Recurso publicado por: The Jus Semper Global Alliance
Creado en: 05/06/2012
HOW SUSTAINABLE IS OUR LATTE?
An Assessment of Trends and Standards in Fair-Trade From the Perspective of a New Truly Sustainable People and Planet- Centred Paradigm
This work is an assessment of the current development of the fair trade concept from the perspective of the pursuit of an ethos that generates true sustainability for all participants, especially those who have been dispossessed of their right to live a dignified life due to today's market system, designed for the benefit of the big global corporations.
The research considers that with the current market-driven structures governing societies worldwide, it is sheer wishful thinking to imagine that the millions of small landholders and labourers of the South would be able to enjoy a dignified life, equivalent to that in the North, through fair trade. To make it a realistic expectation, conventional wisdom both North and South must be radically changed to redefine the purpose of society, democracy and business. Thus, to change the current ethos, the sustainability for people and planet, instead of the logic of the market of today's untrammelled Darwinian capitalism, has to be the only purpose of societies.
The author, Álvaro de Regil, Executive Director of the TJSGA, supports its arguments on a detailed assessment of fair-trade coffee; undoubtedly the most important of all FT activities in the number of participating stakeholders, in the market value generated and in the level of consumer awareness. In this way, the study shows how the interaction of the visions and missions of a diversity of stakeholders, from large corporations to small retailers, and from small landholders to crop labourers, illustrates the deviations, failures, shortcomings and also successes generated supposedly in pursuit of a truly sustainable ethos. The assessment of the realities of Fair Trade coffee -and FT in the broader ethos of sustainable business practice- as an economic and social interaction, enables this research to develop a sound case study to assert that there will be no realistic sustainability and, thus, no true fair trade and no such thing as a truly socially responsible corporation unless we transform the purpose of society, of government and business to build a new paradigm that is centred on the welfare of people and planet and nothing else.
In this way, through the detailed analysis of the core elements that define the limits of the sustainability that fair trade offers to Southern participants, such as the norms for their participation, the price mechanisms, the channels of distribution, the competition of opposing concepts (FLO, Starbucks, Utz Kapéh...) as well as the fundamental role of consumers, the author drafts the path that the authentic fair-trade movement will have to go through to build a truly dignified and sustainable ethos in the long term for all participants.
This is how the author concludes that the fair-trade movement is in an enviable position to contribute to this mission given the soundness of its claims and the growing disposition of the majority of the population, in our role as consumers, to build a truly sustainable world.
Consequently, as outlandish as it may sound to some today, the author asserts that the only way to achieve true sustainability for people and planet both North and South is to replace the current market ethos with the new paradigm. Not doing so would not only render fair trade as another useful token effort, a mere poverty-mitigating mechanism, full of rhetorical claims, that provides cover for the owners of the market, but would contribute meaningfully to further the decay of mankind and of our planet until we cross a threshold of no return.