The Fair Trade Advocacy Office, based in Brussels, coordinates the political activities of the four main Fair Trade Networks: FLO-I, IFAT, NEWS and EFTA (see further links below). These four networks bring together over one million Fair Trade producers from more than 60 countries, 20 national labelling initiatives, hundreds of specialized Fair Trade importers, 3000 worldshops and more than 100,000 volunteers.
On 15th to 17th October 2007 the office organized a series of events, including a two-days Advocacy Forum meeting among Fair Trade activists, discussing various advocacy issues and an international conference.
The Advocacy Forum (October 15-16) aimed to start a network of fair trade advocacy actors within the four movements. Participants came from a broad level of experience in advocacy activity, including 2 representatives from new EU member states (Hungary and Malta) and also members with a long history of advocacy work such as Ctm Altromercato (Italy) and Traidcraft (UK) - to mention just a few examples.
The participants’ expectations were of different levels, but the general wish for achieving more collaboration and reaching more common positions was expressed throughout the forum. Another important need identified, was to improve the communication channels between the office and fair trade advocacy actors.
On the first day, there were six small working groups, to which each participant could attend two. Nathalie Grima (Malta) attended the ones about Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Fair Trade commodities. Both groups were first focused on giving updates on the issues and also on what kind of advocacy work each participant had been involved on the subject. One action proposed by the EPAs group, was to circulate an already existing draft letter addressed to DG Trade, so that it can be signed by all Fair trade advocacy actors. Regarding Fair Trade commodities, there is still a strong need to make a bigger effort to share more information on who is working on which commodity, in order to come to joint positions and share the research and work being done.
Gyorgyi Ujszaszi (Hungary) attended the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) working group and the group "Can Fair Trade influence the wider corporate practices?" Traidcraft with Oxfam Wereldwinkels Belgium and IDEAS, introduced their newly developed guidelines for coffee and tea companies about best practice of purchasing. Participants showed interest in examining the documents and in making efforts for working together in the near future.
The first session on the second day, was a meeting with DG Trade Head of Unit Ms. Ditte Juul-Jorgensen. The aim of the meeting was to share information about the European Commission’s policy regarding Fair Trade. She explained that there is a genuine interest to involve Fair Trade in different DGs such as Development, Trade, Consumer rights, Environment, etc. She replied and took note to various questions coming from the participants.
The forum concluded with a very positive note in that the Fair Trade Advocacy Office is very keen on listening to the participants’ needs and suggestions on how to continue improving the network.
For information on the international conference "Fair Trade: a lever for change" which took place on October 17, please turn to: http://www.fairtrade-advocacy.org/pastevents.html
For more information please contact Ms. Anja Osterhaus on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.fairtrade-advocacy.org
Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International FLO-I: http://www.fairtrade.net
International Fair Trade Association IFAT: http://www.ifat.org
Network of European Worldshops NEWS: http://www.worldshops.org
European Fair Trade Association EFTA: http://www.eftafairtrade.org
Information provided by Gyorgyi Ujszaszi, Protect the Future, Hungary, and Nathalie Grima, Koperattiva Kummerc Gust, Malta.