As the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) gets under way in Egypt, Fair Trade organisations are calling on global leaders to tackle climate change while protecting the world’s small-scale producers, most of whom are members of co-ops.
Ahead of the summit, Fairtrade International, the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) launched a position paper, The Clock is Ticking, which argues that critical measures are needed to deliver fair climate solutions.
These include meeting the US$100bn climate aid commitment promised by the end of 2022; ensuring climate finance delivers for smallholder 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.
The paper also calls on businesses to “pay fair prices to smallholder farmers, SMEs and workers”.
“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,” said Sandra Uwera, global CEO at Fairtrade International.
“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.
“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.”
WFTO chief executive Leida Rijnhout added: “The biggest challenge to combating climate change is eliminating the current economic system that is dependent on fossil fuels and the extraction of natural resources. 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. They can be the driving force to achieve climate justice.”
The position paper also mentions some of the challenges facing small-scale farmers, such as the lack of financial assistance to enable them to successfully mitigate and adapt to climate challenges. According to the paper, less than 2% of climate finance reaches small-scale farmers. The organisations argue that the 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.
The paper is also asking governments and the private sector to ensure that climate efforts are constructed in an inclusive manner, taking into account the experience of small-holder farmers and workers, who, it argues, “have the most comprehensive understanding of how climate change affects their local environments”.
“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.”