Blog: The Fairtrade fight for climate justice

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Fairtrade Fortnight 2021 (22 February – 7 March 2021) focuses on climate justice and the growing challenges that farmers and workers face in a changing climate, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, crop disease and diminishing harvests.

Much of the food and drink we consume in Wales is grown by farming communities on the frontline of climate change – communities who have contributed the least to the climate crisis, yet suffer the most from its consequences. Tea, coffee, cacao and bananas are just a few of these commodities, all of which are regular staples consumed here in Wales.

Conventional trade

Through conventional approaches to trade, many farmers and workers have become trapped in a system that discriminates against the most vulnerable. As a result, many receive prices that fall far below the market value, meaning they are unable to meet their basic needs, such as a nutritious diet, their children’s education, and healthcare. Living below the poverty line means that farmers are unable to adapt and mitigate against a changing climate making them vulnerable to economic shocks. Nor can they afford to adopt more sustainable farming practices.

How Fairtrade differs

Fairtrade ensures fair terms and prices, local sustainability and decent working conditions for farmers and workers in the Global South. By ensuring a fair income for local farmers, they are better able to adapt and survive the climate crisis. Environmental protection standards are a key component of the certification process and through training farmers are supported to switch to more environmentally friendly practices, such as encouraging wildlife to help control pests and diseases.

In addition, since 2019, Fairtrade has included a no-deforestation criteria, which means that as well as supporting farmers, we can also reduce imported deforestation in Wales by choosing Fairtrade products.

Did you know: Seventy-three per cent of all tropical deforestation is caused by a small number of key agricultural commodities, including coffee and cacao?

The COVID-19 pandemic has put our complex relationship with nature in the spotlight, highlighting the need for sustainable approaches to agriculture and trade. Seventy-five per cent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic – spread from animals to humans – with increasing rates of tropical deforestation providing the perfect opportunity for zoonotic disease by bringing people and wild animals into ever-closer contact.

By joining the dots from farm to fork, we can see that our consumer behaviour here in Wales, e.g. which products we buy and whether or not they are produced sustainably, can have a direct impact on communities, tropical forests, biodiversity, climate and health.

Therefore, by choosing Fairtrade and paying a fair price for the commodities we consume in Wales, we are supporting sustainable livelihoods, increasing resilience to climate impacts, helping to strengthen global food systems and reducing the risk of future pandemics.

Post-Brexit trade

With the UK now entering into new trading relationships across the world, we are presented with both risk and opportunity. There is concern that new trading arrangements post-Brexit may lead to a reduction in standards, with negative impacts on people and planet. Therefore, it is essential that we support Fairtrade and urge policymakers in Wales and the UK to ensure that any future trade policies will guarantee environmental and human rights standards and support small scale producers that are already seeing the impacts of the climate crisis.

Fairtrade coffee and cacao

Why not try Jenipher’s Coffi – a new coffee produced to Fairtrade standards by farmers on the slopes of Mount Elgon in Uganda and roasted by hand in Wales. The coffee is grown under the shade of trees planted thanks to support from Size of Wales and the Welsh Government. By buying Jenipher’s coffee, you can support the farmers to trade fairly and respond to the climate emergency.

Whether buying for ourselves and our families or procuring goods as a business or public sector bodies, as consumers we have the collective power to influence markets and help create a shift towards more sustainably-produced commodities that work for both people and planet. So, will you join us to help promote Fairtrade Fortnight and climate justice and put some Fairtrade in your shopping basket?

In partnership with WWF Cymru and RSPB Cymru, Size of Wales is calling on Welsh Government, Public Sector bodies, business and the general public to help Wales become a ‘Deforestation Free Nation’ and move towards eliminating overseas deforestation from Wales’ economy. You can find out more here.

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