1. WFTO Europe at Home
2. Europe in a Nutshell
3. WFTO Around the World
5. News from the Office
1. WFTO Europe at Home
We will convene the AGM of WFTO-Europe on 23rd May at 10:30-13:30 CEST. We strongly encourage all members to take part to have your voice heard and vote on the budget and work plan for WFTO-Europe for the coming year.
The AGM will be held online – please register here: zoom registration
Apart from the items to be voted on every year – accounts of 2021, minutes of AGM 2021, provisional budget of 2023 and Board elections – two other items will be on the agenda:
- Northern Producers – together with our Board we are working on new criteria to give more clarity on who can apply for membership and how to monitor producers in the IMS.
- Regional representative of WFTO-Europe to the Global Board – Sophie Tack (Oxfam Magasins du Monde – Belgium) currently fills this role until 2023. Members can request points to be discussed by the Global Board and ask questions about what discussions and decisions at the Global Board.
With the invitation sent out to all members last week you have also received a link to the documents for the AGM – please take a moment to review them in advance. In particular, please fill in and forward us your Voter Authorisation Form and in case you cannot join please fill in a Proxy Vote and entrust it to another member whom you trust to vote in your stead.
If you have not received the invitation and the link to the documents, please inform us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will sent you the link anew.
Through our catch-up calls with members, many of them told us that it would be useful a space where members can share their experiences in public procurement. Indeed, it would be of great help to access other members’ experiences in order to better know how to access public procurement. For this reason, we would like to ask all members to send us information about their own experience so that we can share it with others on our website.
Moreover, we would also like to remind you that there is a calendar on our website. If you could share with us also campaigns and events that you are planning, we can add them in the calendar and let the others be aware of them.
In this way, we can create a more cohesive network and strengthen the connection between members.
As many of you already know, since September the WFTO-Europe Office has been trying to stay in touch as much as possible with its members through weekly and/or monthly invitations and calls depending on members’ availability. The goal is also to identify common problems (if any) so that later it will possibly bring the most important issues to the table for discussion.
So far we have been able to reach about 17 members.
We asked each of them what their current priorities were and what challenges (if any) they are facing. Calls often show that the biggest challenges are related to financial issues but also logistics, infrastructure, and shipping. Problems that have emerged especially after the pandemic.
At the same time, these calls are also for getting advice from you! This is the case for Greater Goods, where the idea of a potential Capacity Building Webinar came up! So, we would like to thank all the members who have made themselves available so far and we hope to continue to hear your voice, which is fundamental for us.
To those who have not been invited yet, but are interested in doing a catch up call soon, feel free to directly contact us.
2. Europe in a Nutshell
The 23rd of February the European Commission disclosed its proposal for a Corporate Due Diligence. Together with the Fair Trade movement, we welcome the text and recognize its importance. Indeed, it is fundamental to address the risks to human rights and the environment, which are the highest at the beginning of the value chain.
However, there are some concerns that the proposal will not put enough pressure on EU businesses (and external ones) to address human rights and environmental violations.
For instance, the proposal encourages ‘cascading’ of responsibility through contract clauses. This means that companies can use contractual assurances from their business partners who should in turn do the same with their business partners.
The civil liability regime included in the current text could remain limited to the first tier of the value chain, thus leaving a gap in corporate accountability. Moreover, there is the concern that it does nothing to enable victims to file lawsuits. We need a stronger, more inclusive regime, especially when violations could have been prevented or mitigated through the due diligence.
Another concern is that the obligations are limited to “established business relationships” with which a “company has regular lasting and frequent cooperation”. This might lead companies to decide to avoid having long standing relationships.
One of the most critical points is the fact that the proposal’ scope is limited only to big companies, thus leaving out Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which are 99% of European companies. Violations of human rights and environmental standards can occur also under SMEs activities, as it happens for instance in the textile sector, where mostly SMEs are operating. What is more, although they are not included, many SMEs will need to conduct due diligence since their buyers are likely going to be included in the legislation, thus leading to an uneven playing field.
Our members already practice due diligence through long-term relationships, personal visits, capacity-building, consultation of producers and workers as stakeholder consultation. Indeed, as we also presented in our position paper, the components of the Wfto guarantee system (GS) permit to identify, assess, prevent, cease, mitigate, monitor, communicate, account for, address and remediate actual or potential adverse impacts. The GS Monitoring Audits and the Peer Visits realized in the verification process cover the part of HREDD that consists of measuring the effectiveness of processes and measures through adequate audits and of communicating the results.
To show that SMEs can be sustainable and that it is not a burden to include them in the legislation, we will make a series of articles dedicated to due diligence’ good practices from our membership with two objectives: 1) show companies covered by the Directive what kind of practices they should adopt and 2) demonstrate that some SMEs already practice due diligence.
Certainly good is the fact that the proposal explicitly refers to purchasing decisions, such as pricing practices. Since these practices are among the root causes of many human rights violations, it is welcomed that the proposal recognizes the prohibition of withholding an adequate living wage. It is also positive the fact that the obligations are modeled after UNGP and OECD Guidelines. Moreover, the proposal emphasizes the need to support SMEs in their value chain.
Regarding the environmental aspect, the proposal foresees that companies adopt an action plan in line with the limiting of global warming to 1.5°C. However, it has been highlighted that there is no enforcement mechanism to ensure accountability.
We will share our next articles on good practices on our website, here, feel free to share them.
Join us and help us in telling the European Commission and the Council that SMEs can and must be included in the directive!
On the 30th of March the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textile was released. Even though we welcome the strategy and much of its content, it almost completely leaves out social and economic sustainability.
The European Commission identifies different key actions:
- for a sustainable and circular textiles:
- introducing mandatory Ecodesign requirements to extend the life of textile products – an example is the material composition of products such as the fibers used;
- stopping the destruction of unsold or returned textiles through a transparency obligation and bans on the destruction of unsold products among others;
- tackling microplastics pollution with prevention and reduction measures;
- introducing information requirements and Digital Product Passport based on mandatory information requirements on circularity and other key environmental aspects;
- make sure that green claims can be made for truly sustainable textiles through empowering consumers and the introduction of minimum criteria for all types of environmental claims;
- introducing an extended producer responsibility making producers responsible for the waste they produce and boosting reuse and recycling of textile waste.
- for creating the enabling conditions, among others, the co-creation with stakeholders of transition pathways – tools for the transformation of the industrial ecosystem – which will start in the second quarter of 2022, and the creation of a new paradigm of attractive alternatives to fast changing fashion trends in order to provide new circular business models.
As the European Commission recognized, while the consumption of clothing and footwear is expected to increase by 63% by 2030, it accounts for the fourth highest negative impact on the environment and on climate change and third for water and land use. However, unsustainable patterns of overproduction and overconsumption are relevant not just for the environment, but also for workers.
As anticipated, one of the central issues is that the strategy does not take into consideration Unfair Trading Practices, like short lead times, prices below cost of production and unilateral changes of orders. These practices pressure factories which in turn leads to low wages and forced overtime.
Moreover, transparency and traceability are not considered in the strategy. What would be appropriate is to require transparency and traceability through disclosure of supply chain information at factory level.
We are collaborating with Fashion Revolution for the European Citizen Initiative (ECI) Good Clothes Fair Pay Campaign. With this initiative we want to call on the European Commission to introduce legislation requiring brands and retailers to conduct due diligence in their supply chains to ensure workers are paid living wages.
For this campaign to succeed, we need to collect 1 million signatures in 12 months. The campaign is expected to start on the 1st of May, on the International Workers’ Day.
you can find the FTAO press release here.
WFTO-Europe participates in this project for researching and promoting good models for food systems that are Fair, Accessible, Sustainable and Short (FASS) – it is funded by the University of Antwerp with professor Tomaso Ferrando leading and with us and FTAO as partners. The project is now in its final year and so far research on three case studies has been carried out: On Kort’om Leuven in Belgium, Solidale Italiano in Italy, and Syn Allois in Greece.
As the final part of the project one workshop per case will be held over the summer to present and validate research findings as well as to gather more examples, additional insights, ideas and good practices from similar actors/businesses to the three case studies.
One of these will take place on occasion of the BIOFACH in Nuremberg this year (27-29 July) – we know some of you participate in this fair, so please let us know if you will be participating this year (email@example.com). Your input for the workshop would be very valuable as well!
As part of the French Presidency of the European Council, the summit “Social Economy, the Future of Europe” will be held 5-6 May in Strasbourg – it was originally planned together with a ministerial summit in February, but had to be postponed to allow for more participation and workshops to be held.
In partnership with CONCORD Europe and ICA, we will co-organise a workshop on our joint advocacy theme of Sustainable and Inclusive Business Models (SIBM), which promotes mission-led business models and social economy enterprises as drivers of the economy needed for a sustainable future.
We have had the opportunity to partner with the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) for our workshop, which will take place on 6th May at 11:00-12:30 CEST – please do join us online, you can register here for virtual participation.
