By Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard

Group Photo Edited and cropped

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

FT Principle 10 graphic

 

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

Tolly Dolly Posh

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.

By Maria Tereza Batista

Zero Discrimination Day FT Principle 6

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the WFTO is celebrating women’s rights and promoting gender equality at workplaces. Gender equality is a high topic on the political agenda of the EU and important steps to end discrimination against women have been taken in the last 25 years. However, women are still subjected to unequal treatment, having to overcome barriers to gender equality in almost every aspect of their lives. In the workplace, the lack of access to leadership positions, occupational gender segregation and unequal payment are still one of the main constraints experienced by women around the world.

The economic empowerment of women is commonly understood as an important factor to economic growth and a prerequisite for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). An increase in female labour force participation, results in a faster economic development as reported by the Unwomen. In the primary sector, women represent almost half of the labour force but own less than 20% of the land. They are also deprived from control of resources used for agriculture, such as seeds, water, technology, innovation and financial services, which makes them severely disadvantaged with regards to their input.

In Europe, in spite of the increase in the participation of women in the labor market, they are still underpaid in comparison to men. The gender pay gap varies greatly among EU-members but a women’s hourly gross income is on average 16.3% below than men’s[M1] . Furthermore, more than 25 per cent of women in the EU report that care and other family and personal responsibilities, versus only three per cent of men. Therefore, women continue to earn lower salaries and pensions, be underrepresented in decision-making roles and they are the ones who perform the majority of unpaid household work.

The Fair trade movement seeks to end injustices by empowering communities and creating tools for women to regain their financial independence and control over their lives. The WFTO-Europe is committed to fight against gender inequalities at the workplace as it fully acknowledges the potential of women and their need for economic empowerment. Firms in Europe, in every sector, can contribute to a more equitable society by promoting policies and ensuring that workers are paid in due proportion, as well as their producers in the South.

Achieving gender equality requires a gender-based approach in designing public policies and a long-term commitment of companies in addressing the issue at workplaces must be integrated alongside with Fair Trade practices that provide capacity building opportunities for women, in the North and the South.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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7 March 2017, Culemborg, The Netherlands – The fight for gender equality at workplaces is far from over. The recent reports by UN Women show that women in economic activities continue to suffer various forms of discrimination and unequal treatment. They also highlight that their labour force participation has stagnated[1]. This reality has mobilised the Fair Trade movement to a renewed call to action to fight, harder this time, for the rights of women, especially those engaged in economic activities.

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March, we want to reiterate Fair Trade’s commitment to respect and fulfil women’s rights and advance their aspirations through gender equity, fair payment, non-discrimination, good working conditions and capacity building as declared in the 10 Principles of Fair Trade.

The WFTO network, including its regional office WFTO Europe, together with Oxfam Magasins du Monde embark on a global awareness raising campaign by showcasing success stories of Fair Trade contributing to gender equality at workplaces. When women succeed, communities are safer, more secure, and more prosperous. Over the last years, in the Fair Trade movement, we have seen women inspiring communities and Fair Trade organisations to stand up for women’s empowerment. As a network of almost 400 organisations across the world, today we ask Fair Trade actors to hold our poster and to share their experience via social media. Therefore, do watch, read and spread the message around to raise awareness about women’s economic challenges and support our constant commitment towards gender equality at workplace.

These stories are key examples of how Fair Trade practices contribute to a world where women have the same chances as men at the workplace and in their daily life. Hence, Fair Trade is shown as a keystone in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 5 aims to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. That means, among others, the need to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.

WFTO and all its members are committed to advance this important agenda. We are taking steps to empower women, to fight for their rights and their equal access to economic resources, to address all forms of violence against women and to promote women as key agents for change and drivers of sustainable development.

Note to Editors:
Every year, the World Fair Trade Organization and its members observe the International Women’s Day to raise awareness on gender equality, women empowerment and women’s role in achieving sustainable development. This year, for the first time, WFTO and OXFAM Magasins du Monde (Belgium) collaborate to raise awareness on the issue of gender equality at work and the role of Fair Trade in fostering decent work and equality at workplaces.

To learn more of the campaign, for high resolution images, interviews and other queries, please contact Michael Sarcauga through email michael@wfto.com or give us a call +31.345536487.

 

Download Press Release here.

