2013 Rio Global Fair Trade Week: WFTO Conference Brief Report

(By Michael Sarcauga, World Fair Trade Organization)

WFTO Members Group photo

The last week of May saw a great leap forward for Fair Trade and small producers. It was also a momentous week for Rio being the first Global Fair Trade Capital, and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) for introducing a new guarantee system that champions the interests of small producers.

The WFTO led a historic event in organizing the first ever Global Fair Trade Week celebration in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Together with the Brazilian authorities and non-government organizations, the weeklong Fair Trade celebration was regarded a great success by many. See the full list of organizers here.

Various events that highlighted significant progress of Fair Trade and solidarity economy took place in Rio: International Fair Trade Fair at Copacabana beach, Fair Trade fashion show, ethical culinary arts week featuring Brazilian cuisine, seminar on the Brazilian National Fair Trade System, presentation of Professor Paul Singer, and the WFTO biennial conference. It was a week packed with Fair Trade activities!

WFTO President Rudi Dalvai with Prof Paul SingerPanelists during the plenary session on Fair Trade certiifcations

The 12th WFTO biennial conference[i], as one of the main events, was attended by more than 150 representatives of Fair Trade organizations, solidarity economy groups, the academe and other non-profit groups from 42 countries. A full house of more than 450 participants attended the last day of the conference (28 May) when monitoring and various Fair Trade certifications systems were discussed. See conference program and report here.

WFTO was the first organization to bring together various players of Fair Trade. Conference participants learned firsthand information about various guarantee systems from IMO, WFTO, FLO Cert, Ecocert, FUNDEPPO and the Brazilian National Fair Trade System. The potential synergies of these systems were also tackled with participants throwing their questions to the panelists. The limited time was just not enough to accommodate all the questions from the participants.

It was historic for WFTO when members said ‘Yes’ to important resolutions during the Annual General Meeting of members of WFTO:

  • Yes to the WFTO Guarantee System and launch of the WFTO Product Label;
  • Yes to a Global Fair Trade retailer standard with 60% or more for Fair Trade products;
  • Yes to a dynamic collaboration with the International Fair Trade Towns Movement;
  • Yes to strengthening our work on Gender;
  • Yes to strengthening our work on fair prices and fair wages;
  • Yes to creation of synergies with other Fair Trade certification bodies.

Members said yes during the AGM
The conference report is available on the WFTO website. Get a glimpse of what transpired at the conference through the report. Videos, photos, and presentations are also available. Visit the conference report page here.

You can also watch a short video from the conference:


[i]The 12th Biennial Conference of the WFTO was held from 26 to 28 May 2013 during the Global Fair Trade Week celebration, which ran from 26 to 31 May 2013. The WFTO holds biennial conference in odd years, i.e. 2013, 2015, etc. The next biennial conference will be in Milan, Italy in May 2015.