World Refugee Day 2024: Building Welcoming and Inclusive Economies through Fair Trade

Western life is filled with terms. Terms like “economic inequality”, “climate change”, and “refugee crisis”. Terms so widely used, that we often forget the real people behind them. We talk about the “refugee crisis” as if it is a crisis for our system, instead of a crisis caused by the system. But in reality, it is a humanitarian crisis; one that affects millions of people, who are called to pay the price of an unjust socioeconomic order and the violence, war and destruction coming from that.

The numbers are staggering – according to UNHCR, in 2022, 108.4 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide, the highest level ever recorded. And while numbers can be impactful, it is crucial to remember that each represents a human story – a family fleeing a war-torn country or a drought-stricken land. 

The reasons behind mass displacement – violence, war, climate change – aren’t random occurrences. They’re among the bitter fruits of an extractive, exploitative economic system. Our relentless pursuit of profit has dehumanised our societies and neglected our planet. We view people and resources as tools for short-term gain, leading to a vicious cycle: unsustainable resource extraction sparks conflicts over land and water. Environmental disregard fuels climate change, causing droughts, crop failures, and food insecurity, forcing people from their homes. Wealthy nations often exploit resources in economically disadvantaged regions, hindering local development and fostering instability that erupts into violence. This very system, designed for profit maximisation, births the crises it claims to be ill-equipped to handle.

But what if we could break this cycle of exploitation?

Photo credits: (from left to right): MADE 51/ Tight Knit Syria, WasteStudios Yadawee, Yadawee

WFTO advocates for alternative business models, operating under a set of 10 Principles, our 10 Principles of Fair Trade. By demonstrating these viable and effective alternatives, Fair Trade Enterprises like Silaiwali, WEAVE, Artisan Links and many Fair Trade initiatives, pave the way for a future where social, economic, and climate justice are woven into the fabric of society.

Photo credits: Silaiwali, Yadawee, Earth Heir

WFTO is also a proud partner of UNHCR, through the MADE51 initiative. MADE51 creates direct livelihood opportunities and sustainable income for refugees with artisanal skills. Here’s how:

  • Partnerships: MADE51 partners with Local Social Enterprises (LSEs) in 23 host countries, ensuring Fair Trade standards are pursued. In doing so, WFTO supports the LSEs with capacity building dedicated technical assistance, guiding them throughout key critical processes such as LSEs onboarding and introduction to the MADE51 pathway, seed funding, artisan training-knowledge transfer, production scaling and operations, and market readiness. 
  • Fairness: This means ensuring respect for our planet, fair wages, and good working conditions, in direct collaboration with the refugee groups.
  • Market Access: MADE51 supports market access for refugee-made products, creating economic opportunities for refugees and showcasing their cultural heritage.

Photo credits: Weave, Yadawee, Weave Yadawee

While Fair Trade Enterprises are already demonstrating the power of this model, we still believe that collaboration is crucial. We strongly call governments, policy-makers, and Fair Trade advocates in a shared conversation, to re-think and rebuild our economic landscape.

As we join the global conversation for World Refugee Day, we would like to invite everyone to imagine a world where displaced people are not burdens, but valued contributors with unique skills and rich cultural heritage. This is the world Fair Trade Enterprises are striving to create.

By Valia Almpani

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17th international


17-20 SEPT 2024 – CAPE TOWN 

We are thrilled to invite you to our upcoming International Fair Trade Summit, set to take place in the vibrant city of Cape Town, from the 17th to the 20th of September 2024.

The International Fair Trade Summit aims to bring together leaders, practitioners, and advocates from all corners of the globe to collaborate and promote Fair Trade practices. This edition promises to be a unique opportunity for participants to engage in enlightening discussions, exchange ideas, and forge partnerships that will shape the future of Fair Trade.

WFTO Membership & Associate Types

  • Fair Trade Organisations (FTO)

    All trading members of WFTO. This includes all organisations that have more than half of their income and/or more than €100,000 in income from trade.

