Sustainable Design Awards Toolkit
Section 1.5 - Fair Trade
What is Fair Trade? A statement on the Network of European World Shops website
describes Fair Trade as follows:
"Fair Trade puts people before profit.
To understand Fair Trade, it is important to look at unfair trade, in order to
It is a partnership between producers, traders and consumers who are working to
remove the disadvantages suffered by producers, to increase producers' access
to markets and promote the sustainable development process.
Fair Trade works to create means and opportunities for producers, especially
disadvantaged, small-scale producers, to improve their living and working
conditions. Its mission is to promote social equity, environmental protection
and economic security through trade, awareness-raising and campaigning.
Fair prices are ensured to producers. That price covers a reasonable
income, environmental protection and economic security.
Long term co-operation allows producers to finance the development of
Good working conditions are experienced by producers in Fair Trade.
They have a voice about their work and organisation.
Respect and promotion of human rights, especially those of women, children
and disabled people, are the basis of Fair Trade.
Assistance to the development of ecologically sound products and care for
sustainable production are established in the Fair Trade partnership."11
It is common practice in the Western Bengali area of India for
moneylenders to offer money in return for labour. Fathers often borrow from
these moneylenders to pay dowries for their daughters' marriage. In a typical
example, a father commits to working in a carpet factory for a number of years
in order to pay off the debt. However, the working conditions are appalling, and
the father's labour is unpaid, so he develops further debt when borrowing more
money to feed his family. This traps him into working at the carpet factory for
longer, and his debt increases in a cycle, which cannot be broken.
The carpets are then described to exporters as authentic, traditional hand-made
Indian rugs, and are sold at huge mark ups, increasing the moneylender's wealth
and his ability to trap more labourers. The workers receive none of the profit
and only the middleman benefits.
In contrast, at the Tibetan Children's Village in Dharamsala, Northern India,
refugees from Tibet make and sell carpets as a community, to support and educate
themselves. The hand-knotted carpets are made to patterns which have been handed
down through the oral tradition. As a community, there is a good working environment,
and continuity of employment and income, which helps to prevent the cycle of debt,
and keeps the producers in control of how their profits are spent.12
11.Quoted from http://www.worldshops.org/fairtrade/index.htm - last visited 23-06-2020
12.Source: Shukriya - Trading Policy. Shukriya is a fair trade company working in India and Nepal