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Fair Trade in times of crisis

From Andrzej Żwawa │ Fairtrade Polska

Undoubtedly, the current crisis will have a huge negative impact on the world’s economy. Vulnerable farmers and workers from the Global South will certainly be among those most affected by the glooming recession. We are in touch with companies, offering our support in responsible marketing of their Fairtrade products. At the same time, we are using social media and other communication channels to convince consumers that making responsible shopping decisions has now become even more important.
Fairtrade International together with National Fairtrade Organizations, Fairtrade Marketing Organizations and Producer Networks are monitoring the situation and to find every possible way to support Fairtrade producers and businesses in getting through the crisis. One of the immediate measures applied is a new guidance to Fairtrade Standards. As announced by the Standards Committee, producer organizations and Fairtrade-certified plantations have gained more flexibility in spending Fairtrade Premium. The money can now be distributed in cash to farmers and workers, providing them with extra income in this difficult time. Fairtrade Premium can also be spent on hygiene and protective measures, such as disposable gloves or face masks.

We also invite you to take a look at our materials published in English (please click the ‘Pobierz wersję cyfrową’ button to download the PDFs) :

  • Fairtrade Polska 2019 In Review; the report is an overview of activity of Fairtrade Polska in 2019. It includes the most important facts about Fairtrade, our organisation, and the growth of Fairtrade in Poland, as well as a summary of operations.
  • Fairtrade Polska Report for 2018.
  • What is Fairtrade; a leaflet in English explaining how Fairtrade works to support farmers and workers.
  • Fairtrade Empowerment (2017); a case study of cooperation of smallholder banana producers forming the ASOGUABO cooperative in Ecuador.
  • Fairtrade bananas on the Polish Market (2016; published by th Buy Responsibly Foundation); A summary of report about the bananas market in Poland and Europe and guidance on introducing Fairtrade-certified bananas to the Polish market.

Apart from that we have also recently published ‘What is Fairtrade’ leaflets in Russian and Ukrainian. Please click the ‘Pobierz wersję cyfrową’ button to download the PDF.

Apart from that we would also like to recommend you our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/fairtradepolska. Especially, please take a look at the videos regarding the current situation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2vHX2fda-g and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp-wAiias9w (here you can see most of our team at work 🙂)

WFTO new report – ‘business models that put people and planet first’

A major new report from World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), Traidcraft Exchange, University of York and Cambridge University challenges leaders gathering in Davos and beyond to foster business models that put people and planet first. The report unveils key features of such mission-led business models and provides a direct contrast with profit-primacy businesses. 

The report, titled ‘Creating the new economy: business models that put people and planet first’ challenges government, business and finance leaders to foster mission-primacy business models in order to kick-start the new economy. The report gives specifics to the idea of stakeholder capitalism, which is the focus of leaders gathering in Davos this week. A broad range of senior voices from academia and international organisations have already expressed support for the ideas in the report .

Roopa Mehta, the president of WFTO, says: “The new economy is already here. Fair Trade Enterprises are joining forces with the broader social enterprise movement and others to demonstrate that business can truly put people and planet first. We all need to embrace this revolution in business.”

To support this report, the authors called on several people from the Fair Trade or Social Solidarity Economy communities. Among the supporting quotes, Jason Nardi, Coordinator of RIPESS Europe, did not miss the call:

“The ‘business models that put people and planet first’ report is a remarkable demonstration of how ‘mission-led’ enterprises such as Fair Trade enterprises are much more successful than the profit-maximisation ones when it comes to creating a positive social impact, reducing poverty and increasing wellbeing, re-investing in social and environmental causes, increasing opportunities for farmers, workers, artisans and communities. Not only: gender equality is greater in Fair Trade enterprises and in general they have more diverse and representative governing boards. As social solidarity enterprises, they are usually more financially resilient. What does this all mean? It means that in today’s unsustainable globalised financial market economy, not only it is possible to survive with different business models that care for community and environment, but that on the long run, those enterprises – networking with each other and in cooperative and SSE circuits – will have much better chances to emerge and to be part of the change of economic system we urgently need.” – Jason Nardi, European Coordinator of RIPESS

WFTO Press release
22 January 2020, Geneva Switzerland
Resource : Fair Trade Polska Report for 2018

Introduction to the report by Andrzej Żwawa, CEO of the Foundation of the “Fair Trade Coalition” – Fairtrade Polska

The report is a summary of the operations of the Foundation of the “Fair Trade Coalition” – Fairtrade Polska in 2018. It was an interesting time for the development of the Fairtrade market in Poland. The store shelves were stocked up with many new Fairtrade products, such as ice cream, chocolate products and Christmas sweets. New brands of coffee and tea became available and there was an increase in sales of clothes made of Fairtrade certified cotton. This translated into an overall surge in sales of Fairtrade products on the Polish market of more than 50%. As shown by research carried out by WSB University in Wrocław, the recognition level of the Fairtrade mark among consumers in- creased from 28% in 2015 to 34% in 2018. This means that one in three people in Poland recognizes the Fairtrade mark on product packaging. Thus, there are plenty of reasons to be happy.

At the same time, farmers from the global South are facing many difficulties. Plant diseases, droughts, fires and other effects of climate change wreak havoc on crops. Buyers use their advantage to put a constant pressure on farmers, often making them sell their produce at prices below the production costs. In July 2018, prices of coffee at the New York ex- change dropped below 2 dollars per kilogram, reaching the lowest level in over a decade. Agricultural communities in Ghana and Ivory Coast are aging because young people see no prospects for themselves in the countryside and decide do migrate to the cities, falling out of the frying pan into the fire and ending up in rapidly growing slums.

