- Print our Fair Trade principles;
- Make sure you only use the recent version approved at the Mombasa AGM;
- (Download) the document in English (see below) and Spanish (see at bottom);
- Eliminate all previous versions from your files, only use this last version;
- Distribute copies to your colleagues, employees, workers and producers;
- Hang them on your wall at your work-place (desk, table, wall, …);
- Assure everybody does the same;
- Try to organize a short session every week, or ask for it to be organized;
- During the session discuss collectively one of the principles (one every week);
- In ten weeks your staff, workers and producers will have gone through a wonderful training on the 10 principles;
- Tell us about your sessions, tell us about your good experience, but as well about the problems you come across when implementing the principles;
- Take photos during the sessions, film your sessions;
- Share your experience, photos, film, drawings, with us;
- We would like to share your good experience with other members, we will tell your story to motivate others.
All of our employees, workers and producers have a right to clearly understand what they are working for. Many hours of their live will be dedicated to , so we better make sure we reach out to all the people we are responsible for.
WFTO © 2011
I like this idea because Carola's proposal is practical. It requires no costly effort and is essential to the sustainability of the Fair Trade Movement. More importantly, this activity needs to be done by organizations throughout the supply chain! There are many creative ways to make this a fun interactive and memorable activity. The best way to transfer ownership of these principles is through providing opportunities for staff and workers to teach others!
|The Principles of Fair Trade in Bahasa Indonesia, |
at the workshop of a Mitra Bali silversmith
Most producer groups Chou and I met with on this journey had some degree of knowledge of the Fair Trade principles. Admittedly, there was room for improvement for some and an activity such as Carola suggests will definitely improve the situation. When principles are not shared with producers and key people within a Fair Trade Organization it can have disastrous results. In Cambodia, we witnessed how Fair Trade can fail those it is intended to benefit when the principles of Fair Trade were not integrated into the day-to-day operations and were not passed on to empower the craftswomen and men. Admittedly, it was the most challenging post to write because it was contrary to the results I had hoped to publish.
In that blog post I asked myself, "What do I do when I go to listen to the voices of Fair Trade, but the voices are absent? By absent, it is not that they are missing as in people do not want to share their views on what Fair Trade means to them... I found myself asking, what happens when, for no fault of their own, the very people who you go to listen to, don’t have an answer because they don’t know what you are asking?" For insight to the personal and organizational effects of disregarding the principles, you can read the blog post:
However, the practice of our shared principles is not for producers alone! I can name at least one American certified Fair Trade importer who could really use Carola's activity (Read: Coffee Part II - "It's not my Problem"), and from what I have heard, it sounds like the problem is more wide spread than we would like to admit.
Since starting this blog, I occasionally receive emails from people who plan to take similar journeys related to Fair Trade. Sometimes they are socially conscious backpackers, other times they may have something they wish to contribute to the Fair Trade movement and feel that a journey to meet producers is a good approach. Recently, I received an email from a Fair Trade / Environmental Activist in Spain. He shared his plan to conduct a journey of his own to follow-up on Fair Trade. However, as an advocate he expressed a sincere concern regarding the Fair Trade Movement in Spain that should be ringing alarm bells for all of us. With his permission, I reprint part of his email here:
After many years involved in fair trade, social issues and environmental protection, I've decided to take a some time off to travel Asia and South America with the aim to visit communities and see if fair trade is really working as a catalyst for social and economic change and to value if we are all working towards building a sustainable future for both humans and nature.
One of the main motivating factors for Chou and I to embark on this journey was to learn about and present the impact of Fair Trade on producers. I have been in many Fair Trade shops and I am often disappointed that the only information about the producers is on a small sales tag. Surely Fair Trade retailers can provide more information than that!
There are many ways to bridge the existing gap between producers and consumers. Here are a few examples that I have seen:
- Provide handouts or brochures that offer links to producer websites.
- Feature a simple one-page summary of a producer group each month with a couple photos.
- Offer opportunities to travel to meet producer groups in near-by locations, or for the adventurous offer Fair Trade travel packages to foreign countries - I recently reviewed a brochure for Fair Trade tourism in Cebu, Philippines! Use the trip to take photos and get their stories to share in the store when you return!
- Bring Fair Trade producers to connect directly with customers for a special occasion or fundraising event.
If the principles are understood throughout the supply chain, the information regarding the impact of Fair Trade is more readily shared! In many cases Fair Trade producers have websites and it is possible to see the impacts of Fair Trade through the information they provide. In other cases producers may not have access to the internet. In either case, the onus of responsibility for providing such information is on the importers and retailers alike.
Thank you for following our blog. Chou and I welcome your comments, ideas and suggestions as we delve into the multitude of issues surrounding Fair Trade.
Fair Trade empowers the disadvantaged, integrates the marginalized, and supports the impoverished with viable livelihoods. Click here to donate to the Fair Trade.
Mitch Teberg, MA