WFTO-Europe is very happy to present its first biannual external Newsletter, dedicated to all Fair Trade supporters across the world!
In this Issue:
International Women’s Day, Worldwide
Deadline: EU Cities Fair and Ethical Trade Award, European Union
World Fair Trade Day, Worldwide
The Fair Trade International Symposium, Portsmouth, UK
We now feature an External Events Calendar on our site, where you can find a more general list of Fair Trade related events happening around Europe!
European FairTrade Shuttle!
WFTO Europe @ home
WFTO-Europe is the regional branch of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), a worldwide network with almost 400 Fair Trade organisations across 70 countries. The European network currently counts 96 member organisations across 16 European countries and is mainly composed of producers, importers, worldshops and networks organisations.
All European WFTO members are members of the larger WFTO network and believe that trade should work for people and the environment, and not at their expense.
All members are obligated to pass through the Guarantee System, a Fair Trade verification and monitoring system with people and sustainability at its heart. Members that have passed the GS process attain the ‘Guaranteed Fair Trade Organisation’ status and may use the WFTO Label (picture above) on their products. It signifies not only that the practices across the supply chain are checked against the WFTO Fair Trade Standard, but it also represents support to the battle against poverty and inequality. The WFTO Fair Trade Standard is the essence of the Guarantee System and comprises a set of compliance criteria based on the 10 Fair Trade Principles and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. All WFTO principles of Fair Trade are effective overarching tools to fight poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) determined by the United Nations.
Last November, WFTO held its Biennial Conference in New Delhi, India. This conference was bigger than it had ever been, with more than 300 participants from 60 different countries. The theme of the conference was ‘Fair Trade- a path to sustainable development’ and more than 25 topics within this theme were presented, including the improved WFTO Guarantee System. From this conference, several resolutions went forth, including the new “universalise” concept of Fair Trade and the fair payment policy. (To read into more detail on these, please see the Conference report.)
From the 7th to the 9th of June, WFTO-Europe will organise its own Biennial Conference in Brussels. This is always a key moment for Fair Trade actors to meet each other and discuss the way ahead for the organisation. The Conference will also include some public sessions with external stakeholders in the framework of the Trade Fair Live Fair project and to show Fair Trade as a cross-cutting issue.
Each of WFTO-Europe’s members is a committed Fair Trade organisation, eager to contribute to a world in which trade structures and practices have been transformed to work in favour of the poor and to promote sustainable development and justice. Towards this aim, each of them carry out several projects and work with different stakeholder to raise up the Fair Trade voice. Here a selection of two recent activities run by two WFTO-Europe members: Oxfam Magasins du Monde and Gebana:
The Fair Trade Young Ambassadors Program started in the Spring of 2015 when the Lycée Technique Bel-Orme de Bordeaux took the initiative to partner with two other schools, one from Belgium and another from Portugal, on an Erasmus+ project on the topic of Fair Trade. The aim for the three-year program was to educate the students on Fair Trade and to get them actively involved in its promotion. This was done with the aid of Fair Trade NGOs local to the schools’ areas: Artisans du Monde, Centro de Intervenção para o Desenvolvimento Amílcar Cabral (CIDAC), as well as Oxfam Magasins du Monde. The program involved many different activities both nationally and within the EU with the aim to not just discover Fair Trade and its products, organisations and impacts, but also to deeply understand the topic and to spread this information. This included the creation of a variety of educational tools for everyone from youths to business people. The program culminated in a trip to Peru for a small group of students who were able to experience and view Fair Trade cooperatives with their own eyes in order to give life to their understanding.
Currently, Gebana is working to raise money to save their subsidiary company in Burkina Faso. Here, they process and export their Fair Trade and organic mangos and cashews, as well as support 457 employees and 3,250 farming families by giving them long-term security, fair prices, and trainings. This is especially important for the area, as the country was ranked by the UN’s Human Development Index at 185 out of 188 due to factors such as life expectancy, income, and education. However, Gebana Afrique suffered a huge loss last year due to the rise in cost or cashews, a poor mango harvest, and an increase in costs due to hiring a professional management team. The company aims to rehabilitate itself by partnering with Pakka who specialises in sustainable value chains for nuts and will be supporting Gebana Afrique with their expertise and funds. However, further money is needed, and as such the company is searching for further investors. Their promise is that if consumers invest now, purchasing cashews and mangos which will be received in 5 years’ time, that these investors will also receive a portion of the profits. However, if the project fails, then there will be neither products nor profits to hand out at the end of 5 years, making it both a shared boon and shared risk. They have already reached their minimum target of 500,000 CHF, however any additional money will now be used to lessen the company’s reliance on bank loans and thus saving in interest costs.
Europe in a nutshell
Migration has become a hot topic in the minds of European citizens. Daily, the distress of migrants within the European Union are brought up in media, as well as the tensions around managing their insertion into European societies. However, there is less attention on the real root causes of migration, and what can be done in order to avoid forced and unwanted migration. Here at World Fair Trade Organization-Europe (WFTO-Europe), as a key player within the international Fair Trade movement, we find this issue closely tied with our development goals and core values- such as solidarity, openness, poverty reduction – and as such this issue is important to us as well. In fact, in a survey completed amongst our network, 100% of participants believed there is a strong link between Fair Trade and migration.
Fair Trade works as an effective tool in creating opportunities which allow people to live with dignity within their homeland, rather than being forced out in search of economic and social opportunities. This is because it betters the economic and social conditions of the area, and allows young people to obtain opportunities in which they can see a future for themselves and work towards it without leaving their families and homes to search for this elsewhere. Moreover, a key part of the Fair Trade movement is a focus on human rights and solidarity, and the universal application of the principles, which means better conditions for marginalised people all over the world, both in the Global South and in the North.
Given the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)’s value that trade must benefit the most vulnerable and deliver sustainable livelihoods by developing opportunities for disadvantaged producers, we also believe we have a social responsibility as a progressive movement in Europe to manage the migrants arriving every day in Europe by finding innovative yet practical ways to aid them in their integration including providing safe and decent work.. In fact, we have already undertaken some actions addressing this issue in a number of ways.
As part of the 14th Biennial WFTO Conference in Delhi this December, there was a workshop entitled Including Refugees in Fair Trade in which we discussed ways that Fair Trade can get involved in migration. This served as an introduction for MADE51: an initiative WFTO has partnered with in collaboration with the UNHCR. MADE51 which aims to connect refugee artisans with in-demand international markets. It does this by commercially developing traditional skills, building the artisans’ business acumen, and connecting them with international brands and buyers. As WFTO-Europe, in order to increase our understanding, we conducted extensive secondary research as well as a survey among our members in order to learn how migration has impacted them, and how they have reacted to this impact. For example, some have implemented activities targeting migrants, such as hiring and training programs, donating towards organisations which work with migrants, and specifically creating job opportunities in areas where people may be at risk of unwanted migration.
As a progressive movement, we do not wish for migrant people and their situation to be seen as an issue with which to spread values of self-withdrawal, insularity, and fear of those other than oneself, rather one of solidarity, communication, and cooperation between peoples. As part of this, WFTO-Europe would like to deepen our understanding of the reasons behind why migrants leave their homeland and to further promote Fair Trade actions which can prevent unwanted economic migration. We hope that with this statement and actions within we can continue to move forward working to ease the issue of migration as the topics of Fair Trade and migration are inherently tied.
WFTO-Europe started the « Trade Fair Live Fair » (TFLF) project near the end of 2017. The TFLF project is funded by the European Commission for 3 years and is aiming at increasing awareness of sustainable consumption and production in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The European Fair Trade movement together with the Ethical Fashion movement
This project brings together most of the European Fair Trade movement, including its two biggest families: Fairtrade International and World Fair Trade Organization, as well as partners such as the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, the Fairtrade Foundation, Commerce Equitable France as well as affiliate organizations Equo Guarantito, Weltladen-Dachverband, Forum Fairer Handel, Commercio Justo and many more. The project also includes Fashion Revolution, the Fair Trade Town campaign and other civil society partners. In total, 31 organizations will take part in the project. WFTO-Europe will play a key role in coordinating the input of the WFTO affiliate organizations.
Sustainable Development Goals
The relevance of Fair Trade in order to achieve the SDGs is clear- many SDGs match the 10 Fair Trade Principles. The ambition of this project is to address the topics of Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG12), the transversal focus of the project, as well as additional attention to Climate Action (SDG13), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG8) and Gender Equality (SDG5).
Research, campaign, advocacy and capacity building
The TFLF project will allow WFTO-Europe to complete research on the issue of Living Wage. Publications and policy recommendations will be published and shared with members within the network. Key moments such as World Fair Trade Day and the WFTO-Europe Biennial Conference will allow the presentation and dissemination of the project work. Advocacy efforts will concentrate mostly on the 2019 European elections and capacity-building activities will benefit from the pre-existing FairShare platform.
If your organization is interested in participating in this project, please contact Sebastien Leclef at projects[at]wfto-europe.org.
Fair Trade Globally
The call for proposals for cities to apply for the EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award is now on and the deadline to submit applications has been officially set for the 13th of April. This award is an initiative of the European Commission, which the Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade) launched as a commitment to its “Trade for all” communication on trade and investment policy, published in 2015. WFTO-Europe together with FTAO and other experts in the field were part of the Technical Committee created the beginning of 2017 to define the criteria as well as the application process for the award. The aims are to recognise and celebrate the achievements of cities in relation to their positive impact on social, economic, and environmental sustainability in international trade. Cities are selected based on four primary criteria: leadership & vision, impact, initiatives undertaken, and engagement. Applications are open now and can be done via an online portal. The ceremony for the overall Award, alongside a range of ‘Special Mention’ awards for other recognised performers/runners-up in approximately 2-3 categories will take place on the 27th of June 2018 in Brussels.