Mainly we will outline how mission-led businesses like Fair Trade enterprises and cooperatives operate differently and especially the governance characteristics that allow them to increase their social and environmental impact in particular. UNRISD will then present a new set of indicators for evaluating the performance of such business models and track their impact, as part of their most recent research.
Our aim is to find and mainstream a common language about such Sustainable and Inclusive Business Models and thereby foster a common understanding of their value – and to demonstrate the need for such business models and that mainstream business models are inspired by their good practices if we are serious about a sustainable future.
3. WFTO Around the World
As each year, on the 8th of March we celebrated the International Women’s Day. This year, we participated in a campaign lead by WFTO Global to celebrate women an entire week from the 1st to the 8th of March under the hashtag #SheLeadsTheWay. Thus, we celebrated indigenous women, women in circular economy, women’s capacity building, refugee women, women and climate justice, women’s response to covid-19 and women’s artisanal fashion.
On the 8th we had a live discussion with Fair Trade women entrepreneurs who shared insights on the intersection of pursuing mission, making profit and navigating the challenges of the pandemic and climate crisis. Here are the entrepreneurs that participated in the webinar: Lisa Jasper (FolkDays), Sasibai Kimis (Earth Heir), Sophie Tack (Oxfam Magasins du Monde), Joyce Juma-Phiri (Fair Trade Scotland), Caterina Occhio (SeeMe) and Selyna Peiris (Selyn).
They shared their thoughts on what it means to be a female entrepreneur and highlighted the challenges that the pandemic has created and how they tried and are trying to overcome them. The ability to work with intuition, adaptability and resilience is what links female entrepreneurs. The main goal is to support their communities throughout the many problems and challenges that come up. Indeed, although women entrepreneurs constantly face some difficulties, they show that with the right mindset they can overcome anything. Above all, the fact that Fair Trade female entrepreneurs face more challenges than conventional businesses and male colleagues is what renders them so good at adapting.
They highlighted that what is really needed is a radical change. Climate crisis and violations of human rights show that the way we are producing and consuming is not sustainable anymore. Fair Trade and women are pioneering this needed change and as women entrepreneurs they are bringing forward the fact that it is possible to be more supportive of each other and create an alternative business model.
It’s been really inspiring to hear about their point of view and their experiences. They do really lead the way!
You can find the recorded session on WFTO YouTube channel or WFTO Facebook page.
In the previous newsletter we introduced you to Denise Speck and her project about Trinitario Cocoa. With storytelling she wants to foster sustainable development within marginalized communities. On our instagram page we shared with you the story of the Trinitario Cocoa Variety.
This time, we want to share with you the story she wrote about the challenges and opportunities in Trinidad and Tobago’s Fine Cocoa Sector.
Challenges and Opportunities in Trinidad and Tobago’s Fine Cocoa Sector
Written by Denise Speck in Trinidad & Tobago, April 2022
Agriculture is a practice that began long before us – or, at least since the beginning of the agricultural revolution, when homo sapiens experienced a critical transition, evolving from hunter-gatherers to farming villagers (Harari, 2014). Homo sapiens strove towards a far more fruitful future than the one that was lived by their ancestors, who spent a lifetime dedicated to whatever the present space offered. Agriculture is defined as “the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops, and raising livestock. It includes the preparation of plant and animal products for people to use and their distribution to markets” (National Geographic, 2011). Yet, the agricultural sector is, despite its immense body of knowledge and experience, a space that is highly vulnerable and continuously exposed to socio-economic, socio-political, and environmental forces. This writing is dedicated to exploring some of the challenges experienced by Trinitario Cocoa farmers and leaves space for future narratives that demonstrate the solutions they have found to cope with the challenges respectively.
Within my research and field visits, I learned that Trinidad and Tobago has given rise to a very special and highly regarded variety of Theobroma Cacao – or Cocoa – that has won multiple awards and recognitions at international cocoa and chocolate events. Some of these awardees are amongst the farmers that will be introduced over the coming weeks as a result of their love and passion for the Original Trinitario Cocoa. But Trinitario Cocoa’s future is challenged in multiple aspects – environmentally, economically, and socially.
