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15 Years of Bristol Fairtrade City

This year, Bristol celebrates its 15th year as a Fairtrade City, marking fifteen years of campaigning from individuals, commitment from businesses and support from Bristol City Council. The team behind Bristol Fair Trade Network explain more in our latest blog post.

To mark this important milestone as a city, some of the individuals and organisations who are helping to shape a fair and resilient future for Bristol and beyond have told Bristol Fair Trade Network what Bristol’s 15 years as a Fairtrade City means to them. The network has also had a chat with Bruce Crowther, founder of the first International Fair Trade Town, and heard from just some of the businesses around the city supporting Fair Trade through their supply chains.

Fair Trade is a way of trading with small-scale farmers and producers around the world, ensuring that they are paid a protected fair price for their produce and that their business and communities benefit from long term improvement projects. What’s more, Fair Trade certification schemes address workers’ rights, equality and protection of the environment.

Right now, Fair Trade supply chains are working harder than ever: to protect farmers from the crushing impact of COVID-19 on their supply chains, to mitigate the very real impacts of the climate emergency on their crops and land, and to give those with no privilege and no voice a platform from which to be heard.

Buying Fair Trade certified products is part of the ‘Food Equality’ action area of Bristol Going for Gold to make sure that what you buy guarantees a fair income to producers around the world. As well as individuals, organisations have been asked to audit workplace supplies for Fair Trade.

Asher Craig

Chair of Bristol Going for Gold, Councillor Asher Craig says: “Choosing Fair Trade helps us to achieve sustainability and equality worldwide, and I am really proud of Bristol’s status and role as a Fairtrade City over the past 15 years.

For those of you who may be reading about this for the first time and wondering what is Fair Trade?  Well, Fair Trade offers a secure minimum price as well as a Fair Trade premium to farmers and producers around the world for their goods like coffee, chocolate, bananas, cotton – products we cannot produce locally.

Communities all over the world (many of which are represented in our great city) work incredibly hard to produce Fair Trade products in a way that is beneficial to the natural world, but also to the families of the workers employed.  We know that if families have a secure income, if their children are educated and if there is gender equality within the pay structure and decision making, then those communities are less likely to seek refuge elsewhere, to engage in violence and are able to live sustainably.

I want to thank all the incredible local retailers, food outlets, businesses, schools, faith groups and community organisations for sourcing Fair Trade certified products. This support not only demonstrates your commitment to sustainable environmental work but shows that you care about communities and society globally.”

Joy Carey

Bristol Going for Gold Co-ordinator Joy Carey says: “Early in lockdown, UK farmers were asking why they were not being publicly thanked too, as frontline workers. Just as with nurses, doctors and support staff in the NHS, we’re all dependent on the people who produce the food we eat to keep us alive and well.  Smaller scale food and farming enterprises all over the world, often family businesses, are by and large totally invisible – habitually missed out of strategic discussions.

We all regularly buy imported food and drink products that come from these invisible farmers, and mostly we have no idea about who they are, or any understanding of the struggles they face. COVID-19 has hit such food enterprises very hard, especially in the Global South, with numerous reports of supply system interruptions – transport route closures, farm workers unable to get to the land, harvests going to waste as orders are cancelled, processing units and markets closed. In many countries, groups of Fair Trade producers work together to improve their own positive impacts on their local environment, in a way that sustains their livelihoods. Their actions contribute to reducing the impacts of climate change and of poverty – and therefore benefit us too.

Buying Fair Trade products is a way that we can show some #BristolFoodKind-ness and support them, to in turn support us through their positive impacts (and their wonderful products). ‘Buying Better‘ collectively as a city – as individuals, but also at work or through our social clubs and organisations, or asking for Fair Trade products at our local shops, cafés and restaurants – means Bristol can effectively ‘buy better’ in significant bulk and have more impact! Let’s all resolve to take this more seriously and use our 15 years of Bristol Fairtrade City status as a way that the city can help create a fairer and more sustainable world over the next decade. We need to do this now more than ever.”

#BristolFoodKind is a collaboration between Bristol Green Capital PartnershipBristol Food NetworkBristol City Council and Resource Futures.

Show your support for Fair Trade farmers and workers by choosing Fair Trade certified products every time you shop, and inspire others in Bristol to do the same using the hashtag #BristolFairTrade.