An important day within the WFTO network is International Women’s Day, which occurs on the 8th of March. This is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Within the context of Fair Trade, it is a day to recognise the challenges women still face internationally and to help refocus the movement in order to help empower those who are disadvantaged within global supply chains and to increase gender equity- #6 of the 10 Fair Trade Principles. This year, the International Women’s Day (IWD) observance on 8 March 2018 will be marked by the theme ‘Gender Equality Now! Press for Progress.’ Many women have long endured injustices. Gender equality for all should start now. This annual global action is our opportunity to discuss women and gender issues internally and organise activities to raise public awareness. This is also a good time to press law makers for more progress on women’s rights and empowerment, two important pre-conditions for gender equality.
In addition to the IWD, each year on the second Saturday of May, WFTO celebrates the World Fair Trade Day. This is a key opportunity to share information and to spread the presence of Fair Trade internationally. It is important for as many organisations to participate as possible, as this amplifies our impact and allows us to not only reach more of the public but also to deepen the influence. WFTO, alongside many of our members as well as external organisations, organises events and campaigns as part of a global festival celebrating Fair Trade. For further information on what you can do in honour of this day, as well as information on previous campaigns by WFTO, please see here. This year, WFTDay will occur on the 12th of May and its celebration will be linked to the promotion of Fair Trade as a tool to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
BHcrafts (since 1995) is the first recognized social entrepreneurship and licensed fair trade producer of handmade garments and fashion accessories in B&H.
It began as a humanitarian enterprise, and today has developed into a successful export-oriented business which is still growing. BHcrafts promotes the cultural heritage of Bosnia while using its traditions to develop products appealing to the modern market.
All of BHcrafts products, both clothing and household goods have been enthusiastically welcomed around the world. Media praise the superior quality of hand made products which cannot be produced through mass production.
BHcrafts products are made with domestic raw materials, thus supporting the economy of BiH. Ecological considerations are taken into account at every stage of production, using paper bags and boxes for shipping and wooden looms for weaving. Our products are a mixture of traditional methods and modern design combined to appeal to a world market.
Results have acknowledged all of this. BHcrafts has successfully cooperated with Agnes B in France for several years. An even more important business connection has been with Sundance catalogue with whom we have been working for ten years, and on a smaller scale with National Geographic catalogue and Nieman Marcus.
On each product labelled BHcrafts you will find the name of the woman who made it. These are products made with love and care, and if you purchase you will be contributing to the creative and business opportunities open to these women. Our aim has never changed – it will only expand further with your purchase.
Shared Interest: ENRICHING LIVES WITH ETHICAL FINANCE
UK-based, Shared Interest lends money to fair trade organisations worldwide. What makes us different is we do not usually require security. This enables us to reach farmers and handcrafters in remote communities, struggling to find finance elsewhere.
We are a Registered Society with 11,000 UK investors providing over £38m. We strive to be a responsible lender, recognised with a Queen’s Award twice, and in 2015 awarded the title of ‘most ethical finance institution working in the fair trade sector.’
Shared Interest currently makes payments to over 400 producer groups across 59 countries. Our main aim is to help smallholder farmers and handcraft groups, and we lend in two ways: directly to fair trade producers and to fair trade wholesale or retail businesses. We lend to support Fairtrade products such as coffee; fresh fruit, nuts, and cocoa, as well as handcrafts such as weaved baskets and furniture.
We want to do more than provide finance on fair terms. The fair trade organisations we finance say that, thanks to our supporters, they have helped transform their communities. For this reason, we like to keep up to date with issues faced by our customers. We find that our annual Producer Committee meetings facilitated by in-country staff in Peru, Ivory Coast, and Kenya, give producers the opportunity to discuss common issues and market trends. While it is not in our remit to provide a solution to these problems, sharing experiences can assist organisations in resolving their own issues.
For instance, citrus farming is a growing source of income in Ghana but climate change continues to be a big challenge, with fruit ripening early or crops being lost in their entirety due to the changing rainfall patterns. Nyame Akwan is a Fairtrade orange producer that is surviving commercially, despite these various setbacks.
Farmers approached Shared Interest for finance in 2015 when fruit flies were causing production losses of up to 40%. The loan allowed the group to purchase fertilisers for farmers and ultimately increase production volumes. Farm maintenance equipment helped reduce fruit loss to only 10%.
Education also helped improve yields. Previously, harvesting involved manually plucking the fruit with sticks, which led to spoilage. After training, the farmers began to hang wire nets under the trees to catch the oranges.
Thanks to Shared Interest investors, Nyame Akwan is helping over 100 farmers to earn a living. Chairman Mustapha Akubakar said: “Once our membership reaches 200, we would like to become a co-operative.”
General news on Fair Trade:
- Four Steps Towards a More Sustainable Global Economy from UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
- Moving Beyond “Root Causes:” The Complicated Relationship between Development and Migration from Migration Policy Institute
- Gender and the informal economy: Key challenges and policy response from International Labour Office
- Workers held captive in Indian mills supplying Hugo Boss from The Guardian
About/From the Network:
- La Plate-Forme pour le Commerce Équitable évolue et devient Commerce Équitable France from Commerce Équitable France