WFTO-Europe participated in the RIPESS-Europe Annual General Meeting held in Villarceaux near Paris in the beginning of September, which coincided with their 10 years anniversary. While there, we picked up on the current debates within Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) and networked to further build alliances. Most prominently, RIPESS-Europe is focusing on the digital sphere and the ‘digital commons’ and at the end of AGM a Digital Charter was proposed and discussed.
Most important for WFTO-Europe were to hear the perspectives from RIPESS-Europe members about SSE as a concept and movement – the general understanding reflected by most that we spoke with is very close to the WFTO concept of Fair Trade Enterprises. Perhaps we should rather say that WFTO members are Social and Solidarity Enterprises fully practicing Fair Trade? From the perspectives heard during the meeting, they see ‘social economy’ and ‘social enterprises’ as something much closer to mainstream business but with a bigger CSR component of some sort. In other words, social economy is much less of a true alternative to the current mainstream, whereas SSE aims at catalysing a deep and thorough transition. At WFTO-Europe we believe this shows good potential for collaborating, and shows us what kind of partners RIPESS-Europe, its members and other SSE actors are. During the meeting, RIPESS-Europe’s focus going forward was also presented as doing more projects involving youth and to connect more with the feminist movement.
Concretely for WFTO-Europe members to reflect on, there was a proposal to collaborate on including products from RIPESS-Europe members in Worldshops in different countries – the aim would be to draw supporters of SSE to the Worldshops, where they would also discover Fair Trade products, while people looking for Fair Trade products would similarly discover SSE products. This could create mutual benefit and increased support for members of both movements. If you wish to share your thoughts on this, please write to email@example.com.
In the digital sphere, several platforms that map social and sustainability initiatives across the world were presented over the course of the meeting, like Transiscope. This platform hosts a map of alternatives that contribute to the transition to social and environmental sustainability – have a look at the initiatives they have mapped in your town or city here. Also SmartketPlace was presented, which aims at being a socially just alternative to large, international internet-shopping platforms. Along with making SSE (and potentially Fair Trade) products available and visible to a broader public, it is also meant to foster more local economy with digital tools. Currently, the pilot phase needs to be developed and they are still looking for investments to fund the full costs of this process (read more here).
On 21st October, WFTO-Europe and WFTO Global, in partnership with the Fairtrade National Campaigners Committee in the UK, organized a live panel on Fair Fashion and Climate, focusing on how Fair Fashion Enterprises are part of the solution to climate change. It is well known that the fashion industry has significant social issues and a big, negative impact on the climate – but how big? Where do the social issues intersect the climate issues? Matteo Ward, fashion activist, spoke with four distinguished guests with insights to offer on what the solution looks like, zooming in on existing alternatives that make a difference.
Matteo is CEO and co-founder of WRÅD, which works on innovative social and sustainability design, and joining him were Delphine Williot from Fashion Revolution; Selyna Peiris from WFTO member Selyn in Sri Lanka; Jo Salter from BAFTS member Where Does It Come From?; and Mimi Sewalski, managing director of Avocadostore.
Starting off, Delphine explained the approach of Fashion Revolution in pushing fashion brands towards full transparency – this is the key component for catalysing meaningful change in the fashion industry towards social and environmental sustainability. Delphine also takes part in the Young Fair Trade Advocates (YFTA) which is part of the EU-funded Erasmus+ project EU-WISE, led by the FTAO.
Selyna then showed how Selyn does Fair Fashion in practice. As she mentioned, “profits sustain us, but people and the planet are at the heart of what we do.” Her point of how the profits of the company can work for its mission of benefitting its workers, its closer community and the (local and global) environment seemed to resonate well in the overall conversation with participants.
Jo Salter chimed in with Selyna’s emphasis on the local and on traditional textiles and production: In her work with improving the social standards and environmental impact of her own business and other fashion companies, she has found that indigenous cotton, for example – meaning the cultivars of cotton that is found naturally in the local area – need much less input from farmers, which helps reduce water use and use of chemicals.
Mimi Sewalski then shared the latest trends from sales of Fair Trade and other ethical/sustainable products, emphasising the importance of verifying the positive impact of the products and telling the story behind.
