A new guide to fair trade labels aimed at helping consumers and companies navigate the increasingly confusing world of sustainability and ethical schemes has praised Fairtrade for its track record on workers’ rights, protecting the environment and unique premium payments.
The International Guide to Fair Trade Labels, published by the Fair World Project, analyses and rates both non-profit and corporate labels, as well as current trends in ethical labelling and the fair trade movement.
The report’s authors conclude: “Fairtrade International is the oldest and globally best known fair trade label… Despite the development of new labels, it remains the primary actor in the sector acting as the main point of reference… an ever-evolving label that reinvents itself to address contemporary challenges.”
Fairtrade gains top marks in 31 out of 45 categories – more than any other global label. The report points out that Fairtrade is 50 percent owned and run by the producers themselves and notes the organization’s commitment to wide consultation with stakeholders.
Among the aspects of Fairtrade’s approach which earned top marks are health and safety, workers’ rights and prevention of forced labour; energy, waste and water management, and protecting biodiversity; democratic decision making and capacity building in Small Producer Organizations and Hired Labour Organizations; gender equality; and rights for disadvantaged, minority and indigenous groups.
In addition, Fairtrade’s new, stronger standards on the prevention of deforestation and adaptation to climate change are also highlighted, as is the unique Fairtrade Premium – the extra sum of money that producers and workers can decide for themselves how to spend on improving their farms or communities.
In a direct comparison with other clothing and cotton labels, Fairtrade’s textile standard is specifically singled out for praise. As the authors note, “Fairtrade International’s textile standard give workers a voice in high level of leadership and requires worker representation, collective bargaining and living wages.”
“I am delighted that Fairtrade continues to be recognised as a global leader in sustainability and ethical standards,” said Dario Soto Abril, CEO of Fairtrade International. “But we’re never complacent – we know there is still much more to do before we achieve trade justice, including decent incomes for workers and producers, which we are actively working to achieve.”
Taken together, the report concludes, the eight fair trade labels analysed in the report are becoming “a source of inspiration for new global regulations supporting economic justice and protection of the environment.”