FAIRTRADE International
  • Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: FAIRTRADE International
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Sustainable livelihoods (2 hits),

Full Submission

Contribution to Rio + 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

About us

Fairtrade is a global movement with a people first approach to trade. We tackle poverty and injustice by offering producers a better deal and an opportunity to improve their lives and invest in their future. In 2010 around 1.2 million farmers and workers in over 60 countries benefited directly from Fairtrade sales.
Fairtrade also offers consumers a powerful way to reduce poverty through their every day shopping. The international FAIRTRADE Certification Mark is the most widely recognized ethical label globally. Products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark have met Fairtrade Standards, which are designed to address the imbalance of power in trading relationships, unstable markets and the injustices of conventional trade.

Fairtrade International (FLO) is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization working to secure a better deal for producers and is part of the wider Fair Trade movement1. Fairtrade International sets international Fairtrade Standards, organizes support for producers around the world, develops global Fairtrade strategy, and promotes trade justice internationally. For more information see www.fairtrade.net.


The resolution that endorsed the Earth summit 2012 re-affirms that ?changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption (?) are overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development?. It further reiterates that ?fundamental changes in the way societies produce and consume are indispensable for achieving global sustainable development and that all countries should promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, with the developed countries taking the lead and with all countries benefiting from the process (?)?.

The Brundtland report already spelt out the clear link that exists between sustainable consumption and sustainable development. Although this link was reinforced in Agenda 21, there has been no shift in our consumption patterns in the last few decades. Unsustainable production and consumption patterns have led to severe environmental and social degradation. Moreover, the current economic model allows grossly inequitable trading relations to continue and fails to eradicate hunger, deliver Sustainable livelihoods or development opportunities to people in developing countries. A ?race to the bottom? ensues, with the environmental and social effects all too apparent.

More and more consumers are bucking the global trend and, through their daily purchases, are supporting schemes like Fairtrade that give farmers and workers better terms of trade, enabling them to improve their production practices, have more stable incomes and invest in their communities. Through Fairtrade, producers are able to access markets that recognize their efforts to improve their social and environmental practices, but that also recognize them as equal trading partners.
As the summit approaches, the proposals to move towards a green economy (in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication) are welcomed. It is concerning, however that although everyone agrees that sustainability is an economical, environmental and social issue, the focus still lays chiefly on environmental matters. The current argument is that human-wellbeing will increase at the same time as the move towards a green economy takes place. Reality shows however that this is not the case. Principle 5 from the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development states: ?eradicating poverty is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development?.

Fair Trade as best practice

The increasing popularity of Fair Trade in the last two decades shows people?s appetite to consume more sustainably from an economical, environmental and social point of view. It also demonstrates that a different economic model is possible. Rio + 20 presents a unique opportunity to change the trajectory of current consumption and production patterns.

On s ustainable production

At the end of the supply chain, producers feel the pressure to deliver goods and services at increasingly low prices. But sound environmental and social production practices can only be achieved when they are economically feasible.

We call on governments to

Promote the achievement of Sustainable livelihoods through the payment of fair prices and the empowerment of small scale men and women producers as a keystone to achieve a sustainable and humane food system.

Promote producers? access to trade under Fair Trade conditions and facilitate access to schemes such as Fairtrade, which empower producers to trade their way out of poverty.

Support the creation of an enabling environment that allows Fair Trade producers to comply with market expectations in a greener economy through appropriate funding mechanisms (i.e. funding for adaption to climate change).

On s ustainable consumption

In the context of a green economy, the sustainable consumption agenda focuses on the need to minimize the environmental impact without considering the possibility to maximize the social and economic impact of our purchases. The plight of disadvantaged producers in developing countries, particularly small scale men and women farmers, continues to be an important global issue as poverty and inequality abound. We call on governments to
Acknowledge that sustainable consumption needs to consider the minimization of the environmental impact of purchasing decisions as well as the maximization of the social and economic impact of our purchases.
Implement national sustainable procurement policies that include sourcing Fair Trade products. Fair Trade procurement guidelines pertaining to cotton uniforms, food, and beverage products need to be included in the traditional government procurement policies, and complement green procurement at the national and sub-national scale.
Promote mutual supportiveness between trade and sustainable development, providing positive incentives for Fair Trade products or products that comply with certain environmental, social and human rights standards, in particular by ensuring fair revenues for producers and living wages for agricultural workers.
On the role of the private sector in sustainable development There is an increased expectation and support to the private sector as an actor to deliver sustainability outcomes.
We call on governments to continue supporting
The private sector?s role in development under the premises that it contributes to the human development of the people living in the areas where these interventions take place. In particular, we call on governments to prioritize the involvement of women and men smallholder farmers and other small scale private actors in such partnerships.

Credible, transparent, multi stakeholder governed and owned certification systems like Fairtrade Trade can deliver sustainable outcomes, but only if an international, enabling policy environment is put in place to foster partnerships between all actors. This includes not only national governments but also local authorities, consumers and the private sector in global supply chains. We call on governments to send their Heads of State or Government to Rio + 20, and commit themselves to the above mentioned ?Calls on Action?.

Gelkha Buitrago, Policy Manager, Fairtrade International
g.buitrago@fairtrade.net; +49 (0)228 94923 ? 292
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