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Rising inequality, entrenched poverty and a deepening ecological crisis have mobilised the global community to seek new models of business and trade that drive fair and sustainable economies. Economic development that rides on conventional trade is a model of business and trade that puts profit before people and planet. Sustainable development means we need to live within ‘the doughnut’ not exceeding the limits of our planet while meeting human needs. The planet has a limit to the economic footprint it can handle. And we are stretching beyond this at present on multiple levels. Meanwhile, we are failing to meet basic human needs. We cannot keep growing our footprint and going further beyond our planet’s boundaries. This means tackling inequality is key. But inequality is growing and is driven by a system of business, finance and trade that rewards wealth, not work. This way of doing business and trade cannot continue.The kinds of businesses that populate our economy is critical.
Over many decades, the Fair Trade movement has developed and implemented a range of models that serve as an experiment in transforming the broader global economy. Every day, we see the difference that sustainable production – from fair prices to proper labour conditions – makes for marginalised producers and workers. It must also be acknowledged that making consumers aware of the impact of their consumption’s decisions is equally important. The success of Fair Trade shows how the private sector can be a fundamental driver of poverty reduction and sustainable development. Organised producer groups, such as small-scale farmer cooperatives, should become key partners for governments in practical implementation of the new Agenda 2030. Fair Trade is an excellent example of a partnership where many stakeholders around the world and at different stages along the supply chain come together to ensure market access for disadvantaged producers and workers - comprising of women, ethnic minorities, displaced, refugees and people with disabilities - and guarantee sustainable livelihoods.