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Stakeholder Council

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N. America Fair Trade Stakeholder Council Summit Makes Progress on Key Issues - Action Plan to Come by June

The following summary is offered by FTRN, and not by the Organizing Committee nor full Council:

Around 50 people representing some of the Fair Trade movement held a summit April 30 – May 2, 2012, in Minneapolis. Important dialogue & learning progressed among diverse stakeholders, including certifiers/standard setters (Fairtrade International – via Fairtrade Canada representative), Fair Trade USA, IMO Fair for Life, Agricultural Justice Project) who participated in just the final day. Many of the stakeholders had never met, communicated, or even known much about each other’s organizations. Valuable relationships were established or strengthened between people/organizations. The Council as yet did not achieve any of its 4 stated goals. Members identified a little common ground, but mostly discussed key issues and how the movement might resolve them. A working group was formed to propose by June next steps for dialogue and action. The Council intends to publish for the public details of its discussions and progress by June, and ways additional stakeholders can engage or join in coming months.

Regarding the 4 stated goals:

  • Define Fair Trade and the movement, what they are and what they are not – members didn’t clarify common ground, but did gain more understanding of topics like domestic Fair Trade, large-scale agriculture/plantations, and what the movement could collaborate on.
  • Organize the North American Fair Trade movement under a coordinated infrastructure with a common vision – very little progress, so there remains a critical opportunity to organize ongoing communication across the movement.
  • Reach agreement on a plan for cooperation and accountability within the movement – this was the goal with the most progress, as members agreed on an agenda (currently 30 items) for more work, and advanced thinking a lot on many issues. It seems like commitment is there to carry some of this work to meaningful results in coming months.
  • Develop a clear external message for the movement- members decided this was lower priority, so postponed work until the Council (and perhaps others) progresses on other goals first.

N. America Fair Trade Stakeholder Council Forms to Clarify Direction of Fair Trade

With Fair Trade experiencing monumental change in the past few months, some committed stakeholders in N. America started a dialogue initiative in December 2011 to clarify the direction for the Fair Trade movement in N. America with the goal of upholding its benefits for marginalized producers around the world. The initiative, called the N. America Fair Trade Stakeholder Council, will begin with around 40-50 nonprofits, advocacy organizations, committed companies, producer/farmer/worker groups, academics and others, who will hold conference calls and email discussions over several months before attending an in-person summit April 30 – May 2, 2012, in Minneapolis. Fair Trade Resource Network (FTRN), Fair World Project (FWP), and Domestic Fair Trade Association (DFTA) comprise the Organizing Committee leading the initiative. At present, the Council seeks to advance these 4 goals:

  • Define fair trade and the movement, what they are and what they are not
  • Organize the North American fair trade movement under a coordinated infrastructure with a common vision
  • Reach agreement on a plan for cooperation and accountability within the movement
  • Develop a clear external message for the movement

As the Council gets more organized and more momentum, it intends to periodically share its major ideas & highlights with the public, and to occasionally invite public comment. In balancing efficiency with inclusiveness and transparency, the Council intends to maintain open, clear and transparent communication channels with stakeholders in other organizations, as well as other producer and consumer regions, to collaborate as much as possible.

Organizations (to date) participating in the Council:

Alter Eco
Bon Appétit Management Company
Ben & Jerry’s
Canaan Fair Trade
Canadian Fair Trade Network
CATA – the Farmworker Support Committee
Catholic Relief Services
Community to Community Development
Cooperative Coffees Dean’s Beans
Dean’s Beans
Discoverty Organics
Divine Chocolate
Domestic Fair Trade Association
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
Equal Exchange
Fair Trade Burlington
Fair Trade Federation
Fair Trade Los Angeles
Fair Trade San Diego
Fair Trade Resource Network
Fair World Project
Farmer Direct Co-operative
Food Chain Workers Alliance
Global Exchange
Green America
Handmade Expression
Just Coffee
JUSTA Fair Trade
Just Works
Kusikuy Clothing Company
Made by Hand International Co-op
Maggie’s Organics
Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)
Olympia Co-op
Once Again Nut Butter
Organic Valley
Peace Coffee
Presbyterian Church USA
Rural Advancement Foundation International
Theo Chocolate
United Students for Fair Trade (USFT)
Vermont Coffee Company
World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)
Zhena’s Tea

Individuals participating:

Christopher Bacon
Daniel Jaffee

The Council is not accepting new members for the rest of this early phase through May 2, but will probably welcome new participants if the initiative continues beyond May 2.

How other stakeholders can participate:

  1. Look for news on this page (or the DFTA or FWP pages) during January-April 2012.
  2. Sign-up for updates on Council progress, and invitations for public input (at e-newsletters of FTRN e-newsletter or DFTA or FWP) on issues.
  3. See if the Council gains enough momentum to expand formal participation after May’s summit of the tentative members.
  4. Contact FTRN at, or FWP, or DFTA at with any comments or questions.