The Ten Principals of Fair Trade

Fair Trade Enterprises impact 1 million livelihoods worldwide, with 74% being female! These social enterprises have the ability to transform local communities, encourage upcycling, empower women, support refugee rights and practice organic farming. The true impact is far reaching and highlights the new economy.

For many of us the principals of Fair Trade as set out by The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) seem common sense and common decency, it seems incredible that it's necessary to clearly state them and hold businesses accountable. However, if these stipulations are what it takes to ensure fairness and consideration amongst business and trade then lets spread the word and advocate loudly for them!  Essentially, these fundamental principals hold business and governments to the highest standard and ensures that people and our planet are not exploited to create the products use and love.

So let's explore them.

Opportunities for disadvantaged producers 

The reduction of poverty via trade is an integral component of these principals with the WFTO supporting marginalized small producers, either from independently run family businesses, associations or co-operatives. The WFTO is aiming to enable them to progress from poverty and income insecurity to becoming economically self-sufficient. 

Transparency and Accountability

The organization must be transparent in both its management and commercial relations, ensuring accountability to all stakeholders involved whilst respecting the sensitivity and confidentiality of commercial information. It is required to identify appropriate and participatory ways to involve their employees, members and producers in their decision making processes. This ensures that relevant information is supplied to all involved trading partners with open communication channels at all levels of the supply chain.

Fair Trade Practices

It is requirement for the organization to trade with concern for the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of marginalized small producers without maximizing profit at their expense. They must be responsible and professional in meeting their commitments in a timely manner and respect contracts by ensuring products are delivered on time and to the desired quality and specifications.

This principal also addresses the need to ensure all orders are paid in receipt of the documents and according to the guidelines agreed upon with consultation prior to the cancellation or delay of scheduled orders. The organization must maintain long term working relationships based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect. This contributes to the promotion and growth of Fair Trade, with both parties seeking to increase the volume of trade along with the value and diversity allowing producers to increase their incomes.

Fair payment

A fair price is one that has been mutually agreed upon by all parties, ensuring the provision of fair pay to the producers and that can be sustained by the market. Where fair trade pricing structures exist, they are viewed as a minimum. Fair pay means the provision of socially acceptable remuneration in the local context considered by the producers to be fair and that takes into consideration the principal of equal pay for equal work by men and women.

No forced or child labour

The organization must adhere to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national and local law on the employment of children. Any involvement of children throughout the production of fair trade products, including learning a traditional art or craft, is always disclosed and monitored and does not adversely affect the child's well-being, security, educational requirements and need for play.

 The organization must also ensure that there is no forced labour within its workforce, members or homeworkers spanning from production to distribution.

gender equality 

The organization must not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/AIDS status or age.

The organization is also required to have a clear policy and plan to promote gender equality that ensures that both women and men have the ability to gain access to the resources that they need to be productive as well as the ability to influence policies and their working environment with equal pay for equal work being mandatory. It must also take into account the special health and safety needs of pregnant and breast feeding mothers. 

Good working conditions

The organization is required to provide a safe and healthy working environment for all employees and members, complying with national and local laws regarding health and safety, working hours and conditions whilst seeking to promote these conditions and improve health and safety practices in producer groups.

capacity building

The organization must seek to increase positive developmental impacts for small, marginalized producers through fair trade, by developing the skills and capabilities of its own employees and members. Organizations that work directly with small producers need to develop specific plans to improve their management skills, production capability and access to markets.

Fair Trade

The Organization seeks to raise awareness of the aim of Fair Trade and of the need for greater justice in world trade through these fair practices. It should advocate for the objectives and activities of fair trade according to the scope of their organization and provide its customers with information about it's business, the products it markets as well as the producer organizations that make or harvest the products with honest advertising and marketing techniques. 

respect for the environment

Organizations which produce fair trade products must maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges and buy locally where possible. The production techniques used must seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. The must also seek to minimize the waste produced and the environmental impact by using organic or low pesticide production methods wherever possible. All organizations should use recycled or easily biodegradable materials for packaging, transport and postage where possible. 

If you are looking for further information regarding Fair Trade here are some great podcasts LISTEN HERE

or head over to the WFTO website and explore the amazing global impact they are having!