Fair Trade and Solidarity Economy: shared values
November 22, 2018
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Integrante del Co

El Salto Diario, blogs, October 30, 2018 article by Coordinadora estatal del comercio justo

Recently, coinciding with the third anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, we as Fair Trade have presented our new Charter. It is a text in which we update and reaffirm our principles and values, and claim the relevance of this Solidarity Economy movement in the face of the scandalous increase in inequality and environmental degradation.

In the new Charter, which has been endorsed by more than 400 organizations around the world, the Fair Trade movement denounces the failure of the current neoliberal system, a model that increases inequalities and poverty. A model that generates situations as unjust as 1% of the population possessing as much wealth as the rest of the planet’s inhabitants, and facing the interested and misinterpreted use of the term Fair Trade that has recently been made by certain political leaders (see Trump…), the Fair Trade movement clearly reaffirms what our values, principles and practices are. With the new Charter, Fair Trade wants to define the direction in which it wants to move forward. And we know that in that direction we are going to meet with other movements, with other groups of people, with other demands with which we have much in common.

One of them is the Solidarity Economy. In fact, Fair Trade is one of the movements that integrates this vision of an economy that puts “people, the environment and sustainable development as a priority reference over other interests”, as can be read in the Solidarity Economy Charter.

Both movements also share the importance of giving back to the economy its true purpose, that is, “to provide in a sustainable way the material bases for the personal, social and environmental development of the human being”. In the same way Fair Trade in the face of speculation, practices such as futures markets, commercial transactions without products, financial strategies that seek only economic profit at the expense of those who produce them, defends trade as a real exchange of goods, even more, as an interaction between people based on respect, transparency and dialogue. In short, a trade and an economy for life, to guarantee a better life for all. To trade for a living, not lo live for trading.

The six principles on which Solidarity Economy is based are closely related to those of Fair Trade. Let’s see:

The first of the principles of Solidarity Economy is that of equity, defined as the “value that recognizes all people as subjects of equal dignity and protects their right not to be subdued. […] A more just society is one that takes into account the differences that exist between individuals and groups. This principle of the solidarity economy finds its concretion in Fair Trade in its first principle, which highlights the disadvantageous situation in which many producer organizations find themselves, and starts from the idea that it is necessary to take this situation into account in commercial relations in order not to generate situations of abuse of power or exploitation.

Solidarity Economy establishes work as a second value understood as “a key element in the quality of life of people, the community and economic relations between citizens, peoples and States”. In this sense, Solidarity Economy highlights the importance of the human, social, political, economic and cultural dimension of work that allows people’s capacities to be developed.

Fair Trade also includes work from this same philosophy, as an element that must guarantee a dignified life. Work that is also understood as a way of participating in society. This aspect is particularly important for women. Fair Trade encourages their work in organisations and their participation in decision-making. In many countries and communities where the majority of women live relegated to the domestic and family space, favoring their productive activity outside the home is not only a way to increase their income but above all it gives them a new role in society, improves their self-esteem and changes the vision of the rest of society on the role of women. This change in mentality is gradually transforming society.

“We consider – affirms the Charter of Solidarity Economy – that all our productive and economic activity is related to nature, therefore our alliance with it and the recognition of its rights is our starting point. For Fair Trade, environmental sustainability is also a key aspect. It could not be otherwise if we bear in mind that for those who cultivate the land, this is their fundamental liveliihood. In addition, farming and artisan communities living in rural areas are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This is why the development of production methods that are careful with nature and the establishment of measures to halt climate change is a fundamental aspect of Fair Trade.

The value of cooperation in the solidarity economy is defined as the importance of “collectively building a model of society based on harmonious local development, fair trade relations, equality, trust, co-responsibility, transparency, respect…”. Almost identical words can be found between the principles of Fair Trade to define how organizations should be and the relationships between producing and purchasing entities, which takes the form of practices such as long-term commercial relationships, avoiding unfair competition or the pre-financing of orders.

Another of the values of the model that defends the Solidarity Economy is that of not having lucrative ends, a bond with the essential purpose of this movement that is none other than the “integral, collective and individual development of people”. The means to achieve this would be “the efficient management of economically viable projects whose profits are reinvested and redistributed”. Purpose and means that are exactly the same in Fair Trade. Thus, for example, producer organizations reinvest the extra profits and the so-called “premium” in the organization itself or, alternatively, develop different educational, social, health or infrastructure projects in their community. The decision on the use of the benefits or premium is made in a democratic way, with the participation of workers. In this way, Fair Trade is also linked to the last of the principles of Solidarity Economy, number 6 “Commitment to the environment”, which is embedded in the “participation in the sustainable local and community development of the territory”.

We don’t want to go on much longer, but if we continue analysing the details of the Solidarity Economy and Fair Trade Charters we would find many more affinities. Affinities that constitute our main asset, our main strength to build the global society that we al need.

The International Fair Trade Charter
September 14, 2018
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Rising inequality, entrenched poverty and a deepening ecological crisis have mobilised the global community to seek new models of business and trade that drive fair and sustainable economies. Over many decades, the Fair Trade movement has developed and implemented a range of models that serve as an experiment in transforming the broader global economy.

The new International Fair Trade Charter enshrines the common vision and fundamental values of the Fair Trade movement to put us on the path to realising the Sustainable Development Goals.

With diverse actors playing actively in the global Fair Trade movement, the Charter serves as the single international reference point for Fair Trade.

Get a copy of the International Fair Trade Charter and support Fair Trade here . The Charter is available here.

[RIPESS International is supporting the new Charter]

 

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