the big issues

Beyond certification, the Fairtrade system provides direct and indirect support to farmers and workers and their organizations to deepen social and environmental sustainability and help contribute to fighting some of humanities most pressing issues.

Fairtrade as a certification is much more than merely an environmental certification, it is the only and best ethical and social certification that really ensures social and environmental, ethical and economic impact, and therefore human impact.

Enrique Calderon
Coffee farmer, Coopeagri

Fairtrade’s three pillars of sustainability

Our Standards are a blend of social, economic, and environmental criteria that support the sustainable development of small producer organizations and agricultural workers around the world.


Producers are business people, too – through Fairtrade they can earn sustainable incomes and invest for the future.


Producers are equal parts decision-makers for Fairtrade, and by working together are empowered to make real change in their communities.


Our rigorous Standards protect natural resources, prohibit the use of GMOs, and support adaptation to a changing climate.

Explore the issues

Fairtrade’s holistic approach aims to address a number of important areas to make tangible improvements in the lives of farmers and their communities.


Nearly 10% of the world’s workers and their families live in poverty, with many below the extreme poverty level of $1.25 per day. Fairtrade supports farmers and workers in gaining more from trade and empowering them to take control of their own lives.

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Annual General Assembly

Workers’ Rights

A living wage, safer working conditions, and formal contracts are just some of the elements needed for just trade. Fairtrade works for workers on large farms by following conventions of the ILO for our requirements on income, health and safety, contracts, and social security.

Visited an Organic / Fairtrade farm: ASOBANARCOOP: Finca Feliciana, visit a school being constructed by funding from Premium: BANAFRUCOOP, visited a music/dance school funded by premium from COOMULBANANO

Child Labour

Around 98 million children still work on farms. Our youth-inclusive approach fights the root causes, and lets the children of Fairtrade farmers learn and play, as kids should.

Satemwa Tea Malawi, 2017

Forced Labour

Millions of adults and children work illegally on farms. Our approach seeks to fight the root causes of child and forced labour, while producer organizations are asked to implement specific procedures prohibiting modern slavery.

Yadira Orozco, a Colombian banana farmer at Asobanar Cooperative

Gender Equality

Women grow at least half the world’s food but face severe challenges. Fairtrade Standards are designed to prevent gender inequality, increase female participation and empower more women and girls to access the benefits of Fairtrade.

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Climate Change

For farmers and workers, climate change affects crop yields, soil quality, diseases and weather patterns. Whether it’s taking action to improve incomes or training farmers to be more resilient to climate change, Fairtrade works alongside farmers and workers to face a range of economic, environmental, and social challenges.

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Fairtrade and The Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an ambitious set of 17 global Goals, from gender equality to climate change, and education to clean drinking water, intended to combat poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030. 

The SDGs aim to end poverty “in all its forms, everywhere”, while leaving no one behind. This ambition is central to Fairtrade’s mission.

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

This Goal is central to Fairtrade’s mission. All of our work stems from this, as we seek to ensure that trade enables smallholder farmers and workers to earn a decent living and have a brighter future for themselves and their families.

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

Small-scale farmers provide a large percentage of the world’s population with food. That means creating robust livelihoods is crucial for achieving this Goal. Fairtrade enables more secure and stable incomes for small-scale farmers, and supports them to build strong, resilient businesses.

Goal 4: Quality Education

Goal 4: Quality Education

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Equitable access to training and informal education for adults and youth will increase future opportunities available to all. Some Fairtrade farmers and workers choose to spend a portion of their Fairtrade Premium funds on children’s education, while the three Fairtrade producer networks invest significantly in training and learning opportunities for producers.

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has identified that overcoming gender inequalities can reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 150 million. Fairtrade empowers women to overcome discrimination, participate equally in agriculture, and earn more income.

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

In line with the International Labour Organization and national legislation, Fairtrade promotes better working conditions, supports workers to negotiate for better pay, and is striving to achieve living incomes for all farmers and workers. Our Standards prohibit child and forced labour in all cases.

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Fairtrade Standards and resources like the Fairtrade Premium mean that farmers and workers are in control of investments in their businesses and communities. We are also aiming for supply chains to be fully traceable and transparent, so producers can make informed business decisions and deepen their relationships with their trade partners.

Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

Reduce inequality within and among countries

We call for trade policies and collective action that will unlock greater benefits from trade for all farmers and workers. Fairtrade prices and Premium are a safety net, and our living income and living wage strategies provide a pathway towards decent livelihoods for more people. Inclusion efforts and economic interventions will lead to greater gender equality, increased opportunities for young people, and reductions in discrimination.

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Producer organizations are pillars in their communities. They invest Fairtrade Premium funds to improve infrastructure and services and build resilience in the face of climate change.

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Sustainable production practices are at the core of what Fairtrade does. However, through our campaigns and advocacy work, we also bring together thousands of communities and millions of shoppers worldwide to campaign for more ethical trade.

Goal 13: Climate action

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Small-scale farmers are already bearing the brunt of a changing climate, even though they can have a low carbon footprint. Fairtrade works with producer organizations and climate experts to build farmers’ resilience to diseases, extreme weather, and other climate-driven impacts.

Goal 15: Life on Land

Goal 15: Life on Land

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Fairtrade Standards requirements and climate resilient practices will reduce pressure on protected areas and forests, and reduce loss of biodiversity.

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Power imbalances in supply chains that favour companies over small-scale farmers in the Global South can be a barrier to implementing the SDGs. Fairtrade works with multiple partners – producer organizations, businesses, trade unions, civil society, governments, and other multi-stakeholder bodies. Together we can support governments to build policies that enable fairer trade for all, and which deliver on the SDGs’ ambitious agenda.

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