Reflections on Fairtrade Fortnight 2019
As always, Fairtrade Fortnight was marked by events all across Scotland as campaigners and supporters held events and took action to promote Fair Trade. It is always a time when the strength, diversity and reach of the Fair Trade movement is displayed from faith groups to schools, from retailers to students, from businesses to campaigners. This year was no different as there were football matches, petition signature collecting, chocolate tastings, coffee mornings, seminars on sustainability and Fair Trade, bake offs, campaigner networking sessions and lots more.
It was a huge privilege for the Forum to host Aimable Nshimiye from the Sholi Co-operative in Rwanda for Fairtrade Fortnight and also to meet Khader Khader and Taysir Arbasi from Zaytoun during their visit to Scotland.
I have a few reflections following Fairtrade Fortnight that I’d like to take the opportunity to share with you.
A thriving campaign
There is no doubt that campaigners from a whole range of backgrounds are still very much committed to promoting Fair Trade and to campaigning against unfair trade practices. Here at the Forum, we would very much like to do more such as the regional networking sessions, conferences, newsletters, briefings, youth network etc. to support campaigners and supporters more. The strength of Fair Trade has always been based on the strength of grassroots campaigners.
The importance of market access for producers
It was clear when listening to Aimable, Khader and Taysir that a fair price and the premium are very important. As Fair Trade campaigners, we often rightly talk about these aspects of Fair Trade. However, Aiamble, Khader and Taysir also all very much stressed the importance of Fair Trade in developing market access for producers. This is, perhaps, an area of work for us to promote further, although we need to take on board that market access is a more difficult subject to communicate than price and the premium.
Climate change is now
We often seem to discuss climate change as a future threat. It is clear from the experience of farmers such as Aimable that climate change is happening now - it isn’t just something that might happen in the future. Climate change is having an adverse effect on some of the most vulnerable communities now. We need to do more work communicating how Fair Trade promotes sustainability and linking Fair Trade with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Our Development Fund – one way to help
In summary, there are many reasons to be optimistic but there are still challenges for us to take on. As you know, the Forum is a small organisation that achieves so much because of the commitment of a small staff team and many supporters. It is often frustrating that we don’t have the resources to do more to support Fair Trade campaigners and businesses, to strengthen current initiatives and develop more new projects. Since we set up our Development Fund last year, we have received donations that help us to do more than we could otherwise and we are very grateful to those who have donated or make regular donations. We also recognise that many of you already give in many other ways in volunteering and time and also financially to other Fair Trade organisations. But I am asking those who can and who wish to donate to consider our Development Fund as a way to build our commitment to Fair Trade all across Scotland.
By Martin Rhodes, Chief Executive, Scottish Fair Trade Forum