Javed Omardeen, one of the cluster farmers who cultivates the Little Hermit Estate in Brasso Seco, uses its fruity flavored, award-winning cocoa beans to create the Omarbeans Chocolate, shares that “although high-quality cocoa is produced in Trinidad and Tobago, there has been some history that took place in the last century that affected not only the price of cocoa, the interest of getting into it as a business, but also the general work ethic”. In a nutshell, cocoa’s peak production and sales to export markets took place between the 1866s and 1920s (Bekele, 2004) and represented the main source of Trinidad and Tobago’s economic wealth at the time. With the advent of oil and natural gas and its high financial gains, the government decided to lead the country in an industrialized direction that placed economic emphasis on developing the nation’s petroleum products. The petroleum sector promised much to those directly employed in the industry and by extension allowed the government to pay livable salaries to civil servants. Growth in the burgeoning energy industry precipitated a type of attrition from the agricultural sector with its slower, more land-centric culture.
Environmentally, this strategy of the government to subsidize more progressive industries, such as the oil and gas industry, and to place focus on strengthening economic value reinforced farmers shifting away from traditional small-scale farming to systems that reinforced more modernized farming practices that promised large outputs. These practices rely heavily on agrochemical inputs and monoculture crops that defined success solely in terms of quantity and profits. Increasing challenges posed by climate change, such as changing climate patterns – for instance too much rain in one region or too much drought in another – affected the cycle of cocoa pollinators and gave rise to a variety of diseases which ultimately impacted the productivity of local cocoa trees. Consequently, farmers find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of relying year-after-year, season-after-season, on agrochemicals to not only fight pests that harm their crops, but also to synthetically replenish nutrients to over-stressed soils.
Furthermore, Javed shares that “not only have historical influences directly degraded the work ethic, culture, and attitude towards Original Trinitario Cocoa but has had other indirect effects too”. As a natural consequence of the crippling of the industry, additional challenges befell the few remaining farmers. Buyers of raw cocoa became scarce as the price of Original Trinitario Cocoa increased, and the global market’s preference shifted to cheaper bulk cocoa sourced from West African regions. Consequently, farmers’ interest in Trinitario Cocoa cultivation declined and facilities for fermenting and drying were abandoned. Not only has low productivity caused decreasing incomes from the farmers’ crops, but the low incomes made it unappealing for upcoming generations to practice agriculture. And, despite more recent global efforts to foster greater transparency and fair-trade practices in product supply chains, a lack of economic incentives and scarcity of skilled agricultural extension officers has created new barriers for farmers. Out of reach are access to additional resources allowing for training in farming practices, post-harvest protocols, cocoa processing, the skills and habit of recording data, as well as access to existing funding including grants, and promotion of added-value possibilities. Consequently, Trinidad and Tobago faces strong competition with other Trinitario Cocoa-producing regions, as it struggles to meet global demands and quality standards.
From a social stance, these environmental and economic challenges have had a tremendous impact on the society’s relationship to Original Trinitario Cocoa. The combined effect of the hardships of agricultural work, few economic incentives, and now uncertainties posed by climate change, have created a condition that has kept Trinbagonians further away from a sector they never idealized – traditional agriculture. As a consequence, young people are increasingly becoming less interested in getting into the family farming business and continue the cultivation of cocoa. Thus, the status of Original Trinitario Cocoa is ‘endangered’ and government and industry are becoming more aware of the necessity to stimulate new interest in sustainable farming by creating more attractive conditions for farmers.
Nowadays, various institutions acknowledge that natural resources are limited and economic systems must be shifted to more responsible models that support family-owned, small-scale, fair-trade, and circular farming communities to ensure Original Trinitario Cocoa’s survival in the long term. On top of that, increasing environmental phenomena like climate change and poor soil health demonstrate that it is inevitable to return to an agricultural system that works more in harmony with nature. Yet, despite increasing efforts for transparency and fair-trade practices, the lack of economic incentives remains a tremendous challenge for farmers; Thus, societies that could place more emphasis and appreciation on the gifts of their soil, feel as if becoming a farmer meant that they go backward in development. Javed says that “this is one of the main things holding the sector back”. But one must keep in mind that returning to systems that are more in harmony with nature does not condemn progress nor imply a backward development that turns away from modern solutions. On the contrary, it emphasizes that solutions have to be critically reflected upon and focus has to turn away from purely profit-centered orientation to an approach that generates social, environmental, and economic value for all stakeholders involved.
You may understand now that in order to grasp the contextual forces historically and presently impacting the success of individual farmers as well as the collective Original Trinitario Cocoa industry, one has to understand the complex dynamics between the above-mentioned social, environmental and economic influences. Thus, it is important to learn about the very unique setting of Trinidad and Tobago and its rich yet challenged cocoa industry to bring about change that has a responsible and long-lasting impact. But what can be done to ensure cocoa’s survival? To find out, I spoke with farmers, cocoa processors, and experts and found many private sector-led initiatives that are in place or being developed to change the existing relationship with cocoa while capturing greater social, environmental, and economic value both at origin and globally. Throughout this storytelling initiative, made possible thanks to the collaborative efforts between Compete Caribbean and Übergreen Organics, different members will share their insights – because the wheel really does not need to be reinvented! Much of the required knowledge is there, created by our ancestors, transmitted over generations and spaces. However, one must acknowledge that these solutions will have to be critically reflected and adjusted over and over again because there is no one-fits-all solution in contexts that are highly vulnerable to external forces.
