I have previously written about Colombian coffee and the Fairtrade brand. We learnt how ‘Fairtrade’ was a brand name for goods such as coffee, tea and cotton that meet certain criteria such as providing a minimum price for goods and financial opportunities for reinvestment or development of an organisation.
Well, today is the first day of the World Social Forum (WSF), an annual forum designed to stimulate discussion on constructive change. So I thought it was perfect time to touch on Fair Trade (notice the space). The World Social Forum is a gathering of socially conscious people and organisations from all around the globe. While looking for proposals for change, a wealth of topics are up for debate – including economic alternatives facing the capitalist crisis and citizenship without borders. Within the WSF in Montreal is a Fair Trade Village – designed to showcase companies and organisations which prioritise people and the planet before profit.
I’d just like to pause there and reflect on that statement – to prioritise people and the planet before profit. Isn’t that a lovely idea?
The principles behind Fair Trade are that small-scale can be powerful as a way to create economic change. Through following ten principles of Fair Trade, individuals will have a better quality of life, a fair wage is paid, children are not abused, the environment is respected and men and women are treated equally. The principle is that once organisations abide by these principles, the flow of wealth will be more fair, and small scale producers will have the opportunity to develop and grow their business if that is what they are interested in doing.
The World Fair Trade Organisation provides the framework for individual suppliers to be a part of a global network of fair trade. They oversee standards, relating to the 10 principles of fair trade, work for a fair and sustainable economy and advocate the benefits of Fair Trade. There are over a million small-scale produces and workers within nearly 3,000 grassroots organisations in 70 countries in the South who are a part of the WFTO.
The 10 Principles of Fair trade are :
I’ll stop there for the moment, but please take note of the WFTO logo and the distinction between “Fair Trade” and “Fairtrade”, the former being a set of principles and the latter being a brand name which includes a premium to be used for specific development related projects. Both are beneficial, of course, but it is worth knowing the distinction.
You can make a difference by buying Fair Trade.