In this edition
WFTO around the world
The impact of coronavirus on Fair Trade
Fair Trade and climate change – missing or missed link?
EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement: content and impact on Fair Trade enterprises (AVAILABLE IN SPANISH)
Our 2-days biennial conference that was supposed to be taking place on 3 – 4 June has to be postponed until further notice due to the current sanitary circumstances.
Due to the uncertainty of the situation and its future developments, it is currently impossible for us to set a new date. It will be communicated as soon as possible to let you organise your activities. Please accept our apologies, we hope that you will understand.
However, we hope to see you safe and very soon!
Due to the impossibility to gather our members for our AGM, and thanks to the flexibilisation of the legal framework, we will hold our meeting online on June 23rd, 2020 from 10 am till 1 pm, Brussels time. Despite the inconvenience, we will address topics such as the long-term strategy to adopt for the next few years and vote for our board members. Additionally, a webinar will be held a week before the AGM to discuss the core elements of the long-term strategy.
On 8th March we celebrated International Women’s Day. A day to highlight the great work of women and how they empower each other to grow stronger. As stated already in our latest newsletter this year’s celebration was about women inspiring women – #SheEmpowersHer.
WFTO-Europe highlighted how women empower each other with an inspiring video. It features Andrea Fütterer, who is the head of GEPA’s policy department. GEPA is the largest European Fair Trade enterprise and this video is an inspiring possibility to see what Andrea and GEPA achieved together. It showcases once more different women in the Fair Trade movement bucking social norms and overcoming gender barriers, whether in Europe or somewhere else in the world.
During the week leading to IWD WFTO-Europe also presented the “Humans of Fair Trade” campaign inspired by the worldwide famous “Humans of New-York” social media pages. It features six people of the whole European Fair Trade movement, explaining their view on gender justice and the role of Fair Trade to overcome the challenges regarding gender equality. It is truly inspiring to see the attitudes and work environments at our members’ enterprises and to realise once more that gender equality really is at the core of our member’s way of doing business.
Find all the profiles here
The European Union has committed to create a strategy for the textile sector that aims to address environmental, sustainability and human rights issues. This is an important step towards fairer textile supply chains as the EU is a key actor to influence business practices all over the world.
Together with more than 60 NGOs and civil society organisations, WFTO-Europe produced a so-called “Shadow Strategy”: a comprehensive strategy to sensibly improve fairness and sustainability along the textile supply chain which was launched on the 23rd of April 2020. This “Shadow Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, Garments, Leather and Footwear in the EU” is an holistic proposal addressing the various problem aspects in the textiles industry. Crucial points are the environmental sustainability, waste management and labour and social rights.
As the Commission has to create their textile strategy the aim of the shadow strategy is to be a model for the future EU strategy in order to truly address the problems of the textile industry. Find out more about this initiative by multiple important players in the Fair Trade and Fair Fashion sector on the page of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office.
The 2nd edition of the EU cities for fair and ethical trade award is an initiative by the European Commission to celebrate European cities leading on sustainable, fair and ethical trade. Whether it is through a vision and clear objectives, through relevant policies or through impactful initiatives and activities – this award wants to highlight cities which are actively taking steps towards fairer and more ethical trade. It is a great opportunity to increase the visibility of a city’s activities, their approach and also the possibility of sharing best practices and knowledge with other cities.
The application deadline is the 12th of June 2020 and the application process is straightforward – find out more about the details here. Local efforts are crucial in achieving ambitious and wide-spread goals. It is important to see and value the efforts taken by individual cities and to showcase how they set an example, especially of SDG 12: Sustainable consumption and production. Get an idea of fair and ethical cities through the promotional video of the city of Ghent who was the last edition’s winner.
In the past, the EU has been putting more and more emphasis on environmental issues by integrating them as a transversal element in its policies and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), but as attention is growing on climate emergency, tougher measures have to be implemented and the new Commission led by German Ursula von der Leyen has come up with a new plan.
From all the climate initiatives, the European Green Deal must be the most ambitious and promising plan that has ever existed. By operating structural changes through a step-by-step but holistic approach, it will aim for a 50 to 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and climate neutrality by 2050 for the whole European Union. Also, with the European Climate Law, the European Union will finally integrate the reduction of the States’ environmental impact in the law, which means that no government or future government will be able to come back on that decision, nor to take measures going against this principle without risking sanctions. This law, coupled with several action plans to decarbonize not only energy production but also transports, heating, industries, and reshaping our ways of consumption, will come with an overall investment of €1 trillion to accompany organisations towards transition. A very good news for our planet, thus. But what about Fair Trade?
