In 2019, we’re celebrating 25 years of the FAIRTRADE Mark.
The UK-wide network of Fairtrade communities has always been vital to the success of Fairtrade, and I hope this report goes to show how this happens.
Goals, criteria, Marks and petitions are all important. But this report reminds us of the astonishing power of collective action in our communities to make the invisible mass-exploitation of farmers and workers visible. Together, we can show our friends and neighbours how they can be part of the solution.
Reading this, I hope you’ll see just how critical every single local coffee morning, school presentation, stall or press release is in weaving Fair Trade values into our society to influence decision-makers to trade more fairly.
Congratulations on your contribution to this incredible movement for change. We all know there’s so much further to go to make trade fair. But with the energy and commitment of Fairtrade communities we will change the future of trade for farmers and workers.
Michael Gidney, Chief Executive, Fairtrade Foundation
A world where trade is fair requires action from different groups of people. This includes progressive businesses spearheading fair and sustainable practices and being vocal advocates in their industries. It also needs policymakers and political leadership in governments and institutions. And it needs informed consumers demanding change.
Campaigners in Fairtrade communities around the UK help create the perfect conditions to influence these groups and for trade justice to grow.
The snapshot above represents just two years of incredible Fairtrade communities activity. From representing Fairtrade farmers at thousands of local events to lobbying your local MPs on Fairtrade issues, your organising and campaigning comes together in one loud voice. That voice shares the reality of life for farmers and workers and is at the heart of growing Fairtrade's impact.
So much has changed since Fairtrade arrived in the UK 25 years ago. Businesses know they have a part to play in creating a more sustainable future. And customer demand has forced companies to take sustainability seriously.
Fairtrade communities and their local actions have raised awareness of unfair trade and realised incredible achievements nationally and internationally. Your actions have catalysed the growth in Fairtrade product sales and awareness. The tireless work of campaigners who have continued to galvanise public support for Fairtrade on a deeper level has influenced shopping habits across the UK. This represents an enormous campaign success for the Fairtrade movement.
Commitment to the FAIRTRADE Mark and the journey towards fair trade now spans a huge variety of businesses, including large multinational retailers and brands. This move to making mainstream business more aware of its social and environmental responsibility has changed the lives of Fairtrade producers around the world.
However, dedicated small business pioneers who have been on this journey even before the FAIRTRADE Mark existed were early adopters of new ways to trade. These brave businesses showed the larger ones that there was a different way and started including producer stories on product packaging to raise awareness of fair trade.
Today, hundreds of smaller businesses continue to fight for fair trade through their diverse business models from producer ownership, like Divine Chocolate and Liberation, to reinvesting their profits back into farming communities, like Cafédirect.
Many of you will work regularly with Traidcraft in your community. They have been importing goods directly from artisans and growers and distributing them directly to shoppers in the UK since 1979, making 2019 their 40th birthday!
These special businesses are community campaigners at their heart and go that extra bit further to make sustainable trade a reality for farmers and workers in developing countries.
But for every success, there is a challenge, and a need to evolve tactics and messages in order to remain relevant and progress.
Many more labels have arrived in the market, offering different ways for companies to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Although, not all of these deliver as much impact as Fairtrade, and are often cheaper with less exacting standards.
Community campaigning has traditionally focused on increasing availability and awareness of Fairtrade products. A new challenge is to close the gap between awareness and action, so that consumers choose Fairtrade products every time. That's where we need you.
In response to new research, the success we've achieved together and the changing landscape, Fairtrade has had to find new ways of connecting farmers with businesses to increase their Fairtrade sales and benefits, and give consumers more ways to support Fairtrade farmers through their shopping. That includes the FAIRTRADE Sourced Ingredient (FSI) Mark on the right.
Our number one aim is to keep growing the sales of products with the FAIRTRADE Mark because this is what producers tell us will deliver the most impact for them. Our latest independent research shows us that as well as 93 percent of people knowing the Mark, 24 percent of people now actively choose Fairtrade when they are purchasing.
But we need to keep up this active demand to keep businesses committed. And keeping our global impact in mind at a local level is only possible because activists like you continue to share the voices of farmers and workers within your local communities.
Plus, with a multitude of sustainability claims, it’s increasingly important to focus on helping consumers understand what makes Fairtrade unique, and the best certification for farmers. We also need to question other claims that give consumers the impression of delivering something similar. Here are the three Ps:
Fairtrade is the only certification system with price at the heart – tackling the economic injustice of poverty prices paid to producers that too often don’t even cover production costs.
Paid to farmer organisations for them to decide how to invest.
Fairtrade puts farmers first. They decide how to use the Fairtrade Premium, and own 50 percent of the Fairtrade system.
