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Fair Trade: A Global Commitment to Economic and Social Equity

Fair trade arises as a response to inequality in the distribution of benefits in the global production chain. Its objective is to guarantee equitable conditions for producers and workers, promoting social and environmental justice in international trade.



In the globalized world in which we live, the acquisition of goods and products has become an everyday and seemingly simple task. However, there is a complex production and supply chain behind every product we buy, involving workers from all over the world. In many cases, the chain does not guarantee an equitable distribution of benefits, which leaves the original producers in an unfavorable economic situation. The Fair Trade movement has emerged precisely to combat this inequality.


Although fair trade, also known as ethical trade, is an old idea, it has grown in popularity in recent decades. Although it was born in the 1960s, its greatest decline occurred at the beginning of the 21st century. Since then, certified sales volume has increased significantly. According to a study published by Fairtrade Ibérica, the sale of Fair Trade products in Spain has increased by 221% in the last five years, reaching a value of 138.6 million euros in 2022.



Fundamental Principles of Fair Trade

Fair trade is based on strong principles that aim to ensure a level playing field for producers and workers in the supply chain. The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) has established international principles including:


  • Opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers: the objective is to facilitate the transition from poverty to economic self-sufficiency.

  • Accountability and transparency: All parties in business relationships must participate in decision making.

  • Fair business practices: Relationships are based on trust, solidarity and respect for cultural identity.

  • Fair Price: A mutually agreed upon price that is considered reasonable and appropriate for the local situation.

  • No to forced labor or child labor: children's rights are respected and forced labor is prohibited.

  • Non-discrimination, gender equality and freedom of union association: gender equality is promoted and the right to freely associate is respected.

  • Decent working conditions: a safe and healthy work environment is provided.

  • Business capacity development: Helps producers improve their skills and increase their market access.

  • Fair trade promotion: Customers are informed about fair trade products and organisations.

  • Respect for the environment: Responsible and sustainable practices for the environment are promoted.




The Fair Trade movement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) share the same purpose: to combat poverty and promote a dignified life for all, as well as protect the environment. United Nations reports indicate that although poverty has decreased, it still affects approximately 12% of the world's population, and the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. In 2015, representatives of 193 governments signed the SDGs, which comprise 17 concrete goals to ensure prosperity and overcome poverty by 2030.


Both Fair Trade and the Sustainable Development Goals share two main approaches: a comprehensive perspective on development that considers economic, social and environmental aspects, and the need to collaborate and establish global alliances to address the challenges of poverty and inequality. More than 400 members of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) approved the Charter of Fair Trade Principles, which establishes ten principles that address social, economic and environmental issues, with the aim of helping the development of producer organizations and their communities. and increase global awareness of environmental issues.


On the other hand, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals with specific objectives to end poverty, ensure peace and prosperity for all and Protect the environment. These goals, which were agreed in 2015, are a global commitment to solve the biggest challenges facing humanity. Fair Trade and the SDGs are movements that offer hope and a call to action to build a more just, equitable and sustainable world for present and future generations.



Fair Trade Challenges and Opportunities

Although progress has been made, fair trade still faces a series of obstacles that prevent its expansion. A major obstacle is the lack of awareness and social sensitization on this issue. Many consumers are unaware of fair trade and its benefits, making its adoption difficult.


The perception that fair trade products are more expensive can discourage potential buyers. However, it is important to consider the true cost of products and the impact our purchasing decisions will have on society and the environment.


Fair trade has many benefits for producers, consumers and the environment, despite the difficulties. It builds consumer trust, encourages ethical and sustainable business practices, and helps the economic and social growth of disadvantaged communities around the world.


There is no doubt that this movement aims to transform conventional business practices by promoting transparency, labor dignity and respect for the environment through its founding principles. Its expansion and growth provide hope for a future in which all workers, regardless of geographic location, receive fair compensation for their work, despite the challenges they face. By supporting fair trade, we not only choose high-quality and ethical products, but we also help create a more humane and caring world. As conscious consumers, it is time to recognize the power of purchasing decisions and decide to support a business system that puts people and planet first.

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