25 November, 2019


by Fairtrade International

For the past two years we have explored the connection between Fairtrade and each of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Today we conclude the series of blog posts by looking at Goal 16 which aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

Corruption, injustice and abuse are still commonplace in large parts of the world today. Fairtrade enables small-scale farmers to build strong organizations and businesses, enabling them to fight injustices both in supply chains and in their communities.

Many of the problems faced by farmers and workers are deeply ingrained after generations of marginalisation and exploitation. Smallholder farmers often feel isolated and powerless to change their situation. They can be treated unfairly by the middlemen who buy their crops. Workers often don’t have formal contracts and can be unaware of their rights; many trade unions are short on resources and capacity.

Small-scale farmers often face ruthless pressure to cut costs to meet buyers’ demands. This, combined with national institutions unable or unwilling to put effective policies in place, means that human rights abuses such as human trafficking, forced and child labour remain all too commonplace.

Fairtrade combines rights-based standards with building democracy from the ground up, enabling farmers and workers to tackle human rights abuses themselves. Fairtrade’s unique governance, with 50 percent producer ownership and representation at all levels, puts farmers and workers in the driving seat.

From deciding on how to use their Fairtrade Premium, right up to determining changes to the Fairtrade Standards and the direction and priorities of Fairtrade’s global strategy, producers have a strong voice and are empowered to demand accountability of their organizations.

Our Standards include requirements to ensure Fairtrade producer organizations are inclusive, democratic, transparent and able to contribute to their wider communities’ sustainable development. Fraud and rogue trading is prohibited.

Fairtrade assists producer organizations to understand more about market conditions and trends, so they can develop the knowledge and skills needed to exert more influence on public policy and private sector actors.

Our work also includes:

  • Training and support for local, national and regional small producer networks, and for local trade unions to improve their capacity to negotiate and bargain
  • Raising the voices of small-scale farmers and workers in key debates
  • Expert support to producers, the private sector and governments on addressing human rights abuses in supply chains
  • Enabling producer organizations to tackle the root causes of child labour
  • Supporting producer organizations and networks to understand and advocate for fairer trade and more effective agricultural policies
  • Consumer pressure for change, in importing and exporting countries
  • Promoting voluntary best practices for businesses via the Fairtrade Trader Standard

Unfair terms of trade and exploitation of our fellow human beings is simply not ok. When you buy Fairtrade products you are enabling a fairer deal for small-scale farmers and workers, and empowering them to speak out against injustice and inequality in their societies.

Adapted from an article originally published at fairtrade.net