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Glasgow welcomes Fair Trade Nations

Glasgow welcomes Fair Trade Nations

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Fair Trade fever hit Glasgow when Fair Traders from across the world gathered on Friday, September 9, at Robertson House and Saturday, September 10 at Glasgow Caledonian University to hear how Scotland achieved Fair Trade Nation status.

The Scottish Fair Trade Forum hosted representatives from Fair Trade organizations in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland and Canada {{more}}at a first of its kind seminar which kick-started discussions on how to roll out the Fair Trade Nations and Regions concept globally.

In 2013, Scotland became the second nation in the world, after Wales, to achieve Fair Trade Nation status. The accolade was awarded after a campaign by activists, organizations, schools and universities who worked to fulfil criteria drawn up jointly by the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government in 2006. Targets were focussed on public awareness and purchasing of Fair Trade and the level of campaigning within community groups and educational establishments.

Amongst the delegates present in Glasgow was Dr Christopher Stange, Hon Consul of St Vincent and the Grenadines to Northern Ireland and Secretariat of the All Party Group on Fair Trade in Northern Ireland. He said: “In Northern Ireland, we have always had the vision of achieving a regional Fair Trade initiative as a legacy and commitment to the developing world. In order to establish criteria for our campaign, we looked at the Scottish and Welsh Fair Trade Nation models, which were incredibly useful. It was fantastic to be in Glasgow to experience a Fair Trade Nation and to unite with Fair Trade campaigners from across the world for such a worthy international cause.”

The Fair Trade Nation seminar was followed by the Scottish Fair Trade Campaigner Conference on Saturday, when the international guests joined over 80 delegates from Scottish Fair Trade community groups, schools, universities and business to discuss and share ideas on how to campaign for Fair Trade at a local, national and global level.

The international speaker line-up at the conference was headed by Dan Omondi Odida, general secretary of Micodepro, a gold mining co-operative working towards Fairtrade certification, in Kenya. Dan visited Scotland as part of a UK-wide campaign by the Fairtrade Foundation tagged “I DO” to boost awareness of Fairtrade Gold and encourage people to ask their high street retailers to stock it. Dan explained how the tiny specks of precious gold help keep his community above the breadline, and how Fairtrade is helping miners in his town to get paid a living wage, get trained in health and safety and implement environmentally friendly practices.

Adding to the impressive speaker programme was Dr Alasdair Allan, Scotland’s Minister for International Development and Europe; Cheryl McGechie from the Fairtrade Foundation; Elen Jones from Fair Trade Wales; and Henk Zandvliet from Fair Trade Towns, Netherlands.

Martin Rhodes, director of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, said: “This was our most international Fair Trade conference to date and a momentous weekend for the Fair Trade in Scotland. Dan’s speech reminded us that there are millions of people around the world who work in life-threatening conditions and receive unfair wages – but Fair Trade is changing this. The time, energy and dedication given by our campaigners and conference attendees demonstrate that Scotland is committed to helping people like Dan. On top of this, it is exciting to see that other countries are interested in replicating our campaigning model by becoming fellow Fair Trade Nations.”

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