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Building bridges to Europe: Fair Trade Towns in Latin America

(by Marco Coscione, Coordinadora Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Pequeños Productores de Comercio Justo [CLAC])

03.FTT LAThe English town of Garstang declared itself in 2000 as the first “Fair Trade Town” in the world; since then the movement has rapidly grown, totaling to 1431 cities at the beginning of 2014. The five criteria to become a “Fair Trade Town” state that the main goal is to advocate both public institutions and civil society for support for Fair Trade. Cities could represent the ideal interaction between citizens and authorities. In them citizens, as responsible consumers, can develop active advocacy work and reach consistent results. From Latin America and the Caribbean we are following this development as well as the potential of new collaborations at the local level with great interest.

Latin America is home to two important Fair Trade Towns: Pérez Zeledón in Costa Rica and Alfenas in Brazil. They represent remarkable efforts of bringing also to our continent the ideas of ​​the movement. However both consumers’ awareness and the interest of our cities for these issues are still in the beginning. We have yet to achieve the necessary momentum to build relationships of concrete support for Fair Trade.

Given the importance that the Fair Trade Towns are getting within Europe, we consider it very important for the European Union to support this movement, in order to continue close relationships between Fair Trade organizations and local authorities. This would also allow us on an international level to aim for more direct cooperation between the existing Fair Trade Towns in the North and our towns and villages in the South. 

  • developing twinning programs between the Northern Fair Trade Towns and Latin American and Caribbean towns and villages whose population directly depends on Fair Trade relations
  • establishing exchanges with European cities involved and committed to Fair Trade, in order to learn how to better advocate the decision-making processes of public institutions in the cities of Latin America and the Caribbean 
  • building direct relations between Southern producer organizations and Northern Fair Trade Towns.

This would all help to increase the presence of Fair Trade Towns in our territory.

To this extent we believe that the European Union´s international cooperation policies, as well as the ones directed at European regions and cities, should work to strengthen the Fair Trade Towns movement and help to create new direct links with communities and people of the South.         

For more information contact:

Marco Coscione

Fundraising and Advocacy Coordinator

Coordinadora Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Pequeños Productores de Comercio Justo

marco.c@claconline.com

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