What is Fair Trade?

Fair dealing in trade is a vital part of our living out the Gospel command that we love our neighbours. As Dewi Hughes says, “Since Jesus asks us as Christians to love our neighbours as ourselves, and our neighbour is any other human being with whom we come into contact, the demand to love must prevail when we shop.”

When we buy fairly traded goods, we know that the people who have produced them are getting a fair deal. The FAIRTRADE Mark guarantees that producers receive a fair price for products, as well as access to credit and long-term contracts. It also guarantees adherence to wage, labour and environmental standards (with child and forced labour prohibited) and includes a social premium that allows communities to undertake development projects.

The stability Fairtrade gives is essential to producers. At the beginning of the 21st century, coffee prices on the international market fell below 50 cents a pound. In many countries, producing coffee at the time cost more than 70 cents a pound. Small producers and field workers lost their livelihoods – in Nicaragua alone, thousands became destitute. But the guaranteed Fairtrade price stayed level at $1.26 a pound, and Fairtrade cooperatives continued to be able to improve their communities.

How does Fairtrade benefit communities? Fairtrade cooperatives use their social premiums in many different ways. A community in Uganda built a maternity clinic — before that, women had to be carried up to 60 km on stretchers to give birth. In Malawi, money from Fairtrade sugar has allowed one community to bore wells, meaning women and children no longer perish while gathering water from the nearby crocodile-infested river.

These are individual instances. But Fairtrade is growing. In 2012, Fairtrade retail sales reached over £1.5 billion in the UK alone. The Fairtrade system currently works with more than 1.24 million farmers and workers. And the more we switch to Fairtrade, the larger these numbers can be.

What is a Fairtrade Diocese?

In 2002, the Diocese of Chester devised five criteria that would show broad support throughout the diocese for Fairtrade, allowing it to call itself a Fairtrade Diocese.

The movement has since spread, and many Church of England dioceses are working towards a similar aim.  General Synod has suggested that all dioceses consider becoming Fairtrade dioceses.

To be certified a Fairtrade Diocese, Oxford will need to meet five criteria:

  1. Synod passes a resolution
    • to support and promote Fairtrade and further encourage the use and sale of Fairtrade products in the diocese and
    • to serve only Fairtrade coffee and tea at its meetings
  2. A range of Fairtrade products is made available and served at Diocesan Church House, and Fairtrade tea and coffee are used at diocesan meetings and diocesan events. Display materials at Diocesan Church House will advertise the fact that Fairtrade products are used and served. The diocese will also encourage and resource other diocesan and C of E establishments within its boundaries.
  3. Fairtrade tea, coffee and other products are used and/or sold by more 60% of parishes. There is a target of 80 or 90% within 5 years.
  4. Media coverage and popular support is gained for the campaign – to raise awareness of Fair Trade issues within the diocese.
  5. A Fairtrade steering group is set up to take responsibility for monitoring that goals continue to be met and are developed over a period of time.

Where do we stand now?

Synod fulfilled criterion number one, and we’ve fulfilled criteria 2,4 and 5. Now we just need your church’s help!

What can my church do to help?

The most important thing is to commit to becoming a Fairtrade church. To become a Fairtrade church, your PCC needs to pass a resolution saying that you

  • pledge to use only Fairtrade tea and coffee at church meetings for which you are responsible,
  • to move forward on using other Fairtrade products, and
  • to promote Fairtrade during Fairtrade Fortnight and as opportunities arise at other times.

A lot of churches are already doing all these things . . . they’re easy to do! (and the products are delicious)

If you pass the resolution and send in the pledge form, then you count towards the diocesan total of 60% of churches. Remember: we need to have the pledge form to count you, so don’t forget to send it in!

How can I get more information?

To get a parish pledge form, notify us that you’ve passed your pledge, or get further information, contact Maranda St John Nicolle on maranda@ccow.org.uk or 01235 851763.