Fair Trade movement at World Social Forum 2016


The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) was part of a Fair Trade delegation that attended the World Social Forum 2016 taking place in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 9 - 13 August.

DAY 1: Opening of the World Social Forum 2016!

The Fair Trade movement delegation made it to Montreal on Tuesday 9 August! Day 1 of the World Social Forum started with a march across Montreal in the evening and an opening concert at the beautiful Places des Arts, where the major museums and university campuses are. [Read more …]

DAY 2: Learning about Fair Trade values and discussing hot topics

Day 2 of the World Social Forum started with an interesting workshop hosted by the Fair Trade Federation (USA) on the origins and values of Fair Trade. Interestingly, we learned that there are three different “historical dates” used when referring when Fair Trade was born. Firstly USA Fair Trade pioneer organisation back in 1946; then Fair Trade started in the Netherlands in 1959; finally the Fairtrade system, often credited to two Dutch men who set up the Max Havelaar label.
The hottest part of the day took place after lunch, when a large room of World Social Forum participants gathered to discuss tricky questions around Fair Trade. First hot topic was around whether Fair Trade is (or should be) a market-driven instrument of a social movement. The second debated question was around the role of government. Last but not least, the impact of Fair Trade was discussed. [Read more…]

DAY 3: Let's join forces for Fair Trade future!

The Fair Trade highlight of the day was Fair Trade 2.0 workshop which took place at the Université de Québec à Montréal. All agreed that the revision of the Charter of Fair Trade principles, seems a great and timely opportunity to identify common values and put forward a political vision on the change that the Fair Trade movement, while recognising that different strategies are complementary. [Read more…]

DAY 4: Beyond Fair Trade certification, convergence assembly, and other workshops

An interesting discussion took place on “beyond certification: examples of Fair Trade of and for the People”, where various panellists concluded that, while third-party certification is a “necessary evil” for certain supply chains, it is by no means the only way to guarantee compliance with Fair Trade principles. The day concluded with a “Convergence Assembly” on Fair Trade, that is, a moment to look back on the various workshops around Fair Trade during the World Social Forum, as well as moment to look forward and identify what next steps the Fair Trade movement could take. Two actions came out of this process. The first is the revision of the Fair Trade Charter, for which WFTO is asking for feedback on an “skeleton” of the new Charter by mid-September 2016. The second is the setting up of a Forum on Fair Trade, to bring together all various global Fair Trade actors, on a regular basis. [Read more…]

Bringing Fair Trade to the heart of free trade at the WTO Public Forum

wto 2

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) attended the WTO Public Forum 2016 from 27-29 September in Geneva, Switzerland, where it co-organised with the International Trade Union Conference (ITUC) a panel on increasing the bargaining power of small producers and workers in supply chains (audio record available) where also the limitations and adverse effects of current EU competition law regarding the raising of sustainability in supply chains were discussed. This issue is very timely and is laid out in more detail in FTAO’s exploratory study into the case of sustainability exemptions to competition law in the Netherlands and the challenges EU competition law poses.

Featured panellists were:
• Olivier de Schutter, Professor at the University of Louvain (Belgium) and at SciencesPo (Paris) and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
• Elske van Efferink, Senior policy advisor CSR, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
• Peter Rossman, International Officer, International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)

For a report of the entire Public Forum and FTAO’s take away what free trade means compared to Fair Trade have a look at this Storify. It includes comments on Cecilia Malmstrom stressing that EU's trade should be driven by values, ITC director Arancha González demanding #goodtrade, new UK Secretary of State sharing his version of free trade, and interventions by Fairtrade Africa's Dr. Nyagoy Nyong'o.

New study: “Foul play – how sponsors bench textile workers”

Foul Play study

Just before the Euro 2016 a report written by BASIC for the French Clean Clothes Campaign, Le Collectif Ethique sur l’Etiquette, unraveled the economic model of major sport brands’ and analyses their social impacts on the working conditions in their supply chains.

In recent years, a relentless and heightened competition has been raging between Nike, Adidas, and Puma. All three are engaged in a race for the domination of the global sportswear market. To increase their sales’ volumes, the key is sponsoring. Every year, contracts reach new peaks: the annual contracts signed with the ten major European football clubs increased from 262 million euros in 2013 to over 400 million in 2015.

