‘The clock is ticking’ – At COP27 fair trade organisations reiterate urgent call for inclusive climate solutions

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Prudencio Fernández crouching in front of damaged crops

Global leaders must strengthen and accelerate efforts to enforce human rights and environmental due diligence in supply chains, confront trade injustice, and ensure that climate financing mechanisms reach the world’s smallholder agricultural producers in order to deliver successful and equitable climate action before it is too late, the world’s leading Fair Trade organisations have warned.    

In a position paper titled The Clock Is Ticking! and released ahead of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27, Fairtrade, the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) have intensified their calls for trade and climate justice, indicating the critical measures for delivering fair climate solutions and demanding the enforcement of public climate commitments and for trade actors to be accountable for their climate promises.

“International trade today is not only one of the leading contributors to climate change, but also drives high costs of doing business that cut across supply chains, affecting farmers readiness to respond to climate catastrophes. As Fairtrade, we seek a multi-stakeholder partnership and collaboration approach, towards addressing efforts that strengthen producers resilience and capacity to manage  adverse impacts of climate change,” said Sandra Uwera, Global CEO at Fairtrade International.   

“With world leaders, international delegates, and civil society actors now gathering for COP27, Fairtrade and the Fair Trade movement are once again called upon to remind them of their duty to right the global wrongs that continue to disproportionately impact our planet’s most vulnerable communities and deliver equitable climate action once and for all.”

building back sustainably

Held in Sharm El Sheikh from 06 November to 18 November, COP27 will bring together global leaders and leading stakeholders to discuss the international community’s climate ambitions and a pathway to building back sustainably following the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Against this backdrop, the Fair Trade movement’s position paper calls on leaders of government and the private sector to immediately deliver on climate targets by meeting the $100bn climate aid commitment promised by the end of 2022; ensuring climate finance delivers for small holder farmers, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and workers by including them in the design of climate programmes; agreeing on regulations that tackle the root causes of environmental degradation, such as deforestation, by penalising non-compliance; and supporting farmers, SMEs, and workers with the costs of adaptation and mitigation. In addition, the paper reiterates the organisations’ long-standing call for businesses to “pay fair prices to smallholder farmers, SMEs and workers”.

“The biggest challenge to combatting climate change is eliminating the current economic system that is dependent on fossil fuels and the extraction of natural resources,” explained Leida Rijnhout, Chief Executive of WFTO. “Without real accountability on what the big polluters are doing, mission-led business models, including SMEs, are the only way to go.”

“WFTO members are showcasing that another economy is possible,” Ms. Rijnhout added. “They can be the driving force to achieve climate justice.”

Empowering through inclusive climate finance

According to Fairtrade, WFTO, and FTAO, among the persisting obstacles facing small-scale farmers remains the lack of financial assistant to empower them to successfully mitigate and adapt to climate challenges. In fact, the organisations have long noted that less than 2% of climate finance makes its way to small-scale farmers and that awarding criteria and procedures of financial mechanisms must be aligned to small producers and their organisations so that they can access available funding and manage it in a non-bureaucratic way.

In addition, the Fair Trade organisations are once again urging governments and the private sector to ensure that climate efforts are constructed in an inclusive manner, noting that small-holder farmers and workers have the most comprehensive understanding of how climate change affects their local environments. Such an inclusive set-up, the organisations argue, can help provide invaluable insights on how farmers and producer organisations can make the necessary changes towards becoming more resilient and more sustainable through renewable energies and energy efficiency, reforesting and stopping deforestation, and restoring soil health to enhance its productive potential, thereby limiting the expansion of agricultural land in places with high carbon stock.

“It is urgent to untap the potential of worldwide smallholder farmers, producers and artisans to contribute to climate and social justice,” said Jorge Conesa, FTAO Managing Director. “Major consumer regions, like the EU, have great leverage and also a great responsibility: they must live up to their climate ambitions, while refraining from sabotaging themselves by not addressing global abusive trading practices.”

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