Overall, the conversation highlighted that the Fair Fashion alternative already exists. The participants painted a broad picture of what Fair Fashion Enterprises look like, what they do in practice that is different and how citizens and consumers can tell the difference from greenwashing. Please help us share this message with your own followers and through your networks, so more people realise that the solutions do not need to be invented anew. They already exist and the WFTO logo is one way to recognise businesses that are verified by their focus on more social and environmental sustainability.
The conversation was streamed on facebook and youtube and the recording is available here
1.3 Sustainable and Inclusive Supply Chains: workshop with CONCORD-Europe – and hopefully the European Commission!
Together with CONCORD Europe and International Cooperatives Alliance (ICA), WFTO-Europe co-created a workshop on Sustainable and Inclusive Supply Chains. The aim was for members of CONCORD to learn what, concretely, such supply chains look like. WFTO-Europe will be contributing to a similar workshop in November aiming to inform EU delegations around the world about Sustainable and Inclusive Business Models (and -Supply Chains) organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Partnerships (DG-INTPA, former DG-DEVCO). The intention is to show EU delegations how such business models and supply chains are defined and what concretely they do differently to have a positive impact on people and planet. We hope this enables the delegations to support such models both in countries within and outside the EU, as we believe the partnership between such actors in producer and importer countries makes the world of a difference.
Starting off, Dr. Jo Aden presented on supply chains, giving some context and history and some useful insights on what this concept really means. Dr. Aden is technical expert on child labour at the Institute for Development Studies in the UK. One of the main points she made is how today’s mainstream “value chains/supply chains are designed to push risk on to the next level” – meaning it will inevitably end up with the weakest link in the chain. This is a big part of the explanation for the many issues we see today related to sourcing of mainstream businesses and especially big multinationals. It is also a key reason why transparency in supply chains, and by extension, strong Human Rights Due Diligence criteria are indispensable first steps for addressing these issues. More importantly, we believe it shows why the approach to business should be changed fundamentally, with the approaches of WFTO members being good examples, in order to truly root out these issues.
From the cooperatives side, Mariano Glas presented on Cooperativa Obrera in Argentina and how they connect producers and consumers in innovative ways for selling fair and sustainable food. From the WFTO side, Arjun Malhotra presented on his German brand, Africulture, as well as his father’s family business, ONEWAY, a guaranteed member in Kenya. Very illuminating points were raised, such as Mariano Glas arguing how Fair Trade and the Cooperatives’ Movement can collaborate on the production and distribution of socially and environmentally sustainable products. Arjun Malhotra also explained the best practices of ONEWAY in focusing on cotton produced locally – in Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania – for their production of garments. The proximity and the ability to make personal visits to production places give them full control over the sourcing and assurance that the WFTO criteria are upheld, but this way they also contribute to local added-value industry in the form of the small but growing textiles sector in Kenya.
The workshop finished off with working groups co-creating a vision for ideal supply/value chains for different products, such as cocoa, textiles/garments, and lithium batteries. Across the three working groups, transparency and more direct trading/business relationships were repeated as key elements for sustainability. There was also a realisation of the complexity of supply chains and of the fact that they work more as supply networks or webs, than chains. Even though achieving full transparency, sustainability and fair distribution of value throughout such webs is evidently difficult, the examples of Cooperative Obrera, Africulture and ONEWAY show that it is possible – and we are proud to count many more examples within WFTO-Europe and WFTO on a global scale.
If you wish to know more about the webinar or if you have any advocacy points, insights or best practices you wish to share with us, please write them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can then better use it in our awareness-raising and advocacy work and better highlight you as pioneering examples.
The 7th of October is World Day for Decent Work and WFTO-Europe recognizes the need of creating social and economic institutions that give both security and employment, because we believe decent work is at the “heart of social progress”.
Every one of our European members is committed to providing decent work for supply chain workers. But what does that mean in practice? In a report published in 1999, the International Labor Organization (ILO) coined the term “decent work,” characterizing the goal as “not simply the creation of jobs, but also the development of occupations of acceptable quality.” The decent work agenda is a gender-integrated plan with four pillars: productive and freely chosen jobs, workplace rights, social protection, and social dialogue.
Focus on work: decent work and living in Europe – vision or reality? To commemorate this day, we’ve published on our social media the practices of three of our European members who fit into the scope of current and future decent work.
EZA Fairer Handel GmbH and Coffe.
EZA has been practicing fair trade since 1975, and it was the first organization in Austria to adopt the FAIRTRADE label (1993). Among other matters, EZA is dedicated to supporting coffee farmers in the South (read more about the challenges farmers face) by providing an alternate way for them to receive their coffee at better market conditions. Find out why that is!
Last but not least, the current motto of EZA is “If you want the world to stay the way it is, you don’t want it to stay the way it is” (Eric Fried), which wonderfully embodies the principle that fair trade should be the norm, not the exception. For more information about EZA, download the EZA’s Manifesto here or visit their website and connect with them on Facebook!
Bouga Cacao guarantees that employees have quality jobs, by staying in direct contact with the people who cultivate, grow and harvest cocoa. Small manufactures can therefore be rewarded locally based on actual margins and manufacturing costs, assuring fair and equitable earnings. Also, the commercial partnerships that have been established in organic stores, Biocoop, and grocery stores, which are the major merchants of Bouga Cacao chocolate, are essential to the success of this initiative. Shops selling our Bouga Cacao line are expanding year after year in the South-West, but also in the North, East, and Île-de-France, as people become more interested in the initiative and the quality of our goods. Also given are points of sale in Germany, Belgium, and other European nations. Finally, you can discover all of the items in the Bouga Cacao online shop and support this wonderful fair trade enterprise while enjoying high-quality organic chocolate that is also vegan.
FairMail ensures decent labor by sending greeting cards with images taken by poor Peruvian children. The photographers receive 60% of the earnings and use it to further their education. This is due to the aim of combating child labor in Peru and promoting education as a catalyst for social and economic empowerment. Since 2006, FairMail has sold over 3 million cards in 14 countries, allowing 55 young photographers to make over 160.000 euros from the sale of their photographs, allowing them to invest in their own education. Check out this video
The month of October was spent preparing for COP26, the United Nations climate change conference that gives a critical chance to assess progress since the 2015 Paris Agreement and to generate momentum for future efforts. To present, 197 countries have signed the Paris Agreement (PA), which defines two key objectives. The primary target is to keep global average temperature increases well below 2°C over pre-industrial levels, with efforts to keep them under 1.5°C. The second goal is to make financial flows consistent with climate-resilient development in order to respond to the unavoidable effects of climate change.
In this regard, the European Commission supported conclusions outlining the EU’s position for the COP26 in Glasgow on October 6, highlighting the importance of a fair and equitable global climate transition.
“With the conclusions adopted today, the EU not only has the willpower but a strong mandate to lead the discussions in the right direction – the direction of protecting the planet for the benefit of all and standing on the side of those that are most vulnerable to climate change.” Andrej Vizjak, Slovenian Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning.
As a result, Fair Trade movements advocate for putting justice at the center of climate policy. As a Fair Trade movement, WFTO-Europe and its members perceive an opportunity for producers, workers, and consumers to collaborate and implement more environmentally friendly solutions. It’s not a question of deciding between climate justice and market equity. These are two features that are inextricably related. Both are necessary for accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, as well as making truly sustainable models function. The role of civil society in achieving these objectives is crucial which is why all organisations are called to action. Among our members, for example, GEPA, is planning a meeting in May to address COP26 challenges. On the World Fair Trade Organization‘s side, we at WFTO-Europe co-organised with WFTO Global the event “Fair Fashion and the Climate” – a conversation with fashion activists and entrepreneurs on the role of Fair Trade in making fashion greener, which concluded on October 21 in partnership with the Fairtrade National Campaign Committee in the UK.
On the eve of the big COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the World Fair Trade Organization – Europe (WFTO-Europe) wanted to send a strong signal to our policy makers which is why it supported the Climate Coalition in defense of social sustainability as well. The motto is “There is no environmental justice without social justice.” And this is as true as the urgency to act for the climate as soon as possible. The Climate Coalition, the well-known non-profit collective of around 85 organisations, organized a new Climate March in Brussels on Sunday October 10th, the first since the pandemic of 2020. It’s been two years since the last protest, which was the largest in Belgian history, when 70,000 people demanded that international leaders intervene. Greenpeace, Oxfam, and Youth for Climate were among the more than 80 organizations that took part this year.
