Perhaps you have heard of Fair Trade coffee or cocoa or clothing? Another result of my Semester at Sea® voyage is that my consciousness has been raised regarding fair trade practices (in the micro-sense, not the macro-sense).
What is Fair Trade?
According to the Fair Trade World Project (FWP), the fair-trade movement "shares a vision of a world in which justice and sustainable development are at the heart of trade structures and practices, both at home and abroad, so that everyone through their work can maintain a decent and dignified livelihood." What that means for us living in the developed countries is that we have the opportunity to support people less fortunate than ourselves by paying a fair price for their goods. When we pay not just the lowest price we can get, but a bit more, we help people to get (and stay) out of poverty.
Detailed in the Fair Trade Charter
According to FWP, the standards are evaluated based on how well they meet their objectives which are grounded in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
¥ Focus on achieving inclusive economic growth
¥ Decent work & improved wages & incomes
¥ Empowering women
¥ Protecting the rights of children
¥ Nurturing biodiversity & the environment
¥ Influencing public policies
¥ Involving citizens in building a fair world.
A New International Guide
The FWP has just published a new multi-country road map to help people to know what fair trade means and which labels accurately reflect that definition. With this guide, readers also will discover which labels actually conform to the practices and which do not.
The Result of a Joint Partnership
Four international partners collaborated to create the guide: Commerce Équitable France, Fair World Project, FairNESS France and Forum Fairer Handel. Not surprisingly, the corporate-owned Big Brands received the lowest marks for living up to the claims they make.
A Changing Landscape has Motivated the Need
As more people have come to understand the value of a fair-trade label, more companies are using the labels with a growing confusion about what they actually mean. This project has been motivated by a context of significant changes within the fair trade sector. Other factors in the development of this guide are 1) Growing initiatives and emergent labels of domestic fair trade in the world and particularly in France, Belgium, and Lebanon and 2) Fast growth of fair trade sales in Europe and the need to understand and identify the credibility and distinctiveness of fair trade guarantees.
A New International Fair Trade Charter in September 2018
The main guidelines of the new charter are:
- Creating the conditions for fair trade
- Achieving inclusive economic growth
- Providing decent work and helping to improve wages and incomes
- Empowering women
- Protecting the rights of children and investing in the next generation
- Nurturing biodiversity and the environment
- Influencing public policies
- Involving citizens in building a fair world.
The new Charter stands for the common vision and fundamental values of the Fair Trade movement to put us on the path to realizing the SDGs. The fair trade organizations are committed to respecting this common reference document for the global fair trade movement.
Fair trade labels are a source of inspiration for new global regulations supporting economic justice and protection of the environment. They will grow in importance to consumers, as the consumers grow in their desire to help others less fortunate.
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