Information on HREDD approach in Fairtrade Standards

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Fairtrade and HREDD

Respect for human rights is central to Fairtrade. Trade will not be fair until everyone involved cooperates and practices HREDD. While voluntary certification does not absolve companies of their own responsibilities, Fairtrade helps them build awareness of human rights, assess environmental risks, and ensure farmers and workers have a meaningful place at the table and are part of the solution.

If conducted fairly, HREDD can fundamentally shift human rights and environmental sustainability in global supply chains. However, if the costs of due diligence are pushed on smallholder farmers and workers, HREDD can deepen poverty and actually aggravate risks. Fairtrade calls for fair due diligence, based on dialogue with rights holders, fair cost sharing, collaboration and continuous improvement.

HREDD and Fairtrade Standards

Fairtrade has long supported and expected certified producer organisations to take some due diligence measures. The current consultation - which runs from 19 June to 17 August 2023 - covers our proposal to include the HREDD cycle in the Fairtrade Trader and Hired Labour Standards. We expect to follow this in 2024 with proposed changes to the Small Producer Organisations and Contract Production Standards.

  • The revised Standards are intended to strengthen our due diligence expectations. The proposals put forward in consultation with all Fairtrade stakeholders aim to encourage dialogue, information sharing and collaboration. If agreed, we will implement them together with capacity building, training and programmes for farmers, workers and management.
  • We have already published HREDD guiding documents for SPOs, HLOs and traders. Fairtrade is aware that establishing, implementing and maintaining HREDD systems comes at a cost, and we will strive to facilitate access to HREDD funding, including public and private funding and corporate partnerships. Future reviews of Fairtrade Premiums and Minimum Prices will also take the additional costs for HREDD into account.
  • As is the case with any changes to our Standards, the consultation is public, inclusive and open to all stakeholders, and we will the publish summary results. Following the consultation, our Fairtrade Standards Committee - which includes producer, worker, trader and market representatives - will meet to agree any changes to the Standards.

Fairtrade’s inclusive bottom-up process ensures that any changes to Standards are in response to the realities experienced by producers, workers and traders. We understand that traders and producers want realistic, sustainable requirements which genuinely contribute to the protection of both people and planet and which encourage them to remain certified and improve their HREDD.

How we implement HREDD in Fairtrade supply chains

Fairtrade has a holistic approach to implementing HREDD in supply chains. We advocate for fair funding and cost sharing; we provide support, guidance, training and project work; and we include due diligence requirements in our Standards. Recently, we have:

The Trader and HLO Standard reviews focus on new and improved HREDD requirements. These changes could significantly affect you or your organisation.

Traders are increasingly obliged by law to practice HREDD. Fairtrade wants to support traders through revised requirements to help them in a meaningful and practical way to fulfil their legal and moral obligation.

As there are no HREDD requirements in the current Trader Standard, our proposals mark a significant shift for Fairtrade certified traders. The changes are in line with new laws and regulations in the EU and some other countries.

Traders will have a dual duty to be diligent regarding both their own operations AND their supply chains.

We propose to group traders according to size and their role in the supply chain. There will be different levels of obligation depending on their potential and influence in the supply chain.

Buyers, traders and retailers are increasingly obliged by law to show they are diligent in their operations and supply chain management. This means they are working with their suppliers, including Fairtrade certified HLOs, to ensure HREDD including workers’ rights, human rights, child rights, gender rights and environmental rights are upheld on farms or in factories.

There are already several HREDD related requirements in the existing HLO Standard - for example having a grievance mechanism or policies to address child labour challenges.

For Fairtrade certified HLOs, it is important to get feedback from management which takes into account business viability and work they are already doing to protect human rights and the environment.

It is equally important that workers and their representatives give their feedback to this consultation and share their views on whether the proposed requirements will support workers meaningfully and will protect vulnerable groups.

Why is my feedback important for Fairtrade and how do I get involved?

Your views are important! We invite you to participate in either or both of the surveys, depending on your role in the supply chain.

The Trader and HLO Standard reviews focus on new and improved HREDD requirements. These changes could significantly affect you or your organisation. It’s important your opinions are heard.

You are invited to participate in either or both of the surveys, depending on your role in the supply chain.

Trader, SPO and HLO representatives are all invited to contribute to the Trader Standard consultation. Feedback from pure traders is essential because they are directly affected; feedback from HLOs and SPOs is also important because they might sometimes also act as traders. In addition, it is likely the requirements for pure traders will also impact HLOs and SPOs as supply chain partners.

Feedback from HLO managers is key for the Hired Labour Standard consultation, as they are best placed to know what is feasible for their businesses. We also want to hear from workers and workers’ representatives who, as rights holders, can best judge if their rights have been adequately considered in the proposals.

Get involved!

The public consultation is open from 19 June to 17 August 2023 via two separate web surveys.

Click here to access the consultation documents and to provide your input.

Your feedback is valued and supports our work in improving standards!