Fair Trade in Belgium
Today our train brings us to Belgium, one of the first countries where the Fair Trade movement has developed: as soon as 1976 the two pioneer associations, Oxfam-Wereldwinkels and Oxfam-Magasins du Monde, started sensitizing about “Commerce Alternatif”, which has later become “Fair Trade”.
Belgium today is a frontrunner when it comes to Fair Trade: by 2020 it wants to become “pays du commerce equitable”, “the country of Fair Trade”, a challenging objective, but a great perspective for the future of Fair Trade. The idea is that by 2020, 95% of Belgians will have heard of Fair Trade; every Belgian will buy 15 euros worth of Fair Trade products every year; all major Belgian supermarket chains will sell Fair Trade products ; 51% of Belgian municipalities will be Fair Trade Municipalities; more than half of Belgian provinces will be Fair Trade Provinces; 80% of Federal, Regional and Community Parliaments and Ministries will use at least 2 fair trade products; Fair Trade will be mentioned 600 times in the press.
In 2005, Ghent became Belgium’s first Fair Trade Town and recently committed to buying only Fair Trade products (or other sustainable alternatives) by 2024. Not to forget that the city won the first EU Fair and Ethical Trade City Award in 2018.
In December 2018, Belgian minister De Croo signed, together with the industry and civil society, an ambitious partnership which aims to source all Belgian cocoa from certified sources by 2025. Additionally, by 2030, all cocoa for Belgian chocolate should be sourced without deforestation or prices below a living income.
From the 2nd to the 13th of October, Belgium celebrated Fair Trade during the “Semaine du Commerce Equitable”, gathering stakeholders active in the field from all around the country. At the same time, the Fair Trade Marathon took place in Brussels, gathering fair trade experts from all around Europe (and the world) to discuss hot topics and underline the importance of advocacy for Fair Trade. To top it off, the week ended by celebrating World Shop Day, a moment for world shops to open their doors to citizens interested in fair trade and trade justice.
Not to forget that Belgium is home of World Fair Trade Organization-Europe! At the moment we have three Guaranteed members and one Provisional member in the country. Additionally, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, the lead advocacy partner of the fair trade movement in Europe, is based in Brussels.
Our Guaranteed Members from Belgium
Oxfam-Magasins du Monde
Oxfam MdM is a citizens’ movement with about 4500 local volunteers active in Wallonie and Bruxelles. Oxfam MdM is widespread in the country, having about 80 world shops, where fair trade products but also second-hand clothes are sold.
The core aim of the movement is that of building socio-economic justice, denouncing and making citizens aware of the unfair production, distribution and consumption system, by creating catchy campaigns and events, involving the community as much as possible. Have a look at their website for more information: https://www.oxfammagasinsdumonde.be/
Belgian Fair Trade Federation
BFTF is a more recent organization, created in October 2010, is a network bringing together about twenty Fair Trade companies and associations active in Wallonia, Brussels and Flanders. BFTF was founded to promote Fair Trade in Belgium: from one side their internal mission is that of giving the opportunity to its members to gather and empowering their activities. Their external mission is ensuring the representation of FT at the level of the Belgian political powers, in order to facilitate members’ access to state aid moreover, they try to integrate their work with international networks, to disseminate information and raise awareness. Here is their website:http://www.bftf.be/en/
Elecosy is a young company founded in 2013, dedicated to the development of Fair Trade, handmade, eco-friendly, recycled paper products. Their innovative idea of transforming elephant poo into eco-friendly, beautiful paper products, led them to win many prestigious awards in the past. The range of products they make ranges from stationery, to recycled cotton paper decorative products, handwoven cotton products, incense and lifestyle products.
The company is dedicated to people and the planet: all of their products are sourced from companies in Southern Asia dedicated to their principles and with their growing business they hope to be able to provide fairer employment to their suppliers, at the same time Elecosy is also helping and safeguarding elephants’ conservation and welfare. Check out their amazing products: http://www.elecosy.com/
Our Provisional Member from Belgium
Oxfam-Wereldwinkels is also part of the Oxfam family and together with Oxfam-Mdm one of the leading pioneers of Fair Trade organizations in Belgium.
While Oxfam-Magasins du Monde covers the Brussels area and Wallonia, Oxfam-Wereldwinkels is mainly based in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, Flandres. It comprises more than 200 World shops. They are also striving to defend universal rights for a dignified life through a fairer world trade by public campaigning, actions with youths and schools, and by starting a dialogue with politicians and companies. More information can be found on their website: https://www.oxfamwereldwinkels.be/