This initiative will also benefit the Fair Trade movement, as solving environmental issues (or at least, limiting the damage) will, on the long-term, help bettering livelihoods of the million of people relying on Fair Trade Enterprises. Ensuring a just transition will help SMEs and small farmers adapting to modernity by giving them sufficient means and knowledge to act accordingly. However, this accounts only for enterprises within the EU, and one of the main topics of concern is what will the consequences of a stricter environmental legislation be on SMEs outside of the EU? Here is an article from our FTAO partners explaining the possible consequences.
However, no mention or emphasis of Fair Trade as we understand it. The EU usually refers to “fair trade” as win-win trade situations involving actors being on the same level. While transparency and accountability are part of our 10 principles (insert link), the World Fair Trade Organisation aims for a more holistic approach and more Human Rights Due Diligence, an approach that the EU could borrow for more trade justice.
The European Green Deal is hence a huge advancement on the environmental perspective, but it is too soon to measure its impact and efficiency on the mid- to long-term, as some strategies and more detailed action plans are still on their way to be released. It is important that the Green Deal won’t be a burden for the small businesses abroad that are the most vulnerable, which is what Fair Trade is actively trying to prevent through its advocacy and promotion of good practices.
Since 2016, the Brexit twists have been keeping the world in suspense. On February 1st this year, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union 47 years after joining it, but it will still be part of the single market and under EU law until the end of the transition period, that is, until December 31st, 2020. Until now, the European Union has been negotiating trade agreements with third countries and organisations in the name of its member states, which means that Great Britain will have to enter in contact with all of the countries it wants to have privileged trading relations with by the end of the year. This will inevitably have consequences on trade, and especially on Fair Trade. So what are the challenges and implications of the UK’s withdrawal?
To start with the negotiation process with third countries, it will most probably have a negative impact on trade in general, with a risk of a moment of “floating”, a transition period until the UK finds its balance in the multitude of trade agreements to be signed. During this period, trade will be slowing down which will have an important impact on Fair Trade retailers that often rely on imported products. This could have even worse consequences on other elements of the supply chain such as producers and farmers whose enterprises rely on the British Fair Trade retailers, and that are made more vulnerable to the market’s fluctuations. Also, the lack of trade agreements and free trade means more taxes on imported products, and more expensive trade. In addition, the likely devaluation of the sterling, coupled with a recession due to the elements mentioned above may impact the UK’s foreign direct investments in developing countries, and the projects that put people and planet before profit, seen as less “bankable”, are going to be the first ones impacted.
However, the direct impact on Fair Trade producers will depend on the sector. Two different examples: sugar and bananas. In the first case, the cane sugar sector is nowadays more and more struggling to make it in the EU market, with the competition of its beet substitute, that can be produced within Europe and the UK. In the case of a trade agreement with the EU, beet sugar will become way more affordable than importing cane sugar and adding extra taxes. On the other hand, the banana sector might benefit from it. For years now, protectionist barriers have been implemented on banana importations within the EU to preserve the French production in the Antilles, making it hard for Fair Trade producers to compete. In that sense, Brexit might give a second chance to some sectors.
The consequences of Brexit remain for now purely speculative, but the predictions are balanced. This withdrawal is also an opportunity for Great Britain to negotiate Fairer deals, including more consideration of Human Rights Due Diligence and more trade justice, and to lead by example by embracing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals as part of its economic strategy.
Important things first: The current situation is very new to us and it is totally normal to struggle with it. We should not blame ourselves for having unproductive days, situations where we feel sad or overwhelmed or also days where we do not achieve any of our self created to-dos. Spending more time at home does neither mean that we have to master multiple new skills at the end of the quarantine nor that we should constantly pressure ourselves to tackle all these projects in our heads.
But for days where you feel like needing a bit of inspiration, we want to give you some ideas and tips on small steps to get our house and mind tidied up and ready for spring.
The basics of more conscious consumption are the 5 R: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.
We will not go into much detail as there are multiple pages focusing on a lot of hacks for waste reduction for example this page with tons of recipes and useful ideas, a page for our German speakers, and here for some French input.
A good way to start is to look at one room and see what you can improve in this room – Let’s take the bathroom for example: Dozens of Shampoo bottles, conditioner etc? What about buying some Fair Trade Soap bars? It will give a nice minimalist appearance to your bathroom and a beautiful treatment for your skin. Oh, and you avoid unnecessary plastic, which does not only reduce waste but is also healthier for your body. Another great step are shampoo bars – these work as solid soap for your hair and have multiple advantages: They come without any plastic, they are handy and easy for traveling as they are not liquid and you can use them for way longer than a conventional shampoo bottle – the difference is approximately 80 against 30 uses! And the majority of solid shampoo only contain natural ingredients which makes the treatment of your hair less aggressive.
