The Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers (CLAC), together with the local committees of the Fair Trade Cities and Towns – Latin America and the Caribbean initiative, presented Mentor Towns Global, a support program for cities and towns in the region that aspire to become Fair Trade Cities, which will now also include the participation of cities in other continents.
Based on this new collaborative work modality, a Latin American and Caribbean Fair Trade City and a city that is part of the Fair Trade Towns International (FTTI) campaign will support an aspiring city as mentors, sharing their experiences and learned lessons.
At the end of this process, the program aims to have a declaration of a new Fair Trade City, in addition, it is planned to facilitate new commercial alliances among the participants, the exchange of products, the implementation of international volunteer programs and the establishment of agreements between cities, which contribute to the generation of more markets and better living conditions for small producers in the region.
In this way, Mentor Cities constitutes a dialogue of cultures, which invites us to think about fairer, supportive and sustainable forms of trade, creating new spaces for Fairtrade products and small producers.
“Today we want to give a new space, a new program, in which we seek to connect Latin America with the rest of the world,” said Linda Vera, advocacy specialist for CLAC, during the virtual launch of the initiative.
How can we participate?
To be part of this voluntary mentoring and accompaniment program, you must contact the representatives of the Fair Trade Cities and Towns regional campaign in Latin America and the Caribbean. To do this, the applicant city must express its intention by means of a letter signed by the local authorities. Once your request is approved, information will be shared with the assigned Mentor Cities, a schedule will be programed and activities will be planned, and, finally, it will deliver the reports on the fulfillment of the established commitments. The process described above has a maximum duration of 6 months, and at the end of this the Regional Committee will evaluate the stipulated criteria and will grant the corresponding recognition.
To become a mentor, a Latin American and Caribbean Fair Trade City or a Fair Trade Towns International (FTTI) city must express its intention through a letter signed by its local authorities, and then attend the meetings regularly scheduled, and in this way, share their experience and knowledge through a work plan with the representatives of the aspiring city.
Previous successful experiences
In 2021, CLAC and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) launched the Mentor Cities regional initiative, through which the cities of Riobamba, in Ecuador, and Boa Esperança, in Brazil, mentored Guaranda and Portoviejo, in Ecuador, and Muqui and Poço Fundo, in Brazil, who obtained the designation of Tair Trade Cities.
“It was very important to be able to encourage other cities. This project is very important for a prosperous future. This strategy of Mentor Cities is an excellent strategy”, said Eliana Reis, Coordinator of the local Committee of Boa Esperança (mentor city), in Brazil.
For his part, Luis Heredia, from the Local Committee of Portoviejo (aspiring city) in Ecuador, stated: “In the case of Portoviejo, it has been a very gratifying process, in which we have had the involvement of each of the actors of the Local Committee. The Mentor Cities program was a program that came in handy. I think it is an excellent program, I think it not only helps, supports the cities that are with this intention, but also encourages other cities to be part of this process”.
Currently, there are 12 Fair Trade Cities and Towns in Latin America and the Caribbean, located in seven countries: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic. And this year, the International Fair Trade Town Conference will take place for the first time in Latin America, in Quito, Ecuador, from October 20th to 23rd.
If you have questions about the details of the Mentor Towns Global program, you should direct them to Linda Vera and Olga Parra at the emails: [email protected] and [email protected], or you can contact the phones: +595 994 150146 and +57 312 428 8588, respectively.