Fair Trade is a global social movement whose pioneering experiences began in the late 1940s as alternative responses to the failure of the conventional trade model. Fair Trade seeks to promote responsible and sustainable production and trade patterns, as well as development opportunities for small producers, farmers and artisans who are economically and socially disadvantaged in relation to the dominant market players.
Fair Trade is a commercial model that puts human beings and the social, economic and environmental sustainability of societies at the center, dignifying work, protecting the environment and promoting responsible and sustainable management of natural resources.
Fair trade provides organized small producers with direct access to the market under fair and equitable conditions, creating a sustainable, supportive, and quality marketing channel, as direct as possible between producers and consumers. With the intention of giving dignified recognition to the work of producers and their organizations, so that consumers are committed to the development of their communities. It also seeks to ensure decent working conditions for agricultural and artisanal workers, promoting their associativity and empowerment.
Through Fairtrade certification, a minimum price is established that allows small producer organizations to receive a payment that covers production costs and allows for a decent income for producers and workers. In addition, organizations receive the Fairtrade Premium, an additional income based on sales volume, which they can use to finance initiatives to improve production or social projects in their communities.
The most important elements of the Fair Trade movement are as follows:
- Integral sustainability, in all its dimensions (social, economic, and environmental), with a focus on shared responsibility among all actors involved in trade chains.
- In-depth work with those who have always been deprived of direct access to the market, promoting associativity so that they can become key players in local development and build fair and supportive trade relations that are transparent, long-term, that dignify the work of human beings, that respect cultural, ethnic and gender diversity, and that promote environmental and intergenerational sustainability.
- The promotion of and respect for human and labor rights, encouraging fair recognition of the work of agricultural and artisanal workers.
Another fundamental objective of fair trade is to foster a culture of responsible consumption because consuming means choosing what kind of development we want.
8 Fair Trade Approaches
Fair Trade promotes 8 approaches that seek to improve the livelihoods of producers and workers.
1. Creating the conditions for Fair Trade
The trading conditions offered by Fair Trade buyers seek to enable producers and workers to maintain sustainable livelihoods; to meet their daily needs for economic, social, and environmental well-being and to improve conditions over time.
2. Achieving inclusive economic development
Fair Trade aims to strengthen social capital by partnering with inclusive and democratic organizations that are active in supporting education, health, and social services within their communities as a way to spread the benefits of trade as widely as possible.
3. Decent work and contributing to livable incomes and wages
Promoting respect for local standards or international conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining, eliminating discrimination, avoiding forced labor, and providing a safe and healthy working environment.
4. Empowering women
Women are entitled to equal pay and treatment and have access to the same opportunities as men.
5. Protecting the rights of children and the next generation
Fair Trade supports organizations that help families earn an adequate income without resorting to child labor and that raise awareness within communities of the importance of children’s well-being, educational needs and right to play.
6. Promoting biodiversity and the environment
Environmental protection and the long-term viability of natural resources and biodiversity are fundamental pillars of Fair Trade. Good environmental practice, including the protection of soil and water resources and the reduction of energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and waste, is the responsibility of all involved in the production, distribution, and consumption chain.
7. Influencing public policies
Fair Trade Organizations seek to leverage the direct impact they achieve through their work and share their experience so that Fair Trade values can be adopted in conventional business practices and government regulations. They do this through campaigns and lobbying practices and by influencing various levels of national and international governments.
8. Building a fairer world
Not only should it be the responsibility of consumers to seek Fair Trade; they have the right to demand that Fair Trade be the standard for all products. Therefore, Fair Trade is also committed to its players as citizens, recognizing that producers and consumers are social and economic actors.