Responding to the UK government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, the Fairtrade Foundation’s Head of Policy, Tim Aldred, said:
‘The Covid-19 crisis has shown us that failure to invest in fairness around the world increases the risks to us all. Coming at this critical time, the Integrated Review contains welcome elements – but crucially, it also has significant omissions.
‘The farmers we represent at Fairtrade are working hard to trade their way out of poverty. But Covid-19 has led to livelihoods disrupted by the pandemic, poverty increasing, sales falling, and farmers now face a hard road to recovery. As climate change takes hold on the world, the impact of volatile weather is compounding the challenges further, with crop damage, loss of harvests and production problems. The risks of human rights abuse in the UK’s supply chains have risen sharply, because of growing isolation of communities alongside serious drops in income.
‘These are the same farmers and workers who put food on our supermarket shelves. 10-15 percent of the UK’s food comes from Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the past year has seen the fragility of these food supply chains exposed.
‘So as the Integrated Review is launched we urge the government to invest in farmers and in doing so build up our shared security and prosperity.
‘The Fairtrade Foundation:
- welcomes the commitment to act on the climate crisis – but urges the UK to go further, ensuring that we do not overburden producers with the costs of bringing carbon emissions down. We must take our fair share of responsibility for our carbon footprint overseas.
- welcomes the commitment to upholding open societies – and the UK should deepen this commitment, ensuring that business prevents human rights abuses in the fields and factories supplying our stores.
- welcomes the commitment to climate and development spending – but the UK’s 0.7% aid commitment must be rapidly restored. Producers need urgent finance now to ensure a sustainable and fair recovery.
‘Fairtrade takes particular interest in the direction set on trade and aid. It is right that the UK strives to ensure human rights and poverty reduction in the countries with which it has a trading relationship – trade should lead to better lives, not enable exploitation. However, such funding must benefit those truly in need, and needs to be complemented by trade and business policy.
‘A cocoa farmer in Ghana may earn under £1 per day, despite providing the beans for luxury chocolate. The test of trade for development strategies will be the impact on farmers such as these. We need to see trade transformed, so that the farmers and workers who we rely on are able to earn a decent living. Crucially, funding for trading partners should not displace our commitments to other situations of extreme poverty which fall outside our immediate national interest.
‘The test now comes in the outworking of government strategy. We urge the government to invest in a fair, green and sustainable recovery, in the interests of Fairtrade farmers and workers and of us all.’
For further information email Tomilola Ajayi: email@example.com