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burn it up | make trade fair


keywords: international trade impact | North/South gap | fair trade | campaigning | target-group | goal identification

make trade fair
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courtesy, UNESCO

goal: improving students organisational and communicational skills (e.g. adapting same issue to different targets); increasing their awareness of the role they can play in addressing the North/South unbalance.

risk: you should avoid stigmatisation of consumption/retailing habits considered ‘unfair’. Dialogue is a better strategy to induce friends, families, school, producers and local retailers to switch to more sustainable consumption patterns, changing their purchasing choices (consumers) and marketing strategies (producers and retailers).

YXC level: 3rd level (community at large)

YXC materials:pay the right price [Respect The Amazon | Oxfam Campaign | Certified Forests | Buy Nothing Day | Fair Money] - respecting our bodies [Delhi Students] - packaging yourself [Clean Clothes Campaign | Eco & Ethical Fashion | Blackspot Sneakers] - social belonging [Indian Milk Coop] - facts & figures/GENERAL DATA [Fair Trade | Organic Food | Vegetal Fibres | Clothes/Consumers Trends | Biz-Concentration | Fakes Market] - facts & figures/BASIC NEEDS [Behind Textiles | Children At Work] - dep’t store [Cafédirect | Weave Thailand | Made In Dignity | Sweatshops-Free T-Shirts | Rugmark Label | Dialogue Handbook | Buy Different Guide | Corp. Watch | Good Stuff Guide | Nu Card/Sustainable Shopping] - job opportunities [Csr Europe | Teruo Masaki On Csr] - links [Campaigns | Eco & Ethical Labels | Fair Trade]

subject areas: Languages | Social studies | Cultural studies | Economics & biz | Workshops

work planning: Phase 1, brainstorming on campaigning; Phase 2, intro to the issue; Phase 3, creation of teams; Phase 4, surveying; Phase 5, reporting.

testing student knowledge (with key questions): these questions should be addressed in the form of class brainstorming to test students’ general awareness and commitment level (before any subsequent introduction to the topic).


bullet Could you mention at least 2 or 3 recent fair trade campaigns? bullet How did you get the message? Through… a) TV, cinema, b) radio, c) press, d) the Internet, e) outdoor ads (billboards, public transport, etc.), f) school, g) retailer, h) family/friends… bullet Which of the following elements do you remember the most? (Please, order by importance and specify why): a) headlines; b) pictures; c) music/jingle; d) testimonials; e) forms & questionnaires; f) supporting org. bullet Please rate your personal interest for this kind of campaigns (indicative reasons in brackets): a) very high (taking action), b) medium to high (getting more information), c) medium to low (simple curiosity), d) very low (boring stuff, not useful at all).


bullet Do you believe that fair trade campaigns are an effective means to address the North-South unbalances? bullet If so, why? bullet In general, is campaigning a useful strategy to influence consumption habits? bullet Where is it most effective (what is the most favourable environment)? a) at home, b) at school, c) at community level. bullet In your opinion, what is the main ingredient for a successful campaign? bullet And which are the main obstacles getting people involved? bullet How could you give your contribution in addressing North/South unbalances?

intro to the topic (background): all around the world, civil society organisations (consumers and environmental associations, NGOs, youth movements, etc.) are working hard to increase awareness on the existing gap between the North and the South in terms of wealth distribution and access to basic goods & services (e.g. education, health care, food, etc.). Thanks to their initiatives - campaigns, lobbying, corp. watching, etc. - we are becoming more aware of the fact that we live in a global village. Simple everyday activities - like shopping - can have a profound effect on people living thousands of miles away.

For example, international trade may seem a remote issue, but when commodity prices fall, the impact on the lives of millions of small scale producers can be catastrophic, forcing many into debt and countless others into losing their land and their homes. Due to global competition, in many developing countries, the money we pay to producers is often not enough to cover the cost of these goods. As a consequence, at country level, developing countries are not able to meet their basic needs for food, healthcare and education. Even worse, those countries’ already massive debt is widening day by day in what looks like a terrible vicious circle!