The march began at 13:00 at Brussels-Nord station and various activities were planned along the route, which culminated in a speech by famous activists at the Parc du Cinquantenaire. Climate Coalition Vice-President Zanna Vanrenterghem said, “We need strong policies to prevent damage as much as possible, starting with the most vulnerable.” “The new IPCC report has sounded the alarm: we must do everything we can to change course.” Now is the moment for politicians to follow through on their promises. It’s critical, but it’s not too late. As a result, the Climate Coalition wanted to send a strong message to policymakers. “The message is simple: we expect ambitious, supportive and consistent measures,” explained Nicolas Van Nuffel. “We need a Belgian Green New Deal. We offer more than 100 concrete solutions to achieve this goal.”
We would also like to remind you that on this occasion A study elaborated by Patrick Veillard of Oxfam-Magasins du monde, has conducted research to better understand the link between fair trade and climate change, both in terms of effect and policy, as well as alternatives to the existing neoliberal paradigm. Take a look at the study hosted on Oxfam-Magasins du monde’s webpage here
Putting justice at the centre of the climate strategy. The 16th of September WFTO-Europe and Fairtrade International called to introduce a clear, fair and binding mechanism for trade justice in order to achieve climate justice in their negotiations at COP26. Here is the link
We see an opportunity for producers, workers, and consumers to collaborate and implement more environmentally friendly solutions. It’s not a case of choosing between climate justice and market fairness. Both are necessary for accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, as well as making truly sustainable models function.
WFTO-Global, in partnership with WFTO-Europe, has created the hashtag #TradeJustice4Climate with which we ask all interested parties to join us by using the viral context on the internet.
Explaining the WFTO Guarantee System in light of the EU Legislative Initiative on Sustainable Corporate Governance and the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.
On 26 October, WFTO-Europe published a Position Paper on Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence. It emphasises that HREDD must be an essential component of any business. This article discusses what it implies in practice and how the WFTO Guarantee System fits into present and prospective future frameworks for HREDD, which will hopefully become essential. If we want to assure a sustainable future for people, planet, and business, these business principles should become the standard. If you want to learn more, read our position here.
As of October 2021, WFTO-Europe represents 117 members from 19 European countries. Since our last Newsletter 3 months ago, we welcomed 2 new members in the WFTO community!
ESONALIS is a family company situated in Montpellier, France. Under the ICE KARITE brand, it makes handcrafted organic and Vegan-Organic shea butter ice cream. ESONALIS created the Ice Shea idea based on two criteria: 1) The promotion of environmentally responsible agriculture and environmental stewardship. 2) The practice of fair trade while respecting the principles on which this trade is based.
They back up their producers’ commitment to quality and product life cycle sustainability. These handmade products enable us to showcase the expertise of all of our farmers in France, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Benin, Togo, Cameroun, and Madagascar. You can find out more about them on their website, and connect with them on instagram or facebook
La Compagnie Ethique is a non-profit Ethic ShopFactory that was formed in 2007. They provide GOTS-certified organic, GRS-certified recycled, Flocert-certified FairTrade, and eco-friendly textile solutions for businesses.
It has defended organic cotton and jute production from its inception. Its major goal is to form partnerships in support of sustainable development by promoting organic, environmentally friendly, and fair trade textiles. Ethic ShopFactory creates communication materials in organic cotton, organic canvas, jute, and juco (Calcutta linen) for enterprises in France and Europe to advertise events, product launches, and operational marketing programs. Visit their website for more details and follow them on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.
Presenting you Africulture : Clothing with a touch of Africa! “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together.” (African saying) and Africulture A new and fair look
Africulture stands for African design made in Africa. His story is the story of two brothers, Arjun and Nell, who grew up in Kenya. They share their passion for Africa through their business, which sells ethically sourced, handcrafted clothing and accessories inspired by the local culture. ONEWAY, a World Fair Trade Organization accredited family business in Kenya, manufactures all of their clothing. They believe that sustainable fashion can only be fully realized if clothing is created in an ethical manner at the same time. The most essential thing to them is that everyone involved in the manufacturing and supply chain of their products benefits from it. In this process, they also use locally sourced materials to reduce their environmental impact.
Africulture Accessories: their accessories like their Maasai beaded leather items are sourced from small artisan groups, always keeping fair wages and fair work in mind.
