Press Releases 2019

The European Green Deal will not be sustainable if it is not fair

(Brussels, 12 December 2019) The Fair Trade movement welcomes the European Green Deal unveiled yesterday by the European Commission President – but calls for small farmers and workers in the Global South to be included as equal partners in a “just and inclusive” transition to more sustainable consumption and production.

“The drivers of inequality and climate change are intrinsically linked, as are the solutions,” said Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office. “As the Fair Trade movement has warned during the current UN talks in Madrid, climate change exacerbates the poverty and vulnerability of small scale farmers and workers. Fairer value chains, on the other hand, can help to achieve social, ecological and financial sustainability.”

Corbalán welcomed the Green Deal’s focus on textiles and electronics in future EU efforts to promote a circular economy, but said that it must take account of the impact of supply chains not only on the planet but also on people, as recommended in a study published two days ago by the European Centre for Development Policy Management.

“We also applaud the “Farm to Fork” strategy to improve the position of farmers in the value chains”, he said. “But it is regrettable that the Commission only acknowledges that ‘European farmers and fishermen are key to managing the transition’ – ignoring the important role of non-EU farmers who grow and supply food consumed in Europe. Paying fair prices to producers, wherever they are based, is a prerequisite for a sustainable and fair food supply.”

The Fair Trade movement sees in the proposal for the EU “Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument” to support private investment in the Global South an opportunity for prioritizing business models designed to achieve social and environmental objectives, such as Fair Trade enterprises and cooperatives, rather than businesses that value profit maximisation at the expense of people and planet.

Among other measures announced in the European Green Deal, the Fair Trade movement welcomes the commitment to promote, via regulatory and non-regulatory measures, imported products and value chains that do not involve deforestation and forest degradation, while urging the Commission to include fair prices and living incomes for farmers as key elements of these measures.

“Finally, we call upon the Commission to implement a coordinated strategy across EU policy areas to promote not only green, but sustainable public procurement – as laid down in the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Corbalán added.

 

ENDS

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) speaks out for Fair Trade and Trade Justice with the aim to improve the livelihoods of marginalised producers and workers in the South. The FTAO is a joint initiative of Fairtrade International, the World Fair Trade Organization-Global and the World Fair Trade Organization-Europe.

 

Contact:

Sergi Corbalán | corbalan@fairtrade-advocacy.org | Tel: +32 2 54 31 92 3

Fair Trade Advocacy Office

Village Partenaire – bureau 1 | 15 rue Fernand Bernierstraat | 1060 Brussels – Belgium

www.fairtrade-advocacy.org

No climate resilience without trade justice

The Fair Trade movement calls for the demands of producer organisations to be heard in the negotiations on the global climate crisis on the occasion of COP25.

(Brussels, 28.11.2019) In the run-up to the Climate Summit, the World Fair Trade movement urges Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to recognise Fair Trade policies and practices as a crucial component of climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Faced with droughts, floods, and unpredictable weather changes, more and more smallholder farmers are forced to leave their fields and migrate. Therefore, the Fair Trade movement calls for urgent, concrete and ambitious action to address these adverse effects of the climate crisis, which put at risk the most vulnerable populations, world food security and, by extension, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Fair Trade movement warns that current unsustainable business models, where the wellbeing of people and planet are often sacrificed in the pursuit of profits, remain a key driver to the accelerating climate crisis.
“The sad truth of the climate crisis is that it devastates the most marginalised communities, who are the people least responsible for the crisis. This is why in tackling climate change, we must also over-haul global trade and business models to put the interests of these people first,” says Erinch Sahan, Chief Executive at the World Fair Trade Organization.

Transparent supply chains, a more equal distribution of value among its actors and observing Human Rights Due Diligence are crucial factors for truly bolstering the climate resilience of smallholder farmers. Moreover, better remuneration, technical support and better access to finance is needed to allow them to make vital investments into climate mitigation and adaptation measures.