  • Fair Trade Support Organisations (FTSO)

    An organisation whose primary mission is to support Fair Trade and/or provide services to organisations that are or want to become Fair Trade Organisations.

  • Fair Trade Networks (FTN)

    An organisation which is an association of organisations committed to Fair Trade.

  • Individual Associates (IA)

    Individual Associates are supporters of the Fair Trade movement with limited rights. The WFTO Guarantee System does not apply to them.

  • Associate Organisations (AO)

    Associate Organisations align with WFTO’s values but after their application. They do not undergo monitoring and also have limited rights.

WFTO Guarantee System Monitoring Statuses

  • Candidates

    Candidates have been conditionally approved for membership but have not completed their first monitoring cycle under the WFTO Guarantee System. They have limited rights within WFTO. They may not use the WFTO Member Mark and Product Label or claim that they are monitored by WFTO.

  • Guaranteed Members

    Guaranteed members have met the WFTO Membership requirements and are monitored under the WFTO Guarantee System.

  • Member

    Organisations that have no or little income from trade go through a reduced version of the WFTO Guarantee System that does not include criteria related to trade. These organisations may use the WFTO Member Mark but cannot use the Product Label for any products they may be trading to support their mission. This status only applies to Fair Trade Networks (FTN) and Support Organisations (FTSO).

  • Renewal in Progress

    Members who are in the process of renewing their guaranteed status and are overdue on some requirements retain full rights while they work to meet the demands of the Guarantee System on an administrative or compliance level.

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WFTO welcomes applications from established Fair Trade Organisations as well as organisations that support Fair Trade. Individuals in their capacity as researchers, writers, consultants and specialists in their field who can contribute solid skills, knowledge and expertise to WFTO and members are also welcome.

Add Your Heading Text Initial requirements for organisations:

  • Compliance with the WFTO 10 Principles of Fair Trade. Please have a look at the WFTO Fair Trade Standard for more specific information on compliance with these principles.

  • All applicant organisations must already be duly registered (as a legal entity) and active for at least one year.

Who can apply?

  • Fair Trade Organisations (FTO)

    All companies, partnerships, co-partnerships and other legal bodies – as determined by the legal provisions of the country of the member concerned – that are directly engaged in Fair Trade. They may be producers or northern or southern based trading FTOs for whom Fair Trade is the main activity. To qualify for FTO membership, income from sales (turnover) must account for 50% or more of the total income. Applications for FTO membership cannot be accepted from organisations with no prior sales history.

  • Fair Trade Networks (FTN)

    Legal entities whose primary function is to serve as national or international associations of Fair Trade producers and/or Fair Trade Organisations.

  • Fair Trade Support Organisations (FTSO)

    Fair Trade Organisations where trading is not the main activity (proportion of trade is less than 50% of total income). These organisations are engaged in Fair Trade indirectly, through activities that promote and support Fair Trade. These activities can include business counselling, finance, advocacy or networking.

  • Associate Organisations

    This is a special category for national or international organisations that are interested in supporting and promoting Fair Trade, including donor organisations. Organisations that do not meet the one-year legal existence requirement also fit in this group.

  • Individual Associates

    Individual researchers, writers, consultants and specialists in their field that can support WFTO. WFTO expects its individual associates to be active Fair Trade supporters whose experience and expertise in their own particular field can be of practical benefit to WFTO's members. To apply, please submit a curriculum vitae.

    While FTO, FTN and FTSO are entitled to full WFTO membership, organizational and individual associates have only limited rights.

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The WFTO Product Label is more than just a Fair Trade symbol. It signifies not only that the practices across the supply chain are checked against the WFTO Fair Trade Standard, but it also represents support to the battle against poverty and inequality. Products carrying the WFTO Label are made and traded by Guaranteed Fair Trade Organisations dedicated to the sustainable Fair Trade economy. Every purchase of products with the WFTO Label supports small producers and their communities.

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