Africulture Jewelry : their Africulture jewelry is hand-crafted by mothers of disabled children at Heshima , a school for special needs in Nairobi. Here local and sustainable materials such as recycled glass are used. The mothers of these children are trained in jewellery manufacturing, receive a fair wage and at the same time have their children taken care of, allowing them the much-needed care on individual bases.
Their values: every individual that works in their organization, does this under fair working conditions. This certainly includes fair wages, pre-set working and vacation times, the possibility of further education and most importantly a working environment consisting of respect, shared goals, fun, understanding and mutual support. Since fair production is the most important value, the production in Nairobi is following the 10 Principles of Fair Trade and is WFTO Certified (World Fair Trade Association).
They also believe in giving back to the community. This is the reason why they are supporting the building of a school in a slum of Nairobi. If you wish to know more about it click here.
Click here to go to Africulture’s website and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter!
Workshop on blockers to making EU food systems FASS (Fair, Accessible, Sustainable, Short) Under the FASS-Food Project, the FTAO hosted an online workshop for deeper discussion on elements that are blocking farmers, retailers, and the many other participants in food systems within the EU, from making these systems fair, accessible and thereby sustainable. The FASS-Food project is led by Professor Tomaso Ferrando at the Institute for Development Policy at University of Antwerp, and WFTO-Europe and FTAO act as partners. Amongst the points raised were the dominance of profits-fixated business models of agri-food businesses, exploitative labour markets for agriculture in many places with overreliance on immigrants, often in precarious situations, as well as a culture or mindset that favours high-tech solutions and genetic modification amongst academia and policy-makers. Especially the latter means that impactful solutions based on changing the business model and governance structure of companies are generally ignored. Also innovative ways of buying, value-added processing and distributing that allow producers to implement sustainable practices and gain fair prices without causing high prices for consumers remain under-explored by policy-makers.
If you have any experiences or insights you wish to share on this topic, or wish to be kept up-to-date or involved in the project, please contact project management & fundraising assistant, Paola Plaku, at email@example.com.
Ecological transition of production practices & decent incomes for producers in West Africa: Support to FT certification schemes – partnering with FT Lebanon (Benoit and Marion) and led by WFTO Africa (Bernard). The major goal is to promote Fair Trade practices in West African nations (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Togo), allowing producer organizations (POs), particularly women, to take advantage of expanded market prospects. By the middle/end of Y1, we will have more people involved in this project, namely with EU market entry, increasing the awareness of West African items, and generating a flyer for potential purchasers. In this folder, you’ll discover key project-related papers.
The European Commission launched a consultation for updating the Art. 101(1) of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union which covers amongst others cooperation agreements between actual or potential competitors (horizontal co-operation agreements). WFTO-Europe submitted feedback, emphasizing the importance of social considerations as an inherent part of sustainability. In response to our feedback, the Commission invited us to take part in an online workshop on voluntary sustainability requirements and current competition law guidelines. The workshop’s goal was for participants to share their experiences with sustainability standards and to see if the current guidance for standardisation agreements in Chapter 7 of the Commission Guidelines on the Applicability of Competition Rules to Horizontal Cooperation Agreements fits sustainability standards or needs to be adjusted. We continued to push our advocacy points during the workshop, which we are following up on in support of the FTAO’s work.
In the next months, the European Commission will begin formulating a new “global textiles strategy,” and the World Fair Trade Organization Europe has joined 65 other civil society organizations to articulate a new vision for a fair and sustainable TGLF industry. We’ve supported an unofficial (or shadow’) strategy that suggests a set of legislative and non-legislative acts that the EU can take to improve and make TGLF value chains more fair and sustainable. We are now eager to support this bold strategy and start a global business model makeover for the textile sector.
WFTO-Europe’s Office has a new Communication and Advocacy Assistant, Francesca Genovesi! If you have any questions, you can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
31 October – 12 November in Glasgow : the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
12 November Meeting for European members : an online meeting to decide on the topics that will be addressed by WFTO Global EGM. The final Agenda will be shared in advance but below are the key initiatives to be discussed
- Update on Principle 10 – so that the WFTO Global Board’s final proposal can be communicated and discussed at the membership gathering;
- WFTO Global Strategic Plan 2022-2025 – at the next eGM meeting, the Global Board’s final proposal will be shared;
- Any other suggestions to be proposed – in case members want to propose suggestions, they should be presented to Global on 15th of November.