Many people use the term “fair trade”, but what does it actually mean? On September 25th, 2018, with efforts led by the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Fairtrade International, the World Fair Trade Organization, and over 400 organizations around the world, the new International Fair Trade Charter was officially launched. The Charter sets down the fundamental values of Fair Trade and defines a common vision towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

If we want the SDGs to be realized, we must provide a framework for equitable trade models.

Business as usual will not deliver the change needed to meet the SDGs. The International Fair Trade Charter sets out a different vision: a world in which justice, equity and sustainable development are at the heart of trade structures, business models and practices so that everyone, through their work, can maintain a decent and dignified livelihood and develop their full human potential.

The Charter defines new models that build a stronger economy, society and environment for all. It has been recognized by an escalating number of diverse local, national and international organizations from across the co-operative, social enterprise, organic, farmer and global solidarity movements.

Reactions in Canada

“For too long, global trade has been made to prioritize profit over people and planet. Fair trade offers an antidote to escalating inequalities by providing innovative economic solutions that can transform the global economy. Fair trade isn’t a handout, it’s not charity. It’s a blueprint for empowerment,” said Julie Francoeur, Executive Director at Fairtrade Canada.

“Gone are the days of taking a back seat. With the challenges that lie ahead, each of us must step up and do our part. Every Canadian citizen must ensure that their day to day decisions put people and the planet first. We can do this through the stuff that we buy and the companies that we buy from, through how we invest our money, and through the many other decisions that we make each and every day. Now is the time!” Sean McHugh, Executive Director at the Canadian Fair Trade Network.

“More and more citizens are concerned by the conditions under which each the products they buy are made, and care about the impacts of their consumption choices on the environment and the lives of the farmers and workers around the globe. The International Fair Trade Charter carries a vision of how we can make trade fair, and highlights the values shared by the global fair trade movement : transparency, social justice, environmental stewardship, gender equity and support to the communities.”

Canada poised to be a leader in fair trade

With the growing number of international trade wars, Canada has the unique opportunity to be a leader in how we as a nation approach trade and working with partner countries around the world. We believe that now is the time for Canada to be bold and unwavering in its commitment to just trade practices by placing the principles of the International Fair Trade Charter at the forefront of its global trade agenda.

The Canadian Fair Trade Network, Fairtrade Canada and the Association québécoise du commerce equitable urges Canadian policy-makers, business leaders, citizens and consumers to embrace the vision of the International Fair Trade Charter, to create a global trading system populated by supply chains and models of business that leave no one behind.

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