Amid Big Changes, Fairtrade International Reflects on the Fair Trade Movement
Fairtrade International—Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The recent changes to Fair Trade in the US have provided every organization, every producer, every person in the movement with the opportunity to step back and re-evaluate what Fair Trade is about. Fairtrade International (FLO) reflects on its practices and processes.
The Charter of Fair Trade Principles, which was adopted by FLO and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) in 2009, serves as a touch point for many in the Fair Trade movement. It lists five key ideals that any Fair Trade organization should strive for.
But the current debate in the Fair Trade world goes a step beyond the principles. The issue is not merely about whether a product will be opened up to plantations/estates or whether changes will be made to product labeling. The heart of the issue is how Fair Trade should operate.
The key question is whether all involved in a Fair Trade system will have a seat at the table when the standards are created and when major decisions are taken. We must strive toward a system that legitimately represents all views, from that of a small coffee cooperative in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes to a multi-national in Illinois.
Challenging? Yes. Frustrating? Occasionally. Exciting, empowering and ultimately the best way to make impact? Always.
Fairtrade International and its members are proud of the strong producer representation on the Board of Directors, in the Standards Committee, and in the Fairtrade General Assembly. FLO’s internationally-agreed Fairtrade Standards are written according to the ISEAL Codes of Good Practice for Standard Setting, which sets guidelines for stakeholder involvement and transparency.
Beyond price, premium or sales figures, Fairtrade at its best is about people first and foremost. About bringing people together.
In Vietnam, the 43 members of the Hop Tac Cooperative have made enormous strides three years after being Fairtrade certified. Thanks in part to a forum organized by Fairtrade International, the group sold more than 270 metric tonnes of green coffee 2011-2012, more than doubling their Fairtrade Premium.
But beyond investing in training and community development, the group is working with another small group of nearby coffee farmers to help them enter the Fairtrade system (read the whole profile here).
Everyone in the international Fairtrade system is working to ensure that the benefits secured for producers continues to grow. To that end FLO is excited by the input and support of many different stakeholders in the US as FLO gets ready to establish a new organization.
FLO is excited by the prospect of a truly global Fairtrade system with the international Fairtrade Mark on products in the US. And looks forward to continuing its engagement with members of the Fair Trade community as the work goes forward.
For more information and an update on the progress that has been made, please visit http://www.fairtrade.net/usa.