Chamber has signed up to the island’s Fair Trade initiative and is proudly offering a range of drinks and snacks which help this hugely important organisation.

A Fairtrade awareness lunch and discussion was held last month and our organisation has committed to supporting it for the foreseeable future.

Patron Sir Richard Collas said it was an honour to promote support for, and awareness of, the needs of other communities around the world. ‘By supporting Fairtrade products, we can all contribute to improving working conditions for some of the most exploited and vulnerable workforces and to helping their communities to become more sustainable.

The Lunch and Learn heard how crucial this global organisation is to helping vulnerable farmers, particularly as global warming’s effects are felt. Some 1.8 million Fairtrade farmers and workers called on politicians at the COP26 summit to Be Fair with your Climate Promise. They challenged leaders to invest in the expertise of their communities, who see the realities of the climate crisis every day.

Locally, representatives from retailers including Waitrose, the CoOp, Marks and Spencer and Monomundi described the benefits of involvement. One misconception that was addressed was that Fairtrade goods cost more than other ranges. ‘That may have been the case in the early days but is certainly not true now,’ said Guernsey Retail Group and CI CoOp representative Kenny McDonald.

A person holding out their hands full of coffee beans

Chamber hosts some 200 people a week in our state of the art business premises in the Markets Inner Street and will use Fairtrade coffee beans, tea, soft drinks and snacks. The space will also be used to exhibit information and visuals about various Fairtrade relationships around the globe. Any business interested in joining can register at Fairtrade Guernsey

The initiative has been described as ‘Ordinary people doing extraordinary things,’ enabling change for the better for producers in the developing world. ‘Without Fairtrade, many of these farmers would have to make a choice between putting food on the table and sending their children to school. The Fairtrade system ensures that they can earn a decent wage and live a dignified and sustainable lifestyle. It also gives farmers and workers a sense of pride because someone as far away as our island is choosing their product with its Fairtrade label. ‘They become something more than a distance, forgotten producer at the end of a very long supply chain. In this way, the Fairtrade system brings together consumers and producers and gives us all the opportunity to play our own part in making trade fairer,’ said a spokesman.

The Fairtrade premium is a sum of money paid on top of the agreed Fairtrade price for investment in social, environmental or economic development projects, decided upon democratically by producers within the farmers’ organisation or by workers on a plantation. The premium fund is typically invested in education and healthcare, farm improvements to increase yield and quality, or processing facilities to increase income.

Locally, the Fairtrade Guernsey Steering Group was formed in 2005 by volunteers with the aim of raising awareness of and support for Fairtrade in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. This focus will continue and is dependent on the support of as many people as possible. Businesses sourcing from Fairtrade farmers see the climate crisis hitting the people in their supply chains disproportionately hard. Increasingly volatile and extreme weather is damaging crops and harming livelihoods in farming communities, making it harder to grow the goods their customers rely on. The organisation stresses that this is an emergency. ‘Unless we clamp down hard on global emissions and support farmers in low and middle-income countries to build resilience, all of us will suffer, from farmers to consumers. Businesses are urging world governments to listen to the voices of farmers – the people who grow our food and other essential goods – as they call for urgent action.

‘We welcome the open letter from the representatives of 1.8 million Fairtrade farmers and workers across the world and urge governments to respond in full. Governments must set ambitious, science-based rules and targets that do not allow unscrupulous businesses to ignore the damage they are causing to the planet, and which encourage responsible businesses to do more. ‘Business too must take a lead. They now commit to the following action in their international supply chains, and call on other businesses to do likewise:

* We promise to pay fair prices to producers – farmers and workers should not have to choose between tackling poverty and building resilience to the climate crisis. Our Fairtrade commitments are critical to achieving this.
* We promise to be long-term partners with farming communities, listening to the experience of farmers, sharing our expertise and investing in the urgent transitions farmers need. We back a shift in food production and supply, to one that is resilient to the changing climate, including backing nature-based solutions. We will support farmers as we work together to cut the emissions embedded throughout our supply chains.

* We promise to ‘know and show’ our climate impact, by measuring carbon emissions embedded in our supply chains, assessing the climate risks faced at farm level, and publishing the results. We want to raise awareness about the challenges, the practical solutions, and the need for others to raise their game.

* Finally, we promise to speak out, calling in public and private for governments to set and deliver ambitious targets for emissions reductions and climate finance that puts farmers and workers first.