The Fair Trade International Symposium is a gathering of academics and practitioners with an interest in Fair Trade issues. It takes place every 3 – 4 years and is a place to share the latest research and findings as well as launching new Fair Trade initiatives and concepts. The 2018 symposium happened in Portsmouth and I was lucky enough to be able to go along and join in.
In the Fair Trade movement, like any campaign for justice, it can be difficult to maintain your own enthusiasm and momentum. Gathering together and meeting other people from different places who are working towards the same goals is always inspirational. The first morning, I sat down for breakfast with Pedro Gamboa, from Mexico, who works with small Mayan communities to increase their livelihoods and income through making handicrafts. They have been working with a high-end fashion brand making bags and we discussed the challenges they had faced along the way, including whether Fair Trade prices should be fixed for the work completed, or related to a proportion of the sale price of the bags. I was inspired.
This is just the beginning of three days of learning, hearing from the international Fair Trade bodies about their latest developments and grass roots research on the impact on workers and growers of the tea, flowers, wine and coffee industries. We also looked at the history of the Fair Trade activist movement with its balance between campaigning for global economic change and making a difference to producers lives in the here and now. It made me recommit, yet again, to my own Fair Trade journey.
What I discovered is how much Wales is an important part of the global Fair Trade picture. It has inspired many other people and places in their Fair Trade journey. From Mexico to Korea, people asked me about Wales being a Fair Trade Nation and told me how they had been inspired in their own Fair Trade campaigns because of this. Many people contributed to a focus group I ran asking about what a Fair Trade Nation of the future should look like. I am using this to contribute to our current review into the future of Wales as a Fair Trade Nation.
At the end of the three days the main thought that we all went home with, was how to maintain links with Fair Trade research in the years between symposiums.
Below are a few suggested ways that might be of interest to you:
Look at the presentations
Presentations from the Symposium are available to look at on a FTIS webpage.
Join the Fair Trade Society
The Fair Trade Society is launching a new, independent academic journal, the Journal of Fair Trade, which aims to be a multidisciplinary source of leading research on Fair Trade with work and voices from academics and practitioners. Membership of the Fair Trade Society, for £10 per year, gives online access to the Journal of Fair Trade as well as a platform for sharing of critical ideas and lively debate, support with mentorship, editorial and translation to allow new voices to be heard, information on Fair Trade events, courses and job openings and advice on staging Fair Trade events and finding speakers.
- For membership of Fair Trade Society at https://www.joft.org.uk/fair-trade-society/
- The Journal of Fair Trade Volume 1, Issue 1 is due to be published in December 2018. Contributions to future editions of the Journal of Fair Trade are also welcomed! Find out more at https://www.joft.org.uk/submissions/
Do an e-learning course
This site offers online courses to learn more about Fair Trade in several languages.
Browse the Fair Trade Institute website
The Fair Trade Institute holds the latest details of Fair Trade researchers and papers.