January 21, 2016 | London, Ontario. Conversations about fair trade began within the Western chapter of Engineers Without Borders in 2010, when the team set a clear mandate to work towards becoming a Fair Trade Campus. Since then, they have been running major awareness campaigns around campus such as Fair Trade Campus Week and My Fair Valentine. In 2013, support grew, as two important university partners – Hospitality Services and the University Student Council (USC) got onboard. In 2014, Hospitality Services committed to meeting all the Fair Trade Campus requirements by the fall of 2015, while the USC recently passed its “Purple Paper”, a document which highlighted the USC’s commitment to fair trade. As a result of this, the USC changed their purchasing to meet the Fair Trade Campus requirements. 

All residence dining operations, campus outlets and vending services now offer products required to meet Western’s Fair Trade Campus designation. “With so many claims of fairness and sustainability in the marketplace, third-party Fairtrade verification is an invaluable tool to ensure purchases actually connect with these same sourcing values,” says Kevin McCabe, Hospitality Services Associate Director.  “Fair trade is important to Hospitality Services because it means fair pay and safe working conditions for farmers.  It means no forced child labor, and support for their communities. It means limited amounts of pesticides and fertilizers are used with proper water management, making them better for the environment.  Hospitality Services intends to continue to grow fair trade through post Fair Trade Campus designation engagement, setting yearly goals, planning events, introducing new products and working closely with Engineers Without Borders to further this valuable cause.”

In September 2015, the Fair Trade Campus committee was established. In December of 2015 the green light was given by the review committee, and today, January 21st, 2016, the University officially becomes a designated Fair Trade Campus!

“With the launch of the 2030 global Sustainable Development Goals and the milestone that was reached in Paris on a new global climate change agreement, the world has set its sites on building a bigger and better world. The designation of the University of Western Ontario today, contributes to the growth of fair trade, which is a part of addressing many of the large global issues that the world has set its sites on solving. It is therefore incredibly exciting to see the leadership that is being shown and how the University of Western community has rallied around this, and the results are fantastic. It’s therefore my privilege to be able to congratulate the University of Western Ontario on becoming Canada’s 11th Fair Trade Campus” Sean McHugh, Executive Director, Canadian Fair Trade Network.

“Congratulations to everyone involved in making the University of Western Ontario the 11th Fair Trade Campus in Canada. What a great and concrete way to show support of Fairtrade farmers and workers in the Global South!” – Mélissa Dubé, Fairtrade Canada.

Why Fairtrade at Western?

Because fair trade is a global movement, which works to ensure that farmers and artisans are getting a fair deal for their products. Through cooperatives, fair trade allows farmers to have direct access to global markets. Fair trade guarantees farmer’s fair wages, working conditions, a minimum price for their products so they have much more security, and a premium that is distributed throughout the community democratically. By putting more power in the hands of the beneficiaries of fair trade (farmers), it is changing how our markets work.

Commitment to improvement
Going forward, Fair Trade Western will continue to work, in partnership with Hospitality Services at Western and the University, to increase the availability of Fairtrade certified products as well as an awareness of the Fairtrade system and of global, ethical issues related to modern consumerism.

“Becoming a Fair Trade Campus is a huge achievement for the entire Western community. I want to recognize the hard work put in by the team at Western’s Engineers Without Borders Chapter over the course of 2010 to 2015 to make this happen. That said, while this is an important milestone, it is important to recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done. Becoming a Fair Trade Campus is one part of a broader conversation around ethical consumption; we hope that this achievement will influence more students to think critically about how they consume, and encourage our community to change our habits to be more ethical and sustainable.” – Shivani Chotalia, Former EWB Chapter VP of Fair Trade, at the University of Western.

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