Fairtrade Fortnight (27th Feb – 12th March): Promoting ethical and sustainable products in the age of climate change and gender based violence

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  5. Fairtrade Fortnight (27th Feb – 12th March): Promoting ethical and sustainable products in the age of climate change and gender based violence

It’s Fairtrade Fortnight, an annual event that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of supporting ethical and sustainable products and practices.  The event is recognised across many countries including the UK and it brings together individuals, businesses, and organisations to promote the principles of fair trade, including fair prices for producers, safe and healthy working conditions, and environmental sustainability.

Fairtrade International seeks to establish partnerships between producers and consumers by setting standards and certifying products that meet those standards.  By choosing Fairtrade products, consumers can support a more just and equitable global economy.

This year, the Fairtrade Foundation has launched an immersive retail experience called  , the event focuses on the impact of climate change on everyday items such as bananas, coffee and cocoa.  A new report by The Fairtrade Foundation reveals that the supply chains for these products originate from countries that are vulnerable to climate change, deforestation, and biodiversity loss.  It emphasise the importance of protecting the future of food and making small switches to support it, as over half of the world’s cocoa production and 50% of surface area currently used for coffee farming may become unviable by 2050 due to climate change.

Safe working conditions are extremely important under Faritrade standards, and recently, an undercover investigation by the BBC Panorama revealed that more than 70 women working on Kenyan tea farms, owned by Unilever and James Finlay & Co have been sexually abused by their superiors.  The farms supply tea to major UK brands including PG Tips, Lipton and Sainsbury’s Red Label.  The investigation showed exploitation of women that had previously been reported over 10 years ago were still not being acted upon.

Following the BBC investigation, the Foundation released a statement condemning all forms of exploitation, harassment, abuse and violence.  Fairtrade International  also called for global stakeholders to work together to establish organisational structures that include women in leadership positions, involve women in all reporting and remediation mechanisms and provide safe spaces in the workplace for women to anonymously report instances of gender-based violence and abuse.  They demanded that governments ratify the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 190 to combat violence and harassment in the workplace.

This annual  event continues to raise awareness on the importance of fair trade and sustainable practices in the production of our daily essentials.

Here’s how Procurement teams and stakeholders can ensure sustainable practices are established in their supply chains mitigating the risk of violence and exploitation. 

  1. Conduct thorough supply chain audits: Procurement professionals should conduct regular audits of their supply chains to ensure that the products they source are produced ethically and in compliance with local laws and regulations. Audits should also include checks for labour violations, harassment, and other forms of exploitation.
  2. Buy Fairtrade where possible: Seek out products with the Fairtrade mark. The Fairtrade Scheme is compliant with ISEAL’s Assurance Code, an internationally recognised code for sustainability standards.
  3. Implement supplier codes of conduct: Procurement professionals should establish supplier codes of conduct that outline the ethical standards and principles that suppliers must adhere to. These codes should also include provisions for reporting violations and remediation and comply with organisations such as Fairtrade International standards.
  4. Work with ethical suppliers: Procurement professionals should work with suppliers who have a proven track record of ethical and sustainable production practices. This includes sourcing products from suppliers who are Fairtrade certified, have been verified by third-party auditors, or have a strong commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
  5. Provide training and support: Procurement professionals should provide training and support to their suppliers to help them improve their ethical and sustainable practices. This can include providing training on fair labour practices, environmental sustainability, and responsible sourcing.
  6. Advocate for change: Procurement professionals should use their influence to advocate for change. This can include working with industry groups, lobbying for stronger regulations, and raising awareness about the importance of ethical and sustainable sourcing. By working together, procurement professionals and stakeholders can help create a more ethical and sustainable supply chain.