What is Fairtrade?
The Fairtrade Foundation, Oxfam and Traidcraft agree the following definition of fair trade
“Fair Trade is an alternative approach to conventional international trade. It is a trading partnership which aims at sustainable development for excluded and disadvantaged producers. It seeks to do this by providing better trading conditions, by awareness raising and by campaigning.”
The key principles of fair trade include the following areas (not in any order of priority):
- Fair wages as per the local context;
- Opportunities for advancement or improvement for employees;
- Safe, healthy working conditions in the local context;
- Equal opportunities for all involved, especially the disadvantaged groups (which may include women, or indigenous tribes, or the poor) ;
- Public accountability of how the organisations are run;
- Building long term relationships between all parties (producers, middlemen and end retailers);
- Promoting, educating and encouraging environmentally sustainable practices; and
- Providing financial and technical assistance to producers and/or workers.
By adopting sustainable prices, fair trade looks to meeting the above principles and addressing the imbalances of conventional trade which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. Fair trade addresses the imbalance through providing the producers with more control and supports them with improving their position.
History of Fairtrade
The fundamental concepts of supporting the value of the honest labour of producers have been around long before the establishment of the fair trade movement. Early attempts to assist the sales of good produced by marginalised producers were initiated by church and other religious groups and various non-governmental organisations with political leanings.
The modern fair trade movement kicked off within Europe post the 1960s, with the first fair trade organisation launched in the Netherlands in 1988. In 1990, several country based initiatives banded together to form the Fair trade Labelling Organisation- a certification umbrella mandated to apply and monitor fair trade standards, world wide.
If you are interested in learning more about fair trade, here are some useful links: