Liz, age 32, is the Research and Policy Manager in the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh.
1. When did you first find out about Fair Trade?
I was aware of fair trade products starting to become more widely available as a teenager, and was always curious as to whether the approach really made a difference to people’s lives. This led me to looking at fair trade and other certification systems as a student, and then to working for NGOs in Senegal and India on fair trade projects, before eventually taking up a role looking at fair trade and responsible procurement at the University.
2. Why do you think Fair Trade is important?
Fair trade as a concept is clearly important: as we become increasingly aware of unfair trading practices, we realise we play a role in these as consumers and have a chance to make different choices. But I’m not saying everyone is obliged to buy fair trade products all the time – not everyone in the world has the means. However, we have a responsibility to take some sort of action where we can – whether through what we buy, who we vote for, lobbying for policy changes, calling into question big business’ practices, or just talking to other people about injustices in global trade to raise more awareness.
3. What are you doing for Fairtrade Fortnight this year?
This year the University is hosting a range of events during Fairtrade Fortnight – see http://www.ed.ac.uk/about/sustainability/themes/fair-trade/fairtrade-fortnight In particular we are holding a public lecture on modern slavery, which will provide a different angle on fair and unfair trading practices. We are also promoting a ‘six word fair trade story’ competition across UK colleges and universities on Twitter.