Press release: Fair Trade calls climate emergency, revises principles

20 September 2019, Lima, Peru – Yesterday the members of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) from across the world met in Peru and voted to update its principles. While protecting the environment has always been one of the 10 principles of Fair Trade, the movement today voted to rename this principle ‘Climate Crisis and Protecting our Planet’.

The new principle will redouble efforts to reduce CO2 emission, promote sustainable production and eliminate waste and plastics. The resolution passed with significant support from across the global Fair Trade community (WFTO membership), which explicitly recognised:

‘the climate crisis will result in famines, migrations and wars and that the effects of global warming could negate or overwhelm all the efforts of the Fair Trade movement to improve the lot of the poor’.

The resolution also recognised feedback from southern countries that reducing the use of plastics is an especially important issue in some countries. Critically, the Fair Trade movement sees its mission as inherently linked with the struggle to protect our planet. During the General Meeting of the World Fair Trade Organization, the membership also stood in support of the climate strike taking place around the world today, with the membership chanting: “climate strike” in solidarity. A short video can be viewed on the WFTO Facebook account (see here).

“Workers and farmers, artisans and consumers stand in solidarity to fight the climate crisis. Fair Trade Enterprises across the globe will step-up efforts to rethink product design, production and packaging. So many of us are already investing in solar energy, embracing organic agriculture, promoting natural fibers, and pioneering upcycling and recycling. We show how people and planet can be put first by businesses,” said the newly-elected WFTO President Roopa Mehta.

 “The economy of extraction and exploitation is killing our soils and rivers, our forests and oceans. This hits the poorest most. The business models driving this outdated economy are already being challenged by Fair Trade Enterprises in over 70 countries. When a business is embedded in its community, it naturally protects the ecology it relies on. Fair Trade Enterprises are showing that putting people and planet first is both viable and desirable.” - Erinch Sahan, chief executive of WFTO.

This is a milestone decision for the global community of Fair Trade Enterprises. The new principle will require Fair Trade Enterprises to invest resources to adopt the required sustainability measures.

“All businesses need a healthy planet. As Fair Trade Enterprises, we are already replacing outdated and destructive business models. This might be difficult at the beginning but investing in nature is what consumers, producers and our communities are calling for. Our existence depends it.” said Swapan Das of Prokritee, a Fair Trade Enterprise in Bangladesh.

Get a copy of the press release here.

Background info:

10 Principles of Fair Trade
The 10 Principles of Fair Trade specify the ways that Fair Trade Enterprises are set up and behave to ensure they put people and planet first. The WFTO carries out verification and monitoring to ensure these principles are upheld. Read more here.

About WFTO
The World Fair Trade Organization is the global community and verifier of social enterprises that fully practice Fair Trade. These Fair Trade Enterprises are the mission-led businesses whose business models are designed for impact.

WFTO members impact 1m livelihoods, 74% of whom are women.  These enterprises transform local communities, pioneer upcycling, empower women, champion refugee rights and practice organic farming. Their impact goes far and wide and the WFTO is their global community.

The 412 members spread in 76 countries. They support and trade with each other, speak up collectively, meet regularly and collaborate at trade fairs. It's a movement, a community, and an idea. 

Note to journalists and editors:

For interviews and high-resolution photos, contact WFTO Communications Manager Michael Sarcauga through email or call us on +31345536487.