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Today is the World Fair Trade Day where Agents for Change from all over the world will honor Fair Trade, our way to achieve sustainable development. For this day, fair traders, consumers, policy makers and advocates form human chains to symbolize solidarity and commitment to people and the planet.

“This day we celebrate the world we wish to be! A world where people all over the world no matter who they are and what they do have the same rights and the same opportunities. We celebrate a world where fairness and global justice are the leading principles of political acts, a world where Fair Trade is the normal rule. But, in this day, we also go further than dreaming and show how all together we can make this fair world come true. We are the agent for change. With our actions, our daily choices we can shape the future of our society. Therefore, join our movement, our human chain and help us promote Fair Trade as a key driver of a fair and sustainable world” says the WFTO-Europe Coordinator, Francesca Giubilo.

This year, the WFTO network puts attention of how we are Agents for Change. We believe that everyone can be an Agent for Change and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We have the power to create change, not just as policy makers and advocates, but also as consumers with the small choices we make in our everyday life. When you support Fair Trade you help eliminate poverty, discrimination and other human rights violations.

Last night, WFTO-Europe celebrated this day together with other actors from the Fair Trade Movement at Café BOOM in Brussels. Here, we had the chance to form a human chain to show that we are all linked giving every one of us the power to be Agents for Change. We also took up the Fairtrade Challenge by sharing Fair Trade chocolate with all attendees.

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During the event, participants were asked how they are Agents for Change. Participants came with a wide range of examples on how you can be an Agent for Change even with small efforts. People stated that they buy Fair Trade products and presents, attend Fair Trade events and support Fair Trade campaigns. For example, an attendee answered that she is a “Fair Trade chocaholic” and another attendee claimed to have been drinking half of the global Fair Trade coffee production. But even in small doses, purchasing Fair Trade coffee has a massive impact. Learn why here.

Follow the World Fair Trade Day and Agents for Change campaign on our Twitter. Learn how you can be an Agent for Change and make a real difference in this world here.

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By Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard

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Over a month ago, Peru was hit by heavy floods due to climate changes. Heavy rains resulting in over flooding that damaged houses and bridges resulting in the death of over 60 people killed and making thousands of people homeless.

Our member FairMail works in Peru where they provide photography classes to disadvantaged teenagers, old enough to adhere to the laws of child labour. FairMail uses the teenager’s pictures in their production of cards and give the photographer 50% of the profit made from the picture. In this way, teenagers can finance their own education and contribute to the household finances.

Due to the floods, the office had to close for two weeks whilst the roads were closed resulting in cancelled classes. But this did not stop FairMail’s dream of “a world in which ALL adolescents have equal opportunities to educate and develop themselves.”

Two teenager’s homes were sadly severely damaged with a lack of money for reconstruction in the family. So instead of carrying out photography classes, the FailMail team organized support meetings and help with reconstruction of the damaged houses. They also dedicated a day to help distribute water, food and clothes to different areas.

We had to cancel FairMail’s photography lessons in the days after the flooding as the office wasn’t accessible. But even when the roads re-opened it felt self-centered to have the teenagers work on their photographic ideas when there was so much human suffering so close by. FairMail founder Janneke came up with the idea to grasp the opportunity to open the teenagers’ world to the opportunity to volunteering for the flood relief efforts that were taking place. For example by helping out at the logistics center were the emergency aid was being distributed. Afterwards all the team members shared in the group how they had been affected. When Angelica and Julissa told about the damage to their homes the other FairMail teenagers immediately suggested to go and help them out with the start of the reconstruction efforts. As director of FairMail it makes me very proud that these teenagers reacted this way to help out their affected team members. This way showing that they truly internalized one of FairMail’s main values: goodpanionship.” Peter den Hond from FairMail said.

This case shows how committed WFTO-Europe members are to work better world, and how everyone can be a part of creating change.

Do you want to help create change too? Learn how you can become an Agent for Change.

 

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By Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard

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World Fair Trade Day (WFTDay) is approaching and we are excited for this at WFTO-Europe! This year, we will celebrate this with other actors from our network and from the Fair Trade Movement. Here, we will form a human chain to symbolize how we together can make the world fairer.

 

We are all linked

We believe that everyone can be an Agent for Change and that can all create change together. The WFTO-Europe network strives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) through the 10 Fair Trade Principles. We work to eradicate poverty by providing opportunities to disadvantaged producers, and we work to fight global warming by ensuring productions that respect the environment. But we cannot do it without you. Without customers that buy Fair Trade products, Fair Trade cannot exist. Therefore, every purchasing decision you make has an impact.

