8 May, 2019

SDGs 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth

by Ian Brown, Fairtrade Canada

Continuing our series of blog posts about the relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals and Fairtrade, this month we’re looking at Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, which directly ties in to Fairtrade’s mission and vision.

The image above shows Nohemy Varias, a member of the board of coffee and sugar cooperative ATAISI in El Salvador. Photo by Jose Luis Casuso / CLAC.

Goal 8 aims to “promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.” This goal resonates deeply with Fairtrade’s vision of “a world in which all producers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide on their future.” In fact, one could argue that this global goal represents the very seeds that grew the global fair trade movement.

It is very important for you to know that Fairtrade leads to better roads, better health and better lives for farmers not just in Nicaragua, but around the world.

Rosario Castellon

Former director of PRODECOOP

Many of Goal 8’s targets, such as gender equality, safe working conditions and the elimination of child labour, are fundamental aspects of the Fairtrade system. Fairtrade International’s report “SDGs and Fairtrade: The Case for Partnership” states :

“Agriculture is the mainstay of the global economy, with over a billion people working in the sector. Yet we must face the challenge that young people are abandoning agriculture to migrate to often informal and insecure work in urban centres or on larger farms. Agricultural workers often lack formal contracts, freedom of association, basic health and safety assurances, let alone adequate wages. Inclusive and sustainable economic growth can only be achieved if farmers have robust livelihoods and if all workers have their rights to secure and safe employment fulfilled and receive a living wage that enables them to survive and thrive.”

The Fairtrade Standards are based on core International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions, and through its Workers’ Rights Strategy and Hired Labour Standard, Fairtrade enables workers to organize and negotiate better pay and conditions through collective bargaining. Importantly, we actively promote initiatives to bring about better conditions sector-wide, not just on Fairtrade farms or plantations. Fairtrade also works with hired labour employers and famers in small producer organizations to build their capacity to respond to and mitigate the risks of child and forced labour.

On May 1st, Fairtraders around the world marked International Workers’ Day. Fairtrade acknowledges that workers’ wages around the world are often way below what they and their families need to enjoy a decent life. That’s why - as co-founders of the Global Living Wage Coalition - we campaign for a wage which allows workers to enjoy a decent standard of living. Read more, including a case study from a flower farm in Tanzania, in this blog post.