Fairtrade’s COP26 paper calls on global governments to back smallholder farmers over climate solutions

The Fairtrade movement has called on international communities to include smallholder farmers – who are vital to cocoa production, to considered as central in delivering long-term climate solutions, ahead of the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP26) beginning next month in Scotland, reports Neill Barston.

As the global organisation urged, there is a pressing need for nations to intensify actions over perceived trade injustice, enforce transparency and accountability in supply chains, fostering best agricultural practices that deliver on sustainability goals.

In its latest position paper delivered for the key international event, it also called for the international community to fully address the requirement of a living income for farmers across the world, amid a backdrop of many workers earning below UN-defined levels of global poverty – including in core cocoa producing locations of Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Among its core areas of focus, Fairtrade, the World Fair Trade Organisation, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office and 14 additional signatories from the global Fair Trade movement have outlined the critical steps to achieve ‘climate justice’. These measures include urging the private sector to increase transparency and accountability over sustainability in supply chains; calls for greater due diligence, regulations and trade rules, as well as creating funding streams for farmers and producers.

Without these measures in place, the signatory organisations argue that global climate ambitions will continue to fail the planet’s most vulnerable communities, particularly the smallholder farmers and agricultural producers, who remain increasingly affected by the consequences of climate change.

Dr. Nyagoy Nyong’o, Global CEO of Fairtrade International, said: ‘Our planet’s farmers and agricultural workers are on the frontline of the global climate crisis. But far from being victims, they are integral in developing those key climate solutions that can reverse environmental degradation and pave the way towards a more sustainable tomorrow.’

‘That’s why the Fair Trade movement is raising its voice in this bold position paper – to ensure farmers and agricultural workers are included in the COP26 outcomes; to guarantee fair incomes for our planet’s agricultural producers; and to build back better and greener in a post-COVID world.’

Held in Glasgow, Scotland from 31 October to 12 November 2021, COP26 will bring together global leaders and leading stakeholders to discuss the international community’s climate ambitions and a pathway to building back sustainably following the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among its core goals within its position paper, Fairtrade called on governments to impose transparency and accountability measures for supply chains (which the EU is presently considering with its due diligence frameworks), as well as enabling farmers to adapt to climate change and shift to more environmentally sustainable production methods. It called on nations to adhere to Fairtrade values in payment of farmers, as well as well as lobbying for binding legal framework conditions that embed the highest environmental standards into a new, sustainable global trade policy.

‘An economic system that thrives on the exploitation of our planet’s resources and our planet’s people is a broken economic system,’ said Juan Pablo Solís, Fairtrade’s Senior Advisor for Environment and Climate. ‘And climate measures that exclude fairness and climate justice from the core of their targets are measures that will once again fail to achieve real climate action. In Glasgow, global leaders will need to think inclusively if they want have meaningful impact in creating a sustainable tomorrow for all.’

Citing IFAD/CPI research, the Fair Trade movement’s COP26 position paper points out that less than 2% of climate finance makes its way to small scale farmers, adding that awarding criteria and procedures of financial mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund must be aligned to small producers and their organisations so that they can access available funding and manage it in a non-bureaucratic way.

‘Marginalised communities across the world are suffering the severest impact of climate change. Their production practices and personal choices have contributed the least to the current climate crisis but they are the most affected by it,’ said Roopa Mehta, President of WFTO. ‘The call for climate justice requires that these communities have a seat at the negotiating table – their voices heard and their concerns addressed.’

‘Fair Trade business models contribute to the prosperity and well-being of the most marginalised, ensuring trade justice,’ Mehta continued. ‘We urge big businesses, policymakers and other stakeholders to collectively work towards trade and climate justice for building a fairer and sustainable future.’

Sergi Corbalán, Managing Director of the Brussels-based Fair Trade Advocacy Office, echoed Mehta’s call. ‘The world is at a crossroads and business-as-usual is simply not an option,’ Corbalán stated. ‘Governments must take action to set the right policy framework for fair and sustainable global trade. This includes not shying away from legislating, since relaying exclusively on voluntary commitments and market forces will not bring us any closer to achieving the Agenda 2030 objectives and the Paris Agreement.’

UN development goal partnership

Beyond its position paper, Fairtrade and B Lab, a global network of organisations dedicated to transforming the economic system through innovations like the B Corp certification, are set to announce a new partnership aimed at advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As they explained, it is expected that this will be achieved through responsible business practices, sustainable supply chains, and global corporate transparency.

The venture commits B Lab and Fairtrade to knowledge-sharing and collaborative efforts in the development of standards, advocacy, public campaigns and mobilization, as well as the joint creation of special programmes and projects in pursuit of the SDGs as the world races towards the 2030 deadline, also known as Agenda 2030.

“Fairtrade has been leading social and trade justice for almost 30 years,” said Dr. Nyagoy Nyong’o, Global CEO of Fairtrade International. “We are excited that through this key partnership with B Lab we can combine our efforts to bring more businesses into the conversation and to work collaboratively to address the most pressing challenges we face as a society around climate, trade, and human rights.”

According to the United Nations, partnerships are a critical tool for attaining a greener, cleaner and more sustainable future for all. In addition, they are vital to redesigning the global economy in a sustainable and inclusive manner.

In this respect, the B Lab and Fairtrade partnership will actively pursue methods of collaboration that validate and promote the work of the organizations’ partners and stakeholders as a means of implementation for the achievement of the SDGs.


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