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Be an Agent for Change

Every little effort counts. When you buy Fair Trade chocolate you ensure not to support child labor which too often is the reality in cocoa plants. When you buy Fair Trade coffee you ensure not to support unfair wages and dehumanizing working conditions which too often characterizes how it is to work in coffee plants. When you buy Fair Trade clothes, you ensure consideration of the planet and gender equality which are often sacrificed in the textile industry.

It is not easy to make the world better but with a little effort everyone can contribute to this change. If you are interested in photography, you might find FairMail interesting. If you are interested in beauty, check out Fair Trade beauty products for example from Karethic. If you are interested in arts, surely some of our members that import handcrafts like Siyabonga will be interesting for you.

You can certainly find relations to Fair Trade in your daily life. Check our different members to find products that are interesting to you, or see which members are close to you in your own country. You can also see if you live in a Fair Trade town and how to support this.

If you have difficulties relating, ask yourself and learn about the story behind your clothes next time you get dressed. Ask and learn where your food comes from next time you eat a meal. Or even ask where the kitchen towels come from when doing the dishes. Consider how it has been produced and which impact it has compared to alternative products and brands.

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Together we can create a fairer world

Even the smallest things that we normally take for granted mean something. Join us as an Agent for Change and celebrate World Fair Trade Day with us! Stay updated on our Facebook and Twitter to see how you can be an Agent for Change and be a part of creating a real difference in the world.

 

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By Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard

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Yesterday, the 27th of April, the European Parliament adopted the report “EU flagship initiative on the garment sector”. In the lights of the Rana Plaza Anniversary, the report encourages the EU to engage in actions of solving the alarming level of human rights abuses in the garment sector with a focus on three dimensions: Decent work and social standards, transparency and traceability, and a legally binding framework.

This is a positive step towards a fairer garment sector supply chain and a fairer world to people and the planet. Only with a transparent and traceable supply chain, can we ensure that our clothes are produced with integrity.

To promote this, an event was held on the 26th at the European Parliament, “Remembering Rana Plaza – how can we create fair and sustainable supply chains in the garment sector?”. WFTO-Europe was present with colleagues from the Fair Trade family and other actors such as Sarah Ditty, Head of policy at Fashion Revolution and Amirul Haque Amin, President of National Garment Workers Federation in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The event turned out highly successful considering that the majority of the votes were for adopting the report.

In alignment with the report, the Clean Clothes Campaign and 79 organizations, including WFTO-Europe, called on the European Commission to make it legally binding for companies to make their production details public. Read the letter “High time for the European Commission to impose transparency in the garment supply chain” here.

The events took place during Fashion Revolution Week where consumers ask “Who Made My Clothes?” across the world to stress the critical need for transparency in the garment supply chain. Read more about WFTO-Europe’s connection to the revolution here.

The Fashion Revolution is growing and making an enormous impact every day, but it relies on the help from all kinds of actors: organizations, companies, consumers and politicians.

Get involved and join the revolution! See how here.

By Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard

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Today, the 24th of April, is the Fashion Revolution Day which marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster. A factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed and killed 1,138 people due to unsafe production facilities. The factory hosted clothing productions of popular fast fashion brands, and its collapse is a main reference to criticism of the fashion industry.

The fashion industry is one of the most criticized for executing unethical business practices being the second most polluting industry worldwide and with heavy human rights violations in the production stage such as those committed at the tragedy at Rana Plaza. Implementing a sustainable textile supply chain – transparent and traceable, ensuring protection of the people and the planet – remains a challenge due to multiple factors. Among others, our choices to go for fast fashion brands.

As stated in the Fashion Revolution report “Fashion Revolution Fanzine #001 Money Fashion Power”:

“Factories around the world are being pushed to deliver ever-larger quantities of clothing faster and cheaper. As a result, factories routinely make employees work extra hours, often without overtime pay or other benefits in return. The pressure on factories to deliver is so intense that workers are often subjected to intimidation, harassment, coercion, pain and injury and are even restricted from taking short breaks to the toilet. The people who make our clothes cannot be paid fairly through this process. This is the grim reality it takes to deliver our desire for ‘choice’ when we’re out shopping.”

Fashion Revolution is at the forefront of pushing the industry for a switch that eliminates these critical issues. After the disaster in 2013, a revolution was formed when this global movement was founded through a civil society organization based in the UK. The organization advocates on the topic with a yearly Fashion Revolution Week, starting on the Rana Plaza Tragedy anniversary day, as a part of their global “Who Made My Clothes” Campaign. This week highlights the topic of traceability and transparency in the textile supply chain with the involvement of consumers and actors from the industry. Via social media, organizations will ask companies “Who made my clothes?” whilst producers will answer “I made your clothes”.

The campaign sends out a clear message to adopt a responsible consumption and embrace more ethical business practices.

WFTO-Europe together with WFTO is supporting Fashion Revolution to promote the Fair Trade Principles that too often are violated in the textile supply chain and to bring Fair Trade Fashion forward.

This is our time to show to the fashion industry as well as to public institutions and international bodies that immediate actions must be taken to solve these appalling abuses.

Read the campaign’s official site and join the revolution here.

By Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard

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WFTO-Europe supports Earth Day 2017 on the 22nd of April. This year, the campaign focuses on “Environmental & Climate Literacy” focusing on education of climate change. This relates to our work on educating on responsible production and consumption.

WFTO-Europe’s network works around the 10 Fair Trade Principles of which number 10 stands “Respect for the Environment”. This means that all of our members that produce Fair Trade products live up to strict requirements to protect the environment in their production. Examples are maximizing the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources and buying locally, reducing energy consumption, minimize greenhouse gasses emissions and waste as well as using organic or low pesticide use productions methods.

Our members which buy and import Fair Trade products must prioritize sustainably managed sources and achieve the least overall impact on the environment possible. All members must use recycled or biodegradable materials and sea dispatching to the extent possible.

Herewith, we can ensure that products with our labels are environmentally friendly. Consumers who choose WFTO guaranteed products hereby help protect the environment. In our network, we see it as our duty to promote our members’ products among consumers to enhance a sustainable consumption that protects people and the planet. In this way, we see ourselves as Agents for Change by showing consumers how they are Agents for Change when choosing Fair Trade products.

Through the Fair Trade Principles, we work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Our Principle number 10 is directly linked to Goals number 12 and 13 on sustainable consumption and production as well as climate change. When supporting Fair Trade, you help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals!

Everyone can be an Agent for Change. Together, we can all create the change we need to protect people and the planet.

Find out much more about how to become an Agent for Change by following our Agent for Change Campaign which we launch in connection to the World Fair Trade Day on the 13th of May 2017. See the event and campaign page here.

By Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard

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We live in an era of trade, Nithin Coca recently wrote in an article on why there is a need for Fair Trade. He finds that today’s consumer society focuses on “profit, not people”. The Western world’s consumer demand for cheap products is fulfilled at the expense of others.

To keep the prices low, a decrease of production costs are continuously forced on producers. Payments to workers in the production stage are so low it is rarely enough to survive. The result is that people must accept abnormally long work hours just to survive. It is only one out of many ruthless work conditions that people face, caused by this demand.  Child labour, forced labour, discrimination and unsafe working environments are part of a reality that workers in developing countries face every day.

As the rich parts of the world consumes more products for cheaper prices, the developing world produces more for cheaper prices. The result is a growing gap between the rich and the poor.

This is a devastating consequence of globalization and the “trade era”. As a reaction to this alarming reality, the Fair Trade Movement faces these consequences and gives consumers alternatives. Instead of trade relations where only one side wins, Fair Trade fulfills demands that do not cause human rights violations and that do not dehumanize people.

A great example of how this approach works has just been showcased in an article by Good News Finland. The article features Finnish Mifuko, a member of WFTO-Europe, which produces handmade baskets in Kenya. The production hires local women who receive a fair payment. For example, there is Lydia who with her job as a Mifuko weaver is able to support herself and educate her children. Or Raphael who due to his polio disease struggled until he studied to become a bag maker. He is able to provide for his family and holds dreams to start up his own business.

That is how Mifuko helps people out of poverty and creates economic development in communities. It is not only about profit, it is first and foremost about people.

As Coca wrote in his article:

Fair Trade needs to become more than a niche – it needs to grow into the norm, a true alternative to a trade systems that traps far too many in poverty. And all of us – the media, companies, and, yes, the 1 percent, all need to play our role”.

This is what WFTO-Europe works for. Our members can together with responsible companies and consumers that choose to be an agent for change by choosing Fair Trade products, make it happen. Through fair trading partnerships and ethical consumer demands, poverty can be eliminated and the Sustainable Development Goal number 1 can be achieved, creating a fair world for everyone.

Find out more about how you can become an Agent for Change here.

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Photo Credit: Helene Wickström

 

This week Good News Finland told the beautiful story of our Finnish member Mifuko.

Mifuko wants everyone to win. The women in Kenya have been able to bring in extra income on the side of unpredictable and weather-dependent farming. For some, Mifuko has turned into their most important job, and daughters of rural families have been able to return to their home villages from the big city slums because of the work provided by Mifuko”.

This is a strong example on how Fair Trade contributes to achieve Sustainable Development Goal number 1 “No Poverty” through Fair Trade Principle number 1 “Opportunities for disadvantaged producers”.

 

Read the article here. Support Mifuko’s work by purchasing their baskets here.

 

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Photo Credit: Helene Wickström

By Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard

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Development and Coorporation recently published an article “Sustainability requires fair wages” on how researchers find that fair payments are necessary for sustainable economic development. The article addresses the issue that wages do not match the living costs as a preventive of economic development in developing countries.

