In this edition
Europe in a nutshell
EU: Towards a green recovery?
Our advocacy work
Shadow Stratey for Fair and Sustainable Textile, Garments, Leather and Footwear – 60+ Civil Society Organisations urges EU to act
Collaboration with CONCORD Europe and FTAO – Paper on Sustainable and Enclusive Business Models
Making Human Rights Due Diligence work – research commissioned by FTAO and Brot für die Welt
Our AGM was held on the 23rd of June and exceptionally online due to the current pandemic. Thank you to all of our more than 40 participants and to the 11 members represented via proxy votes.
Several points were discussed and approved during the event, such as the accounts and balance of 2019, the provisional budget 2021 as well as the strategic and action plan 2020-203. Due to the end of the EU-funded “TFLF” project and a lack of external source of funding, the WFTO-Europe Secretariat will soon be in a critical financial situation, which will significantly impact its budget for 2021.
During the past months, and with the help of our members during an online discussion on the 3rd of June, the Secretariat has been working on elaborating a new strategic plan and action plan for 2020 – 2023. The coronavirus and our difficult financial situation have impacted the final plan, and some amendments have been approved to make sustainability and cooperation with Fair businesses more at the heart of our upcoming activities.
This meeting was also the occasion to say goodbye to our Board member Stephanie Brookes (Traidcraft Exchange, United Kingdom) and Estelle Vanwameke (Oxfam Magasins du Monde) and to welcome three new Board members: Charlotte Timson (Traidcraft Exchange), Cassandre Maury (Les Jardins de Gaïa) and Jean-Christophe Galland (CMC Malongo). Jean-Christophe and Cassandre had been co-opted in October 2019 and were officially elected by the Assembly on the 23rd of June. Thank you Stephanie and Estelle for your help and expertise during these 3 last years; and welcome Charlotte, Cassandre and Jean-Christophe!
And last but not least, since WFTO Global’s next year’s AGM will be held at the end of August 2021 in Berlin, WFTO-Europe will organise an online AGM around June 2021 to approve legal documents as well as a physical regional meeting during the Global Conference in Berlin. We already look forward to meeting you all there!
If you wish to read the minutes or find all of the documents that have been approved and updated, click here.
On 16th June WFTO-Europe hosted a workshop with consultant Pierre Echard with a focus on Circular Economy. The aim was to identify practical steps for members to improve their environmental practices and how they can move closer towards a circular economy within their company and business practices.
The so-called Ethical Consumer is a steadily increasing group of consumers, who seek products made by companies with values like those of Fair Trade Enterprises within the WFTO network. However, the key values they are increasingly looking for are climate action and environmental protection. As Erinch Sahan, Chief Executive at WFTO Global, pointed out in his remarks at the webinar, WFTO members are already in a good position to integrate these values into their business – and indeed many are already on the path. As mission-led businesses, WFTO members are generally much more flexible in changing their business practices, unlike conventional businesses that would only be able to do so if it brings them increased profits. At the same time, these things mean that WFTO members are likely to attract more Ethical Consumers by further sharpening their environmental and climate profile.
WFTO-Europe’s Danish member Elvang contributed to the webinar, where founder Lasse Elvang shared some of their good practices on reducing waste. Foremost is their approach to packaging, where they re-use the boxes in which they receive their products from their producer. To avoid any confusion they have developed handy stickers that they attach to re-fit boxes, which makes it perfectly clear that the package is from Elvang. Lasse could further share that Elvang is experiencing a surge in consumer interest in textiles made with recycled fibres. Elvang use a significant amount of recycled Alpaca wool in their products and find that consumers increasingly value this aspect of their products. This is just another example of how moving closer towards a circular economy can be beneficial for both nature and business.
The webinar is only a first step. Over the summer, Pierre Echard is developing a toolkit with further recommendations, examples of best practices, and references to more information and details with the aim of making it easy and practical for members to start their journey towards circular economy – or move further in their journey, if they have already begun. Input was collected during the webinar to identify the main challenges members face or can foresee on this journey. But we highly welcome more input: Please share your thoughts, ideas, experiences, challenges and all the rest by email to Mikkel Norgard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to review and give comments for the first draft of the toolkit, please also contact Mikkel at email@example.com.
In May, as we celebrated World Fair Trade Day, we published our second edition of our Members Review. Climate change is becoming an increasingly important issue, and we wanted to set a focus on our members’ commitment to address it. Fair Trade Enterprises are not just social enterprises, they also integrate green and sustainable practices in their business models, and honour our principle 10 of Fair Trade: “Respect for the environment”.
Find out more about their practices and constant improvement through 7 inspiring stories from our members.
Due to the current pandemic, we have adapted our celebrations with #PlanetFairTrade and #FairTradeSolidarity, click here to have a look at our members’ and Fair Trade supporters’ lovely contributions. Once again, we have shown that the Fair Trade movement remains united in all circumstances, and that we stand for one another.