To keep up with such escalation while continuing to innovate, Nike, Adidas, and Puma are building new supply models aiming at continuously optimizing the costs of production through lean management systems initially developed by the automobile industry. The objective is to reduce systematically and as much as possible the supply costs, especially the labour costs. Little by little, they shift their supplies to Vietnam and Indonesia, where salaries are still way under the living wage level, in order to mitigate the rise of salaries in China.

The study points out that 20 years after the sweatshops scandals, workers still are the adjustment variable of the sport brands’ economic model. The study also attests the inherent contradiction between the sport brands practices within their supply chains and their often publicized CSR commitments.

• Executive Summary – English Version
• Full Report “Fool Play: Sponsors Bench Textile Workers” – French Version
• Campaign’s website #FoolPlay

See article on Basic.


Conference on Business and Human Rights

       roadmap 2

On 11 May 2016, decision makers, politicians, business leaders, NGOs, trade unions, and researchers met in Amsterdam to discuss ways to advance the implementation of the Business and Human Rights agenda of the European Union.
The pan-European multi-stakeholder conference was jointly organised by European civil society and the Kingdom of the Netherlands during the Dutch presidency of the EU in spring 2016 to advance the implementation of the Business and Human Rights agenda of the European Union and its member states.
The participants discussed how the European Union can realize its potential to be an international game-changer when it comes to business and human rights. The hosts of the conference published joint conclusions on what steps should be taken next.

In short, EU and Member States should:

• remove legal, procedural, and institutional barriers that prevent victims of business-related human rights abuse from gaining access to judicial remedy in both transnational and domestic cases
• strengthen access to non-judicial remedy
• promote human rights due diligence by the private sector
• honour their human rights commitments including them in the context of public procurement

A Brewing Storm: The climate change risks to coffee

climate change 2   

In August the Climate Institute released ‘A Brewing Storm: The climate change risks to coffee’ – a report commissioned by Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand to investigate the impact climate change is having on coffee production around the world.

Some of their results:

• There is strong evidence that rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns are already affecting coffee yields, quality, pests, and diseases—badly affecting economic security in some coffee regions.
• Without strong action to reduce emissions, climate change is projected to cut the global area suitable for coffee production by as much as 50 per cent by 2050.
• In the next few decades, coffee production will undergo dramatic shifts—broadly, away from the equator and further up mountains. Production will probably come into conflict with other land uses, including forests.
• Most of the world’s 25 million coffee farmers are smallholders. Alone, they have little capacity to adapt to a hotter world in which climate and market volatility conspire against them.
• Over 120 million people in more than 70 countries rely on the coffee value chain for their livelihoods.
• Many countries where coffee exports form a main plank of the economy are also amongst the most vulnerable to climate risk.


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      The first EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award is officially launched!


      08 December 2017 (Brussels)Yesterday, the European Commission officially launched the first EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award. The Fair Trade movement warmly encourage local authorities to give the necessary visibility to their key contributors to make trade Fair by joining the competition.

      The long-awaited EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award has been officially launched yesterday. This was a commitment that the Commission took in October 2014, when the current EU Trade strategy was launched.

      The purpose of the award is to:

      • Recognize and celebrate cities’ achievements and positive impact in the areas of social, economic and environmental sustainability in international trade. 
      • Emphasize Fair and ethical trade schemes, as well as other non-governmental sustainability schemes, which may bring more sustainable opportunities to small producers in third countries and thus support sustainable and inclusive development.

      The call for applications is now open and EU local authorities can apply until April 2018. The winner is expected to be announced in Brussels in June 2018.

      “The launch of this award has been strongly requested by the Fair Trade movement and the more than 2000 Fair Trade Towns. Therefore, we welcome this initiative which gives the necessary visibility to the contribution of local authorities in promoting sustainable consumption and production models.”

      Sergi Corbalán, FTAO Executive Director

      The Fair Trade movement looks forward to supporting the European Commission and the International Trade Centre, appointed to set-up the award, to make this initiative a real success! The Fair Trade movement will mobilise its network to ensure a high participation of EU local authorities in the award. It will also seize the opportunity to raise awareness on the role of local policy makers in promoting sustainable development through trade.

      You can learn more about the award and how to apply here

      You can read FTAO’s toolkit on localising the SDGs through Fair Trade here

      A pdf version of this press release can be found here.


      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.


      Peter Möhringer | moehringer@fairtrade-advocacy.org | Tel: +32 (0)2 54 31 92 3

      Fair Trade Advocacy Office

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



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