FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT 2021 is fast approaching. Here are the key messages...

WHAT IS THIS FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT ALL ABOUT?

For two weeks each year at the end of February and start of March, thousands of individuals, companies and groups across the UK come together to share the stories of the people who grow our food and drinks, mine our gold and who grow the cotton in our clothes, people who are often exploited and underpaid. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us more than ever how interconnected we are globally. This interconnection is at the very heart of the Fairtrade message and is where your role begins. You are part of the Fairtrade movement and you have the power to drive long-term change, not only with your shopping choices but with your support in spreading the message.

In Fairtrade Fortnight 2021, we will highlight the growing challenges that climate change brings to farmers and workers in the communities Fairtrade works with. The facts are straightforward. Farmers and workers in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Honduras, who have done the least to contribute to climate change, are disproportionately affected by it. 

THE PROBLEM

The climate crisis is an immediate and ever-increasing threat to the livelihoods of farmers and workers across the world, from deforestation and changing weather patterns to rising temperatures water scarcity and contamination. Despite contributing the least to the climate crisis, smallholders in developing countries are disproportionately affected and have fewer resources to adapt to changes in climate and other stresses. These farmers manage over 80 percent of the world’s 500 million farms and rely on this land for their livelihoods but with increasingly negative effects on land and agricultural production, farmers have told us that climate change is their biggest challenge right now. 

The farmers that Fairtrade works with have seen their crops of coffee, cocoa, honey, and vegetables in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua be completely devastated. As a matter of justice and a matter of science, the matter of the climate crisis cannot be delayed any longer. By 2050 as much as 50 percent of the global surface area currently used for coffee farming may no longer be suitable and many cocoa growing regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire – who produce over half of the world’s cocoa – will become too hot to grow the crop. With the emergence of the global COVID pandemic, the challenges that farmers face now are bigger than ever before with falling commodity prices and widespread shocks still reverberating along our global supply chains. 

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN?

There is hope! More and more companies are talking to Fairtrade about how they want to reduce emissions and reach net zero. But we’re not going fast enough. Change by 2050 is too late. The weather is changing now. Doing this properly means helping farmers and workers to adapting to the current impacts as well as supporting them to switch to low carbon production and transport. That cannot happen if we’re not prepared to pay for it. We cannot expect – and it is not fair to expect – producers to absorb the costs of more sustainable methods of farming when they’re often not even able to earn a living income or living wage, and cannot even adapt to the challenges they are already seeing, because the price they receive for their produce is far too low. This needs to change – and it needs to change fast. 

Our global trading system is balanced in favour of the powerful few. The prices that businesses pay for the crops behind some of our favourite foods need to increase significantly if farmers are to escape poverty and still have the means to adapt to economic and environmental shocks. As global trade changes in ways we could only have imagined a year ago, poverty will also continue to be a key contributor to further environmental degradation as farmers are forced to make harder choices. We need to build back fairer. Farmers in climate vulnerable countries need empowerment, fair value, fair prices, and fairer trading practices to resource the investment needed for mitigation, adaptation, diversification and resilience in the face of the climate crisis. 

HOW DOES CHOOSING FARTRADE SUPPORT FARMERS FACING THE CLIMATE CRISIS NOW?

Fairtrade is about social justice. A root cause of farmers’ inability to adapt and mitigate to climate change is poverty. More money means more climate resilience into the future

Choosing Fairtrade means choosing improvements in producers' livelihoods with collective strength through co-ops and their bargaining power, the protection of a minimum price and Fairtrade Premiums. In 2019, Fairtrade launched an ambitious new living incomes campaign to lead the way to a sustainable future for cocoa farmers. A living income would provide farmers with a decent standard of living - enough to cover all their cocoa farming costs and enough to cover their basic human rights, like a nutritious diet, children’s education and healthcare.

Fairtrade works on many levels to strengthen environmental and climate protection for producers and is committed to finding new ways to support producers with the challenges of climate change. Buying Fairtrade means you are making a wider impact on the planet by supporting a global fight for climate justice. Fairtrade continues to raise the voices of producers and prioritise what they need to respond to the environmental crises unfolding in already vulnerable communities.

Fairtrade is engaged at political level and in alliances together with other civil society players for more environmental and climate protection. 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

· Buy Fairtrade products to support the right for farmers to be paid fairly for their work, meaning they have the chance to fight the challenges of the climate crisis right now.

· Support the Fairtrade movement to work with policy makers, businesses and government to influence change that will protect the most vulnerable.