Photo credit: The FIG tree

 fttAt the time of writing there are 1,535 Fair Trade Towns in 25 countries stretching across all six major continents. They are approaching 600 Fairtrade Towns in the UK, where the movement first started and over 250 in Germany. The Belgian region of Flanders is expected to celebrate 50% of all towns becoming Fair Trade Towns later this year and Switzerland has just launched their own campaign. Fair Trade Towns vary in size from the Scottish island of Fair Isle with a population of just 65 to London with a population of seven million, but the strong emerging campaign in Seoul, Korea will ensure that London’s proud status as the world’s largest Fair Trade City will not remain forever.  It’s hard to believe that all this first took root in the small English market town of Garstang when the residents boldly declared Garstang as the world’s first Fair Trade Town at a Public Meeting in April 2000.ftt

Not only are Fair Trade Towns branching around the world however, but they are also adapting to different cultures, different needs and in doing so becoming more inclusive. The five founding goals developed in the UK were originally aimed at promoting the FAIRTRADE Mark hence the movement in the UK is still named Fairtrade Towns. Although the five goals still remain the central core for all national Fair Trade Town campaigns worldwide they have now been adapted to be inclusive of the wider Fair Trade movement, known as ‘The Big Tent’ approach first introduced at the 6th International Fair Trade Towns conference in Poznan, Poland in 2012.

The International Fair Trade Towns Steering Committee, formed as a result of the Poznan conference developed the International Fair Trade Towns guidelines that state: “National campaigns are free to add to the five goals as they feel is appropriate in their own country, but are strongly recommended not to remove any of the founding goals”. A 6th goal was added in Belgium to support local producers and in Japan they went further by adding criteria aimed at promoting the local economy as well a Fair Trade, emphatically demonstrating that the two can work side by side. In April the WFTO Board nominated Tadeusz Makulski as their representative on the International Steering Committee.

Fair Trade Towns is a grassroots movement that was initially led by campaigners in so called ‘consumer’ countries to promote the sale of Fair Trade products and raise awareness of fair trade. The initiative has also been taken up in ‘producer’ countries such as Ghana, Costa Rica and Brazil however, (although the Steering Committee accept that in reality all countries are both ‘consumer’ and ‘producer’ countries) in order to promote producers and their communities. The Steering Committee encourages Fair Trade Towns to be utilised in this way in order to create the broadest possible base of stakeholders, all of which should feel responsible for the campaign at the national level.

The greatest strength of Fair Trade Towns is that they can and should involve everyone regardless of the work you do, the school your children go to, the church, mosque, synagogue or temple you worship in or what you do in your leisure time. Fair Trade Towns are about YOU so what are YOU waiting for.

For further information contact Bruce Crowther the International Fair Trade Towns Ambassador at brucecrowther300 (at) gmail.com

Bruce Crowther

International Fair Trade Towns Ambassador

The FIG Tree, Garstang, UK

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