Fairtrade International calls on COP27’s world leaders to enhance human rights

An urgent call has been made by Fairtrade International to leaders at the UN COP27 Climate Change Conference in Egypt to deliver on enhancing human rights in supply chains, including for smallholder farmers in the cocoa sector, writes Neill Barston.

The movement called on a total of around 100 global heads of state, including America president Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron who are making the journey to Sharm El Sheik, to commit to making improvements, including on due diligence in supply chains.

However, industry concerns have been expressed that some key players, including China and India, have stayed away from the event – with the two nations that have had a comparatively high burden of pollution issues amid major industrialisation drives over the past decade.

Fairtrade International has called on those nations present at COP27 to help enforce human rights and tackle perceived trade injustices, as well as ensure that climate financing mechanisms reach the world’s smallholder agricultural producers in order to deliver successful and equitable climate action before it is too late.

In a position paper titled The Clock Is Ticking! and released ahead of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27, Fairtrade, the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) have intensified their calls for trade and climate justice, indicating the critical measures for delivering fair climate solutions and demanding the enforcement of public climate commitments and for trade actors to be accountable for their climate promises.

“International trade today is not only one of the leading contributors to climate change, but also drives high costs of doing business that cut across supply chains, affecting farmers readiness to respond to climate catastrophes. As Fairtrade, we seek a multi-stakeholder partnership and collaboration approach, towards addressing efforts that strengthen producers resilience and capacity to manage adverse impacts of climate change,” said Sandra Uwera, Global CEO at Fairtrade International.

“With world leaders, international delegates, and civil society actors now gathering for COP27, Fairtrade and the Fair Trade movement are once again called upon to remind them of their duty to right the global wrongs that continue to disproportionately impact our planet’s most vulnerable communities and deliver equitable climate action once and for all.”

Notably the Fair Trade movement’s position paper calls on leaders of government and the private sector to immediately deliver on climate targets by meeting the $100 billion USD climate aid commitment promised by the end of 2022; ensuring climate finance delivers for small holder farmers, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and workers.

In its view, one of the most effective means of accomplishing joint goals is by including these collective groups in the design of climate programmes; agreeing on regulations that tackle the root causes of environmental degradation, such as deforestation, by penalising non-compliance; and supporting farmers, SMEs, and workers with the costs of adaptation and mitigation. In addition, the paper reiterates the organizations’ long-standing call for businesses to “pay fair prices to smallholder farmers, SMEs and workers.”

“The biggest challenge to combatting climate change is eliminating the current economic system that is dependent on fossil fuels and the extraction of natural resources,” explained Leida Rijnhout, Chief Executive of WFTO. “Without real accountability on what the big polluters are doing, mission-led business models, including SMEs, are the only way to go.”

“WFTO members are showcasing that another economy is possible,” Ms. Rijnhout added. “They can be the driving force to achieve climate justice.”

According to Fairtrade, WFTO, and FTAO, among the persisting obstacles facing small-scale farmers remains the lack of financial assistant to empower them to successfully mitigate and adapt to climate challenges.

In fact, the organisations have long noted that less than 2% of climate finance makes its way to small-scale farmers and that awarding criteria and procedures of financial mechanisms must be aligned to small producers and their organisations so that they can access available funding and manage it in a non-bureaucratic way.

In addition, the Fair Trade organisations are once again urging governments and the private sector to ensure that climate efforts are constructed in an inclusive manner, noting that small-holder farmers and workers have the most comprehensive understanding of how climate change affects their local environments.


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