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

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.


Garment Worker Diaries: lives and wages of garment workers

                                                        garment diary 

A new research project by Fashion Revolution shows lives of garment workers dealing with minimum wages, working hours and chronic diseases.

The Garment Worker Diaries is a yearlong research project led by Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) in collaboration with Fashion Revolution. Interviewers will visit 540 garment workers each week for the next 12 months to learn the intimate details of their lives. They will find out what happens behind the garment factory gates and what life is like outside of work too.
The interviewers will ask the garment workers about what they earn and buy, how they spend their time each day, and whether they experience any harassment, injuries or suffer from pain while at the factory. Labour rights advocates say that workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and India often receive less than the minimum wage. Even if they do receive the minimum wage, the advocates say, it may not be enough for workers who need to pay housing costs and provide themselves and their families with food, health care, and other necessities.
The aim of such project is to collect data on the lives of garment workers in such countries. Fashion Revolution will use its findings to advocate for changes in consumer and corporate behaviour and policy changes that improve the living and working conditions of garment workers everywhere.

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.

Fair Trade movement and African farmers call for urgent action to put small-scale cotton farmers on the global agenda as EU is preparing its garment initiative

Cover cotton position paperOn 15 March 2016, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) launched a position paper (alongside with a press release) at the Cotton Forum taking place in Paris, in cooperation with the Association of African Cotton Producers. In this new document, the Fair Trade movement calls on the European Union, G7 and West African governments to step up their policies in support of fairer and more sustainable textile supply chains, and to not forget about small cotton farmers.

As a follow-up to the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment manufacturing centre on 24 April 2013, much public attention has been recently placed on compensation to victims and the improvement of the building safety, working conditions and wages at the garment stage of textile supply chains. Unfortunately, little public attention has gone to the cotton farmers that “grow” our clothes.


In West and Central Africa, the 10 million cotton farmers face an unfair trading system and serious imbalances of power in cotton supply chains, a key obstacle to their livelihoods. Although state control in West Africa has reduced and farmers participate more in the governance of the cotton sector, the power of small farmers remains weak. Bottlenecks and gatekeepers between local actors and the market constitute a key obstacle to ensure a living income for farmers and living wage for their workers. At the same time, West Africa farmers are also negatively impacted by unfair trading distorting subsidies in various cotton-producing countries (e.g. USA, EU, China) that result in abnormally-low prices paid to West African cotton farmers.  

EU garment initiativeThe FTAO’s position paper foresaw the European Union (EU) high-level conference on Responsible Management of the Supply chain in the Garment sector on 25 April 2016. The aim of this first EU garment initiative meeting was to listen to different actors and learn from other initiatives in member states (in Germany and the Netherlands). MEP Arne Lietz (S&D, DE) delivered one of the opening speeches in which he argued for the initiative covering the entire supply chain from producer to consumer mentioning the new Fairtrade Textile Standard as prove that this is possible. Additionally, he emphasized through the implementation of the new EU City for Fair and Ethical trade award (foreseen in the new EU Trade for all strategy), that the Commission should promote the exchange of good practices among local authorities to increase demand for textiles made with Fair Trade cotton. More transparency in the supply chain, as well as for binding due diligence rules on the clothes before they reach the EU-sector were further topics MEP Lietz spoke out for.

For the majority of speakers of the day a full coverage of the garment supply chain from producer to consumer was also self-evident. Commissioner Mimica and the college of Commissioners are now deciding on next steps to take.

Further steps in textile policies should be taken at G7 level, at the Summit of 26-27 May 2016 (Ise-Shima, Japan) which is expected to have sustainable supply chains (with a focus on textiles) on the agenda. The Summit should also report on progress in the implementation of the G7 “Action for Fair Production” agreed by the G7 Employment and Development Ministers on 13 October 2015.

If you would like to find out more about our work on textiles, get in touch with Peter Möhringer at


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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 | | 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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