On Saturday October 7th over two hundred volunteers from around the South East attended an all-day Fairtrade Conference in King's College London. The event was set up to provide an opportunity for Fairtrade Supporters and delegates to be informed and inspired by the impact that Fairtrade is having on the lives of people in less developed countries. Guest speakers included Holly Lynch MP, Member of Parliament for Halifax and Co-Founder of the Fairtrade All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).
Fairtrade is now growing in prominence throughout the whole of the UK and abroad, with more and more people recognising the Fairtrade logo as a trustworthy ethical consumer brand. Workshops included one on how to make companies Fairtrade. This involves companies having direct relationships with smallholders, re-investing profit into developing producers, the establishing of innovative ownership models and products and strong advocacy and campaigning.
The conference highlighted the continuing expansion of Fairtrade products. After tea, coffee, sugar, cocoa, cotton and bananas, the latest initiative is Fairtrade certified gold. The aim is to protect the lives and welfare of gold miners around the world who have to suffer the terrible consequences of current gold-mining which includes poor safety and the unregulated use of mercury in the extraction process. The fate of 16 million gold miners around the world depends on the safe extraction of this precious metal.
Fairtrade supports better prices and safer working models in South America and East Africa, encouraging the responsible use of chemicals and prohibiting the use of child labour. In Central America, small Fairtrade Cooperatives such as Coobana are beginning to provide competition to the larger well-established banana exporters who had a monopoly not only on the production of bananas but also their export from the only port in Panama which is owned by Chiquita bananas .The latter had refused to allow Coobana to use the port to export its produce.
Delegates were introduced to Trading Visions which is an educational resource created for use in schools. Visit www.tradingvisions.org for more information. The Fairtrade Foundation also has a list of Youtube video resources suitable for educational settings. Visit www.youtube.com/user/FairtradeFoundation/Playlists for ideas. It was heartening to see so many different groups represented at this event, all united by their passion for social justice and development through Fairtrade.