Development agencies recognised the important role that consumers can play to improve the situation for producers. By buying directly from farmers at better prices and by helping them market their produce directly through their own one world shops and catalogues, charities offered consumers the opportunity to buy products on the basis of a fair trade.

Fair-trade Labelling was created in the Netherlands in the late 1980s. Max Havelaar launched the first Fairtrade consumer guarantee label in 1986 on coffee sourced from Mexico. Today, there are now 19 organisations including the Fairtrade Foundation, that run the international standard setting and monitoring body Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO). Producers registered with FLO receive a minimum price that covers the cost of production and an extra premium that is invested in the local community. In September 2004 there were 422 Fairtrade certified producer groups (including many umbrella bodies) in 49 producer countries selling to hundreds of Fairtrade registered importers, licensees and retailers in 19 countries.

Fair-trade allows us to take more responsibility for the goods we buy from people in the developing countries. By purchasing fair-trade products, we can give our little contribution in redress the North/South unbalances. But we can even go even further and contribute to the expansion of Fairtrade (in many regions, still a niche market). How? By inducing our family, friends, school, local community, and so on to switch to more sustainable products such as those labelled ‘fair trade’. Campaigning can be an effective way to give a proactive contribution to bridge the North/South gap!

providing evidence: influencing consumption habits – e. g. inducing our family, school, etc. to buy fair trade products - might sound a bit hard to achieve... you could start by bringing in class examples of campaigns aimed at influencing consumption habits towards more sustainable lifestyles such as the Oxfam campaign [MAKE TRADE FAIR] or the [DELHI STUDENTS] initiative. What are the goals of such actions? Why and how do they reach their goals? And more in general, what makes a campaign successful? Looking for more inspiring initiatives? Check the YXC materials list above.

methodological suggestions: after having defined with students ‘what makes a campaign successful,’ students could be asked to organise their own “Fair Trade raising awareness campaign”. Students could be asked to split in 2-3 teams. The activity could be structured as follows:

  • target: as first step, students should identify the target-groups to whom they would like to address their campaign (e.g. family, other students, local retailers, etc.). Ask each team to chose the target they want to work on;
  • goals: as second step, each team will identify the main objective of their campaign (e.g. pushing parents to buy Fairtrade products, or inducing the school to offer FT products in the canteen/ vending machines, etc.).
  • questionnaire: each team could be then asked to draft a questionnaire. Generally speaking, the questionnaires should be short (no more than 10-12 questions), clear, and easy-to-fill-in. Questions should be formulated in order to gather the following information: a) consumption habits (reasons behind purchasing choices, reading labels, etc. – it would be better to specify 2-3 common goods like coffee, bananas, cotton etc.); b) awareness level (on international trade, North/South gap, Fair Trade labels); c) commitment level (e.g. would you do pay a bit more for a product that is ‘child labour free?’).
  • survey: students should distribute the questionnaires, assist people in filling them in (optional), collect and analyse the feedback. A correct timing is essential for the success of the survey: in general, you should avoid spreading out questionnaires for long time (the best would be to distribute them in the morning and take them back in the afternoon or the day after).
  • reporting: survey results should be discussed in class. Students should analyse the general reactions to their initiative: were people collaborative or hostile? Genuinely interested or getting bored? How did students approach different interlocutors? Additionally, students should compare target-groups, identifying and rating their main concerns (different, similar?), and commitment level. Finally, students should draft a list of tips to “Make Trade Fair” and to “Make Fair Trade Cool” within their community.

results assessment:the success of this pedagogical module on fair trade can be measured by the following results:
  • capacity building goal: 1) students know how to draft a questionnaire, addressing it to a specific target-group; 2) they are able to consider different targets, adapting a complex issue such as Fair Trade to different action goals.
  • action goals: 1) students persuaded their family in looking for Fairtrade labelled products. Now at least one product among those commonly in use at home has been substituted with a Fairtrade product; 2) the school canteen now offers Fairtrade bananas instead of unlabelled ones; 3) at least one of the local retailers contacted now sells also some Fairtrade goods.

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