Exploring the Sustainable Clothing Roadmap at Fair Trade Futures

October 24, 2009

The Fair Trade Futures conference is approaching fast (Saturday 7th November) – and we’re getting more confirmed speakers all the time.

Dorothe MaxwellAfter hearing from a range of key speakers in the morning, for the afternoon of the conference we’ll be opening the floor to anyone who wants to lead a conversation session on a key topic in Fair Trade. You can bring your ideas along on the day, or suggest it in advance via a comment on this blog.

One session we hope will be taking place is with Dr. Dorothy Maxwell, Technical Director at Global View Sustainability Services and, on behalf of DEFRA, behind the Sustainable Clothing Roadmap.

The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap is a voluntary clothing industry initiative involving over 300 companies along the clothing supply chain, co-ordinated by Defra to provide a platform for an integrated approach to improving the environmental and ethical performance of clothing. While it originated in the UK – it has linkage with Asia (especially China and India), EU and USA to date as most UK consumed clothes have a global supply chain. The aim is to drive sustainability from retailers down through the clothing supply chain and fast track best practice through establishing sound science based evidence, prioritising actions (short to long term) and providing a platform for industry best practice cases in order to catalyse change throughout the sector.

So if you to explore the linkages between Fair Trade and Sustainable Clothing initiatives – and to get into conversation with Dorothy and others with shared interests – make sure you’re registered for Fair Trade Futures.

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Fair Trade & Digital Media

October 7, 2009
Example of a mobile phone application showing a 'Fair Tracing' supply chain.

Example of a mobile phone application showing a 'Fair Tracing' supply chain.

n a world of global communications networks – what does the future of Fair Trade look like?

At the Fair Trade Futures conference in Oxford on the 7th November that’s one of the themes we’ll be exploring with a session on Digital Media and Fair Trade, and with a number of social media session planned for the afternoon of Open Space discussions.We’re also hoping to bring social media into the heart of the programme, with blogging, twittering and video interviews taking place at the event.

In the Digital Media & Fair Trade slot we’ll be hearing from the team behind the recently completed Fair Tracing project that has been exploring how digital technologies can be used to capture the entirity of the supply chain story of a product.

Plus we’ll be hearing a panel of social media experts who have been using the internet to raise awareness of social causes and important issues, and we’ll be reflecting on what social media means for producers, promoters and consumers of Fair Trade.

If you are interested in what digital media means for the future of Fair Trade – then we’d love to have you as part of our shared discussions. You can find out more about the Fair Trade Futures conference and book a free place at the conference here.


Conference announcement: Fair Trade Futures

September 25, 2009

UPDATE: You can now register directly online. Visit EventBrite to register for free now.

Members of the Oxford Fairtrade Coalition have been busy organising for a high profile one-day conference looking at key issues for the future of Fair Trade. Find more details below, or download a copy of the Conference Flyer here.

Fair Trade Futures: Authenticity and Action

Saturday 7 November 2009

Said Business School, University of Oxford

A one-day conference looking at key issues for the future of Fair Trade:

  • The Economics of Virtue: How can Fair Trade continue to grow in the mainstream without being captured by Big Business?
  • Authenticity, Legitimacy and Certification:  What makes Fair Trade authentically Fair Trade?  How does it establish its legitimacy?
  • Accountability and Impact: How can the voice of producers be more influential in the planning of Fair Trade strategy?
  • Global Economic Trends and Sustainability: Dealing with the crisis – How the economic downturn is affecting Fair Trade.
  • Fair Trade and Trade Agreements: What is the impact of bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations on Fair Trade? A case study: Fair Trade perspectives on Economic Partnership Agreements

Bringing together leading experts, including:

  • Ian Barney, Managing Director of TWIN and TWIN Trading
  • Sergi Corbalan, Coordinator of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (Brussels)
  • Timothy Davies, Founder, Practical Participation
  • Mike Gidney, Deputy Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation
  • Louise Herring, Trade and Enterprise Manager of Comic Relief
  • Joan Karanja, CEO of Cooperation for Fair Trade in Africa
  • Dorothea Kleine, Fair Tracing Project
  • Safia Minney, Founder and CEO of People Tree
  • Alex Nicholls, University Lecturer in Social Entrepreneurship,  Skoll Centre, Said Business School, University of Oxford
  • Carry Somers, founder and CEO of Pachacuti
  • Mags Vaughan, Business Director of Traidcraft, plc
  • Anne MacCaig, CEO Cafédirect

And offering participants a chance to take issues further in theoretical and practical “open space” discussions, as well as to share in a networking reception at the end of the day.

