You probably heard people talk about climate change in the news, blogs and social media, and perhaps your friends and family mentioned it several times, too. But have you ever thought about how it directly affects you? Most likely, your life is not at all affected by climate change, or it could be that you don’t perceive its effects in your everyday routine. But climate change is real. It is happening to those affected by it.

Climate change hit small-scale producers hardest. Floods and droughts are affecting agricultural crop production, the very source of income for small, rural farmers. This happens because most agricultural practices in poor countries are dependent on natural climate patterns. A slight change, for example, may cost a year’s income for small farmers.

To prevent, if not, curb the destructive effect of climate change, the Fair Trade movement encourages best practices in agricultural and crafts production in order to help producers in the Global South cope with it. Let’s have a closer look at the Fair Trade principle 10: respect for the environment. This principles includes maximizing the use of raw materials from sustainable sources (preferably local), use of production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption (where possible technologies that use renewable energy), encourage transition to organic agriculture, use of recycled and biodegradable materials, among other things. But how do Fair Trade producers implement this principle in their daily operations? Let’s have a look at two good case studies:

 One good example is soleRebels. It is a company founded in 2004 by a brave woman with an entrepreneurial mind and willingness

to empower her community in    Zenabwork, Ethiopia. Today, they are proud of being the first Fair Trade footwear firm. They aim to make their footwear production carbon neutral or less CO2 emissions using organic and recycled materials sourced locally. The soles of the shoes are made out of old, unwanted truck tyres and tubes hand cut by artisans. The idea was inspired by the unique footwear worn in the past by rebels in Ethiopia. Beside tyres, all the other materials are handmade. Cotton is locally produced according to the traditional techniques by marginalised women in treatment for leprosy.

 Other materials are occasionally used according to availability, such as camouflage from old army uniforms. Bethlehem Tilahun,    founder of soleRebels, says that recycling is a way of life in Ethiopia and people have always been recycling, long before the word recycling came in use. Tilahun said that soleRebels shoes are ‘green by heritage’ because they embrace the truly sustainable and traditionally carbon-neutral methods of production which are integral parts of Ethiopian culture. This is unique to Fair Trade. Besides encouraging traditional practices, which is often environmentally-friendly, it promotes best environmental practices as a positive consequence.

The Fair Trade movement also works with farmers to raise awareness on the negative impact of agro-chemicals in order to implement sustainable practices in agriculture among small-scale producers. The transition to organic agriculture has been encouraged among communities in the Global South, and today, many Fair Trade crops are produced with organic techniques. A successful conversion project is the Greennet Cooperative in Thailand, a project started in 1993. Greennet grows many varieties of organic rice sold through the channel of Fair Trade.

Farmers in some provinces of Thailand are now experiencing the impact of climate change. Devastating floods brought about by unusual heavy rains and storms destroy crops.

Deforestation and harmful agricultural practices exacerbate the impact. These realities compelled Greennet to shift to organic farming, and advocate eco-friendly practices. 

 Organic agriculture helps preserve the quality of soil. With the establishment of the Greennet Cooperative, it´s easier for farmers   to react to natural events caused by climate change. Aggressive awareness raising and training on climate change adaptation are helping farmers deal with impact. Many different organic techniques were experimented in Thailand, some innovative ones and some coming from the tradition. One example is the project Tip from the Field: ‘tricks’ used by the past generations to avoid the use of agro-chemicals are rediscovered and implemented. One example is the use of urine to limit the presence of rats in the fields.

Sustainable practices are a viable way in both crafts and agricultural production, and usually, sustainable solutions are a mix of traditional knowledge and creativity. Fair Trade is encouraging this kind of innovation with greater participation by producers themselves who are in the frontline of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

By Viviana Conti

Share This Post


Sign up to our Newsletter

Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific sourcing requests or queries.

Select Topic:

Contact us

Sourcing requests or queries

Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific sourcing requests or queries.
Become an Impact Ally

Collaboration is key to successful transformation, meaningful impact, and our movement

Play Video


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.

Contact us


Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific enquiries
Play Video


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.

Screenshot 2023 08 01 at 2.40.01 PM