Fairtrade’s HRDD work is expanding

Where are we now in developing our HRDD-related business services, internal systems, advocacy work and research?

Published in HRDD Newsletter/November 2020 issue

Fairtrade’s HRDD work is expanding. Both the HRDD WG and many Fairtrade member organizations are working to build Fairtrade’s profile as an HRDD partner and a thought-leader. Here is a summary of activities to strengthen our HRDD-related (1) business services, (2) internal systems, (3) advocacy work and (4) research.

Business services: Articulating Fairtrade’s HRDD-related offer to business

Updates from the HRDD Working group:

  • A two-pager on how Fairtrade sourcing supports our licensees’ HRDD work will be finalized in December. The paper has undergone several rounds of feedback, comments and discussions inside and outside of the HRDD WG. Many discussions have proven the complexity of HRDD as a topic, underlining the importance of guidance that we as Fairtrade system can provide to our partners in the Global North and Global South. We will provide marketing material and webinars around that paper.
  • A top-level mapping of how our biggest licensees speak publicly about HRDD is underway. Colleagues of some of the largest NFOs have already contributed and the request will soon be shared with other NFOs too.We wish to find out whether our biggest licensees have already conducted human rights impact assessments and what kind of certifications or partnerships they have in place to mitigate their human rights risks. The results will be presented in the December HRDD WG meeting.
  • The subgroup has created task forces to focus resources on next key tasks: Defining our offer beyond sourcing, discussing preconditions for a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) pilot for commercial partners, and defining principles of engagement for HRIA services.

Contact: Lead of “HRDD Offer to Business” subgroup Linda Wagner (l.wagner@fairtrade-deutschland.de)

Updates from members:

The Dutch, German and Swiss offices have participated in public HRDD events to discuss Fairtrade’s offer to companies undertaking HREDD.

  • “Putting access to remedy into practice in RBC Agreements” was organized by SER, the Socio-Economic Council to the Dutch Government and Parliament. It included a break-out session on the agrofood sector, where the Lead of HRDD CoE Tytti Nahi gave this presentation (slides 4-5). This general presentation of the event offers great further thoughts on how to approach remedy where we are not causing the human rights problem ourselves!
  • “HRDD – What is the role and responsibility of different actors along the cocoa supply chain” was organized by European initiatives on sustainable cocoa (Beyond Chocolate, GISCO and SWISSCO). Find programme here. It included a break- out session on “Which role can standard setting organizations play for the implementation of HRDD”, where the COE of Max Havelaar Netherlands Peter d’Angremond represented Fairtrade.

Fairtrade Foundation organized a FairFocus webinar on HRDD for its corporate partners. To find out more about the event, please see the invitation and the recording.

Internal systems: Building an HRDD process for Fairtrade

  • Standards: HRDD WG and FI Standards Unit are exploring how Fairtrade standards could better encourage certified entities to undertake each step of the HRDD process. The current idea is to do a “HRDD review” of the generic standards – trader, SPO, HL and CP standard – in one go. In this review, the only substantial changes would be the inclusion of relevant and reasonable HRDD process requirements in each standard. Simultaneous reviews would facilitate important discussions about the relative burden set on traders and producers.
  • Human rights (hotspot) mapping: The preparations for a systematic assessment of human rights risks in Fairtrade operations and certified supply chains are progressing. The mapping will entail (1) a wide scoping of all risks on the basis of external statistics, (2) participatory, in-depth analysis in some high-risk areas on the basis of Impact data, FLOCERT data and external information.
  • Capacity building and dialogue with PN staff, product and country networks is a crucial first step of the human rights mapping. During the past weeks, very fruitful HRDD training sessions and discussions have been organized by CLAC for our Latin American and Caribbean product networks and regional coordinators.
  • Communications: HRDD CoE is coordinating the production of a brochure: “How Fairtrade contributes to the mitigation of human rights violations?”, which will speak about our groundbreaking work in the language of HRDD. The e-brochure will be published in January-February 2021.