Saturday 7 November:  9.30 am – 6.00 pm

Registration: Register online or e-mail Pippa.hichens@sbs.ox.ac.uk

Please register early to avoid disappointment as numbers are limited.

Free admission includes Conference attendance, tea and coffee, and drinks and refreshments at the reception.  Lunch is not provided.

Conference Sponsors:  Oxford Fair Trade Coalition; the Skoll Centre, Said Business School, University of Oxford; Christian Concern for One World; Partnership for Change


Fair Trade Futures Conference 2004

November 20, 2004

Held on the 20th November 2004 the Fair Trade Futures Conference took place at the Said Business School.

‘Fair Trade Futures: Growth or Consolidation?’

Organised by the OXFORD FAIR TRADE COALITION AND THE SKOLL CENTRE FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The issues to be covered in the seminar include:

  • A guide to fairtrade, the growth of the mark and links to Trade Justice Fairtrade Case Studies
  • How to Run a Fairtrade Campaign
  • An in-depth look at fairtrade and trade justice
  • Running a fairtrade campaign
  • Good answers to bad excuses
  • Communicating fairtrade issues within a university / college
  • Working with suppliers to achieve Fairtrade status.

Here is what the Skoll Centre had to say about the event:

The premise for this major one-day event, entitled “Fair Trade Futures: Growth or Consolidation?” was that Fair Trade now finds itself at a tipping point; as the fastest growing consumer movement in the world, it is uniquely placed to offer direct help to disempowered producers on a significant scale; yet a range of financial limitations, governance issues and structural problems could constrain its growth.

The Conference, which was organised by the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition and the Saïd Business School ‘s Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, was attended by over 200 delegates, including producers from the South, Fair Trade buyers and retailers, corporate managers, policy makers, economists, academics, activists, and students. High-profile speakers included Penny Newman, CEO of Cafédirect, Paul Chandler, Chief Executive of Traidcraft, and Safia Minney, founder of the successful fair trade fashion label People Tree. Meanwhile the voices of local producers were represented by delegates such as Renwick Rose of the Windward Islands Farmers’ Association and Jimmy Navarro of Café Progresso in Honduras . NGOs represented included Oxfam, Christian Aid and Tear Fund.

The discussions that took place during the day addressed the major challenges now facing the Fair Trade industry, including: How can Fair Trade scale up to meet demand globally? What mechanisms are there to protect the integrity of Fair Trade? What role do multinational corporations have to play? How should be the governance of Fair Trade develop? Can Fair Trade change the terms of international trade or will it remain simply as an ‘ethical’ alternative? Which futures for Fair Trade will generate the most impact for producers? Should the strategy be the continued quest for fast growth or a policy of consolidation and reflection? And what other futures can be imagined for Fair Trade?

Progress was noted in a number of areas: no longer confined to alternative trading outlets such as charity shops, Fair Trade products now sit on the shelves of many major supermarkets and are beginning to build important market share in particular commodities, most noticeably coffee; furthermore, Fair Trade is growing beyond its first markets in Europe to develop a presence in Japan, Canada, Australia, and the US. Penny Newman of Cafédirect pointed out that the company’s successful share issue in 2004 would have inconceivable in the 1980s; while Safia Minney founder of People Tree has proved that it is possible for Fair Trade products to compete in the cut-throat fashion industry.

However, delegates were not complacent. Peter Freeman of Shared Interest and Whitni Thomas of the New Economics Foundation talked about an important practical constraint on the growth of Fair Trade; the lack of fair finance for enterprises both in the North and the South. Delegates discussed the need for reliable certification of products now that commercial companies, whose motivation is not social development, have entered the Fair Trade arena. A debate was held on what constitutes Fair Trade in the context of larger scale plantation agriculture, and factory production in urban areas; and some delegates suggested that the views of Southern producers needed to be sought and heard more than they are at present.

The Co-op supermarket chain has demonstrated its commitment to Fair Trade by developing over 60 own brands and educating consumers; but delegates were concerned that some other supermarkets may be using a token range of Fair Trade products as ‘window-dressing’ to draw attention away from the fact that they are generally using their buying power to drive down prices and impose unfair conditions on suppliers. Commercial companies may be prepared to meet minimum standards ‘to do no harm’, they suggested, but would any multinational really commit to Fair Trade?

Perhaps the hardest question facing delegates was whether Fair Trade would remain an idealistic model, or whether it could help to change the values and practices of the global trading system in a far more profound way. Could Fair Trade really hope to alter the structures and rules of international trade to create a more even playing field? Fair Trade pioneer Michael Barratt Brown of TWIN reflected; “Influencing governments is probably the most important thing we can do.”

This leaflet explaining the coalition was handed out at the event