Bristol Fairtrade City 15 Years

In 2020, Bristol celebrates its 15th year as a Fairtrade City, marking fifteen years of campaigning from individuals, commitment from businesses and support from Bristol City Council. Together, these individuals and organisations have shown that - as a city - Bristol has the will to demand more from trade, and the power to make choices that positively impact small scale farmers, their communities and their local environment, world-over.

Here, we hear from some of the individuals and organisations in Bristol who are helping to shape Bristol's fair and resilient future on what Bristol's 15 years as a Fairtrade City means to them, and why Fair Trade is more important now than ever before, starting with an introductory statement from our Chair.

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    Elaine Ashley

    Chair of Bristol Fair Trade Network

    "Bristolians are often rightly proud of the city's reputation for being quirky, a tad rebellious and a leader on green issues. Bristol Fair Trade Network fits right into that culture.  For me, Fair Trade is about rebelling against the prevailing trading systems, and looking to restructure them to ensure that all involved in the production of our food and goods receive a just proportion of the rewards. The problems are around power and where that power lies. Our network - as part of a city that supports its aims and values - has raised the profile of Fair Trade amongst businesses and individuals throughout its 15 years, through many routes including:

    •  an International Conference in Green Capital year with delegates from across the world, who learnt more about how Fair Trade is inextricably linked with the fight for climate justice.

    • strong engagement with local businesses, through business breakfasts and our annual Business Awards, demonstrating how Fair Trade is good business - giving them more visibility over their supply chains and more secure futures for their suppliers.

    • a presence at many large festivals, including the annual Festival of Nature where we highlight to the public that Fair Trade certification requires careful management of the land to ensure a sustainable future.

    • raising awareness with unions and in workplaces to show that the Fair Trade system embodies workers’ rights, including gender equality, empowering many female farmers to have more say in their future.

    • working with schools to help children see that the decisions they make about what they buy can create a world in which all children receive an education .


    As you’ll see from the statements of support below, Bristol Fair Trade Network has strong relationships with many of the city’s key organisations, and it is through partnership working that we have achieved so much in 15 years. But the future is going to be tough for the whole world - we want to be there for the poorest and the hardest hit by ensuring that we support our local small businesses to be part of a global supply chain that provides for a more resilient future for all.  Now, more than ever, we ask all to think about their power as a business and as a consumer, and not to forget the producers around the world."

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    Marvin Rees

    Mayor of Bristol

    "Fifteen years as a Fairtrade City is an impressive achievement, and a great credit to all the individuals and organisations whose support of fair supply chains and advocacy for Fair Trade campaigns has made it possible. The Council is proud to count itself among those supporting Fair Trade, through its collaboration with Bristol Fair Trade Network, its contracts and the work of our Sustainability Team. Through our twinning with Puerto Morazan, thousands of local school children each year during Fairtrade Fortnight have welcomed female Fairtrade farmers from Nicaragua to their schools, learning first-hand how Fairtrade has transformed lives.


    We ourselves have heard from visiting farmers that Fair Trade is not just about a fair price, but that the criteria to obtain the certification includes climate change mitigation methods, gender equality and the use of organics. As a city, our commitment to Fair Trade – through the nurturing of our relationship with Puerto Morazan, through organisations entering the South West Fair Trade Business Awards hosted annually in Bristol, and through our choices as individuals – will play a significant part in the realisation of our ambition to become a Gold Sustainable Food City, as part of Bristol Going for Gold.


    We’ve set out our ambition to make sustainable and fair trade products an integral part of Bristol’s food environment in the One City Plan. I would encourage everyone to double-down in our support of Fair Trade – organisations can tighten their supply chains, individuals can choose to support local businesses that are committed to fairness, and those with a voice can speak out for small-scale producers around the world who have none."

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    Councillor Asher Craig

    Deputy Mayor (Communities, Equalities & Public Health)

    "Choosing Fair Trade helps us to achieve sustainability and equality worldwide, and I am really proud of Bristol’s status and role as a Fairtrade City over the past 15 years.

    For those of you who may be reading about this for the first time and wondering what is Fair Trade?  Well, Fair Trade offers a secure minimum price as well as a Fair Trade premium to farmers and producers around the world for their goods like coffee, chocolate, bananas, cotton – products we cannot produce locally.

    Communities all over the world (many of which are represented in our great city) work incredibly hard to produce Fair Trade products in a way that is beneficial to the natural world, but also to the families of the workers employed.  We know that if families have a secure income, if their children are educated and if there is gender equality within the pay structure and decision making, then those communities are less likely to seek refuge elsewhere, to engage in violence and are able to live sustainably.

    I want to thank all the incredible local retailers, food outlets, businesses, schools, faith groups and community organisation for sourcing Fair Trade certified products. This support not only demonstrates your commitment to sustainable environmental work but shows that you care about communities and society globally.


    Buying Fair Trade really does makes a difference.


    Happy 15th Birthday Bristol Fairtrade City!"