Fair Trade provides concrete tools and tested ways of ensuring these crucial components for smallholder farmers and marginalised producers, and thus it represents one obvious tool among many that must be employed to mitigate the climate crisis. Nevertheless, the sheer scale of the crisis means that we cannot rely on consumers alone to demand more sustainability and trade justice as a way to ensure climate resilience.

“Climate change has evolved into a climate crisis. We must now focus on supporting small-holder farmers in adapting their livelihoods to a crisis that was not of their making. Ensuring the sustainability of agriculture and fair trading terms requires real action from all of us – from small-holder farmers to government, businesses and consumers. We call on the leaders at COP25 to play their part and catalyse climate and trade action,” says Dario Abril Soto, CEO at Fairtrade International.

 

Contact
Mikkel Kofod Nørgård | Junior Project Officer at WFTO-Europe
projects@wfto-europe.org | Tel: +32 2 640 63 86

More Information
Fair Trade movement Joint Position Paper on COP25: EN; FR; ES; IT; DE; PL

Notes to Editor

  • The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is a global community of Fair Trade Enterprises. Founded in 1989, it has over 400 members across 70 countries, counting over 330 Fair Trade Enterprises and 70 organisations and networks that support them. Through peer reviews and independent audits WFTO ensures members are mission led businesses that put people and planet first. Read more: wfto.com
  • Fairtrade International represents an alternative approach to conventional trade based on a partnership between producers and traders, businesses and consumers. The international Fairtrade system – made up of Fairtrade International and its member organizations – represents the worlds largest and most recognized fair trade system. Read more: fairtrade.net
  • The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) speaks out on behalf of the Fair Trade movement for Fair Trade and Trade Justice with the aim to improve the livelihoods of marginalised producers and workers in the South. The FTAO is a joint initiative of Fairtrade International, and the World Fair Trade Organization (Europe and Global). Read more: fairtrade-advocacy.org

Signatories to the COP25 position paper on behalf of the Fair Trade movement:
Commerce Équitable France
Coordinadora Estatal De Comercio Justo
Association Equo Garantito
Italian General Assembly of Fair Trade
EZA Fairer Handel
Fair Trade Advocacy Office
Fair World Project
Fairtrade International
Forum Fairer Handel
GEPA – The Fair Trade Company
Oxfam
Polish Fair Trade Association
Scottish Fair Trade Forum
Swiss Fair Trade
World Fair Trade Organization
World Fair Trade Organization – Europe

 

The link between the EU Competition Law and sustainability rises in the EU agenda

Yesterday a conference on ‘Sustainability and Competition Policy: Bridging Two Worlds to Enable a Fairer Economy’ brought high-level speakers together, including EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the Committee of the Regions (CoR), the Global Competition Law Centre (GCLC) of the College of Europe, University College London (UCL), and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) co-organised the full-day conference ‘Sustainability and Competition Policy: Bridging Two Worlds to Enable a Fairer Economy’ yesterday in Brussels. The event brought together high-level speakers of various fields, including EU officials, Civil Society Organisations, academics, lawyers, industry experts and competition authorities.


On her keynote speech, Commissioner Margrethe Vestager outlined the main discussion, highlighting that “Tackling climate change is an important part of living more sustainably. But it’s only one part of building a more sustainable way of life. And this conference reminds us that businesses have a vital role in helping to create markets that are sustainable in many different ways, and competition policy should support them in doing that.”

The debate revolved around the key question of whether EU competition policy can give weight to sustainability values, and avoid being seen as a barrier to private sector and civil society initiatives intended to deliver sustainability objectives. In this regard, Dario Soto, CEO of Fairtrade International, stressed that “what is right for the consumer is compatible with what is right for the farmers” and that “we should avoid falling into the false dichotomy between a well functioning market and social and environmental sustainability”.

After the opening speeches, there were several panel debates covering current controversies around the consumer welfare standard, the obstacles that industry faces when designing sustainability projects, and insights by several competition agencies. The debate also covered the need for an antitrust exemption for sustainability, or other means of accommodating such goals within the antitrust framework of analysis.

For more information contact Jorge Conesa, Project Coordinator at the FTAO, at conesa@fairtrade-advocacy.org. A full copy of the agenda of the conference is available here.

