There are close to 7.8 billion people on planet earth today, a number that’s expected to rise to 9.7 billion by 2030. We share the same basic needs and wants, yet many people lack access to clean water, healthy food, quality education, and basic health care.
The World Bank estimates that over 735 million people live in extreme poverty on less than US$1.90 a day.
Small-scale farmers produce over 70 percent of the world’s food, often while living in poverty.
Inequality plagues the global economy: The 26 richest people now hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion—that’s half the world’s population.
Most people lack basic rights and freedoms including freedom of thought, freedom of association, and the right to peaceful assembly, to vote, to travel, to basic security, and to a free press.
We are pushing our environment to its breaking point. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an intergovernmental body of the United Nations, now says we have until 2030 to reduce our impacts on the planet, if we hope to escape the worst effects of climate change.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
On September 25, 2015, world leaders adopted the most ambitious development agenda in history. That day, the world committed to work tirelessly toward establishing prosperity and dignity for all, and a healthier planet. This pledge, and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is the 2030 Agenda. While the scope and significance of the 2030 Agenda implies that nobody should be left behind, it also implies that nobody can stay on the sidelines. To succeed, we must be more than bystanders.
We must work hard and together: governments, businesses, non-profit organizations, international institutions, and individuals. Fair trade is an example of the active and inclusive partnerships we need to pursue. Fair trade promotes sustainable production and consumption patterns, systems that keep our planet healthier and our societies more inclusive. In addition, by better connecting marginalized producers and workers to sustainable supply chains, fair trade challenges inequality and helps people get out of poverty. Yet the efforts of individuals, organizations and businesses will never be enough. We need public policies to create the right incentives for markets to deliver growth and development for all, while preserving the planet.
Fair Trade contributes to several SDGs, primarily SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), but also SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 8 (decent work), SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate change), SDG 16 (peace and justice), and SDG 17 (partnerships).
The Paris Climate Agreement
On December 12, 2015, world leaders signed an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement’s language was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Le Bourget, near Paris, France. It’s a landmark agreement but we need to take bold action if we hope to achieve its goals.