eye level," Overath explained at the ceremony. "The award of the Federal Cross of Merit is a political appreciation that makes me additionally proud. I dedicate this award to the Fairtrade team in Cologne as well as to all those involved in civil society and business, without whom I could not have made an impact."

Today, the Fairtrade label is the best known and most widely used social label in Germany. Producers in Africa, Latin America and Asia generated over 40 million Euros in Fairtrade premiums in 2021 through the sale of Fairtrade-labelled products on the German market. The premium is paid in addition to the sales price and is used by the producer organisations for charitable projects on site. In addition, the Fairtrade minimum price ensures planning security for the producers.

Highest recognition for services to the common good

The award of the Federal Cross of Merit is a great honour and recognition for the entire Fairtrade system. Every year on the Day of German Unity, the incumbent Federal President awards the Order of Merit to German and foreign citizens for political, economic-social and spiritual achievements, as well as for all special services to the Federal Republic of Germany, such as in the social and charitable sectors. It is the only general award of merit in Germany and thus the highest recognition the Federal Republic bestows for services to the common good.