“Fair Trade is a way to make a difference, it gives an opportunity for workers to control their future.” Fair Trade Innovates
We need BIG solutions for international business and trade now. And the Fair Trade movement has a lot to offer the debate in the work that follows post climate and ecological emergency declarations by governments and businesses www.climate-emergency.com/business
This year’s theme of World Fair Trade Day, “Fair Trade innovates” is bang on the mark. That’s what the movement has done for the last three decades to find new models that put human rights and environmental protection central to what we do. In fact, for most of us, it is social justice and environmental justice that motivates us to use a business model, because that is all we have, in this dysfunctional capitalistic economy to deliver alternatives and prove that a different way is possible.
Innovation – comes from a place of passion, mutual trust and creativity
We innovate through creating strong, long term partnerships between producers and consumers. Today business calls this ‘responsible supply chains’; we innovate by designing products that maximise the work opportunities for the most economically marginalised people, impacting millions of farmers, artisans, workers in the developing world, often the people with the most knowledge on living sustainably and with respect to their natural environment, these are people with the lowest ecological footprint. Innovation in design starts with collaboration between buyer and supplier, to use business language, using locally plentifully available, bio-degradable and increasingly recycled materials to maximise social impact and minimising environmental impact. Certification to promote higher standards, and transparency and accountability has also been pioneered and led by the Fair Trade movement of which I have had the honour of leading some great initiatives with some courageous and visionary peers. Innovation has been practiced in the Fair Trade movement in the form of the first communications and storytelling as we linked the producer and customer through documentaries, video, magazine features, the launch of key campaigns and working in collaboration with local groups and unions. For me, it was always been about amplifying the producer voice and highlighting the barriers to fair trade and what needs to change to meet their basic human needs. Our current system needs to change as it is disgracefully stacked against the poor and voiceless people who are the majority world.
Today over 300 Fair Trade groups will celebrate World Fair Trade Day around the world with various events from fashion shows to talks. Today, I remember rallying the call to formalise a new day World Fair Trade Day, 20 years back, in Arusha, Tanzania. World Fair Trade Organisation members were quick to recognise its value and support me and the company I founded, People Tree Japan and Global Village enjoyed running the WFT Day office coordinating activities for 9 years.
Brazil Fair Trade
EU-Brazil Fair and Ethical Trade Forum
My recent visit to Brazil to learn more about the EU and WFTO Project shows the huge opportunity and need for innovation to support local artisans and farmers. As I meet with veteran craftsman like Luis, he tells me: when we started in art there wasn’t the technology that exists today everything is made by machine these days. Technology is beating the artisans”. Just at a time when we should be supporting their low impact industries we are crushing them in the race to the bottom. We need to find a way that measures the contribution of the craft and small scale organic agriculture in protecting our environment.
Brazil has the language of the solidarity economy with 1000 Fair Trade organisations only 50 are so far certified Fair Trade members. As Michele Villani, EU First Councellor of Trade says; Fair Trade is a vehicle and an opportunity to give a monetary value to intangible moral and ethical values’. However today we need businesses to partner with these Fair Trade organisations to help them scale and support larger numbers of producers, as part of a shift to paying people decent wages, working to eradicate modern slavery and making good on the commitment to zero carbon emissions. Declaring a climate and ecological emergency isn’t enough – the hard work and innovation starts here. Producers have perfected ways to grow and make products whilst protecting the environment and if these products are shipped by sea, this will deliver wide spread social impact whilst offering sustainable ways forward for business and international trade.
We also need to be mindful that Brazil’s reforestation project is under threat and that it is key to our future – we cannot afford for the lungs of the Earth to stop working.
A great Amazon reforestation project has been agreed in Brazil, the largest in history. Will it endure the victory of Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right politics in the presidential election?
“ research by the Brazilian Space Research Institute shows that 8,000 square kilometres were razed by loggers and farmers between August 2015 and July 2016. In order to save the vastest tropical rainforest in the world as well as ourselves, US-based NGO Conservation International announced a new project that involves planting 73 million trees in the next six years, the largest reforestation operation in history.”
Filmed and edited, Peter Lewis Beighton www.PicturePulses.com
Produced by, Safia Minney
Special thanks to Bio Fair Trade
Marcio Waked, Layla Lima and Manuela Correia