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New Fair Trade Charter: How world trade can work for all

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

Coffee farmer harvesting coffee cherries
Coffee farmer Mak Azmi from the coffee cooperative Kopepi Ketiara harvesting coffee cherries. © Fairtrade Germany/Nathalie Bertrams

The global Fair Trade movement has published a new International Fair Trade Charter. The charter determines the fundamental values of Fair Trade and defines a common vision for the implementation of the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.

Source: Twitter

Never-before-seen extent of imbalance

The international community adopted these goals three years ago. But the Fair Tade organisations state that it is far from achieving them by 2030 as planned. The number of hungry people is growing. According to a recent United Nations report, one in nine people worldwide is currently undernourished. The World Inequality Report also shows that global inequality has risen sharply since 1980.

Redesigning the economy and trade

In its charter, the Fair Trade movement comes to a clear conclusion: "The trade models promoted by global institutions and large corporations have not fulfilled their promise to eradicate poverty and have caused an unprecedented level of imbalance." Under the motto "There is another way", this trade model is contrasted with and explained by Fair Trade. This clear positioning of Fair Trade as an alternative clearly distinguishes the new Charter from the movement's last policy paper of 2009, which was more limited to principles and definitions. "The new Charter illustrates how our vision and experience can contribute to reshaping business and trade around the world," said Erinch Sahan, Managing Director of the World Fair Trade Organization.

Libra of inequality
Graphic from the International Fair Trade Charter © Fairtrade International

Producers should earn a sustainable livelihood

A key feature of Fair Trade is that importers ensure conditions "that enable producers and workers to earn a sustainable livelihood that meets the daily needs for economic, social and environmental well-being, and over time enables conditions to improve".

These conditions include fair prices as well as investments in health or education. This sustainable livelihood goes far beyond the mere provision of a livelihood (enough to eat). The prices should not only secure a humane life, but also enable the protection of the environment. „The entire value chain should be structured in such a way that the actual costs of environmentally compatible economic activity are reflected in prices and trading conditions,“ is therefore stated in the Charter.

Fairtrade Circle
Graphic from the International Fair Trade Charter © Fairtrade International

Long-term trade partnerships and prospects for the future

The Charter stresses the importance of „long-term trade partnerships that allow both sides to cooperate and grow through information exchange and joint planning“. The report also highlights freedom of association and the right to joint wage negotiations, the prohibition of discrimination and forced labour, health and safety at work and the strengthening of women's and children's rights.

The Charter also addresses a problem that many rural communities have: The next generation does not want to work in agriculture or handicrafts. "Fair Trade organisations offer young people, particularly in agriculture, the prospect of a better future, close to their families and as part of their community, by providing them with training for their future careers," the paper says.

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Inextricably linked with Fair Trade is the political commitment to changing trade relations in importing countries and the provision of information to consumers. The Charter stresses the importance of a functioning control system in this context and a credible evaluation of the results: “In Fair Trade, all participants have the right to expect the highest possible degree of integrity, transparency and accountability from all Fair Trade actors.“

Fair trade - definition

According to the Charter: „Fair trade is a trade partnership based on dialogue, transparency and respect that strives for greater justice in international trade. Fair Trade contributes to sustainable development by improving trading conditions and securing social rights for disadvantaged producers and workers, especially in the countries of the South.

Fair Trade organisations (together with consumers) are committed to supporting producers, raising awareness and campaigning to change the rules and practices of conventional world trade.“

Fair trade – vision

According to the Charter: “The Fair Trade movement shares the vision of a world in which trade structures and practices are guided by justice, equality and sustainable development, so that all people can work to maintain a decent and dignified livelihood and realise their full potential".

Watch Fairtrade's video about the new International Fair Trade Charter:

Source: Youtube/World Fair Trade Organization








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