The solution is clear: ensuring living wages. But as simple as it is to define this solution, implementing it seems to be highly complex. Adding these extra costs in the production stage will ultimately affect the retail prices. With a consumer demand for cheap products, companies are pressured to minimize production costs to maximize profits at the expense of humanitarian and green development.

In this way, there is a discrepancy between the business sector and the development sector. The two sectors are separated areas with conflicting interests. But it doesn’t have to be as such.

The Fair Trade movement has worked on this problem with this solution for years. It is what the movement calls “trade, not aid”. As it indicates, Fair Trade focuses on achieving sustainable development through trade and hence through the business sector. It aligns the two areas and creates an effective approach to save people and the planet. This gives companies a way of differentiating themselves and creating a competitive advantage. This is a win-win situation where everyone is a winner and nobody has to suffer at the expense of others’ incomes and expenses.

As a part of the “trade, note aid” approach, Fair Trade ensures “Payments of Fair Price” as Fair Trade Principle number 4. This is just one out of 10 Fair Trade Principles that the movement works with to achieve sustainable development.

Being a member of the Fair Trade movement, such as labelling products with the WFTO logo, provides a competitive advantage to companies. When companies become members of WFTO, they go through our guarantee system which 100 % guarantees that they are Fair Trade organisations.

This works because there are world-changing consumers out there who strongly ask for ethical products. They choose Fair Trade certified/guaranteed products even in those cases where this means a slightly higher price (but also a higher quality). In this way, Fair Trade companies and Fair Trade consumers give a little extra of themselves to the rest of the world for a huge impact.

We are all linked. Any decision you make can be affecting others around the world. So help us in our fight for a fair world for everyone by joining or supporting our movement. Every little effort makes a difference.

By Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard

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Blogger Tolly Dolly Posh in jumpsuit from People Tree.

 

 

The topic of ethics in the fashion industry is still a hot topic in the news, and with good reason. A couple of weeks ago, an article explained the challenges of tracking the supply chain in the industry. In the beginning of March, the Telegraph published an article on the pressure in the industry to ensure more ethical productions. Linked to this, big fashion chains decided to boycott Dhaka Apparel Summit in Bangladesh.

Indeed, ethical issues in the fashion industry are to be found more than in other industries. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry after the oil industry. It can take over 2500 liters of water to produce one single t-shirt. With a demand for fast fashion, getting the latest trends for a cheap price, the volume of garments produced is booming with 80 billion garments produced each year around the world as a crucial cause of global warming.

Yet, issues do not merely affect the planet but also the people. Due to the demand of low prices, costs have to be kept as low as possible resulting in low working conditions in the fashion production stage. In fact, they are so low that they violate human rights including children’s and women’s rights. In Bangladesh, workers can work up to 16 hours per day, 6 days a week, and in unsafe working environments.

Fortunately, the future of fashion is brighter. Actors within the industry have recently claimed that “slow is the new fast”, that the future of fashion is sustainability. This is where Fair Trade and WFTO comes in.

Fair Trade fashion ensures that the production fulfills the 10 Fair Trade Principles. “Fair payment”, “No child labor, No forced labor”, and “Respect for the environment” are some of the principles Fair Trade producers must live up to. They are the Fair Trade Movement’s solution to issues such as human rights violations and global warming.

WFTO-Europe works with a Guarantee System which ensures that all members live up to the WFTO Standard and fulfil the 10 Fair Trade Principles. In this way, consumers are 100 % guaranteed that products with the  WFTO brands are produced and traded by Fair Trade Organisation, fully in compliance with the FT principles.

An example of such a brand is People Tree from the UK who produces slow fashion. They have demonstrated that the industry can deliver ethically produced products with a long life-cycle that are stylish and affordable. People Tree’s products are even worn by bloggers, latest by Tolly Dolly Posh, who make slow become the new fast.

Together, these many actors are pushing the Fair Trade movement forward and creating sustainable development. Join the frontrunners in the fashion industry and be a part of this latest trend by choosing Fair Trade fashion.

WFTO-Europe works with a Guarantee System which ensures that all members live up to the WFTO Standard and fulfil the 10 Fair Trade Principles. In this way, consumers are 100 % guaranteed that products with the WFTO brands are produced and traded by Fair Trade Organisation, fully in compliance with the FT principles.

An example of such a brand is People Tree from the UK who produces slow fashion. They have demonstrated that the industry can deliver ethically produced products with a long life-cycle that are stylish and affordable. People Tree’s products are even worn by bloggers, latest by Tolly Dolly Posh, who make slow become the new fast.

Together, these many actors are pushing the Fair Trade movement forward and creating sustainable development. Join the frontrunners in the fashion industry and be a part of this latest trend by choosing Fair Trade fashion.