24 Jul 2019

New Fairtrade Code aims to strengthen global governance and accountability

The General Assembly of Fairtrade International has unanimously voted to adopt a new code of ethics and good practice aimed at strengthening and aligning governance, accountability and responsible behaviour across Fairtrade operations globally.

Increased scrutiny of the international development sector has led many organisations to review and strengthen policies and procedures on ethical issues ranging from safeguarding of vulnerable children and adults to fraud and corruption, and whistleblowing.

In this context, the code lays out ten key principles to ensure Fairtrade organisations deliver on our values of accountability, respect, integrity and partnership. Issues covered by the code include financial management, complaints and allegations, child and vulnerable adult protection, transparency of information, conflicts of interest, good governance and decision-making, social and environmental impacts, and management of partnerships. The code, which draws on research and insight from other organisations in the international development and standard setting sector, was adopted after seven months’ consultation among members overseen by a global Governance Committee.

“This is the first time that we have codified good practices across the whole Fairtrade system,” said Fairtrade International CEO Darío Soto Abril. “Whilst we have always had clear published standards and auditing for Fairtrade farmers, workers’ organisations and businesses, the code is a recognition that we also need to hold ourselves accountable. I’m delighted the code was unanimously adopted, as a signal of our commitment to hold ourselves to the highest possible standards of ethics and behaviour.”

The code will be rolled out over the next three years, including a mandatory requirement for every Fairtrade organisation to implement its own rules of conduct covering employees, volunteers, board members, contractors and anyone else working on its behalf. A new Ethics and Compliance Manager will be hired to ensure that the values and principles included in the code are consistently applied in all Fairtrade operations across the world.

Read the full Code here.