Fairtrade products are now a common sight in our shops and supermarkets and the Fairtrade logo is well known to consumers with international sales growing more than 20% every year. More and more people are becoming aware of what is behind Fairtrade and why these products are important.
By purchasing Fairtrade products we can not only enjoy great quality food, drink, textiles and other goods but also contribute to the fight against global poverty and trade injustice. The Fairtrade label is a guarantee that the producer has received a fair deal both in terms of the price received and the terms of trade.
Linda is the founder and chair of the European Parliament Fair Trade Group. She has had the opportunity to visit Fairtrade producers in many developing countries including Ghana and the Windward Islands, seeing at first hand how Fairtrade is making a real difference to some of the poorest people in these countries. With the social premium attached to Fairtrade products, producers are not only guaranteed a fair price that covers the costs of production but are given enough financial support and information to provide them with a truly sustainable livelihood. This extra support provides communities with things which we in the western world often take for granted, such as food, housing, health and education.
How can you support Fairtrade?
Fairtrade means that everyone can play a part and improve the livelihood and quality of life of producers in the developing world. With over 2000 high quality and reasonably priced Fairtrade goods being sold in the UK, supporting Fairtrade is certainly not an act of selfless charity. There are also lots of opportunities to get involved with the Fairtrade movement and start promoting Fairtrade products in your local area. One big way of making a difference is to officially convert your school, university, church, synagogue, mosque, workplace, or even town to being a Fairtrade institution or area. In addition the Fairtrade Fortnight that takes place in the spring of every year offers the chance of setting up or attending events that aim to raise awareness among consumers and policy makers of the value of supporting Fairtrade. For more information on these and other ways of getting involved, please visit the Fairtrade foundation website http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/.
Promoting Fairtrade in the European Parliament
As chair of the Fairtrade Working Group in the European Parliament, Linda works with MEPs from all parties and countries to promote Fairtrade products and policies within EU institutions.
As a result of the group's efforts Fairtrade tea and coffee is now automatically served in all European Parliament meetings and events and Fairtrade products are available in our restaurants and canteens.
The most important work of the Fairtrade Working Group is in raising awareness of the value of Fairtrade as an example of how just trading practices can benefit both the producer and consumer. The group has held hearings and events within the European Parliament to allow NGOs, producers, farmers and companies to debate and discuss issues relating to Fairtrade with European politicians.
One of the key achievements of the Fairtrade Working Group was the adoption by the full parliament of a Resolution on Fairtrade and Development. This called for the European Commission to propose a coherent EU policy on Fairtrade and to lead the way in supporting Fairtrade policies and procurement practices. The group is now working closely with the European Commission and Ministers in the Council to make sure this Resolution is acted upon and real progress on Fairtrade is made.
The group also organise an annual Fairtrade Breakfast at the European Parliament, with the participation of the European Commission to discuss how Fairtrade can better be supported at EU level and how we can help achieve trade justice. This year the European Parliament welcomed Fairtrade producers from Tanzania and Malawi to give us their account of how Fairtrade has changed their lives.
Promoting Fairtrade in the constituency
Every year Linda’s constituency office supports the Fairtrade Fortnight campaign. This year schools and other organisations all over the country took part in the ‘Great Cotton Stitch Up’ campaign making bunting from Fairtrade cotton. Linda supported this campaign and visited local schools who had participated. Year 7 and Year 8 pupils at King Ecgbert school presented Linda with their Fairtrade bunting which they had produced and which measured 32.22metres long. This was added to bunting made by schools and other organisations throughout the country to set a new world record. She also met with Development Education Centres across the region and spoke on Fairtrade at the Leeds DEC event and at the Fairtraders Cooperative in Holmfirth.