Canadian Students Drive Shift Toward Global Sustainability

Fair Trade, local food systems, and environmental sustainability all have an increasing presence in today’s world. But for consumers, deciding what to buy, who to support, and for which reasons are just some of the issues that can arise among people concerned for the well-being of future generations. Canadian students, however, are quite clear on these concepts. In fact, their progress towards Fair Trade Campus designation has made them an integral part of the Fair Trade movement.

Fair Trade is a movement that puts social and environmental standards in place to protect producers and the environment. This means that producers with Fairtrade certification, often in the developing world, benefit directly from global consumer support.

Consumer support for Fair Trade products is growing, as international sales of certified Fair Trade products have increased by approximately 12 percent since 2010.[1] Canadian support in Fair Trade has grown as well, which is reflected in the increase of product sales as well as growth in the number of companies selling Fair Trade SFUproducts since 2010.[2] 

Academic institutions have been instrumental in supporting, motivating, and implementing positive change. The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University have both been recognized as official Fair Trade Campuses. This accreditation is the result of an active student body that has become increasingly aware of how certain actions can benefit the sustainability of both local and global communities.

British Columbian universities are not the only ones committed to sustainable change. Campuses across the country have shown considerable support by selling both local and Fair Trade products. Most major institutions such as the University of Calgary, the University of Manitoba, The University of Sherbrooke, McGill, amongst many others have groups such as Engineers Without Borders who advocate for Fair Trade initiatives.

The Fair Trade Campus program focuses on three main standards. First, there needs to be an increase in the availability of Fair Trade products on campus, such as coffee, tea, and chocolate. The campus must also promote accessibility and visibility of Fair Trade products. This provides people with the opportunity to find products, learn, and partake in a ­ creative dialogue throughout campus.  Finally, the campus must appoint a committee to ensure ongoing commitment to Fair Trade practices.

CoffeeAlthough becoming a Fair Trade campus seems to be a straightforward approach, it is nonetheless an ongoing process — one that marks a larger effort towards sustainability goals. Being the change they wish to see in the world has set an example that Andrew Parr, Managing Director at UBC Student Housing and Hospitality Services, hopes other universities will follow.

“UBC’s commitment to Fair Trade benefits people in developing countries and provides our students and other large organizations with an important example of institutional global citizenship,” says Parr.

Buying Fair Trade products does more than just benefit the farmers who produce the item; profits often go towards community developments that benefit larger communities. And of course, student morality is not the only factor driving the shift towards Fair Trade. The quality and expertise in delivering them make Fair Trade products speak for themselves.

 

Authors: Melia Mah, Belinda Chen and Bryce Tarling

Original publication: www.fairtrade.ca 

For more information about eh Fair Trade Campus program visit: http://fairtrade.ca/en/get-involved/fair-trade-campus