The Global Picture of Fair Trade: Building the New Economy
AUTHOR: Larissa Kanhai
FEATURING: SARAH DE LANGE, WFTO AND CHRIS SOLT, FTF
In 2016, the Canadian Fair Trade Network passed a motion at their AGM in regards to the recognition of membership organizations that were robust at putting fair trade and the treatment of small producers at the forefront of their mission. In this session, it was nice to get an overview of how the membership organizations of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) differ from single commodity-type certifications such as the Small Producers Symbol (SPP) and Fairtrade International. Most of the goods these two membership organizations are promoting are made of composite materials that are mostly artisanal or handicraft in nature. The WFTO and FTF are now working more in tandem with their membership organizations so that they can provide the right support to producers within their respective sphere and point producers who wish to obtain certification to the right organization. While FTF’s membership is solely in North America (USA and Canada based businesses), the WFTO has a worldwide mandate.
Some new developments include the newly released publication by WFTO titled “Creating the New Economy: Business models that put people and planet first”. The WFTO also has a membership for Northern Producers, something recently implemented that would acknowledge indigenous artisans living in the northern hemisphere, inclusive of refugees that may have been displaced from their home countries. Chris Solt from the Fair Trade Federation also elaborated on the benefits of being part of their business network, likening it to being part of a collaborative community rather than individual completing businesses. Members feel part of a family and therefore they do their part to promote all members of the organization. The closer relationship between the WFTO and the FTF has potential to build even greater capacity for small producers who may need to pivot into new arenas in order to keep their businesses viable and relevant in today’s “society of convenience”, competing against big companies such as Amazon, while staying true to the core values of why these membership organizations are needed in the first place: putting people and planet first.