15 Jan 2021
Five reasons why Fairtrade is the global movement for trade justice
By Kelly Hawrylyshyn, Senior Advisor Global Resource Mobilization
As we start a new decade, and reflect on past milestones, we can be sure that global movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo and #FridaysforFuture have earned a spot in our history books. And so will the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the unprecedented changes we all had to navigate in 2020, at Fairtrade we still believed in one constant: changing trade and changing lives. We believe trade justice is critical and therefore drive efforts, together with actors across the world, to make it happen. Here are five reasons why Fairtrade is a global movement for change. Will you be a part of it?
1. We believe in the power of the collective action
In a global trade system unfavourably balanced against the well-being of small producer communities, Fairtrade gives small scale farmers and workers a strong collective voice. At our core we have the Fairtrade Standards, which promote collective and inclusive governance plus decision making among producer cooperatives. This, for example, can mean cooperatives choose together how to spend any additional money they earn as part of their Fairtrade Premium. In 2019, Fairtrade certified producer organisations earned €190.6 million in Fairtrade Premium funds which they used to improve health, education, water and sanitation services for their communities, as well as investing in better productivity and sustainable agriculture.
Going beyond individual cooperatives, Fairtrade producer organizations help their local communities, civil society and trade unions join forces to fight for trade justice – be it via the network of Fairtrade agri-workers established in Latin America, the Coffee Cooperatives network in Asia or the network of young Fairtrade producers in Africa, among others.
2. We help build local resilience against global challenges
There are now more than 1,800 producer organisations in the Fairtrade system benefiting from technical support and sales on Fairtrade terms. They are also agents of change in their own communities. As Covid-19 struck in early 2020, many Fairtrade producer organisations quickly acted locally to keep people safe, and further contain the spread of the virus. For example, Flower growers in Kenya used their Fairtrade Premium to buy sewing machines and make masks for their wider community.
To support them further, Fairtrade, through its member organisations and partners, secured over €15 million both for immediate relief during the pandemic and to fund long-term economic recovery, ensuring farmers and workers are more resilient to future shocks and stresses. This can be via exploring diversification, e-commerce and alternative local markets, among others.
3. We drive systemic change
In the last three years, 1.2 million Fairtrade supporters across 20 EU countries signed pledges calling for fairer trade agreements for southern producers. These included pledges relating to the UK’s post-Brexit policy changes, and at European Parliament and Member State levels.
There are active Fairtrade parliamentary groups in the EU, UK and other countries in which law-makers seek to ensure new legislation and policies prioritise trade justice. Recently, EU MEPs voted in favour of a new EU Directive on Unfair Trading Practices in the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain which takes account of the needs of smallholder farmers in the global south.
4. We enable inclusive development
Our unique governance structure ensures that small scale farmers and workers are included at every level. Producer organisations have 50 percent voting rights at our Annual General Assembly. Co-ops from Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia are represented on our standards setting and review body, and our Workers’ Rights Advisory Council includes representatives of trade unions and workers who shape Fairtrade’s work on SDG 8 (Decent work and Economic Growth).
In addition, Fairtrade supports women’s empowerment through its Women's School of Leadership programme, and we help protect children from the worst forms of child labour through Fairtrade’s Youth Inclusive Community Based Monitoring and Remediation approach, among others.
Last year, Fairtrade placed human rights firmly at the heart of its work by publishing its Human Rights Commitment, which clarifies its own responsibilities encourages businesses to step up their work on Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD).
5. We know everyone has a role to play
At Fairtrade we promote multi-stakeholder collaboration. Did you know there are over 2000 Fairtrade towns, universities, schools and faith-based organizations across the globe? There are millions of passionate students, consumers, campaigners, local government authorities, businesses and producers committed to fighting for trade justice. They strongly believe in a world in which all producers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide on their future.
This year we also celebrate 25 years of “Fairtrade Fortnights” in more than 25 countries. This annual event promotes Fairtrade consumption and production, in line with Goal 12 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Check out if your hometown, workplace, school or college is involved.
Fairtrade is and remains a human rights-based movement. Come and join our growing movement campaigning to change the rules of the game to achieve trade justice!