Fair Trade Charter: Second Round of Consultation
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Message from the Chairs of the Working Group
Dear WFTO Member/Fair Trade colleague,

The Working Group on the Fair Trade Charter is pleased to send a draft of the proposed Charter for stakeholder review and feedback. We request that you do this using this survey by 20th MARCH 2017. This will enable us to meet our deadlines for passing the Charter through various meetings in the coming months.

The draft [download here http://bit.ly/2l2Yagv (copy-paste URL link)] has taken account of the following points of feedback from stakeholders to the “Skeleton with Meat” document circulated during 2016.

1. Name of document. The Working Group has settled on the name of The Fair Trade Charter.

2. Purpose. As requested by several respondents, the Preamble to the Charter sets out three specific purposes which the Working Group believes are most important.

3. Differentiation from existing policy documents and criteria documents. It is important to note that the Charter is not intended to replace documents such as WFTO’s “10 Principles of Fair Trade” or other, similar documents that define specific approaches to Fair Trade. Rather the document aims to be a non-technical explanation of the overall objectives and approaches that are shared by the movement and that differentiate it from other initiatives for ethical or sustainable business.

4. Political context: The Charter now includes a section entitled “The Need for Fair Trade” that sets out a political perspective on the problems the movement seeks to address. Suggestions for this section included unequal distribution of power in supply chains, exploitation of marginalised producers, and lack of respect for the environment.

5. Concise and easy to read: The attached draft is the result of several rounds of discussion and revision by the working group to produce a document that meets these criteria.

6. Definition of Fair Trade: From the beginning, the Working Group has aimed to retain the “FINE definition” for Fair Trade as this has been widely accepted by the movement for many years. However, since the constituent organisations of FINE have evolved to new names or structures over the last 15 years, the document now refers to this definition as having been agreed by the main global networks since 2001, with some elaboration of this statement in a footnote.

7. Fair Trade’s wider relevance. The Working Group believes it has responded to feedback from the first round of consultation that the Charter should highlight connections and synergies between Fair Trade and issues such as:
a. Fair Trade’s relevance to government and inter-government agendas to tackle poverty and inequality, especially the Sustainable Development Goals
b. Environment and especially climate change
c. How Fair Trade principles apply to workers rights, labour rights and decent work
d. How Fair Trade contributes to gender equity and the rights of the child
e. The need for responsible consumption as part of fairer trade and the role of citizens/consumers in driving change through both purchasing and campaigning.

8. Recognising new approaches to Fair Trade. The Working Group noted several requests for the Charter to recognise Fair Trade’s development beyond its historic focus on trade from historically poorer countries (“the South”) to the established industrial economies (“The North”) and to recognise the development of North-North, South-South, and Domestic Fair Trade initiatives. At the same time, the Working Group noted that the simplistic labelling of countries as “North” or “South” is increasingly regarded as inappropriate. The draft Charter has attempted to find a more suitable explanation of new Fair Trade approaches and would welcome further feedback on how well this has been achieved.

9. The Working Group has sought to take account of requests to avoid reference to producers and workers as “beneficiaries” of Fair Trade and to respect their role as development actors.

10. The Working Group noted comments that sections proposed in the “Skeleton with Meat” document on “the future for Fair Trade” and “challenges facing Fair Trade” were too internal and/or too technical and have removed these from later drafts.

11. Likewise, the Working Group decided not to include a history of the Fair Trade movement as versions of this can be found on the websites of many Fair Trade networks (WFTO, FI, EFTA).

12. The Working Group noted requests for the Charter to address “fairwashing” and unproven ethical claims but felt these were too negative in a document that needs to convey our positive vision. However, the document explains how the movement works to secure and maintain the trust of civil society, including (but not exclusively) through standards and assurance schemes, and continually stresses the important role of dedicated Fair Trade Organisations as drivers of change.

13. The Working Group received many comments on the need for an inclusive process that would result in a single document for the entire movement but felt that this topic was outside the scope of its terms of reference and referred the matter to the Board of WFTO. The Working Group notes there has been considerable progress in developing an overall process under the joint leadership of WFTO and Fairtrade International (who jointly developed the original Charter in 2009) and it is understood that the Charter will be adopted by the General Assemblies of both organisations with further steps of a process for other organisations to endorse or adopt the Charter to be proposed in due course.

The draft Fair Trade Charter is the result of a lot of work by members of the Working Group and we thank them for all their efforts.

Luis Heller & Sophie Tack, Co-Chairs of the Working Group

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