A good idea towards more sustainable consumption is also the process of tidying up your wardrobe. Yes, it is exhausting and yes, it is incredible once we realize how many things we own, but I promise you that you will feel better and relieved once you manage to sort out some of these clothes you think you like but actually neither wear nor feel comfortable in.
And the last big part is the kitchen – making from scratch and being more conscious about our food consumption can have a tremendous impact on less waste and lower CO2 emissions. Key points here are to buy seasonal and try to avoid wrapping where you can. Reusable cotton bags help to transport things like apples or bread, we don’t need to wrap these in extra plastic.
And always remember it is not about being perfect but about multiple small steps and a more conscious behaviour, that will lead us to a more sustainable and fair consumption.
The Fair Trade sector made vulnerable by the corona crisis
The COVID-19 epidemic is clearly highlighting the stark levels of inequality, both within and among countries. In particular, it has become an inescapable fact to all how the poorest and most vulnerable across the globe are the hardest hit. In Bangladesh, masses of textile workers supplying the world’s fashion industry are being laid off as 50-70 per cent of factories have shut down operations. Big retailers have been cancelling a vast amount of orders, even those that were already made and done, just waiting to be shipped. Unfortunately, these suppliers have no way to hold the retailers accountable for the production costs of these orders, and in turn pass the loss on to their workers.
In another example, cocoa and banana coops in the Philippines expect current lockdown measures to impact their harvest for at least the coming five months and up to one year. What they can manage to harvest within the current restriction they also face difficulties in bringing to the market.
In this type of crisis, we must stick together and support each other in solidarity in order to make it through to the other side. Both for the sake of your Fair Trade enterprises and your staff and colleagues here in Europe as well as for the sake for the poor and marginalised communities you support through your trading activities. The big debate at this moment is whether this crisis will be a major set-back for the progress made on sustainable development and combating poverty, or whether it will prove an opportunity to fundamentally change the economic system, whose flaws are now being amply exposed. It may prove to be both. Either way, we must stand firm on our Fair Trade Principles and each our mission to better the lot of the most vulnerable communities – now is the time to remember that resilience starts with hope for a better (and fairer!) world.
Help us to help you
We know many of you are hard hit by the current coronavirus pandemic. It has caused near-complete lockdown of societies across the globe, especially in Europe, where nearly every EU country now has tight restrictions for going out for anything else than buying food or medicine. Most companies have either been forced to shut their physical shops, or have seen consumer demand melt away since the restrictions were introduced.
Thanks to the responses of many of you to Global’s survey, we have a rough overview of the situation within the Global membership, as well as the European membership. If you have not yet responded to the survey, please do so here. It is just 7 questions, answers are anonymous and it will help Global and us find ways to support you during this crisis. In order to support WFTO members, Global has significantly intensified their promotion of members’ webshops to increase sales in spite of closed (physical) shops – please ensure your membership profile is up-to-date and that it includes a link to your webshop. Also, please join the WFTO members-only closed Facebook group to share and receive advice and experience with and from the global WFTO membership.
The climate crisis is an increasingly urgent topic in civil society, the general public, policy-makers, and – slowly – among businesses. Within WFTO, it has also been manifested as an area where the membership wants to increase the efforts of all – this is the significance of last year’s resolution to revise Principle 10, which will lead to stricter criteria for the members on reduction of carbon emissions and plastics. The vast majority with which the membership itself voted in favour of this resolution speaks to the resolve of the Fair Trade enterprises and support organisations within WFTO globally.
Fair Trade is, in public opinion, still connected almost exclusively with social improvement and poverty alleviation. Simultaneously, sustainability is almost exclusively connected with the environment and climate. However, ”Respect for the environment” has always been among the 10 Fair Trade Principles, with criteria on reducing carbon footprint through energy-saving measures, transport mainly by sea, and on reducing waste and packaging. Similarly, addressing social aspects (poverty, inequality, working conditions, etc.) are crucial to achieve sustainability as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goal 12: Sustainable production and consumption.
