The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) launched the Fair World Project (FWP) in September to promote fair trade in commerce, especially in organic production systems in developing countries as well as at home, and to protect the term “fair trade” from dilution and misuse for mere PR purposes. The OCA’s new project fills the critical need for a watchdog of misleading fair trade claims, and a cheerleader for dedicated fair trade mission-driven companies. Through FWP, OCA will focus on promoting projects that connect the environmental and health benefits of organic agriculture with the social benefits derived from fair trade.
“As demand from conscious consumers expands the market for fairly traded products we must ensure that claims made by companies hold up to fair trade standards and that marketing and labeling of these products are accurate,” says Dana Geffner, Executive Director of the Fair World Project. “With new fair trade certifiers joining the movement, seasoned certifiers enabling questionable opportunistic fair trade claims and “fair-washing” practices more common, the Fair World Project aims to discuss and dissect,” adds Geffner.
The FWP intends to encourage critical thinking rather than blind faith regarding fair trade claims and certification schemes. Through publications, events, and targeted campaigns the group articulates and advances the issues involved in fair trade, with the goal of helping consumers, business owners, employees and activists make informed decisions about where and on what to spend their money and resources – to build a better and more just world. The FWP’s new website provides a space and forum where consumers can discuss issues within the Fair Trade movement, ask tough questions and share information.
According to Ryan Zinn of the OCA, “OCA’s Fair World Project will highlight corporations that are truly implementing fair trade practices, but at the same time hold ‘fair-washers’ accountable and insist on safeguarding fair trade’s integrity. We will put pressure on schools, institutions, and businesses, especially in the organic and natural products sector, to walk their talk and guarantee fair labor practices throughout the supply chain.”
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