Make Fair Trade a priority
Fair Trade fashion pioneer People Tree call on the G8 leaders to make Fair Trade a priority. Their agenda does not pay sufficient attention to the continuing need to make trade fair and sustainable for all. This has been a major theme of previous G8s and suggests the problem has dropped from G8 leaders' priorities. Why should it be a priority *At a time of global economic insecurity, rising food and commodity prices and climate change -- the poor have never needed commitment more. We need leadership, development and sustainability to be central to discussions. *Trade -- if organised and regulated properly -- can contribute to poverty reduction and environmental protection. G8 leadership is needed in three key areas; 1. Recognise Fair Trade as a model of environmental and social justice. The G8 has largely ignored the environmental initiatives and innovations used by the Fair Trade and social enterprise movements. Because Fair Trade works in long term partnership, producers are able to 'invest' in environmental protection and carbon neutral production. For example, Fair Trade organic cotton producers in Gujarat save 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per acre per year sequestered in the soil (not to mention saving CO2 generated in making oil-based pesticides). One hand weaver in Bangladesh saves 1 tonne of CO2 per year. Carbon credit programmes should be funded to build the capacity of small-scale producers, after all, it is the poor in the developing world that have the lightest environmental footprint. 2. Change trade rules to focus on the poor. G8 members' trade policy remains unconnected to the real circumstances of poor producers in developing countries. Their past approach to trade policy has favoured liberalisation and free trade as a response to poverty. In our experience this theory frequently does not work in practice and it is often the poorest people who suffer most as a result. Developing countries should have the right to nurture and protect vulnerable and emerging sectors of their economies from free and unfettered trade until they are able to compete regionally and internationally. No country, G8 members included, has developed without protection. This pragmatic -- rather than theoretical -- approach should be the bedrock of G8 trade policy especially when there is a substantial risk of missing Millennium Development Goal targets if economic growth is not achieved in developing countries. 3. Make mainstream businesses act more responsibly. Most companies still do not take proper account of their social and environmental impacts. The Fair Trade movement has developed standards and assessment processes that show best practice in this area. The G8 should develop an ambitious strategy for the private sector, with key performance indicators (economic, social and environmental) which focus on the impact that trade has on poverty. Robust regulation is needed to correct the imbalance of power between multinational retailers and their suppliers. This would set out companies' responsibilities for their social and environmental impacts and give workers, farmers or suppliers harmed by a companies activities to seek redress.