Fairtrade launches new Communities Scheme to mobilise grassroots campaigners for trade justice
The Fairtrade Foundation has launched a new-look Fairtrade Communities scheme designed to mobilise and resource grassroots campaigners across the UK to stand up for trade justice.
Launched this month, the scheme will simplify the processes involved in becoming a Fairtrade Community. It aims to widen participation across all avenues of Fairtrade campaigning by making applications for Fairtrade Community status more accessible than ever.
Since the world’s first Fairtrade Town was announced in 2002, more than 650 Fairtrade Communities have emerged nationwide. These include Fairtrade Towns, Cities, Islands, Villages, Boroughs, Counties and Zones, all committed to coming together to campaign for fairness in the international trade system, in support of farmers and workers in low-income countries who grow products such as coffee, cocoa, tea and bananas.
Previously, groups (such as towns and cities) had to apply for a Fairtrade Award by meeting a set of stringent criteria. However, under the updated scheme, people are now being invited to support Fairtrade by demonstrating their ‘ongoing commitment’ to working and acting for fairer trade in their communities. Award certificates from Fairtrade Foundation will now award a group’s commitment, rather than the achievement of certain criteria.
The Fairtrade Communities scheme features five new ‘Campaign Action Areas’ that supporters can engage with: boosting Fairtrade (encouraging the purchase and use of Fairtrade products); connecting Fairtrade (partnering with others in the Fairtrade movement and beyond); being ‘fair trade changemakers’ (growing support for fairer trade locally); being Fairtrade ambassadors (raising awareness of how fairer trade supports social change); and being Fairtrade influencers (growing support for fairer trade through digital channels).
Eight new case studies produced by Fairtrade highlight the variety of ways campaigners have been taking action across these areas during the past year. These include online debates in London and Dubai, social media activism with a giant teddy bear in Felixstowe, special certificates to reward businesses in Bradford and a big banana bike ride in Jersey.
Sarah Hazlehurst, Campaigns Manager for the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Fairtrade campaigners here in the UK are part of an energetic and passionate global movement. For more than two decades they have used their collective power to shine a spotlight on the injustices facing the people who grow some of our best loved products. UK campaigners, including churches, are a vital part of our mission to ensure farmers and workers in low-income countries get the fair pay, better conditions and support they need to escape poverty, thrive into the future and tackle challenges such as the climate crisis.
“We’ve been proud to run our Fairtrade Town and Cities award for 23 years. However, after consulting with our campaigners in the past year, it was clear that they were ready for change and ready to move away from often time-consuming process of applying for Fairtrade Town or City status. So we are excited to relaunch the Communities scheme as an ongoing commitment, rather than an award.”
She continued: “Through this refreshed scheme we’ll be able to provide much more support, resources and leadership to our local campaign base across the UK. As a result, we hope to see many more people partnering with us to stand up for fairer trade, so that more farmers and workers overseas can, in turn, drive positive change in their own communities.
“Great Big Green Week, which took place last month and saw many Fairtrade supporters taking part, is just one example of the power of collective action. Whether it’s through organising local events, asking their workplaces to support Fairtrade, encouraging their friends and family to choose Fairtrade products when they shop, influencing councils and businesses, or calling on the government for change – whatever action our campaigners take, it all adds up to make a big difference.”
As part of the launch, the Fairtrade Foundation has published a Campaigns Action Guide created to inspire and resource new and existing campaigners interested in joining the movement for trade justice. The guide explores the concept of trade justice, how Fairtrade works, how to become a Fairtrade campaigner, and ideas for campaigning across the different action areas.
At the same time, the Fairtrade Foundation has launched a new online platform, known as the Community Space, where Communities can register, complete their online commitment to Fairtrade and gain their Community Certification.
As well as Fairtrade Communities, the Fairtrade Foundation also oversees awards for Fairtrade Schools, Fairtrade Universities and Colleges, and Places of Worship groups (the majority being churches).