Considering this, and the fact that poor and marginalised producers in the Global South are consistently among the worst hit by the negative effects of the climate crisis, Fair Trade demonstrates its clear relevance for this issue. Now more than ever is it necessary to employ a holistic approach that improves sustainability of production patterns on both social and environmental/climate aspects. The clear links between poverty and deforestation in the cocoa sector is just one example of why both aspects of sustainability must be addressed in order to achieve true sustainability and for climate action to have a meaningful impact. The approach to sustainable fashion seen within our membership is another significant example we should all highlight.
The most important contribution of Fair Trade to addressing the climate crisis, however, is the example you, as members, all set in demonstrating what mission-led businesses can do in terms of driving progressive standards on both social and environmental aspects while remaining commercially viable. This continues to show consumers and policy-makers alike what kind of revolution in business is needed to create a fairer, greener and more sustainable world.
EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement: content and impact on Fair Trade enterprises (Available in Spanish)
By Zulma Britez, our Membership and Monitoring Officer for Latin America.
On June 28th, 2019, and after 20 years of negotiations, the Mercosur – European Union Free Trade Agreement was finally approved. This agreement involves Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay and all of the EU countries. It eliminates 93% of the custom taxes on Mercosur’s exports to the EU, and grants a preferential treatment for the remaining 7 percent, ensuring the main free trade objectives set by the Mercosur countries.
In that line, the agreement will improve the access to the European market for the Latin American exported goods and services, and in return, the Mercosur countries will establish a transition period before opening up the local market to European trade. In the meantime, it will preserve industrial development tools in fields such as intellectual property, public procurement and trade defense. The agreement also includes a commitment from both sides on climate change, to fight against deforestation. The text will be subject to a legal form review and is still to be signed and sent out to the respective parliaments for ratification.
Although this agreement presents benefits for the countries involved, it is also synonymous with great challenges for the small producers and the Fair Trade organisations from the region. It will impact especially those dedicated to agriculture and the production of value-added products, as the transportation costs from Latin America are significant. Also, the European protectionist measures and the local production competition must be taken into account. The Fair Trade organisations will have to adopt this agreement, adapt to the demand and work in a way that it does not only benefit large companies, but also for small producers, micro and small enterprises. Those same organisations face disadvantages, namely regarding bargaining power due to their size.
We believe it is necessary for the Fair Trade movement, both in these countries in the Latin American region and in Europe, to become involved in the search for strategies that will help to ensure that the benefits of this agreement and access to the best trading conditions reach their protagonists: the small and medium enterprises and small artisans and producers in the Mercosur countries.
Currently, WFTO-Europe has 105 members from which 60 are guaranteed, across 17 countries.
Congratulations to our member Greater Goods, which has been certified in March!
Since 2000, Greater Goods has worked together with Indian partners employing over 120 people to bring high quality incense products to the UK. They do not only make nice-smelling incense, their products are also natural, clean-burning and displayed in a beautiful package.
Additionally, a part of every purchase will be donated to charity!
To find their products, have a look at their website: https://www.greatergoods.co.uk/
Member of the Month
“Fairtrade Czech Republic and Slovakia is a non-governmental non-profit organization that brings together organizations and individuals engaged in promoting the idea of Fair Trade. We have been operating in the Czech Republic since 2004 and in Slovakia since 2014. Our organization is a member of Fairtrade International and the World Fair Trade Organisation.
Our activities include working with Czech and Slovak retailers and providing support related to Fair Trade products. We also focus on raising awareness about Fair Trade through coordination of Fair Trade Schools and Fair Trade Towns campaigns and organizing community events such as Fair Breakfasts (Férová snídaně) or Exhibitions on trees (Výstava na stromech). Our aim is to bring the stories of producers from the Global South to the general public in Czech Republic and Slovakia. Last year we hosted the president of Ecakoog cooperative Mr. Ousmane Traore representing cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast. Mr Traore spoke to the Czech and Slovak media and raised a lot of attention for the topic.”
Visit their website: https://fairtrade-cesko.cz/
Want to get to know our Austrian members? Take a ride on the Fair Train, departing from Greece towards the Austrian Alps, and discover Zotter, ARGE and EZA!
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, several members of WFTO Asia are collaborating to shift production to respiratory masks, also known as Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). The WFTO Asia regional office is coordinating and mobilising their regional members to adapt to the rapidly changing situation and have proposed a strategy by which Asian Fair Trade enterprises can both contribute to fighting the global pandemic and hopefully ensure the survival of their business upon which many marginalised communities depend.
