Issues like climate change, gender equality, workers’ rights, and child and forced labor affect many producers in the communities where Fairtrade works. In 2015-2016, Fairtrade has expanded efforts in key areas to extend our impact beyond the buying and selling of goods on fairer terms.
The international Fairtrade system supports producer organizations as they work to address human rights issues in their communities, including child and forced labor, gender equality, and challenges resulting from climate change. These challenges often fall outside of the scope of certification, which is why Fairtrade has established a holistic programmatic approach to ensure that producers are able to build local expertise and capacity.
Fairtrade’s innovative Youth Inclusive Community-Based Monitoring and Remediation (YICBMR) system on child labor puts children and young people at the heart of Fairtrade’s approach. This rights-based, inclusive approach builds on the capacity of children and youth in and around producer organizations to contribute to identifying and responding to child and forced labor.
As of 2015, producer organizations in 11 countries are piloting child protection programs, including Belize, Paraguay, Mexico, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Zambia and India.
The system aims to proactively identify and respond to child labor, ensuring that young people are removed from exploitation and hazardous work, and provided with developmental opportunities. Prevention projects are also utilized to improve primary, secondary and vocational education and support young people searching for decent employment.
Among the challenges that Fairtrade producers face, the effects of climate change are at the top. Unpredictable weather patterns, increases in pests, and the rampant spread of disease threaten the livelihoods of many. In December 2015, Fairtrade launched the Fairtrade Climate Standard at COP21, the Climate Change Conference. The new Standard, developed in partnership with the Gold Standard, enables producers to reduce their carbon emissions while improving their resilience to climate change.
Gender inequality is often seen as just a women’s issue, but it is much more. It’s about power balances between men and women, it’s about discrimination, and it’s about changing perceptions. Achieving gender equality in agriculture means empowering farmers, farm workers and their employers to build communities where all feel equally valued.
In March 2016, Fairtrade International launched a refreshed Gender Strategy 2016-2020. In addition, the CLAC, Fairtrade’s Producer Network representing producers in Latin America and the Caribbean, established a leadership program for women in six coffee cooperatives. The program will be implemented in the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda in 2017. Read more about CLAC’s program here.
Fairtrade is more than 1.6 million farmers and workers around the world. Here are a few of their inspiring stories.