International Fair Trade Towns Conference, Fair Trade Advocacy Marathon, COP 28, 12th UN Forum for Business and Human Rights and Fairtrade Global Awards!
In 2023, Fairtrade NAPP experienced an exhilarating year with active representation at various global events. Our delegates and staff played a significant role, amplifying the voices of our producers and championing our mission on a global stage.
- 16th International Fair Trade Towns Conference in Switzerland.
This year, Pravakar Meher, Chair of the Fairtrade Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP), served as the representative for the organization at the 16th International Fair Trade Towns Conference in Switzerland. The conference facilitated discussions on diverse topics, including international campaigns, strategies, and stakeholder activation within the Fairtrade movement. Through his engagement, Fairtrade effectively communicated the transformative influence of Fairtrade practices, emphasizing the positive outcomes experienced by those at the heart of the movement. By providing a platform to hear the voices of Global South producers and explore innovative research, products, and models, the conference played a pivotal role in amplifying Fairtrade’s impact on farmers, artisans, and communities.
- Fair Trade Advocacy Marathon in Brussels, Belgium.
This year, Fairtrade NAPP was represented by Ms Bindu S., the Senior Manager Partnership and Advocacy, in the “Fair Trade Advocacy Marathon” from 23 to 27 October 2023. Organized by Fairtrade Advocacy Office (FTAO) and co-funded by the European Commission, the five-day event gathered various global Fair Trade movement actors from around the world including producers, civil society partners, and European Union policymakers. This event was covered by the Framework Partnership agreement project between Fairtrade International and the European Commission.
The events included the European Parliament Fair Trade Breakfast, co-hosted by the FTAO and MEP Bernd Lange, chair of the European Parliament Fair Trade Working Group (EP FTWG). This was preceded by a series of workshops and meetings including engagement with Fair Trade producers in Brussels, as well as a high-level event with European Union policymakers on key legislations such as the European Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due diligence, EU Deforestation Regulation and the opportunities and challenges for smallholder farmers. In embracing multifaceted discussions, this event has steadfastly strengthened Fairtrade’s commitment, showcasing a unified dedication to advancing Fair Trade principles worldwide.
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held from 30th November to 11th December 2023.
This year, Fairtrade amplified the voices of producers on the global stage, addressing climate change at the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Represented by our Climate Focal Point and Program Consultant from Vietnam, Tran Ban Hung, who delivered a compelling speech during the session, ‘Protecting the world’s forests: Learnings from local efforts and international trade measures on deforestation-free Global Value Chains.’
The panel featured diverse delegates sharing insights on the subject. For Tran Ban Hung, it was a profound experience. His speech underscored Fairtrade’s position on global challenges, emphasizing how it significantly aligns with the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) and highlighting proactive measures by our farmers to combat climate change. The engagement at the UNFCCC reflects Fairtrade’s holistic approach to sustainable agriculture and its dedication to addressing pressing global issues.
Farming is everything for the people in my community. So as a youth, I feel it is my duty to find solutions to the obstacles they are facing and support them to tackle these challenges.”
This year, Fairtrade was also represented by our delegate, Ms. Shashila Dilani Karunarathna Konara Mudiyanselage, the documentation officer at the Monaragala Organic Farmers Association in Sri Lanka. Ms. Shashila participated in two key events at the conference, shedding light on crucial aspects of sustainable agriculture and youth involvement.
In the first event, “Circularity of Food Systems – Climate Sustainable Solutions for Future Food Production,” Ms. Shashila explored the pivotal role of networks in advancing sustainable agriculture. She shared insights into implementing nutrient recycling practices on their farms and discussed challenges hindering the widespread adoption of circular economy practices in Sri Lanka. The second event, “The role of youth in smallholder Agriculture – Accelerating Climate Adaptation,” focused on the unique challenges faced by the youth in her community amid climate change. Emphasizing the need for capacity building in agricultural adaptation, Ms. Shashila discussed challenges like limited access to financial services and deficiencies in essential technology, knowledge, and skills. Ms. Shashila’s active engagement showcased Fairtrade NAPP’s commitment to addressing multifaceted issues in sustainable agriculture.
- 12th UN Forum for Business and Human Rights.
This year at the 12th UN Forum for Business and Human Rights was held in Geneva from 27th to 29th November 2023, where participants from governments, businesses, and civil society gathered to discuss all things related to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Ms. Sonia Dominica, Social Compliance and Risk Senior Manager – Asia Pacific represented Fairtrade NAPP where she found it to be educational and interesting to hear stories from countries and areas.
Despite the growing corporate awareness of responsibilities and commitments to human rights and environmental protection, there is an inherent need to move beyond a ‘tick the box’ mindset by placing compliance at the heart of what they do. It is imperative to recognize the importance of stakeholder engagement, considering power asymmetry, and the need for companies to connect with diverse voices, including human rights defenders, unions, and indigenous communities.
There was a clear focus on just transition throughout the talks and the importance of partnerships between suppliers and companies to work together on climate action was highlighted several times. Other vital issues including child labour, forced labour, and Freedom of Association were discussed, and it was a chance to reflect on wider social risk issues and the role of companies in remediating. There was a notable session on Worker-driven remedy in global supply chains that recognized challenges in addressing downstream supply chain issues due to limited leverage despite upstream HREDD being a robust fashion.
In contemplating existing regulations, including EU initiatives like CSDDD, the forum acknowledged the imminent need for practical implementation, recognizing the diversity in approaches and priorities across companies. Today, the forum remains vital in shaping impactful business cases. Fairtrade NAPP has been working together to support our Producer Organisations in a manner that best suits our producer organizations and involve them with the capacity they have and build over it.
- Fairtrade Global Awards and Business Sumit in Nairobi, Africa!
The Fairtrade Business Summit three-day program was organized to showcase the impact that can be created when farmers and workers collaborate with businesses worldwide. The Fairtrade Summit brought together Fairtrade farmers and workers in addition to like-minded businesses focused on having a positive impact on their supply chains, and policymakers, including government and civil societies. 2 board members participated, namely, Mr. Xinrong Zhao as a judge and Mr. Rattapraseud as panelist in global awards and business summits. In addition, Mr. Jun Zhao, the program consultant of Fairtrade NAPP joined the summit as a panellist to share his insights and good practices for engaging small producer organisations in digital trade.
‘I learned a lot from counterparts from other countries and also built connections with judges from other countries and organizations.’ – Xinrong Zhao, Shaoxin Shangyu Graham Tea Farmers Association, China.
Hence, the Fairtrade Global Awards provided a platform to acknowledge those actively reshaping our global trade landscape. It is truly inspiring to see how these nominees have harnessed the principles of fairness and sustainability to make a tangible difference in the lives of farmers and workers. Collaboration is always the key to harnessing strong two-way relationships with producer groups, innovating and testing new approaches in collaboration with Fairtrade.
“As a panellist, I shared how SPOs grow when coping with climate change and market volatility with premium financed projects. and I also made connections with many counterparts.” – Rattapraseud, Cooperative des Producteurs de Cafe du Plateau des Bolovens.