University of Guelph

The University of Guelph Fair Trade Commitment

Through work by the student group Engineers Without Borders and Hospitality Services, the University of Guelph has become the first university east of the Rockies to be accredited as a "Fair Trade University"  

In 2013 The University of Guelph expressed its commitment to the objectives of Fair Trade and has secured this through the University Purchasing Code of Conduct and through the mission of the Office of Sustainability.

What is Fair Trade? Why Fair Trade?

The Fair Trade movement aims empower producers and promote development in developing countries, through more equitable trade relations. It allows small scale farmers to gain access to markets, reduces the exploitation of farmers by the middlemen and protects farmers against market fluctuations. Buying Fair Trade Certified products mean that the farmers on Fair Trade co-ops that produce the products receive a minimum baseline price for what they produce, and this protects them against market fluctuations and ensures a decent standard of living. For coffee, this is $1.26 US/lb, whereas they may only get much less at times due to market fluctuations. In addition, an additional Fair Trade premium on top of this baseline price goes towards the co-op, who decides how best to spend the money on community development projects. Lastly, Fair Trade products adhere to strict worker’s rights standards as set out by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and environmental standards are fulfilled during production. And yes, this means that there is no child labour involved in production! In addition to coffee, tea and chocolates, there are also Fair Trade Certified bananas, sugars, honey and many other products.

What is a Fair Trade Campus?

The designation as a Fair Trade Campus by Fair Trade Canada means that all of the coffee served at non-franchise locations on campus is Fair Trade Certified coffee, and at least three Fair Trade Certified tea options and one Fair Trade Certified chocolate is available everywhere such products are available. It also means that Hospitality Services and the University administration will continue to work towards providing more and more Fair Trade options to students, and will work towards to raise awareness about Fair Trade through signage, auxiliary information and events. As a campus of over 20 000 students, faculty and staff, our campus can make a huge difference through our purchase decisions. Our university is only the third campus in Canada, and first one in Ontario, to obtain the designation!

How did we get there?

The university has had a long history of commitment towards sustainability and ethical purchasing. This can be seen in the actions of the Ethical Conduct Committee, its ethical buying policies, the Sustainability Office, Hospitality Services’ Local Sustainability Plan and is an integral part of the university’s culture. The campus started replacing regular coffee with Fair Trade certified coffee about six years ago. Fair Trade Certified chocolates and teas came to the campus more recently.  

The Fair Trade Campus initiative on campus was led by the Engineers Without Borders Chapter on campus, as well as the Fair Trade Campus Committee. The Engineers Without Borders chapter on campus has organized many outreach events to increase awareness about Fair Trade and was also instrumental in bringing the Fair Trade Campus Committee together. The group has organized many outreach events, such as panel discussions, reverse trick-or-treat, movie nights, University Centre outreach day. The Fair Trade Campus committee brought together Senior administration, the Sustainability office, Hospitality Services, the Central Student Association, a faculty rep and Engineers Without Borders to further this initiative.

Fair Trade Designation: 
Yes - complete
Designation date: 
November, 2012
Designation number in Canada: