Fairtrade International introduces due diligence standards

The updated standards reflect new laws on human rights and environmental sustainability

Fairtrade International has updated its Trader and Hired Labour Standards to include criteria on Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (HREDD).

The updates will be implemented in phases, starting in January 2025, for all organisations that buy and sell Fairtrade products, as well as organisations that employ hired labour to supply Fairtrade-certified products.  

Fairtrade Trader or Hired Labour certified companies will be required to establish and implement a full HREDD process by January 2027, beginning with a commitment to respect human rights and environmental sustainability. They must also address and rectify any existing human rights and environmental risks within their operations, and track their progress in doing so.  

Fairtrade International, which represents more than two million small-scale farmers and workers worldwide, says the updated standards support Fairtrade-certified organisations in their journey towards aligning with HREDD laws.

A number of laws and regulations now require businesses to consider HREDD, including the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, Deforestation Regulation, and the upcoming Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive and Forced Labour Ban.

HREDD was also included in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011.

Tytti Nahi, director of Fairtrade’s Centre of Excellence on HREDD, said: “Our new standards highlight the importance of dialogue, collaboration and cost sharing between suppliers and buyers. We expect Fairtrade certified companies to adopt dialogue and cost sharing as the foundations of their due diligence, as that’s what it takes for due diligence to be effective.”

Fairtrade producers and traders participated in the planning, consultation, and decision phase of the standard updates, and will be provided with tools, training, and advocacy work to support the work, including recently published step-by-step HREDD guides for Traders and Hired Labour Organisations.