It’s been an interesting fortnight. Clear themes have emerged from the information put out by the Fairtrade Foundation and from the insights of my colleagues and I just want to draw attention to some of these:
Climate change shouts at us from every page. If you are a climate activist, you cannot ignore this aspect of the subject which has been spelled out to us over and over again throughout the Fortnight. Climate change is happening. It is drastically affecting the lives and livelihoods of producers in developing countries. It will shortly be affecting the availability of some of our favourite foods – notably coffee, bananas and cocoa - in UK markets.
It is the plight of cocoa farmers that is currently resonating most strongly with me. In the 1990s, attention was drawn to the prevalence of child labour and forced labour in cocoa farming. At the time, this attracted global attention. However, owing both to the changing economic climate and the additional pressures caused by climate change, a lot of the actions agreed then have not been followed through and some improvements have been reversed, so these remain real issues. I am a careful shopper in relation to everything I buy, but I have to say I pay particular attention to where my chocolate comes from. I love it, but I recognise that it is a luxury item for which I must be prepared to pay a proper price - and I certainly don’t want to be inadvertently supporting slavery.
If you’d like to check out your favourite chocolate brand, have a look at the chocolate scorecard and see how they do.
You can make a difference Amidst growing awareness of the scale of the issues that confront us as a world, we have to have hope.
And the messages this week have given us cause for hope:
They have revealed how many people there are ‘out there’ who care and are fighting for trade justice. Think of a world in which people operated in the way that Chris describes in his powerful reflections on his work in Nepal – wouldn’t that be a world worth living in!
And they have given us more ways in which we can ourselves fight back and make a real difference. The simplest way to make a difference is through our own shopping habits:
Look out for trusted logos like those of the Fairtrade Foundation and the World Fair Trade Organisation.
Visit trusted retailers who we know stock items from suppliers who have checked out their supply chains.
If we can – spread the word.
Tell other people interested in the fight to save the planet that this is part of the picture.
In the concluding words of David Attenborough’s powerful recent series ‘Frozen Planet II’:
"If you can do something about it, then do it."
Jenny Hume – chair ‘Global Dimension Group’ of the SGFP