Fair Trade Movement Calls for Urgent Rethink on Climate Action

This month, the Fair Trade movement called 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 United Nation’s 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 demanded that financial pledges to support countries and communities most exposed to climate risks are met.

“Climate change has become impossible to ignore, and so is the fact that its impacts are unfair and unequal,” said 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.”

Fair Trade Movement Calls for Urgent Rethink on Climate Action
(Photo by: Voyata / BigStock.com)

The three organizations – who together represent more than two million farmers, producers, workers and artisans in small and midsize enterprises 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,” said Charlotte Vernier, the FTAO senior coordinator and lead on climate change and deforestation.

The three Fair Trade organizations identified several areas for immediate improvement which, it says, will significantly help climate finance delivering on its objectives. This includes:

  • With adaptation finance flows running at five to 10 times below the estimated needs, prioritizing 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 from a climate catastrophe, which is not of their making.

 A Multi-Dimensional Approach Is Needed, Says Expert

“Climate finance plays an important role but is not a magic wand,” said 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,” said 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, prioritizing, implementing and monitoring efficient climate tools, the three organizations noted.

“Farmers and farming communities are best placed to identify specific challenges and solutions in their local context,” explained 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.”

Vernier concluded: “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 decarbonization with a global fight against inequalities and poverty.”

Fairtrade International, the FTAO and WFTO will be at COP28 to support producers, farmers and workers in their fight for climate justice.

Download the full joint statement and a three-page summary here.

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