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The Dutch still leading the way in fair trade

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4 | NOVEMBER 2015
Where did fair trade all start?
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The Dutch still leading the way in fair trade

  1. 1. 4 | NOVEMBER 2015 Where did fair trade all start? During the 1940s to 1960s, mostly craft items from supply chains in de- veloping countries began to be sold in churches and charity shops like Oxfam. Perhaps more of a charitable donation than a commercial transac- tion; nevertheless, this raised aware- ness of disadvantaged producers in the developing world. Simply put, fair trade is a system of producing and selling goods that en- sures the people selling them receive a fair price. It’s widely recognised that such fair trade coffee was first import- ed in the Netherlands in 1967 by the Dutch organisation Komitee Steun Onderontwikkelde Streken (Support for Underdeveloped Regions Commit- tee, S.O.S.). With the motto “Not aid but trade”, it went on to become known as the international fair trade brand, Fair Trade Original. In 1969, the first Eu- ropean ‘worldshop’ selling exclusively fair trade goods opened in Breuke- len, the Netherlands, staffed by vol- unteers. Worldshops are still going strong here with around 400 outlets across the country. Max Havelaar Despite the fact that he was not a real person, Max Havelaar has been remarkably influential in Dutch for- eign policy. The main character in the 1860 satirical novel of the same name, Max Havelaar fights against the corrupt government system and coffee trade in the Dutch East Indies, with the wider story being how the wealth that was enjoyed in Europe at the time was the result of suffering in other parts of the world. Widely read at the time, this damning exposé was recognised by one writer as “the book that killed colonialism”. Over 1,000 years later, the name of Max Havelaar has endured to be- come a symbol of ethical trading with poorer nations; the brand name given to the world’s first fair trade labelling system, established by the Dutch in 1989, and now part of the worldwide labelling organisation Fairtrade Inter- national. On the Dutch high street So how might you notice this down at your local Dutch supermarket? Fair trade coffee is well represented, and together with chocolate and ba- nanas, they probably make up the bulk of a fair trade shopping basket. To a lesser extent all sorts of other fair trade products are available in the supermarket, including tea, sugar, wine, and more. Uniquely, 100% of the chocolate letters sold at Sinterk- laas now use fair trade cocoa. The long-established Dutch bank- ing industry has also seen a fair trade influence success with Triodos Bank. Trading since 1980, their ethical ap- proach is that only organisations that generate a proven added value to people and the environment are eligible for loans. Dutch fair trade is even evident in the very instrument of trade – money. Since 2007, the De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) has used a percentage of fair trade cotton to make our euro notes, supporting cot- ton farmers in Africa and India. With the knowledge that 25% of clothing sold in the Netherlands comes from China, since 2007 the Dutch NGO Solidaridad has invested in developing ethical and sustainable supplies of cotton from the ‘cotton province’ of Xinjiang for the Dutch clothing market. This has included training for farmers in agricultural techniques to increase their income from cotton, as well as training for employees in sewing factories about their rights. Solidaridad has increased its influ- ence on the global textiles industry, bringing together international fash- ion brands such as H&M and G-Star to help fund sustainable improve- ments to the clothing industry in Bangladesh via a four-year €8 million project, the Bangladesh Water Pact. Half of the funds for the project is coming from the Dutch government, and half from industry partners. Dutch communities can campaign for their local municipality to become a Fairtrade Gemeente (Fairtrade Town). In the Netherlands there are now 59 Fairtrade Towns*, including Delft, Utrecht, The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. It’s an honorary title that indicates that the gemeente’s shops, restaurants, businesses, or- ganisations, residents and local gov- ernment work together on local fair trade campaigns. FairPhone