Milano World fair trade week 2015

Who seriously wants something finds a way, all the others an excuse (African proverb)

From 21 to 31 May 2015, Milan was the world capital of Fair Trade. The main European and international organizations involved in fair trade were meeting to conduct the annual meeting of the WFTO (World Organisation of Fair Trade ) and with partners Italian trade Fairtrade AGICES – Equo garantito (General Assembly Italian of Fair Trade) drew up the “Manifesto of the World Fair Trade Week 2015” , which explains the meaning and value of the event .

The manifesto

The Fair Trade movement started in the 60’s to promote an economic system based on justice – fair prices, better working conditions, transparent trade relations – and allow the economically marginalized producers of the South to improve the quality of their life. It is now gradually spreading among  producers of the North, serving as a socially and environmentally sustainable economic model.

The concept  of “responsibility” was the theme of the Fair Trade Week, showing how Fair Trade organizations are able to ensure product excellence, a virtuous commercial chain and a development model that can really “feed” the world. These organizations also prove to be a valid support for consumers and institutions that are aware of the profound social significance of “consumption”, needed to encourage virtuous economic and production patterns.

One important topic of debate is the influence few actors of the production chain have on “free market”  – something that tends to reduce competition, natural and social biodiversity-  as well as the role of producers in the South and in the North of the globe.

Fair Trade  products are not just “good products, but they are harmless”: they represent an implicit criticism to the dominating economy, demonstrating that it is possible to produce, consume and save, while respecting social and environmental criteria, distributing profits throughout the production supply chain, taking care of small producers, their lands and their communities.

The main goal of the WFT Week was to remind consumers and institutions, politicians and companies, that poverty, exploitation and social exclusion are not merely brought by fate,  but are often the consequence of political and economic choices. And that solidarity economy “is good for everyone”, being a virtuous model for all, not only for small producers and consumers.

Fair trade and EXPO 2015

The picking of Milan as the hosting city and of the first month of Expo2015 as the timing for the event, originates from the desire to assure more visibility to this meeting and to the whole of the Fair Trade movement. The gathering of so many people from all over the world can contribute to raise awareness about a movement that, for decades now, has been implementing in reality the utopia of a more just world in which everybody has the right, not only to food, but also to a decent life.

Fair Trade movement know that among the main causes of hunger – which still affects almost one in 7 inhabitants of the planet – are poverty, exploitation and social exclusion, all of which are not a result of fate but more often rather consequences of specific political and economic policy choices. We believe that the acknowledging of such factors is the essential starting point needed for the formulation of any effective strategy on the very issues the Expo is supposed to confront.

Fair trade movement believe that any solution to the problem concerning “Feeding the Planet” always is a solution of political nature in the first place, and only secondarily a matter of change through technological innovation (such as new seeds, new fertilizers, new machinery) or of humanitarian aid (new aids).

Improved technologies and higher aids can benefit the fight against hunger, only providing that they do not further erode the already narrow room for political participation in decision-making and for food sovereignty of local and national communities. Improved technologies and higher aids can benefit global nutrition only if they do not become mere distractions meant to impair the awareness, that poverty reduction is impossible without a political “anti-famine” pact – based on the ethical principle that the right to food constitutes the first and most undeniable of all human rights, that no government, for no reason, at any time can fail.

In order to feed the planet we need a global farming renaissance and we therefore must ensure to primary producers access to land, credit, health and technical assistance.

Farming renaissance means:

  • valuing and enhancing models of local self-management of common resources – such as grazing land, forestry, irrigation systems;
  • safeguarding of common use rights;
  • protection of famers’ right to free seed exchange and reproduction;
  • rediscovering of native knowledge and of the most affective adaptive strategies during environmental crisis;
  • preserving of renewable resources, biodiversity and water.

Only moving from such premises will we be able to imagine a new season of widely shared human well-being.

Texts adapted from

Edited by Giordano Golinelli, Fondazione ACRA-CCS