Read about the successes of four European public authorities, which were rewarded for their Fair Trade cotton commitments at the European Fair Trade Cotton Procurement Awards ceremony in Bremen, Germany.

The winners of the first-ever pan-European Award Scheme on Fair Cotton Procurement have shown that Fair Trade commitments made in the framework of different campaigns can be translated into real purchasing practices in support of cotton farmers and workers in the South. The city of Paris, the French Post office, the municipality of Traun in Austria and the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom were recognised for their excellence in Fair Trade cotton procurement. This was showcased in the following categories:

1) Local authorities above 100k inhabitants: City of Paris, France

The city of Paris (2.2 million inhabitants), in the framework of its Fair Trade Towns commitments, dresses one third of its uniformed agents with Fairtrade cotton uniforms. The Judging Panel acknowledged the amount and variety of Fairtrade certified cotton products purchased, which has steadily raised over the time, as well as the fact that this initiative came from the procurement staff of the city.

For this category, the region of Brittany was highly commended. This region has put in place a very interesting project in the framework of its decentralised cooperation with the West African Economic and Monetary Union that seeks to support the Fair Trade cotton value chain and create demand in the North.

2) Local authorities below 100k inhabitants: Municipality of Traun, Austria

The municipality of Traun (23,000 inhabitants) is very active in awareness-raising around the topic of Fair Trade. They have taken their commitments forward and bought Fairtrade certified Polo T-Shirts to dress three out of four staff members in the municipality. The Jury welcomed this very significant engagement, given the size and possibilities of the municipality.

3) National authorities (supra-local entities), including public bodies: La Poste, France

La Poste is the forerunner for the purchase of Fairtrade cotton clothing in France. La Poste impressed the Jury with its track record of Fairtrade cotton purchases: to date, 100% of their T-Shirts and 40% of the work wear are Fairtrade cotton certified. This strong commitment has been backed by a comprehensive communication campaign among the postmen.

The Ministry of Defence was awarded the highly commended status for their very recent, but firm support to Fair Trade cotton, with the aim of sourcing 5% of their cotton under Fair Trade terms.

4) Educational establishments: universities and student organisations: The London School of Economics (LSE), United Kingdom

Most of the staff working for LSE wear Fairtrade cotton certified uniforms. In addition, all promotional LSE clothing is made of Fairtrade cotton. LSE is encouraging other high educational establishments to follow their example. This, together with the determination to go beyond Fairtrade in all procurement categories, tipped the balance in favour of LSE, and you can read a blog by Jon Emmett who accepted the award on behalf of LSE.

Fair cotton winners stand together for a photo with their awards

The four winners of the European Fair Cotton Procurement Awards received their sustainably-produced trophies during the final conference of the EC-funded “Cotton on to Fairtrade procurement” project in Bremen, Germany.

Accepting the award, Rachid Sifany, head of the clothing bureau of the city of Paris said: “This trophy rewards the commitments of the city of Paris in sustainable development, and in particular in Fair Trade. The cooperation with all the stakeholders in the supply chain has allowed us to develop a partnership with African Fair Trade cotton producers and create impact in their communities”.

The selection process for the Awards took place in France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria. A pre-selection at the national level was followed by a final selection at European level. The Judging Panel included the Fair Procurement project team and a member from GET CHANGED! The Fair Fashion Network, one member from the ObSAR (French Observatory of Responsible Purchasing) and another one from the Ethical Fashion Forum. “The winners have shown leadership in responsible procurement. They have brought their Fair Trade commitments further and extended their choice to fairly traded cotton clothing”, said the Judging Panel.

Solobamady Keita, Secretary General of the National Union of Cotton Producers’ Cooperative Societies of Mali, who handed in the trophies to the Award winners, declared “This Award acknowledges the importance of the people that harvest the cotton, but also the people that wear the Fair Trade clothing. The Fair Trade cotton producers are thankful to the forerunners that have been rewarded today, and would like to see other public authorities in Europe procuring Fair Trade cotton for their work wear”.

The Fair Procurement Awards were organised with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents are the responsibility of the Fairtrade Foundation and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the view of the European Union.