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WFTO Annual Conference Addresses Financial Survival, Membership System & Leadership

By Tony Hall

The World Fair Trade Organization annual conference took place in Mombasa, Kenya, in May. The conference was attended by around 220 people, with a strong representation from Africa, and fewer people especially from Europe and Latin America. The total number of eligible voting organizations was 252, and there were around 160 votes and proxies present at the meeting – the quorum was 126. The conference theme was “The Common Good – what it means for Fair Trade”.

The main areas of discussion revolved around the new concept, which was adopted, of the WFTO Fair Trade System for membership, monitoring and certification of members. This is the new instantiation of the SFTMS scheme. It is possible that the use of a label will be dependent on this new system, for all those members who are in compliance with the new (yet to be agreed) monitoring scheme, which will have third party certification.

There were also extensive discussions on the issues of finance, strategy, and work plan. The WFTO organization is in financial trouble. There was an extensive paper on strategy, however in my view this is all on hold while the new board steadies and rights the ship. The great news is that the new Board of Directors are all experienced business managers, many with substantial experience of Fair Trade and WFTO.

The elections for the 3 independent (open) seats for directors resulted in the following new Board members: Bob Chase – SERRV (and former President); Roopa Mehta – SASHA; Mona El Sayed – Fair Trade Egypt. The newly elected President is Rudi Dalvai, from CTM, Italy.

The role of the WFTO in integrating the Fair Trade movement worldwide is crucial, and if it is not that organization, then something else will have to be invented.

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