Saturday 24 February 2024

Fair Trade Movement calls for urgent rethink on climate action

Sophie Aujean, Global Advocacy Director at Fairtrade International: “Climate change has become impossible to ignore, and so is the fact that its impacts are unfair and unequal. Our general conclusion is one of frustration with our global political leaders. The Fair Trade Movement is shouldering its share of responsibility to build a better tomorrow with determination, but the future of our planet depends on all of us. Tackling the climate emergency requires a shared approach”

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MILAN, Italy – The Fair Trade Movement today calls on governments, businesses and world leaders to scale up joint efforts and take bold, immediate, meaningful and inclusive climate action before it is too late. With less than a month until the UN COP28 climate change conference in the United Arab Emirates, Fairtrade International, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) jointly demandthat financial pledges to support countries and communities most exposed to climate risks are met.

The Fair Trade Movement call for climate action

“Climate change has become impossible to ignore, and so is the fact that its impacts are unfair and unequal,” says Sophie Aujean, Global Advocacy Director at Fairtrade International. “Our general conclusion is one of frustration with our global political leaders. The Fair Trade Movement is shouldering its share of responsibility to build a better tomorrow with determination, but the future of our planet depends on all of us. Tackling the climate emergency requires a shared approach.”

The three organisations – who together represent more than two million farmers, producers, workers and artisans in SMEs and cooperatives across the globe – believe climate finance can play a meaningful role – but only if current shortcomings are adequately addressed.

“To create meaningful and lasting impact, climate justice must be the foundation of all climate action, but the window of opportunity is rapidly narrowing and must be seized now,” says Charlotte Vernier, the FTAO Senior Coordinator and lead on Climate Change and Deforestation.

The Fair Trade Movement identifies several areas for immediate improvement which, it says, will significantly help climate finance delivering on its objectives.

With adaptation finance flows running at five to 10 times below the estimated needs, prioritising actions that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and help communities adapt is becoming more urgent than ever.

Remaining structural barriers need to be addressed – producers – especially small-scale women farmers – must have access to financial products and services that are tailored to their needs to allow them to become more climate-resilient and transition to sustainable agriculture. This includes flexible repayment terms, lower interest rates, and simplified application processes.

Finally, the loss and damage fund agreed at COP27 must not get bogged down in endless discussions about who pays what. The most climate-vulnerable countries already suffer disproportionately for a climate catastrophe which is not of their making.

“Climate finance plays an important role but is not a magic wand,” warns however Vernier. “A multi-dimensional approach is essential to fully understand, prevent and cope with the consequences of the climate crisis we’re facing.” The joint statement makes clear that to achieve a genuine transformation, global leaders urgently need to look at the bigger picture and concrete ways to support smallholders, small businesses and artisans to shift towards climate resilient practices.

“There can be no climate justice without trade justice, and vice-versa,” says WFTO Chief Executive Leida Rijnhout. “Fair Trade Enterprises are leveraging the change we need to shift from an economic system that thrives on exploitative and extractivist practices to a fair one, both for people and the planet. Through their business model, they are proving that alternatives do exist: if we follow their example, we have a concrete chance at achieving sustainable development.”

The active participation of local stakeholders – including farmers, workers and communities – is essential for designing, prioritising, implementing and monitoring efficient climate tools. “Farmers and farming communities are best placed to identify specific challenges and solutions in their local context,” explains Juan Pablo Solís, Senior Adviser on Climate and Environment at Fairtrade International. “Farmers’ expertise and traditional knowledge are key – but the transition to agroecology is unaffordable for most farmers due to unfair market prices and power imbalances in supply chains.”

“For emerging supply chain laws to be truly transformational, global leaders and policymakers therefore need to step up efforts to break down remaining silos and efficiently link measures to facilitate decarbonisation with a global fight against inequalities and poverty” concludes Vernier.

About Fairtrade International

Fairtrade changes the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions, and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries. Fairtrade International is an independent non-profit organisation representing more than two million small-scale farmers and workers worldwide.

It owns the Fairtrade Mark, a registered trademark of Fairtrade that appears on more than 37,000 products. Beyond certification, Fairtrade International and its member organisations empower producers, partner with businesses, engage consumers, and advocate for a fair and sustainable future. Find out more here.

About the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO)

Based in Brussels, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) speaks out on behalf of the Fair Trade Movement for Fair Trade and Trade Justice with the aim to improve the livelihoods of marginalised producers and workers in the South. The FTAO is a joint initiative of Fairtrade International, the World Fair Trade Organization and the World Fair Trade Organization-Europe. The FTAO catalyses collaboration, facilitates knowledge co-creation, and leads the Fair Trade Movement advocacy work on EU legislation, policies and their implementation. Find out more here.

About the World Fair Trade Organization

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is the global community and verifier of enterprises that fully practice Fair Trade. We are an association of visionary Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that believes that a new economy is possible: together, we stand as a collective of entrepreneurial activists and change makers who are at the forefront of advocating for an equitable and sustainable world. Find out more here.

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