Statement by the President of the States of Guernsey Overseas Aid & Development Commission, Deputy Emilie Yerby.
Wednesday 28 February 2018
Statement on Fairtrade
It gives me great pleasure to announce that Guernsey has once again achieved reaccreditation as a Fairtrade Island, a status we have held for twelve years now, since our first accreditation in March 2006. This means that we are proud to promote Fairtrade across our community, and are active in increasing local support for it.
The concept of Fairtrade is simple and elegant, and it is focused on ensuring that farmers and labourers in the world’s poorest countries get a better deal.
The Fairtrade Mark is a label States Members will have seen on many products – most famously tea and coffee, chocolate and bananas, but there’s a lot more out there: from rice to wine, sports balls to cut flowers, honey and spices to gold and silver jewellery.
The Fairtrade Mark tells you something about the producers of the product. It tells you that the production meets minimum social and environmental standards – including, for example, the avoidance of child labour; basic health and safety protections; and careful management of soil fertility and water resources. It tells you that the producers were paid at least a minimum price for their goods, as well as a premium to be reinvested in their communities or in developing their business.
As consumers, we may choose Fairtrade products for ethical or economic reasons – because they give us some comfort as to the working conditions of those who have produced our food; because they support entrepreneurship in developing countries; because they offer a direct route to help improve the lives of the world’s poorest, through trade rather than aid.
And that is where we come in. Fairtrade relies on basic economic principles: the supply of decent, ethically-produced goods relies on there being a demand for it. And there is – we know that in the UK, for example, at least one in three bananas sold is Fairtrade. That demand grows as people understand what the Fairtrade Mark is about, and how it can help disadvantaged producers. Fairtrade Towns and Islands – like us – apply for that status to show that we are committed to raising awareness of Fairtrade across our communities, and encouraging its use.
Deputy Gollop is the only remaining States Member of the group of nine who signed a Requête, led by former Deputy Mike Torode, that committed Guernsey to becoming a Fairtrade Island, and that sought, especially, to underline the States’ particular support for Fairtrade, with Fairtrade refreshments being served in all government buildings and at all government events. That commitment goes on and, while the Overseas Aid & Development Commission has agreed to take the lead in championing Fairtrade across the States, it will depend on all of us to really support and embed Fairtrade across our areas of work.
Fairtrade Fortnight began this week and will run until 11th March – two weeks in which the local Fairtrade steering group will be working especially hard to raise awareness, with public events, school assemblies and a range of other opportunities to learn about and support Fairtrade, to which all are invited. It is hugely encouraging to be able to mark the start of Fairtrade Fortnight with the good news that Guernsey has received reaccreditation, and I want to close by putting on record my thanks to all those whose hard work has got us this far, and who will continue to put every effort into ensuring that Guernsey lives up to its status as a Fairtrade Island