With such resounding success and support from consumers, we have more scope than ever for community campaigners to take on different approaches to engage businesses, so why not focus on tactics that excite you and where you can have the most impact to keep the steady drumbeat for Fairtrade going into the next 25 years?
Fairtrade needs political support to embed Fair Trade in our society. When communities demand it of their elected representatives, local and national, they can help make Fair Trade values the norm through their ability to influence policies. If we can make the case loudly and clearly enough, in time they will evolve to include greater protections for marginalised farmers and workers.
We’ve seen all kinds of protections for consumers (such as food safety standards, labelling and competition law) and workers (parental leave, rights to holidays and minimum wages) turn from ideas to reality as laws catch up with the values our society makes clear it stands for.
The vote to leave the EU, and potential implications for trade policy, has brought the role of parliamentarians more sharply into focus. And we’ve seen greater numbers of Fairtrade communities engaging directly with their MPs as the need to influence policy and politics to embed Fair Trade values has grown.
Politicians are busy and often prioritise the concerns of constituents over national lobbying. They know who elects them and will make an effort to listen to and speak to local people. This means that when we have a national campaign or political ask, local groups are often more effective in communicating this and achieving change.
Politicians can also be a great way to draw a crowd to your events. MPs may also have strong working relationships with local businesses, which may make getting them to stock more Fairtrade products easier.
Meanwhile, local authorities can lead the way in putting Fairtrade on the community agenda at town, city or county level, opening doors and building networks, reaching local media, and through public procurement.
We’re so grateful to all local groups for your work with MPs, Councillors, MEPs, MSPs and Welsh AMs! So many politicians get in touch with us because of lobbying by their local Fairtrade Group, and increasing numbers are asking questions in parliament too.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fairtrade (APPG) is a testament to Fairtrade community action.
In 2016, dedicated campaigners from Holme Valley Fairtrade group wanted to see their local MPs go further for Fairtrade. Having built a positive and supportive relationship with the group, former MP Jason McCartney joined forces with current MP Holly Lynch and established an APPG for Fairtrade to grow support for Fairtrade issues in parliament.
The group is now well established and draws a remarkable attendance of around 80 parliamentarians at its regular Fairtrade Fortnight reception. Compared to similar events, this is a very high number and reflects the strength of local groups. There is a clear, strong connection between local campaigning and national action with local campaigning and relationships leading local MPs to table questions in parliament.
Depending on what happens, the implications of the UK leaving the EU for the most marginalised farmers and workers it trades with could be significant.
After the UK voted to leave the EU, passionate Fairtrade supporters came together to make their voices heard on the issue of market access for developing countries, to push for post-Brexit trade policies that work for all and to ensure democratic decision-making on new trade deals. Thousands joined the campaign, signing petitions, writing letters to politicians and raising the issues with MPs through emails, letters and meetings.
We didn’t do it alone. At various points, we joined forces with Traidcraft Exchange, Global Justice Now, Trade Justice Movement, War on Want, 38 Degrees, SumOfUs, Oxfam, Christian Aid and Traidcraft.
The UK government’s initial response to our campaign on market access was positive and we welcomed the announcement in June 2017 that existing developing country market access would be guaranteed post-Brexit, although at that point, a no-deal Brexit was not envisaged.
We have continued to advocate on a range of points, and have found that campaigning has opened up space for discussions with the government on these topics, pushing trade justice issues higher up the agenda.
In order to influence policy and commercial practice through Fairtrade campaigning, we must show that our communities want change, and bringing more people on board will help drive that forward.
But it’s not always easy maintaining the momentum of a Fairtrade campaign. There’s lots of issues closer to home that can take attention away from campaigning on behalf of those far away. The nature of voluntary action means that things can come in cycles. But there's a world of opportunity for campaigners to help fight for farmers and workers, and the planet.
There’s no silver bullet to keeping momentum up or recruiting new members, but our top things to think about are:
Build coalitions and partnerships locally - It’s a cliché for a reason, but we are stronger together! There’s a lot of common cause with all kinds of local organisations and Fairtrade groups, and working in partnership can spread the load when it comes to organising, develop new Fairtrade advocates within valuable networks and reach new audiences.
Make an action plan – celebrating your success and thinking about what you might do differently doesn’t have to be complicated and bureaucratic – we think it’s a really important way to ensure you are spending your time doing things that are having an impact, which you can celebrate.
Have fun and be social – there are lots of motivations for joining Fairtrade Groups. Primarily it’s to make the world a fairer place. But you are more likely to attract and keep members if it’s fun too, take time to get to know others in your community that Fairtrade can connect you to.