So, a lot is happening and I am very grateful to be part of this space, capturing the dynamics of responsible change. In the upcoming stories, we will meet the farmers and get to know some narratives about who they are and what they do to cope with the context they currently experience.
Here’s the Übergreen Organics platform
You can follow Omarbeans Organic on facebook and on instagram.
You can follow Denise on:
Our project, Building Fair Bridges – West Africa, a collaboration with WFTO-Africa & Middle East and Fair Trade Lebanon, has been going on for one year now. The project is centred on supporting a group of producers in West Africa on implementing Fair Trade standards and on their path to WFTO membership over the long-term.
WFTO-Europe collaborated with a consultant to develop a report on market access to the Single Market for the producers in West Africa – this is a resource which instructs small producers on procedures for exporting the EU Single Market, outlines the necessary expertise and advises on how to partner with importers. Hopefully it can also be useful for businesses seeking to work with this kind of producers as an easy “toolkit” that gives the producers basic, vital information on exporting to the Single Market. If you are looking to work with such small producers in Africa (both food and non-food products, crafts, textiles, decor, cosmetics, etc.), please get in touch with us – we would be happy to share the report and to discuss further how Fair Trade enterprises and ethical businesses in Europe can work with such producers, what kind of capacity-building would be useful to bring their products to market and the like. Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the final year of the Building Fair Bridges project, WFTO-Europe will collaborate with WFTO-Africa & Middle East on information materials on the West African producers and their work. We are further making preparations for representatives of the producers to visit the Berlin Summit of WFTO Global in Berlin in August. If you are interested in meeting with these representatives to discuss collaboration or to learn more about their situation for your understanding of how to collaborate with such producers in general, please also contact us and we will keep you updated. This is yet another reason that we are hoping to see as many of you as possible at the Berlin Summit (23rd-26th August – see more information on this below).
This year the World Fair Trade Day will be the 14th of May.
The WFTO Global Office is leading a campaign that will start at the beginning of the month and will last two weeks.
Here are the main information about the campaign:
Photo action: Raise your Hands for Climate Justice
For this year’s celebrations, we would like the whole Fair Trade community to raise their hands for climate justice! Join the photo action:
- Write on the palm of your hand “Climate Justice Now! #LetsDoItFair” to raise awareness,
- Take a selfie with your palm up
- Post it on your social media and send it to email@example.com
Download our translated Artworks
Make use of our World Fair Trade Day 2022 artworks. Translated artworks are now available in major languages, download them here. Feel free to start using them on social media as well when you talk about our celebration and climate justice campaign!
IG and FB Takeover
We are planning to showcase how the Fair Trade community is actively fighting for climate justice. Takeovers are a great way to showcase your enterprise and products, and tell your story visually. ‘Behind the scenes’ takeovers allow the audience a glimpse of the people who make the products and the committed entrepreneurs. If you would like to take part in takeovers, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also planning digital events, webinars so stay connected! If you have pictures and video material you would like to share with us, please send over to email@example.com.
For more detailed information about the activities, you can access the World Fair Trade Celebration Guide here.
Join us in campaigning for a fairer world and for climate justice!
The World Fair Trade Organization will hold its 16th edition of the International Fair Trade Summit on 23-26 August this year. This edition will focus on forging new partnerships and creating new commercial opportunities for WFTO members. It is our mission to support WFTO members gain exposure and reach new markets.
Get ready for:
- An interactive program with the most relevant topics for Fair Traders and participatory workshops to leave the Summit with your own roadmap.
- Spaces to meet and network with old friends and new fellow members in the Fair Trade movement.
- Exposure activities and awards opportunities for your enterprise (MIDA Award, Fashion Expo, Artisan Expo, and more).
- Attending the Member’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and other social gatherings (including the party!) that determine and distinguish the WFTO network as the connected and collaborative community that it is.
You can now register here!
5. News from the Office
WFTO-Europe’s Office has a new Communication and Advocacy Assistant, Nicla Elena Festa! if you have any questions, you can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
WFTO-Europe is currently offering 2 internship positions from July 2022 – January 2023.
You can find the call for applications here.