© European Union 2012 – European Parliament
At the beginning of the year, it was still too early to imagine the disastrous consequences that the corona pandemic would have on our societies. A few months of lockdown and teleworking later, while trying to keep ourselves busy by finally getting rid of the chores we had been postponing for years, baking our own bread or learning a new language, some of us had the time to rethink our lavish lifestyles. Lockdown has forced us to live with ourselves and our thoughts for weeks, which might have been challenging but also encouraged us to resort to our creativity, and to think of what was going to happen next.
The post-corona era is still full of uncertainty and in every people’s minds. The sanitary crisis hit our economies, and some vulnerable businesses might never recover from it, jeopardising millions of people’s lives. As a consequence, our leaders’ political agendas had to be adapted and reshaped, taking into account all of the new variables linked to the crisis.
In the last edition of our newsletter, we talked about the European Green Deal proposed by the European Commission and its possible consequences. It goes without saying that the implementation of most of the related programmes has been compromised, as the focus has now been set on the economic recovery, overshadowing the efforts implemented by the EU to tackle climate change.
However, protecting the environment and reducing our carbon footprint aren’t incompatible with consolidating our economy, and some MEPs led by Pascal Canfin (Renew Europe) are calling for a green recovery plan. At the time where this article is being written (July 3rd, 2020), we are expecting the European Council’s proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which should exceptionally come with a €750 billion recovery fund composed of grants and loans dedicated to mitigating the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the EU economy. The Green Recovery Alliance proposes to put the European Green Deal at the heart of the recovery plan, putting an emphasis on investing in sustainable companies and projects and accelerating the ecological transition.
The signatories of this informal alliance are composed of a variety of actors: MEPs, NGOs, think tanks, businesses… All of them are committing to invest in the necessary solutions to “revive the economy after the crisis” while still being “aligned with the climate commitments”.
If you wish to learn more about the alliance and its signatories, here is an article that might be of your interest. Anyway, a green and comprehensive recovery would be a great news for the Fair Trade movement, and a step forward towards an economy that respects the environment and its inhabitants.
WFTO-Europe is currently working on a public procurement toolkit, to help our members with recommendations on to apply for public calls for tenders for which we have commissioned Alice Sinigaglia, a consultant formerly working with our advocacy office FTAO. The purpose of the toolkit is to make our members better able to access the public procurement market in Europe, and eventually outside of Europe. The toolkit should be finalised by the end of August, and will be featured in our next newsletter. Stay tuned!
If you have any questions or wish to provide input, please contact Mikkel Norgard at firstname.lastname@example.org
WFTO-Europe participated in the drafting of the Civil Society Shadow Strategy for Fair and Sustainable Textile, Garments, Footwear and Leather as part of a coalition of more than 60 CSO’s led by the FTAO. The strategy outlines a full package of policy options, initiatives and regulations by which the EU could help make the fashion, textile, leather and footwear industries fair and sustainable. Considering the prevalence of labour rights issues, poor wages, human rights violations and significant environmental pollution of these industries today, WFTO-Europe joins the coalition of CSO’s in urging that the EU adopts this strategy as a full package. As with other important EU matters, it is important to avoid cherry-picking: The strategy covers several vital areas of sustainability, including support for social businesses, promoting and incentivising circular economy practices, safeguarding labour rights, mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence, avoiding harmful chemicals and reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, it is a holistic approach, where the goal is achieved through the sum of its parts, and the European Commission should ensure it is implemented in full in order to achieve fairness and sustainability in fashion and textiles.
The Shadow Strategy is built upon the research, Sewing the pieces together: Towards an EU strategy for fair and sustainable textiles, published in December by the ‘think and do tank’, European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM). Oxfam Magasins du Monde, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office and WFTO-Europe commissioned this research jointly with funds from the European Commission through the DEAR project, Trade Fair Live Fair. It provides an evidence-based analysis for the most effective and useful EU-level policy options for achieving fair and sustainable fashion and textile industries. The Shadow Strategy therefore rests on a foundation of evidence and academic analysis, and WFTO-Europe is confident this makes it the most feasible and effective overarching solution for the many problems of the fashion and textile industries.
Please help us share the Shadow strategy with policy-makers in your country! The EU is first and foremost a collaboration between the Member States and convincing your government to support the Shadow Strategy can help tremendously in pushing the European Commission to adopt it.
On 9th July, CONCORD Europe published a paper on sustainable and inclusive business models. It describes these types of businesses, how they differ from conventional, profit-maximising businesses, and argues why they are needed to help address the many issues of the economy on national, regional and international level. WFTO-Europe contributed to the drafting of the paper and is among the signatories, together with the FTAO.
