New report showcases inspiring examples around the world that confirm the key role of governments in promoting the uptake of Fair Trade
Fairtrade International and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office are pleased to jointly publish the results of a research project on Fair Trade public policies around the world. The report, authored by experts Veselina Vasileva and Didier Reynaud, provides an overview of current and past public policies on Fair Trade and related policy fields. The study presents six case studies: Brazil, Belgium, Ecuador, the European Union, France and Italy, and includes snapshots on Tanzania and Sri Lanka – two emerging cases from Africa and Asia that show potential for further development.
The study analyses how public policies on Fair Trade can enable access to markets for Fair Trade producers, support Fair Trade enterprises and enhance recognition of Fair Trade principles and networks by governments. The report classifies four types of public policies on Fair Trade and related policy fields. The screening of 23 country cases during the first phase of the research clearly showed that in most of the countries there are laws as well as frameworks, programmes and initiatives of governmental support (non-binding legislation) related to Fair Trade or at least to one of its principles. However, a direct reference to Fair Trade is given in only a few cases.
The study presents six case studies: Brazil, Belgium, Ecuador, the European Union, France and Italy, and includes snapshots on Tanzania and Sri Lanka – two emerging cases from Africa and Asia that show potential for further development. By presenting the variety of public policies that can enhance Fair Trade and sharing the diverse experiences in different countries the study aims to motivate and inspire Fair Trade movements worldwide to take action and advocate for public policies on Fair Trade in their own countries.
The Brazilian case portrays a multi-stakeholder process of establishing a unique Fair Trade certification system. The Ecuadorian case highlights how many opportunities for the uptake of Fair Trade can open up when Fair Trade is already addressed in the Constitution of a country and how a complex, inclusive multi-stakeholder elaboration process can lead to a comprehensive and multi-dimensional Fair Trade strategy. The Belgian case teaches us ways to establish a sectoral multi-stakeholder initiative on Fair Trade cocoa. The ‘Beyond the Chocolate Initiative’, for example, is based on the Belgian Charter for Sustainable Development and aims to fight child slavery, make a specific sector free of deforestation and guarantee at least a living income for all producers involved in the value chain; and show how beneficial it can be for the whole process when the Parliament of the country expresses the will to become a Fair Trade country. It also shows the impact of international cooperation using Fair Trade as a tool to empower partner countries.
The French case tells of the first country in the world where Fair Trade has been defined in law. It demonstrates that North-North and South- North Fair Trade can co-habit and offers a great variety of legislation on Fair Trade, such as the International Solidarity “Equite Program” and the expected recognition of Fair Trade labels. The Italian case tells of the first country in Europe that has managed to include Fair Trade criteria as a mandatory requirement in public procurement law for some food products like chocolate and banana. The EU case shows how important it is to achieve a certain policy (EC Communication on Fair Trade), even a voluntary one, in order to go further and upgrade the policy some years later (‘Trade for All’ strategy). The Sri Lanka example offers an inspiring example of a legislative process and a unique framework of cooperation on Fair Trade between the government of Sri Lanka and the international Fair Trade networks. The Tanzanian example – which is more so about advocacy activities – shows which enabling and success factors can influence a parliament´s decision in favour of Fair Trade coffee and a reduction in coffee taxes.
All the cases prove the importance of multi-stakeholder processes, government commitment and institutional support for the elaboration and implementation of public policies on Fair Trade. In most of the main case studies there are active Fair Trade networks and well-established structures that have played a crucial role in the elaboration of public policies on Fair Trade. Nevertheless, the analysis has shown that there is an urgent need for strengthening the Fair Trade movement’s structures and capacities – especially on advocacy activities – and for encouraging exchange of knowledge and experience among Fair Trade actors. Awareness-raising among governmental authorities on different political levels is also still needed in most of the cases.
The study concludes that there are many different public policy instruments to achieve support for Fair Trade, such as laws, non-binding resolutions, national action plans, strategies, initiatives, etc. The case studies give ideas and inspiration on the steps to take and the institutions and actors to approach to achieve more support for Fair Trade at policy level.
Several interesting cases emerged during the research that were not explored further given the limited scope of the study. These would be worth studying in the near future as they show that there a lot of potential to encourage Fair Trade actors to strengthen their advocacy activities and lobby for effective and progressive legislation on Fair Trade. Thus, a continuation of this research is strongly recommended.
This research project was possible thanks to the financial support of the European Union and the Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation (FPH). Translated versions in Spanish and French will be made available before mid 2022.