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Fair Trade movement speaks out at the European Development Days for smallholder engagement in global supply chains

The European Development Days (EDDs) were the flagship event of the European Year for Development (EYD2015) and represent Europe’s leading forum on development and international cooperation. This year the event took place in Brussels on 3 and 4 June.

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) presented its own workshop ‘Empowering smallholder's participation in global supply chains’ on 3 June moderated by Judith Sargentini, Member of the European Parliament (MEP). It featured a panel consisting of Francesca Giubilo (World Fair Trade Organization-Europe), Caroline Hickson (Fairtrade International), Shivani Reddy (Fairtrade Foundation), Sergi Corbalán (FTAO), and Régis Meritan (Head of Sector Agricultural Growth, DG DEVCO).

The relevance of the topic is demonstrated by the fact that the European Union (EU) and several Member States are launching initiatives and platforms to work with stakeholders on sustainable supply chains and was debated at the G7 Summit on 7-8 June. In parallel, the European Commission and a number of EU Member States are implementing strategies to work closer with the private sector to achieve sustainable development objectives. But the core question is: how can we guarantee small producers a seat at the table?

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Francesca Giubilo presented the new World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) Guarantee system that aims to improve Fair Trade practices in the supply chain.

“The WFTO Guaranteed System is a revolutionary Fair Trade systemthat is credible, sustainable and affordable” concluded Francesca Giubilo (WFTO-Europe).

Afterwards Caroline Hickson introduced the Fairtrade International approach to empower smallholders which combines standards and certification, organisational development and incentives for development such as Premium and market access.

"We have been ‘aiding trade’ through a value chain approach right from the start – and have learned so many lessons about how to ensure business and trade is conducted in a way that is inclusive, and that is development friendly" said Caroline Hickson.

Shivani Reddy presented the study “A Seat at the Table: Ensuring smallholder farmers are heard in public-private partnerships” and its main findings on Public Private Partnerships (PPP), which indicate a lack of consultation of small producers and the failure to involve them. She also highlighted related case studies of Fairtrade Foundation in Ghana, Malawi and Kenya.

“If agricultural PPPs are here to stay, we need a 4th 'P' for Participation” said Shivani Reddy.

Sergi Corbalán invited the policy makers to encourage small producers to adhere to Fair Trade standards, to support inclusive people-centred business models, to enable an environment for inclusive people-centred businesses, to adapt trade and trade related policies and to support Fair Trade actors.

These and more ideas for a better support of small producers were shared on a handout with the participants after the session.

empowering shareholders 3Finally the European Commission (EC) represented by Régis Meritan praised Fair Trade for being one of the very first initiatives to promote sustainable production, sustainable agriculture and sustainable growth. The EC said it is active to promote the inclusion of small producers on one hand, but on the other hand the EC also needs to speak to governments to reach better results.

The session gave an overview of how the progress of Fair Trade will support the empowerment of small producers, enabling them to choose their own strategy. Pressure from consumers and civil society in support of this ambition is key, but the private sector also has to improve its transparency in supply chains.

Here you can find the photos of the workshop taken by the EDD photographer.

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