Last year Earth Divas become a recognized fair trade organization through the Fair Trade Federation. This was a happy day for us because it meant we’d achieved a high standard of excellence and fairness in the eyes of this worthy organization.
This recognition also showed the world that we truly care about fair trade, and that it’s at the core of everything we do at Earth Divas. But, what is the Fair Trade Federation, and what does it do?
The Fair Trade Federation – Supporting and Promoting Fair Trade
The Fair Trade Federation is a non-profit trade association who’s goal is to strengthen and promote North American organizations who are fully committed to doing business by fair trade practices.
Fair Trade Princples
One of the most important things the Fair Trade Federation does is provide a framework businesses can use to guide their decisions, and support fair trade principles. Every member of the Fair Trade Federation must abide by the following principles:
- Create Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers – Fair Trade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Members create social and economic opportunities through trading partnerships with marginalized producers. Members place the interests of producers and their communities as the primary concern of their enterprise.
- Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships- Fair Trade involves relationships that are open, fair, consistent, and respectful. Members show consideration for both customers and producers by sharing information about the entire trading chain through honest and proactive communication. They create mechanisms to help customers and producers feel actively involved in the trading chain. If problems arise, members work cooperatively with fair trade partners and other organizations to implement solutions.
- Build Capacity- Fair Trade is a means to develop producers’ independence. Members maintain long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust, and mutual respect, so that producers can improve their skills and their access to markets. Members help producers to build capacity through proactive communication, financial and technical assistance, market information, and dialogue. They seek to share lessons learned, to spread best practices, and to strengthen the connections between communities, including among producer groups.
- Promote Fair Trade- Fair Trade encourages an understanding by all participants of their role in world trade. Members actively raise awareness about Fair Trade and the possibility of greater justice in the global economic system. They encourage customers and producers to ask questions about conventional and alternative supply chains and to make informed choices. Members demonstrate that trade can be a positive force for improving living standards, health, education, the distribution of power, and the environment in the communities with which they work.
- Pay Promptly and Fairly- Fair Trade empowers producers to set prices within the framework of the true costs of labor time, materials, sustainable growth, and related factors. Members take steps to ensure that producers have the capacity to manage this process. Members comply with or exceed international, national, local, and, where applicable, Fair Trade Minimum standards for their employees and producers. Members seek to ensure that income is distributed equitably at all times, particularly equal pay for equal work by women and men. Members ensure prompt payment to all of their partners. Producers are offered access to interest-free advance payment for handmade goods, or pre-finance of agricultural harvest with favorable terms.
- Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions – Fair Trade means a safe and healthy working environment free of forced labor. Throughout the trading chain, Members cultivate workplaces that empower people to participate in the decisions that affect them. Members seek to eliminate discrimination based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, age, marital, or health status. Members support workplaces free from physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal harassment or abuse.
- Ensure the Rights of Children – Fair Trade means that all children have the right to security, education, and play. Throughout the trading chain, Members respect and support the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as local laws and social norms. Members disclose the involvement of children in production. Members do not support child trafficking and exploitative child labor.
- Cultivate Environmental Stewardship – Fair Trade seeks to offer current generations the ability to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Members actively consider the implications of their decisions on the environment and promote the responsible stewardship of resources. Members reduce, reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible. They encourage environmentally sustainable practices throughout the entire trading chain.
- Respect Cultural Identity – Fair Trade celebrates the cultural diversity of communities, while seeking to create positive and equitable change. Members respect the development of products, practices, and organizational models based on indigenous traditions and techniques to sustain cultures and revitalize traditions. Members balance market needs with producers’ cultural heritage.
Promoting Fair Trade
Another important role of the The Fair Trade Federation is promotion. The FTF works tirelessly to spread awareness about fair trade, and how important it is for consumers to consider the rights and lives of the workers and artisans around the world that produce so many of the goods we take for granted.
People who work in the fair trade industry see fair trade as common sense: something we must practice, as human beings. However, many people in the world have never heard of fair trade, or they might give little thought to where their goods come from and how they’re made.
Highlighting the plight of foreign workers and artisans is probably the most important role of the FTF. Education is the only way to change things long-term. Once people become aware of the problem, and they make an emotional connection to people working two-thousand miles away, they realize they have to change their behavior.
The FTF lights these little fires of awareness all of the world. And, one tiny flame leads to another, which leads to another…and that’s how real change happens.
So, we give thanks to the Fair Trade Federation for the incredibly important work they’re doing around the world!
Filed under: Fair Trade Basics on March 26th, 2013