 

 

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[1] UN Women: Facts and Figures http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/economic-empowerment/facts-and-figures and UN Women: Progress of the World’s Women (2015-2016) http://progress.unwomen.org/en/2015/chapter2/

Fair Trade Products at Ambiente 2017 (10-14 February)
Culemborg, 7 February 2017
The World Fair Trade Organization, through its members from four continents, will be introducing  Fair Trade organisations and products to Ambiente 2017 trade show, in Frankfurt, Germany, from 10-14 February. Forty-nine (4) members will bring a wide range of product lines, from home to personal accessories. All of these high-quality, exquisite products are artisan made, and many are handcrafted using long-standing traditional techniques.
View samples in our catalogue.
Of the 49 organisations, twenty-five (25) are guaranteed members whose products bear the WFTO Product Label. These members have passed the WFTO Guarantee System, a rigorous participatory process of verifying the organisation’s compliance with the international principles of Fair Trade. See more details of the Guarantee System on the WFTO website.
“We are happy to bring Fair Trade products to Europe. This is our chance to show our new collections to the European market and beyond. We invite you to come and see us, know our products and the people behind these products who work diligently under Fair Trade terms,” Marcela Cofre Salinas, general manager of Calypso Chile and Fair Trade advocate.
A WFTO booth is located at the foyer of Hall 10 to provide visitors and interested buyers information about the participating organisations and their products, and to learn more about Fair Trade. Come and see the Fair Trade products display! Look for our logo to find us.
We have prepared a Fair Trade locator that you can use to find WFTO members at Ambiente, download here.
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Baskets by Mifuko Finland
ABOUT WFTO
The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is a global network of organisations representing the Fair Trade supply chain. Membership in WFTO provides Fair Trade organisations with credibility and identity by way of an international guarantee system, a place of learning where members connect with like-minded people from around the world, tools and training to increase market access, and a common voice that speaks out for Fair Trade and trade justice – and is heard.
WFTO is the home of fair traders: producers, marketers, exporters, importers, wholesalers and retailers that demonstrate 100% commitment to Fair Trade and apply the 10 WFTO Principles of Fair Trade to their supply chain. The works and achievements of its members make WFTO a global authority on Fair Trade and a guardian of Fair Trade values and principles.
WFTO’s route to equity in trade is through the integrated supply chain. Practices used across the supply chain are checked against the WFTO Fair Trade Standard, a set of compliance criteria based on the 10 Fair Trade Principles and on International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.
The WFTO operates in over 70 countries across 5 regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America and the Pacific Rim) with elected global and regional boards.
More information about the WFTO, its Guarantee System and Fair Trade history can be found on our website at: http://www.wfto.com
Further references:
For high resolution images, interviews and other queries, please contact WFTO
Michael Sarcauga, Communications Coordinator
E: Michael[@]wfto.com T: +31345536487

Dear all,

As you may know, here at WFTO-Europe we have organised a Fair Trade Comics Contest to raise awareness about Fair Trade Principles using a popular mean in Belgium: comics. Unfortunately, the turnout was quite low, so we have decided not to hold an exhibition of the comics.

We would also like to thank all participants for taking the time to take part in this contest: you did a great job!

Today we share with you the winning comic chosen by the jury, alongside the other comics that we have received.

The jury was formed by 5 people:

– Sophie Tack, WFTO-Europe Board member and Directrice Partenariat Campagne for Oxfam Magasins du Monde;

– Gabriella D’Amico, WFTO-Europe Board member and representing Asso Botteche del Mondo;

– Sergi Corbalan, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office;

– Linda Torfs, founder of Mekanik Strip;

– Yacine Canamas, an independent Comics Artist.

 

But let’s get back to our comics contest:the winner is Jean Bourguignon with his comic “Ethique et tac“:

Ethique et tac - Jean Bourguignon

 

Now the other comics!

Comic no. 1 “Jacob, l’héro” by Hugo Deflandre:

Hugo Deflandre

 

 

Comic no. 2 “La vie d’un héros” by Marina Sheinova:

la_vie_d_un_heros

 

 

Comic no. 3 “Invisible Hand” by Naomi Leboy:

Naomi Leboy

 

 

Thank you again to everyone for participating and should we decide to organise a new comics contest next year, we truly hope to hear from you again!

 

The WFTO-Team