According to the report Fair Trade and Development of the European Parliament, Fair Trade has proved to be an effective way to support progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and plays an important role in raising awareness of North-South relations, particularly through public campaigns and the strengthening of citizen-to-citizen cooperation.The European Parliament report calls on public authorities in Europe to integrate Fair Trade criteria into their public tenders and purchasing policies.
Defining Fair Trade
The currently accepted definition of Fair Trade, as agreed by Fairtrade Labelling International (FLO) and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), is the following:
"Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the right of, marginalized producers and workers - especially in the South".
Fair Trade and Fairtrade
Fairtrade is used to denote the product certification scheme operated by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO). The approach is called the “product certification route” whereby products complying with international standards are certified indicating that they have been produced, traded processed and packaged in accordance with the specific requirements of those international standards.
Fair Trade Organisations are organisations that include Fair Trade as part of their mission and as a core element of their objectives and activities. WFTO is the global network of Fair Trade Organizations. This approach is called the “integrated supply chain route” whereby products are imported and/or distributed by organisations with Fair Trade at the core of their mission and activities, using it as a development tool to support disadvantaged producers and to reduce poverty, and combine their marketing with awareness-raising and campaigning.
The European Parliament has recognised both approaches as suitable for public procurement.
Timber and Fair Trade
Although more than 20 percent of the world’s population relies on forest resources for its livelihood, thus far there have been relatively few Fair Trade initiatives in the timber section. The STA project is seeking to address this gap. More information combining sustainable forest management and Fair Trade can be found here.
For more information on Fair Trade in the EU please visit the website of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO).
For procurement-specific information on the topic please visit the European Observatory on Fair Trade Public Procurement.