Jerome, Mito and Cherry at the office in Chiang Mai have done a tremendous effort to gather necessary information for production of respiratory masks that are suitable, feasible and effective. Simply covering your nose and mouth in a cloth will not provide any significant protection from pathogens, so it is vital that masks are produced – and used – in the correct manner. The so-called Hong Kong face mask design has recently been developed through testing by Hong Kong-based K. Kwong (PhD in chemistry), is the recommended design of WFTO Asia and works by a combination of a base fabric mask with room to insert one (or more) filter(s), like a common tissue paper or kitchen paper. While masks of this design made by WFTO Asia members would not qualify for medical or surgical use, they are of the type that is now recommended by the WHO for general use, so that surgical grade masks – which is in short supply across the world – can be reserved for front-line medical personnel.
It is important to stress, however, that any member considering shifting production to this type of PPE must first ensure sanitised working space and strictly observe best practice in avoiding contamination of the masks (or other PPE) during the production and packaging stages. Information on this, along with mask design and production instructions can be found in this Google Drive folder. The recording of a recent webinar on the subject by WFTO Asia can be found here. In the coordination of this strategic effort by regional members, WFTO Asia is also planning for the aftermath of the pandemic by asking participating members to contribute 2% of their gross sales of PPE to a ”Post COVID 19 Recovery Program for Fair Trade Enterprises in Asia Fund’.
For any questions about this collaboration or suggestions for wider cooperation, please contact WFTO Asia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As mentioned before, our Biennial Conference and Annual General Meeting that were initially to take place at the beginning of June had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The AGM will exceptionally take place online, on June 23rd, 2020, from 10 am until 1 pm. We will send you an invitation link to the online meeting a few weeks in advance.
During this AGM we will elect a new board member, as Stephanie Brookes has to end her term soon ; and properly elect our two French board members Jean-Christophe Galland and Cassandre Maury, that were coopted previously.
World Fair Trade Day – 09 May 2020
Help us spread our shared vision for a planet populated by Fair Trade enterprises on World Fair Trade Day (May 9th, 2020) by sharing your vision for #PlanetFairTrade.
We encourage members to team up with a member or one of your key trading partners in the South and share your joint World Fair Trade Day 2020 celebrations through videos, photos, statements and in other ways you can think of. The idea is to showcase what mutually beneficial trading partnerships look like and how they form the backbone of the Fair Trade approach by empowering poor and marginalised communities to escape poverty and protecting and preserving their local environment. Showcasing the best Fair Trade practices on the environment and climate from across the WFTO network is the key theme of this year’s World Fair Trade Day celebration. Due to the current Covid-19 situation, we encourage you to appeal to your creativity and find ingenious ways to still promote Fair Trade from home. Therefore, the #PlanetFairTrade will be associated with the #StayHomeLiveFair campaign.
If you would like to be teamed up with a WFTO member from the Latin America, Asia or Africa and the Middle East regions, please get in touch with us and we will facilitate the contact. Please share with us your celebration plans by emailing Tess Hartmann at email@example.com.
We will share your posts and messages and help increase your outreach. We understand if your plans have been upset by the current Coronavirus pandemic, but we hope you can still manage to carry out your celebration in some form – the WFTO-Europe stands ready to help promote your online content via our channels.
Also, you can take part in our social media campaign, and spread the word side by side with our community!
Due to the Covid-situation, most of the upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed to further notice.
WFTO Europe Biennial Conference and AGM –
3 – 5 June: AGM postponed to 23 June, 2020, 10 am – 1 pm (online) ; new conference date to be announced mid-June
European Development Days –
09 – 10 June: postponed to 15-16 June, 2021.
Organisers’ description: “Organised by the European Commission, the European Development Days (EDD) bring the development community together each year to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. The EDD is a participatory programme.”
This year’s edition will be covering “The Green Deal for a Sustainable Future”, we encourage you to participate!
European Sustainable Development Week –
30 May – 5 June: postponed to 18 Sept – 08 Oct 2020.
Due to the current Covid-19 situation, the annual European Sustainable Development Week will take place this year from 18 September to 8 October, with its core taking place 20 September – 26 September. This event is meant to promote the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the UN 2030 Agenda through events grouped per SDG and per country. If you are planning on organising an event focused on one or several SDGs (exhibition, movie, conference, awareness rising…), you can register it here. It will be published on the website, and you will have access to additional promotional materials.
Read more articles from other organisations about Fair Trade and good practices!
Why I Marched for the environment on International Womens’ Day – SDG Watch Europe
Yesterday’s aid and trade policies won’t work for tomorrow’s problems – Friends of Europe
Listen to WFTO’s podcast, “The trick of storytelling”, with Manpreet Kaur Kalra, a digital marketing expert, social activist and founder of Art of Citizenry.