You can read more about the Fair Trade Advocacy Office’s work on competition law on our Competition Law page here.

Fair Trade European Parliament Breakfast Highlights Fair Trade Issues to MEPs

This morning (10th October 2019) a group of Members of European Parliament (MEPs), members of civil society organisations and Fair Trade producer organisations and networks gathered in the Members Salon in the European Parliament for the annual Fair Trade breakfast.

Full press release here.

European Parliament ‘Make ICT Fair’ Breakfast Raises Awareness of Human Rights Violations in ICT Supply Chains

On the morning of the 1st October, the Make ICT Fair consortium held a breakfast event at the European Parliament in Brussels attended by around thirty participants. The event was hosted by Austrian MEP Monika Vana of the Greens/EFA and Swedish MEP Abir Al-Sahlani of Renew Europe in the Members Salon of the Parliament.

The breakfast was organised to raise awareness of sustainability and human rights abuses in the supply chain of information communication technology (ICT) products, as well as facilitate the discussion on the role of MEPs in promoting EU policies on human rights, European development banks and public procurement.

(From left) Anna Shahnazaryan, Sergi Corbalan, MEP Monika Vana and MEP Abir Al-Sahlani

MEP Abir Al-Sahlani said: “Our societies have benefited greatly from globalisation. But it is important to raise awareness of human rights risks associated with the production of some of the most popular products that many of us enjoy – like smartphones. People should never be in danger when doing their jobs.”

The breakfast began with a video testimonial addressed to MEPs from Pak Kin Wan, a worker in the Labour Education and Service Network in Hong Kong, and a speech by Anna Shahnazaryan who works in the Armenian Environmental Front in Armenia and had experienced first-hand the violations to human rights.  Following this, speakers from SETEM, Bankwatch and Südwind gave talks on the priority EU areas of action: business and human rights, European development banks and public procurement.

“The situation of workers in ICT supply chains demands our immediate attention,” said MEP Monika Vana. “Human rights and labour rights are violated every day, alongside severely negative impacts on the environment in many countries. We as politicians have a responsibility and the possibility to act efficiently. It is us who can help to ensure that a legal framework is in place, that guides companies and financial institutions to carry out human rights due diligence before business or financial decisions are taken. We can also make sure that the European Parliament applies the same level of scrutiny towards its own ICT procurement.”

Make ICT Fair participant organisations presented the MEPs with a list of case studies conducted by members of the consortium, as well as a briefing document outlining the key actions MEPs can take to ensure the implementation of fair and sustainable EU policies on the priority areas.

Participants could upload photos and footage using the hashtag #MakeICTFair and #fairelectronics on social media.

For more information contact the Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Sergi Corbalán, at corbalan@fairtrade-advocacy.org.

 

Notes

Make ICT Fair is an EU-wide project that aims to improve the lives of workers and communities affected by the production of ICT devices such as smartphones and laptops. We target EU citizens, public procurers, development banks, decision-makers, and companies to improve their purchasing practices and to align policies. The partners: SETEM Catalunya, CATAPA, ICLEI, the University of Edinburgh, Le Monde Diplomatique, People & Planet, CEE Bankwatch, Swedwatch, Electronics Watch, Towards Sustainability Association, and Südwind.

Event highlights role of mission-led enterprises in promoting social and environmental justice

A joint event in Brussels by the Fair Trade Advocacy Office and World Fair Trade Organization Europe gathered diverse representatives from social and environmental movements on the 6th June. Fair Trade enterprises, NGOs and CSOs from the environmental, social and solidarity, and green economy movements, policy makers and trade unionists debated and dissected the current economic model, and discussed the interconnection between social and environmental justice during panel discussions and interactive group sessions.

read more

New report released on how to Scale Up Fair Trade in Europe.

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) yesterday launched its latest publication ‘From local to EU level: Scaling Up Fair Trade in Europe’ at the European Parliament. The report aims to showcase and promote Fair Trade initiatives led by Local Authorities and develop EU policy recommendations on how the next European Commission could further support such initiatives.

read more