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Biennial WFTO Conference in New Delhi

From 9 to 13 November 2017, the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) conference took place in New Delhi, India. With over 300 participants from 60 countries, who arrived to debate and network at the largest biennial Fair Trade gathering, the conference was attended by representatives from the Fair Trade supply chain, policy makers, and other professionals. Over 25 topics under the theme ‘Fair Trade - a path to sustainable development’ were discussed and presented, including the improved WFTO Guarantee System, which is not only a Fair Trade compliance tool but also a development tool for sustainable development. Conference participants were very satisfied with the outcomes of the conference and found it extremely useful to their work or business.

In his welcoming message, WFTO President Rudi Dalvai welcomed the participants and introduced the conference title ‘Fair Trade, a Path to Sustainable Development’. He said that the WFTO Conference has become one of the most important international Fair Trade meetings, where issues are debated and ideas exchanged and that the title was chosen to reflect the current aims of Fair Trade, which are congruent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the conference, several keynote presentations took place. Among them, Devinder Sharma, distinguished food and trade policy analyst, gave an inspirational keynote speech calling Fair Trade organisations to work towards mainstreaming Fair Trade. Tomasz Kozlowski, current Ambassador of the European Union to India, delivered an informative speech about Fair Trade and EU policies and initiatives in the framework of the SDGs. Vandana Shiva Scientist, philosopher, feminist, author, environmentalist, and activist for peace, sustainability, and social justice, criticized free trade and global cartels, and Nicolette Naumann, Vice-President of the trade fairs Ambiente and Tendence at Messe Frankfurt, focused on “how the changing market environment affects trade fairs and how Fair Trade can be part of the response”. Finally, Geoff White, CEO of Trade Aid Importers Ltd, highlighted how dynamic marketing strategies are needed to be able to make Fair Trade a successful business model.

The following days of the Conference were filled with multiple, multifaceted, interactive and extremely informative workshops. Under the banner of “Fair Trade change makers”, the workshops centred on subjects like market strategy and fashion industry, tourism as a new instrument to promote Fair Trade, Fair Payment, the WFTO Updated Guarantee System, sustainable development through Fair Trade approaches and entrepreneurships. Finally, a workshop under the title of “Fair Trade textiles: practices and public policy demands” took place, by Sophie Tack (Oxfam-Magasins du monde) and Sergi Corbalan (Fair Trade Advocacy Office) in the framework of the 2017-18 campaign on textile supply chains and of the EU funded project “Trade Fair, Live Fair.” The workshop started with an introduction on the situation and the challenges in the textile supply chains, as well as the problems and main findings from an ongoing project of Oxfam-Magasins du monde.

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