The paper is aimed at policy-makers at EU-level, as well as at national level in the EU Member States. The key point it aims to promote is the need for changing the mainstream business model of profit-maximisation and replace it with business models that are sustainable and inclusive. The stark inequality within and between societies across the globe and the human rights violations and environmental abuses that are still prevalent within supply chains of conventional businesses are often a product of profit-maximising business models as they are designed to constantly push down costs for labour, raw materials and production methods. By contrast, sustainable and inclusive business models are characterised by being designed to integrate the costs for good and healthy working conditions, Living Wages (as minimum) and environmentally friendly production, packaging and transportation methods, rather than externalising them. They are driven by a social and/or environmental mission and this is what allows them to put people and planet before profits.
This may sound very close to the business models of the Fair Trade Enterprises within the WFTO membership. Indeed, the report by WFTO Global on Creating the new economy – business models that put people and planet first has served as inspiration for the paper. WFTO-Europe members like gebana and El Puente are also mentioned as good examples of sustainable and inclusive business models. This collaboration with CONCORD Europe, the FTAO and other CSO’s is promoting Fair Trade and the WFTO approach to high-level policy-makers. Further, as a working paper it is supposed to initiate discussion with relevant officials and policy-makers within the European Commission to further drive this on to the policy agenda. CONCORD Europe has simultaneously published a call for consultants to do further research into how the EU and Member States can support such sustainable and inclusive business models – please help sharing it via your communications channels.
The vision and aim of the paper is the same regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the crisis for almost all sectors of the economy that the pandemic has brought about has clearly emphasised why it is necessary to change the economy in this manner for the good of people and planet. As the European Commission and many countries are beginning to attach green requirements to aid packages for businesses, Covid-19 could provide an opportunity to rebuild better with sustainable and inclusive business models.
Please help us promote the paper to policy-makers in your country, as action within EU member states is as important as action by the European Commission.
Human Rights Due Diligence is a hot topic recently, not least because many NGO’s, from social and human rights to environmental advocates, place much faith in its ability to once and for all make the world economy fair and green. In order to explore whether and how HRDD frameworks would actually address the root causes of human rights violations in global supply chains, FTAO in partnership with Brot für die Welt commissioned a study from university of Greenwich. As a result, Professor Valerie Nelson, Professor Olga Martin-Ortega and Michael Flint have authored the report ‘Making human rights due diligence frameworks work for small farmers and workers in global supply chains.’
The report looks at garments production in Bangalore (India) and horticulture in Kenya and reviews existing HRDD frameworks in order to establish how they address and mitigate human rights and environmental abuses, and whether they entail unintended risks for workers and farmers. In particular the study concludes that Living Wages and Living Incomes are indispensible aspects of effective HRDD frameworks and must be addressed explicitly within such frameworks, as they hold the key to mend and avoid a great deal of the most common human rights violations. These aspects, however, are often neglected in current versions of HRDD implemented voluntarily by certain companies, especially because companies tend to focus only on the most severe types of violations and abuse. This is despite the fact that keeping producers and workers in perpetual poverty by misusing the severe imbalance of power in supply chains is among the most widespread and significant human rights violations by big companies and multinationals.
The report finds that HRDD frameworks could be effective in addressing these issues, but they must be very carefully designed to address sector-specific risks, such as gender issues in the garment sector, risks to food security in the agricultural sector and the special risks to informal workers in both these sectors. Additionally, their design must specifically prevent that companies just ‘cut-and-run’ from suppliers in perceived high-risk areas, and must incentivise them to invest in their suppliers to meet compliance criteria. Overall, it is vital to ensure that buyer companies cannot just pass on the burden of compliance to producers and suppliers. And, in particular, mandatory HRDD must not become an excuse for businesses and policy-makers alike to not addressing key systemic issues like significant imbalance of power in supply chains and unfair trading practices, both of which continue to feed most labour rights and environmental abuses across national and regional economies, as well as the global economy.
The report lists a number of recommendations for policy-makers, companies and civil society to support the implementation of effective, mandatory HRDD. But, importantly, it emphasises that HRDD is not the full solution to ending human rights violations and environmental abuses as a result of common business practices in today’s world economy. Though important, it remains just one part of the puzzle, as – concludes the report – much more systemic changes in the practices and conduct of businesses in general are needed to fix an overall system where people and planet are squeezed in the hunt for ever higher profits.
On the 10th and the 11th of June, the Fair Trade International Symposium online panel was organised, complementary to the actual event to be held in Mexico, postponed to 2021. The panelists focused on the following theme: “Fair Trade and resilience in supply chains: insights from the past, perspectives on the future”. During the first day, the discussions were rather about looking at the past and understanding the crisis in context, while the second day highlighted the public policies and future systems to be implemented, as well as the cooperation between researchers and practitioners. You will find the recordings of the two afternoons of discussion both in English and Spanish on FTAO’s Vimeo channel.