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    Kerry McCarthy

    Labour MP for Bristol East

    "We can be immensely proud that Bristol has turned from a slave trade city to a Fairtrade City. This is a point I made in my maiden speech in Parliament, 15 years ago, shortly after Bristol earned its Fairtrade City status. Since then, Bristol has embraced the Fair Trade ethos even further and has a well-deserved reputation as an environmentally-conscious, socially-aware city. As Bristol’s wealth was built on slavery, this is all the more poignant and shows us just how far we’ve come.

    But there is still a long way to go. As the recent Black Lives Matter protests have reminded us, injustice is global. Global injustices all too often reinforced by unfair trading practices, and that’s why the work of the Fair Trade movement is just as important as ever. Better working conditions, better pay, transparency in the supply chain and trying to embed sustainability in the products we buy and sell are things everyone should, and must, get behind."

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    Lizzi Testani

    Chief Operating Officer, Bristol Green Capital Partnership

    “It’s fantastic that Bristol is celebrating 15 years as a Fairtrade City, and Bristol Green Capital Partnership remains an avid supporter of Fair Trade.

    The food we eat can have a big impact, and positive choices, including Fair Trade, are particularly important now – with Covid-19 and the climate crisis causing huge challenges for farmers and communities in the Global South.

    We can all make a difference – whether through our individual choices as consumers, or in the products we buy as organisations, to help create a fairer food system.”

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    Joy Carey

    Director of Bristol Food Network and Coordinator of Bristol Going for Gold

    "Early in lockdown, UK farmers were asking why they were not being publicly thanked too, as frontline workers. Just as with nurses, doctors and support staff in the NHS, we're all dependent on the people who produce the food we eat to keep us alive and well.  Smaller scale food and farming enterprises all over the world, often family businesses, are by and large totally invisible - habitually missed out of strategic discussions.


    We all regularly buy imported food and drink products that come from these invisible farmers, and mostly we have no idea about who they are, or any understanding of the struggles they face. Covid-19 has hit such food enterprises very hard, especially in the Global South, with numerous reports of supply system interruptions - transport route closures, farm workers unable to get to the land, harvests going to waste as orders are cancelled, processing units and markets closed. In many countries, groups of Fair Trade producers work together to improve their own positive impacts on their local environment, in a way that sustains their livelihoods. Their actions contribute to reducing the impacts of climate change and of poverty - and therefore benefit us too.


    Buying Fair Trade products is a way that we can show some #BristolFoodKind-ness and support them, to in turn support us through their positive impacts (and their wonderful products). 'Buying Better' collectively as a city - as individuals, but also at work or through our social clubs and organisations, or asking for Fair Trade products at our local shops, cafés and restaurants - means Bristol can effectively 'buy better' in significant bulk and have more impact! Let’s all resolve to take this more seriously and use our 15 years of Bristol Fairtrade City status as a way that the city can help create a fairer and more sustainable world over the next decade. We need to do this now more than ever."

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    Tom Andrews

    Director, Sustainable Food Places

    "Bristol has demonstrated the extraordinary power of people coming together to help build a just food system. As a Fairtrade City, Bristol is not only building a better food economy at home but is also supporting sustainable livelihoods around the world. Over 15 years, this will have made a huge difference to people’s lives. With enduring global inequalities, climate breakdown and of course Covid-19, this commitment has never been more important. It’s just one of the many ways that Bristol is raising the bar for good food."

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    Jenny Foster

    Project Lead, Global Goals Centre

    "We're really proud to be in a city that has been flying the Fair Trade flag for 15 years. Recent events have brought into focus how unfair the world is, and more and more people are taking a stand against these inequalities. Fair Trade is a beacon of good practice, promoting not only a fair wage for workers, but access to healthcare and education for their families, and strong environmental protection for the land.

    As ambassadors for the Sustainable Development Goals, buying and promoting Fair Trade is an integral part of our charity as it aligns so well with many of the Goals, from Responsible Consumption and Production to No Poverty, Decent Work and Reduced Inequalities. Here's to the next 15+ years as a Fairtrade City!"

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    Alix Hughes

    Bristol Link with Nicaragua

    "Bristol Link with Nicaragua (BLINC) first brought fairly traded instant Nicaraguan coffee to Bristol in 1986. Out of solidarity with the Sandinista revolution and the huge gains in social justice, education and health taking place there, Bristolians bought and drank probably the worst tasting coffee they had ever had. Thankfully the quality improved quickly over the years since then and Nicaraguan Fairtrade products are now sold through supermarket chains and smaller outlets across the city. BLINC is proud of its programme of bringing Fairtrade farmers from Nicaragua each year to impact on thousands of local school students and businesses. Coffee is a huge export for Nicaragua and the Fairtrade co-operatives we work with are vital for the social economy of the country. BLINC is committed to Fairtrade and is proud to have played its part in supporting Bristol as a Fairtrade City from the beginning."