Evolve the message – if you don’t feel the message is getting through, how else could you get it across? Reminding people of the impact of unfair trade is important to keep action for Fairtrade urgent, balanced with positive stories of success.
Click the buttons below to see what some Fairtrade communities have been up to for inspiration!
Against the background of the Modern Slavery Act and rapid climate change, we’ve seen a boom in ideas, products and initiatives linked to the idea of sustainability in recent years. It’s a welcome shift in focus in both business and government attitudes – billions of pounds are poured into sustainability initiatives, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now provide a framework to target global efforts to end poverty, tackle inequality and care for the environment.
The Fair Trade movement has made a significant contribution to advancing public attitudes to get us here. However, it’s not without its risks, as the notion of sustainability is open to interpretation.
At Fairtrade we believe that without addressing poverty prices paid to farmers, and tackling the structural issues in supply chains that deny communities their human rights, no approach can really be sustainable.
Meanwhile, the challenges of a changing climate continue to grow. Millions of farmers around the world who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods are among the worst affected, from changing weather patterns, to increasing crop diseases. More and more, farmers are investing their Fairtrade Premium in projects that support them to tackle the threats of climate change.
Environmental protection is ingrained in Fairtrade. To sell Fairtrade products, farmers have to improve soil and water quality, manage pests, avoid using harmful chemicals, manage waste, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity.
In this new era, Fairtrade campaigners have an important role to play in amplifying the voices of farmers and workers in the global sustainability debate, to challenge and push claims of sustainability that don't put farmers and workers first.
2019 saw the launch of the Fairtrade Foundation’s new campaign for living incomes for cocoa farmers – many of whom continue to live below the poverty line. While the campaign focuses on cocoa farmers, especially in West Africa, it’s a good case study for how far Fairtrade has come in 25 years, and the new ways in which we need to work to tackle deep-rooted causes of poverty in farmer communities we rely on.
Thanks to Fairtrade, farmers have been protected when the volatile world cocoa price has dropped, and they’ve invested millions in their communities, farms and co-operatives thanks to the Fairtrade Premium. It’s had a huge impact, but it can’t tackle all of the problems in the cocoa sector.
So, while shoppers buying Fairtrade chocolate is a crucial first step for cocoa farmers and their families, deeper, systemic changes are needed throughout the supply chain, with the involvement of governments, manufacturers, traders and others to truly make the cocoa industry fair and sustainable.
On 7 August 2019, Côte d'Ivoire's Independence Day, Fairtrade campaigners joined Fairtrade Foundation staff at 10 Downing Street to hand in a petition with more than 50,000 signatures calling for Boris Johnson to make living incomes a priority for UK-funded aid projects and ask the new PM to back cocoa farmers fighting for a fairer deal.
Earlier, we mentioned that we see a clear, strong connection between local campaigning and national action. In this case, a local meeting with Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, led him to table parliamentary questions on living incomes in cocoa, and following engagement with his local Fairtrade Group, John Grogan, MP for Keighley, tabled an Early Day Motion on the She Deserves campaign.
We will continue to tell the stories of cocoa farmers in Fairtrade Fortnight 2020. Until then, here's a message to you from Awa Bamba, Director of CAYAT Co-operative in Côte d'Ivoire:
Over the last 25 years, Fairtrade campaigners up and down the UK have dedicated themselves to ensuring that the vision of a world in which all producers can fulfill their potential and decide on their future is in the fabric of their communities.
From building relationships with local politicians, to lobbying businesses and building local partnerships, you've achieved so much.
Now, we must look to the future together. Fairtrade certification is a vital safety net for farmers in an unfair trading system, but the system needs to change. For farmers and workers at the end of our supply chains to cover their basic human needs like food, water, housing, education and healthcare, they simply must earn more.
We know we can’t make trade fair on our own. Starting with cocoa, we have set out how governments, chocolate companies, traders, retailers and shoppers can help achieve living incomes for cocoa farmers but we still have a long way to go and farmers and workers need Fairtrade campaigners behind them, now more than ever.
Thanks to the power of the Fairtrade movement, public support and trust in Fairtrade have never been higher, but the challenge now is to sustain this support until we see the change that is still so desperately needed.
But before we go, here is a message just for you, from a tea field in Kenya...
Authors : Sarah Brazier, Adam Gardner, Sebastian Lander, Jenny Tither and Chrysi Dimaki
Editor: Sarah Brazier
Photography: Ryan Holloway
, Alex Rumford
, James Robinson
, Simon Rawles
, Marcus Lyons
, Peter Caton and Chris Terry
For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The numbers shown in this report represent the activities of 425 Fairtrade Communities over the last 2 years based on data collected from 111 representative groups through Fairtrade status renewals .