A week after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 Pandemic, WFTO Asia Members were already producing People’s Mask and other Fair Trade Personal Protective Equipment. This was part of WFTO Asia’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. People’s Mask had its humble beginnings with WFTO Asia communicating with members across the region checking on the status of the producers, artisans, farmers, and staff in relation to the early impacts of COVID-19. The spark that started the People’s Mask Initiative came from the members when several members contributed ideas that served as the foundation of this initiative. Tara Projects (India) provided the idea that Fair Trade Enterprises are capable of producing masks, Fair Trees (Georgia) provided the inspiration that there is a market out there, and finally Hong Kong Fair Trade Power (Fair Circle) provided the design idea, the HK Mask Design of Dr. K. Kwong and Sew-on-Studio, which served as the core design of what we now call the People’s Mask. The term “People’s Mask” also came from one of the members, Artisan Hut (Bangladesh/ECOTA). People’s Mask is a face covering designed for non-medical frontliners — essential workers such as the grocery store workers, public transport drivers, government workers, social workers, community development workers, essential private-sector workers, peace and order personnel, trash collectors, food workers, farmers, and artisans. People’s Mask are also intended to serve and help people coming from the marginalized sectors of society. Today, the People’s Mask has reached five continents with a number of the prime movers of People’s Mask working with other Fair Trade Buyers and Stakeholders. A huge percentage of the People’s Mask went to Europe. As of this writing, HDIF has shared the good news that the Armenian Government has granted them special permission to export their People’s Mask. HDIF initially led the pack in terms of reaching as many regions as possible in the early days of People’s Mask. This temporarily stopped when government policies shifted during the initial outbreak of COVID-19. With the easing up of restriction in many Asian countries, more WFTO Asia members that are producing People’s Mask can now support the needs of other regions.A big support was also provided by WFTO Europe to the People’s Mask. WFTO Europe conducted a rapid study on the EU regulations and policies that have a direct and indirect bearing on the People’s Mask. The work of WFTO Europe on the EU regulations and policies provided both the members in Asia and Europe the much-needed guidance, which helped in ensuring the smooth entry of the People’s Mask in Europe given the evolving policy environment in relation to the COVID-19 Pandemic.As we move forward, People’s Mask is often referred to as a ‘movement’. It is the coming together of Fair Trade Enterprises and partners in Asia to respond to the needs of people and society in order to survive and fight off the COVID-19 Pandemic. People’s Mask is a statement and a commitment that Fair Trade is here for the people, especially in these very challenging times. Hence, People’s Mask is a ‘movement’, as Mathew John of Last Forest (India) articulated during the recent Special Meeting of Asia Members, “… more than the production mask, the tremendous energy and the sense of bringing together that Jerome and Mitos [WFTO Asia] did was phenomenal because it did not just remain with me but it sort of infused in many people in the organization, and they pivoted in their thought process of where they were looking at a very bleak future, the energy levels I think went up tremendously, it’s not just the monetary and the numbers game but it’s the sense of urgency and the sense of coming together, the sense of rethinking things, I think that was the very important role that [WFTO Asia] played… what they [WFTO Asia] did in the past three months was phenomenal, we are very grateful..” ##
Eve Bradis tells us a more about Fair Trade Scotland’s perspective: “Fair Trade Scotland is proud to be working with WFTO Network Member Scottish Fair Trade Forum and our WFTO Partner Villageworks, Cambodia, to bring Face Coverings that maintain authenticity, transparency and equity throughout the whole supply chain. All face coverings display the WFTO Product label which guarantees that the 10 WFTO Principles are adhered to whilst supporting Villageworks with much needed income at this time.”
Our membership is now composed of 107 enterprises, from which 60 are guaranteed, 37 are provisional and 19 are Fair Trade networks.
This month we are putting Zimba-Arts in the spotlights:
Located in Culemborg, in the center of the Netherlands, Zimba-Arts specializes in handmade fair-trade art from Africa, made from recycled sustainable materials.
The enterprise collaborates with artists in Ongata Rongai, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, and believes in the potential of these young artists, and supports them towards a sustainable income. The founder encourages focus on education: 10% of the revenue is secured for the school fees of the artists’ children.
To learn more about this inspiring enterprise, click here.
Take a ride on our Fair Train towards Denmark and discover our 5 exceptional members!
This quarter has been full of changes: as we are saying goodbye to Anna and Tess as assistants at the WFTO-Europe Secretariat in Brussels, we will be welcoming Giulia on the 20th of July.
Some good news: Anna may have left Europe’s regional office but she will still be around at our Global office as finance and administration coordinator. Congratulations Anna!
Click here to read the minutes of our previous board meetings.
“Milking the planet – How Big Dairy is heating up the planet and hollowing rural communities”, Shefali Sharma for IATP
“What makes a product sustainable?”, Jenna Cyprus for Earth911