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    John Hirst

    Chief Executive, Destination Bristol

    "Visit Bristol is proud to be a Fair Trade supporter and is delighted that this year the city celebrates 15 years of being a Fairtrade City. The importance of Fair Trade can be viewed across many sectors of Bristol, however, in the current situation its importance has been heightened. It is vital that as a city we understand the significance of choosing Fair Trade when possible, and also recognise the positive difference that using Fair Trade products can have on communities all over the world.

    We are currently all experiencing extremely challenging, unprecedented times. It is vital that we still set aside time and resource to support initiatives such as Fairtrade City, as well as focussing on our own issues and challenges.

    We are honoured to have been part of the steering group for the South West Fair Trade Business Awards for the past five years, and are looking forward to next year’s event, which will be held on 7th May 2021. These awards celebrate organisations, no matter their size or industry, that are leading the way in championing Fair Trade in the workplace."

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    Katherine Piper

    Director, Future Economy Network

    "At Future Leap and the Future Economy Network we are proud to operate in a city that is celebrating 15 years as a Fair Trade City with a strong culture towards sustainability. Bristol Fair Trade Network’s great work helps support livelihoods and local businesses all around the world. At Future Leap we screen our suppliers’ sustainability credentials and we especially look out for those that support Fair Trade in their supply chains."

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    Jaya Chakrabarti MBE

    CEO, and Vice President, Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative

    "Our understanding of the fragility of our supply chains has never been greater than at this time of pandemic and climate crisis. We have two choices: to continue as we have been doing and destroy our planet, or take human rights due diligence seriously because the futures of planet and people are inextricably linked.


    One of the fundamentals of supply chain resilience is paying suppliers fairly so that they in turn can pay their own workers and suppliers fairly. This is why Fair Trade has always been close to my heart. It is of no surprise to me that Bristol has been a Fairtrade City for fifteen years. It is no coincidence either that Bristol was the first city in the UK to commit to Supply Chain Transparency for all public spends.  We have all the ingredients right here for ensuring that we are leading the world on Fair Trade. Let's spend the next 15 years reaping the harvests of a fairer, safer world."

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    Prof. James Longhurst

    Assistant Vice-Chancellor: Environment & Sustainability

    "As Bristol celebrates 15 years as a Fairtrade City, UWE Bristol will be marking its 15 years as a Fairtrade university. During this time Fair Trade has been a powerful force for good here, a visible and tangible way of putting our commitment to  global citizenship into practice through our campaigning, our teaching on real world socio-economic and environmental issues, and through the sale of ethical products on campus. 


    In the post-covid19 world ethical trade is even more relevant, one of a range of solutions to complex global challenges of economic and health inequality and climate justice. As we go forward UWE Bristol remains steadfast in its support of Fair Trade and ethical sourcing practices, and will be looking to further embed our commercial offer and our awareness raising work with the student and staff community.


     Thank you to Bristol Fair Trade for inspiring us and encouraging us to do more in our 15 year journey. Here’s to many more years of working together with the local and global community."

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    Rob Logan

    Director of Procurement, University of Bristol

    "Achieving 15 years as a Fairtrade City is a remarkable milestone for the City of Bristol.


    As a global civic institution that thinks seriously about its impact across the world and its role in the city, the University of Bristol is proud to support the Fair Trade movement. This movement is widely recognised and important to staff and students in Bristol, who rightly expect University products to meet this standard.

    It is important that all organisations, large and small, reflect on their impact of their purchasing and operational decisions, mitigate negative impacts and try to take positive action to improve environmental and labour standards, particularly in the Global South."

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    Briony Williams

    Star of The Great British Bake Off and host of the next South West Fair Trade Business Awards

    "I’m a very proud Bristolian and knowing that we’ve been a Fairtrade City for 15 years makes me even prouder! Now more than ever, supporting Fair Trade is so vital. We’ve all been impacted by the pandemic but the people worst affected will be those surviving in poverty with unstable jobs. We can all make a difference by supporting Fair Trade businesses and buying goods we know have been fairly produced. Congratulations Bristol, here’s to many more years to come!”

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    Tom Hunt

    Chef, food writer and climate change activist

    "Everyone should have access to good food. As individuals, and collectively, we can help global equality through our food, clothing and energy choices, which all affect people locally and globally on an economic and environmental level. Buying Fairtrade-certified ingredients sends a clear message to the food system that you care about the people who made your food and truly ensures that a fair proportion of your money is filtered down to the farmer. Direct trade often declares that they pay a fair price. However, without third-party certification this knowledge is based on trust and not always as thorough.

    On a
    recent trip to Kenya with The Fairtrade Foundation, I learnt first hand how Fairtrade is improving the lives of small farmers and families. Fairtrade Africa have launched a programme called Growing Women in Coffee to help female farmers to be paid properly. The women working within the programme have taken ownership of coffee bushes, often for the first time, breaking cultural taboos about equality. These women are opening their first bank accounts and increasing yields three-fold, improving the quality of their coffee as well as their families’ income.

    With this knowledge, we take great pride in using Fairtrade products at our restaurant Poco in Stokes Croft, and in Bristol's incredible 15 years as a Fairtrade City!"

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