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What's Fairtrade all about?

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Hi! I’m Ellie, a final year BSc Geography student, and one of the Community Reps at LUU.

May 8 marks World Fair Trade Day 2021 and this year, the World Fair Trade Organisation is focusing on how we can #BuildBackFairer following the Covid-19 pandemic.  So, what is Fairtrade all about? And, how does it fit in with sustainability?

It's easy to think only of coffee, tea, or perhaps chocolate when we think about Fairtrade, but it is about much more than that. Fairtrade aims to tackle the injustices of conventional trade and ensure that their farmers have decent working conditions and prices for the crops they grow.

Fairtrade encourages farmers to negotiate the best, fairest prices for their efforts and feel in control of selling their crops. Environmental protection is at the heart of Fairtrade’s work too, with a set of standards used to ensure environmentally-friendly farming and working practices.

The Fairtrade Minimum Price guarantees farmers a fair price for their crops, giving them financial security. They also receive the Fairtrade Premium, which is an additional payment that can be invested to improve quality of life in a way that they choose. In 2019, Fairtrade also introduced a Living Incomes Campaign, which ensures that farmers have decent living standards and can cover all their farming costs.

Fairtrade and climate change

Even though sustainability underpins so much of the work that Fairtrade does, we should not become blindsided by this. Climate change is increasingly putting new pressures on farmers, and with inaction, this could be detrimental to the work of Fairtrade.

These farmers contribute least to the climate crisis, yet they are the ones suffering its effects worst. Climate impacts include drought, flooding, heatwaves, shrinking harvests and crop disease, to name a few. The land available to grow crops is also at risk of decline; up to half of the land used to grow coffee may be unusable as early as 2050. Farmers won’t be able to adapt to and survive these challenges if they are living in poverty.

How can you get involved and help?

The events of the last year have highlighted the interconnectedness of the world, and Fairtrade is no exception to this. We need to start listening to what these farmers need and support them in being resilient to climate change and trade injustices.

Here are a few suggestions of things we can do to build back better:

  • The Fairtrade Foundation is part of the Climate Coalition, who have a declaration you can sign here. It highlights the need to help those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
  • Think about your shopping choices. Chocolate consumption in the UK is estimated at 11kg per person per year, which equates to 11 trees! Find out online where you can buy Fairtrade products, and look for the Fairtrade mark when shopping.
  • Get involved in local campaigns. Fairtrade Yorkshire has information and ideas on how to get involved on their website.
  • Find Fairtrade shops and cafes in your local area. See Fairtrade Leeds, or research what there is local to you.
  • Cook some recipes using Fairtrade products. Co-op has some good ones!

Making simple changes such as the above can help support the work of Fairtrade in helping farmers adapt to the challenges they are facing and ensure that its positive work can continue for the benefit of everyone.

Find out more about Fairtrade
Fairtrade International
Fairtrade FAQs
Fairtrade and Sustainability
Get involved in World Fair Trade Day 2021

Keep up to date on the latest news

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our work as a Fairtrade University is linked to all of the SDGs.
Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.