The Netherlands is still at the fore- front of the newest frontier in fair trade – the mobile phone industry. It’s notoriously hard to pinpoint ethi- cal sources for all the materials used in electronic products; dependent on specialist minerals for their technol- ogy and with at least 30 different raw metals, smartphones in particular pose a totally different kind of fair trade challenge. However, Fairphone, an Amsterdam-based global initia- tive, thinks we should try harder, tackling the problem from the design- end as well as the sourcing of compo- nents. Having only launched in 2013, FairPhone are already on their second model phone and in April 2015 they won The Next Web’s award for Eu- rope’s fastest-growing startup. With all of these initiatives, and many more that there isn’t space to men- tion, it all points to the Netherlands as the natural home of the fair trade movement; from both its historical roots to its bright new future. More info: fairtrade.nl/en, Fair Trade Original fairphone.com solidaridad.nl triodos.nl * As of 8 September 2015. (A version of this article was first published in the ACCESS e-zine. www.access-nl.org) NATIONAL The Dutch still leading the way in fair tradeDutch Safety Board: Buk missile system caused MH17 crash THE HAGUE | According to a report published by the Dutch Safety Board, the crash of flight MH17 (Malaysia Airlines) on 17 July, 2014 was caused by the detona- tion of a 9N314M-type warhead launched from the eastern part of Ukraine using a Buk missile system. Prior to the publica- tion of the report, 428 surviving relatives of the victims had the opportunity to visit the reconstruction of the aircraft. More de- tails available at www.onderzoeksraad.nl Dutch government to stop rec- ognising child marriages from abroad THE HAGUE | The Dutch government is changing a law so that minors under age 18 married abroad may not join their spouses in the Netherlands. Amid growing concerns over the number of child brides resulting from the wars in Syria and Iraq, the new law will be effective as of Decem- ber 5. According to Save the Children, early and forced marriage has doubled for Syrian refugee girls since the onset of the war. Via AFP. Netherlands ends lifetime blood ban on gay and bisexual men DEN HAAG | Minister for Health Edith Schippers said in a statement that gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood for the first time under new regulations. However, the men must have not had any male partners for 12 months before donating to be considered acceptable donors. Despite the change, Dutch LGBT rights groups have expressed disappoint- ment, saying this ruling is too little, too late. National Novel Writing Month kicks off in Amsterdam AMSTERDAM | The successful kick-off for “NaNoWriMo” took place on Sunday, 1 November, at the Amsterdam Central Library. The Amsterdam Writing Work- shops sponsored the event to start off the month-long writing marathon. The hosts, NaNoWriMo veteran Nico Janssen and writing workshop creator Lisa Friedman, offered expert advice on writing first drafts. The international writing project challenges writers, new and experienced, to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Are you in? Visit www.amsterdamwriting. com and www.nanowrimo.org.. Most of us know how the Netherlands made its riches in the Dutch Golden Age – from its strength as a trading nation – but hundreds of years later a new trading narrative seems to have grown out of the embers of that legacy – fair trade. With Fairtrade Week having just ended here in the Netherlands, CATHY LEUNG takes a look at where it all started and the new frontiers in fair trade. Photo: Dutch Safety Board Photo: Bart Photo: Fairphone La Zia Maria Nieuwe Binnenweg 222a Rotterdam Tel. 010 - 270 92 95 www.laziamaria.nl Our shops offer only the best specialties of little farmers from several areas of Italy. Fresh products like Truffle, Vegetables, Pasta and also original dishes to take away. Try our “Servizio di Gastronomia” catering service! That’s Amore Laan van Meerdervoort 188a Den Haag Tel. 070 - 324 70 90 www.thatsamore.nl Il Tartufo Minderbroerstraat 2 Delft Tel. 015 - 214 35 77 www.iltartufo.nl La Vita è Bella Oostzeedijk Beneden 229 Rotterdam Tel. 010 - 213 22 16 www.lavitaebellacatering.nl TASTE THE VERY BEST OF ITALY! The traditions, the love, the people… www.qual-italia.com tht_november2015_RV.indd 4 12-11-15 11:29

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