Thank you to everyone for joining us on Saturday 30 September for Scotland’s Fair Trade Campaigner Conference 2023
“Today is just one small event, a gathering of a few people. But it is those small gatherings of committed and interested people from which social movements can connect and grow and build together. My hope for today is that we leave, a little bit more hopeful than when we arrived. We face huge challenges but those challenges can focus us, can strengthen us and others to act. Those challenges can create hope for change – a hope based in understanding and shared analysis. A hopefulness that leads to change”. Martin Rhodes, Chief Executive, Scottish Fair Trade Forum
The aim of this year’s Fair Trade Campaigner Conference was to explore some of the roots and history of the Fair Trade movement in social justice movements such as the anti-slavery campaign, and others, in order to educate, and strengthen our confidence and understanding as Fair Trade campaigners of Fair Trade’s links with contemporary social justice issues e.g. de-colonialisation, anti-racism, environment, and climate justice campaigning.
We were delighted to have Bill Campbell, Lord Provost of Dundee open this year’s conference, welcoming us to Dundee.
Christina McKelvie MSP, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development sent a recorded message for campaigners.
Martin Rhodes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum presented Fair Trade Then and Now:
Martin began by reminding the conference that earlier this year, we had marked 10 years of Scotland being a Fair Trade Nation and that like any anniversary this was an opportunity to look back and also to look forward. He highlighted some of the key developments in the Fair Trade movement in Scotland and globally not just over the last 10 years but over decades and also some of the social movements and campaigns that had influenced the birth and development of Fair Trade. He talked about the push in recent years to promote certification, most notably in the UK through the Fairtrade Mark, which will be 30 years old next year, and more recently the World Fair Trade Organization’s Product Label. He mentioned some of the pioneer Fair Trade brands, particularly in food such as Divine, Equal Exchange, Café Direct and Campaign Coffee; and also pioneers in Fair Trade crafts such Tearcraft, Traidcraft and Oxfam. He highlighted different influences on the development of Fair Trade such as solidarity trade championed by faith-based communities and also the development of alternative economic models influencing the creation of organisations such as Twin Trading.
Martin then drew attention to the birth of both the trade union and co-operative movements based on organising workers and consumers to protect their rights – key elements to Fair Trade today. He gave the example of the anti-slavery sugar boycotts of the 18th and 19th century in Britain and the United States. He stressed that the principles of trade justice, and wider concerns of equality and human rights, economic, gender, social and political rights were threads woven through the history of Fair Trade. He said that the conference was an opportunity to reflect on this and to reconnect to look at new challenges such as climate change as well as the continuing challenges of trade justice globally. He stressed that Fair Trade was a contribution to the cause of social justice.
Martin went on to set out that as Fair Trade Campaigners we need to reach out in our communities and recognise the way those communities have changed and continue to change. He said that we should not waste energy lamenting the practices and activities that we successfully undertook in the past were no longer were effective but that instead we should put efforts into creating the practices and activities that will be successful now and in the future. Martin recognised past successes but also reflected that we had not always been as inclusive as we could have been and we need to reflect on how we can be more inclusive – we need to ensure that all are given the chance to tell their story and to contribute.
He said that his hopes for the conference were that people would find it find it informative, inspiring and challenging, and that it could be an opportunity to reflect on the past and more importantly build for the future. He hoped that the conference would make clearer the importance of Fair Trade’s roots in social justice movements, and to look to connect or refresh those connections with wider social justice movements.
Martin Rhodes commented that Fair Trade contributed to so much to what we have now and that Fair Trade can contribute to the ongoing change that is needed.
Matthew Jarron, Curator of Museum Services at University of Dundee talked to us about Dundee’s project Breaking the Chains – a walking trail exploring Dundee’s connections to slavery. Also see Woven Together, a community-based research project, exploring the history of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in Dundee.
Richard McCready of Dundee Fair Trade Forum went on to speak about Dundee’s support for Fair Trade and the links to wider social justice campaigning. Richard is providing his talk as a blog in due course.
Thanks go to Karena Jarvie of Perth and Kinross Fairtrade Zone Steering Group for facilitating a Q&A session.
Nduzani Zaya, representing Kasinthula Cane Growers Association and Aimable Nshimiye, Managing Director of Sholi Coffee told us their Fair Trade stories. You can look back through Nduzani’s here and her speaking notes here. Aimable’s presentation is here.
We were then joined by Aekus Kamboj who works with the Ethnic Minority Environmental Network. EMEN builds capacity among ethnic minority groups to join forces to raise awareness of climate issues, develop a vision of a low carbon society, and contribute to discussions about with decision-makers.
Sally Romilly and Josh Brown of One World Centre, Dundee then introduced the breakout sessions to us by showing us Chimamanda Adichie’s The Danger of a Single Story.
We all then split into groups to consider the Fair Trade story we might tell to four different people or groups: a family member or friend who knows nothing about Fair Trade, a young person aged around 18, a community group, and a primary 3 class. We used the head, heart, hands methodology to consider how to appeal to the listener of our story. This was a useful session to focus on how the Fair Trade story we tell should be told in a way that appeals to different people and groups in different ways, with the aim of building awareness of Fair Trade as a multi-faceted movement that links to social and climate justice campaigns – allowing for opportunities to engage with new audiences.
This brought us to Martin Rhodes’ closing remarks about the future. Our focus must be on continuing to campaign for Fair Trade as we continue to seek social and climate justice.
Photos from Edinburgh Photographic.
Thank you again to everyone who joined us. See you next time.