Rodolfo Peña Alba is managing director of Café Orgánico Marcala, a coffee cooperative in Marcala, Honduras. © Santiago Engelhardt

Challenging our World

A Message from Marike de Peña, Board Chair at Fairtrade International

Marike de Peña, Board chair at Fairtrade International

It was great to catch up with Fairtrade’s co-founder, Frans Van der Hoff, at our General Assembly in June 2016. He is clear about what Fairtrade has achieved. “Fairtrade opens our eyes to the way the world is organized,” he said. “Is it the best way? Why are some people left out, while others get stronger and bigger and wealthier? Fairtrade shows that another world is possible.”

Our new 2016–2020 strategy — ‘Changing Trade, Changing Lives’ — aims to realize that possibility by delivering more impact for farmers and workers. We’re learning from studies which show Fairtrade certification has a direct, positive impact on workers’ income, empowerment, collective bargaining and living standards. But there is a long way to go in achieving our goals for fairer trade and sustainable futures. We’re also learning that farmers and workers need to significantly scale up their Fairtrade sales if they are to escape from poverty. Increased Fairtrade sales are the biggest driver of economic improvement, enabling producer organizations to secure the revenues they need for workers to be paid a living wage and for farmers and artisanal miners to earn a living income.

Recent European Union sugar policy changes meant a challenging year for Fairtrade cane sugar farmers. We continue to campaign against policies that leave the most vulnerable farmers and workers unprotected. In the Dominican Republic where I live and work, we have spent the last four years advocating for Haitian migrant workers’ rights and legal status. In 2015, we saw a historic milestone — 60 to 80 percent of Fairtrade workers now have their legal papers thanks to our campaign.

Fairtrade doesn’t shy away from the tough issues. Our pioneering Youth Inclusive Community Based Monitoring and Remediation (YICBMR) system on child labour is being rolled out in 11 countries, and — a personal commitment of mine — we’re making a renewed effort to tackle gender discrimination.

At COP21, we launched the Fairtrade Climate Standard, developed in partnership with the Gold Standard. Another milestone was the Fairtrade Textile Standard, published in March 2016 — the first standard in the industry to require living wages to be paid within a set time frame.

Genuinely fairer trade means bridging the gap between a global ‘north’ and ‘south’. Frans told me: “With diversity one thing is very important — learning from one another in open dialogue between consumer societies and producer societies.” To this end, we completed the devolution of producer services to the producer networks in 2016 and are growing Fairtrade in markets such as Taiwan and the Philippines where there is an increasing appetite for fairer trade. Fair Trade Towns continue to grow — for example, nine Lebanese villages achieved Fair Trade Town status in 2016.

Our aim is to deliver inclusive trade for farmers and workers in developing countries to build a more sustainable future for all. That’s the priority of our new strategy. By 2020 we want to see real progress towards a very different world in which all producers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide on their future.

Read Fairtrade International’s full Annual Report here.


Originally published at annualreport15–16.fairtrade.net.

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