What does Mankato have in common with Riobamba (Ecuador), Ghent (Belgium), Mendez (Lebanon), New Koforidua (Ghana), Pondicherry (India), Taipei (Taiwan) and Wellington (New Zealand)? They are all part of a network of over 2,000 “Fair Trade Towns” in over 30 countries. 45 of them are in the USA, some small and some large (Houston, TX is the latest).
Mankato became a “Fair Trade Town” seven years ago - the first, and still the only one, in Minnesota. The work of MAFTTI in enabling the Fair Trade Towns criteria to be met was recognized by a Resolution passed unanimously by the Mankato City Council on October 24, 2011. The underlying vision is to raise the capacity of small farmers and artisan producers in poor countries to obtain better (i.e. fairer) trading terms, not least by encouraging US consumers to purchase their products.
The originators of the “Fair Trade Town” idea must be astonished at how, in less than 20 years, their idea has spread around the world from Garstang, an old market town (population c.6,500) in north-west England. The story of how it all began, and the latest list of countries with Fair Trade Towns, is here.
October 19-21 will see enthusiasts from over 100 widely scattered Fair Trade Towns converge on Madrid, Spain, for the 12th International Fair Trade Towns conference. The theme this year is “Sustainable Consumption, Caring for Life”.
Past experience shows that these annual gatherings, which MAFTTI has been able to attend twice, help ideas to be shared about Fair Trade campaigning on behalf of “comercio justo” (as Spanish-speakers put it) and enable Fair Trade activists in the Global North (mainly consumer-based) and Global South (mainly producer-based) to exchange views on the future of the international Fair Trade movement.
Kylie Nealis, Campus & Community Engagement Coordinator for Fair Trade Campaigns, will be at the conference. She told MAFTTI that
“I’m looking forward to attending the 2018 Fair Trade Towns International Conference to meet Fair Trade advocates from around the world and, in particular, to learn what global Fair Trade university campaigns are doing and share best practices from my work with U.S. universities. As a first-time attendee, I plan to make the most of my experience and bring back learnings and insights that can help grow and scale the Fair Trade movement here at home.
The conference website is here. Click on the Menu to see the program and more.