Contact: Lead of HRDD CoE Tytti Nahi (tytti.nahi@fairtrade.fi)

Picture: Screenshot from FI website

Advocacy work: Fairtrade pushes for better HERDD regulation

Updates from the HRDD Working group:

  • Fairtrade’s advocacy position paper “Fairtrade’s Vision for Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence’ was published in September. We coordinated a Press Release with FI, which was also featured in LinkedIn. External stakeholders’ reactions on the advocacy vision have so far been positive.
  • FTAO and CLAC have co-authored an article addressing the need for companies to review their purchasing practices, including paying a fair price, in order to ensure decent livelihoods and better realization of producers’ and workers’ human rights and respect for the environment. To read more on why purchasing practices need to be part of the upcoming mHREDD, click here.
  • In order to further increase the awareness of our civil society partners, we are planning to organize an online discussion around our HRDD work, to allow dialogue on our advocacy demands and human rights commitment.
  • The advocacy subgroup is also working on advocacy strategy. The proposed focus is on influencing (1) the EU legislation on HREDD (human rights and environmental DD), (2) COVID stimulus packages (to include HERDD conditions), (3) possible revision of the OECD DD Guidance and (4) national HREDD laws. 
  • The advocacy subgroup is currently without a lead because Sami Asali, who previously coordinated the subgroup, has left Fairtrade. The lack of leadership is delaying some of the planned activities; hence we would very much welcome a new committed person to take this role.

Contact: Lead of HRDD CoE Tytti Nahi (tytti.nahi@fairtrade.fi)

Updates from members:

Fairtrade Sweden is part of the recently launched campaign for a Swedish HRDD law, joining the growing number of national Fairtrade organizations engaged in HRDD campaigns in Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, Finland and others. Read more about the Swedish campaign here.

The Fairtrade Foundation is engaging with the UK government on a proposed due diligence legislation to combat illegal deforestation. The proposals seek to tackle illegal deforestation by mandating larger businesses to ensure that forest risk commodities are produced in accordance with relevant local laws, and they would need to take steps – undertake due diligence – to show that they have taken proportionate action to ensure this is the case. The Fairtrade Foundation believes these proposals a welcome step towards tackling environmental damage in our supply chains. However, we are keen to see the adoption of robust due diligence legislation that is producer focused, ensuring smallholder farmers and workers do not lose out, and that is effective in ensuring compliance with meaningful impact.  You can read the Fairtrade Foundation’s detailed position here. Text: Fairtrade Foundation

Picture: Eduardo Martino

Fairtrade Germany joined others in developing demands on gender justice in global supply chains. Women and girls in numerous global supply chains are disproportionately affected by the negative effects of global economic activity, caused by e.g. discriminatory socio-economic structures and practices to patriarchal and class-based social and cultural norms. Therefore, all legislative regulations must ensure that gender-specific aspects are considered in all areas of human rights and environmental due diligence.

With regards to the discussion about a German supply chain law, a coalition of 12 development and Human Rights organizations – among them FTG – developed recommendations on how gender justice can be addressed explicitly in such legislation. Read more here. Text: Fairtrade Germany

Research on human rights and HRDD

“Analysis of the impact of Fairtrade on gender-related aspects on producers” examines how Fairtrade through its standards, strategies, programs, and capacity-building workstreams contributes to gendered outcomes; and whether Fairtrade further generates benefits for Fairtrade farmers, workers and their communities regarding non-discrimination and the empowerment of women and girls. The report will be officially published in December. Margret’s presentation at the HRDD WG meeting (September) can be found here. More information: Margret Loeffen, m.loeffen@fairtrade.net

“Communicating audit results – a desk study on current practices and emerging trends” looks at how other voluntary sustainability standards than Fairtrade are using their audit data to report results. To access the full study, click here. Miyako’s summary presentation to the HRDD WG is available here. More information: Miyako Takahashi, m.takahashi@fairtrade.net

Did we fail to mention your HRDD-related work? Please let us hear about it and we’ll include it in the next newsletter!