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Why is the Fairtrade Foundation asking for donations?

Farming is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40% of today’s global population. It is the largest source of income and jobs for poor rural households. It is an intensive and difficult job, and yet many of those who produce our food do not earn enough to feed their own families. Fairtrade believes in a future where farmers and workers receive a fair price and earn a fair wage, so they can feed their families properly, and work their way out of poverty. There are many more farmers and workers that need our support. Fairtrade must continue to grow, to reach more people, and to do more to deepen the impact of Fairtrade. The licence fee from Fairtrade certified products alone does not provide enough income for us to do this. Donations enable us to do more. An example is where donations have helped to pioneer a new Fairtrade rice supply chain from Myanmar. Poverty in Myanmar is widespread. Over 60% of the population are involved in agriculture, predominantly rice. The price farmers receive from selling their rice is typically very low and the farmers are often open to exploitation. In partnership with Traidcraft, Fairtrade Foundation donations have helped establish a new cooperative through activities that include: • Signing up farmers as co-operative members and registering the co-operative as a legal business, so that farmers are able to negotiate for a better deal with buyers • Training on financial management and democratic participation, so that farmers can run their own business • Training in how to apply for Fairtrade certification, the first step to seeing Fairtrade rice from Myanmar on UK shelves. In the Fairtrade Foundation’s early years, fundraised income accounted for more than half of total income. Without fundraised income it would have been impossible to grow and develop as we have. This is still the case.

Can I ensure my money goes to a particular project?

With the exception of occasional specific appeals, we prefer for donations not to be made to specific projects. This gives us the greatest flexibility to allocate funds to support the projects that need it the most. An example is where funds are required for new projects that need support quickly. Donations were used to assist with a climate change adaptation project in the Puna region of Peru. The small, family-run coffee farms in this area are highly vulnerable to water shortages which are becoming worse as a result of climate change. Through the ‘Adapt Now' initiative, co-ordinated by our partners at Twin - a development-through-trade organisation - donations helped to pay for: • The establishment of 'Climate Field Schools', teaching local farmers about water conservation and management • A specialised water management workshop with lead farmers, who can then pass these learnings onto others within the co-operative • Demonstration plots, where water conservation techniques can be exhibited to farmers

Does my donation go directly to the farmers and workers?

Your donation will support the projects that we run to bring Fairtrade to more farmers and workers, and to deepen the difference Fairtrade makes to their lives. We do not give money directly to farmers or workers.  Farmers work hard every day but are often not paid enough to meet even their basic needs. Sometimes they do not even earn enough to provide themselves and their families with enough food to eat. Your donation will help change this, enabling more farmers to get a fair deal and the opportunity to make a decent living. For most products Fairtrade farmers’ organisations receive a minimum price from the companies they sell to, which acts as their safety net when market prices drop, plus an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in their businesses and communities. Fairtrade puts farmers and workers in a stronger position to negotiate a fairer share of the value of their produce and a better say in how their work is organised.  It is an alternative approach that is based on partnership; one between those who grow our food and those who consume it. Experience shows us that empowering farmers and workers is a long-lasting and powerful way to tackle poverty in the developing world. 

What is artisanal and small scale mining?

There is no one globally agreed definition, however artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) broadly refers to informal mining activities carried out by individuals, groups or communities using minimal technology or machinery. ASM is labour intensive but requires little specialist technology, knowledge or skill. The mining method differs depending on geology. ASM attracts economically disadvantaged and vulnerable people seeking a higher income, usually in the absence of other employment opportunities. It is also seen as an important alternative to less attractive or less profitable activity and as a chance to improve economic situations, especially when the world gold price rises. These miners produce just 10-15% of global gold supplies, but make up 90% of the labour force in the gold industry.

Why does Fairtrade focus on small scale miners?

Globally, roughly 30 million people earn a livelihood mining gold, characterised by high levels of poverty from disadvantaged parts of society with no other option but to turn to ASM. They often do not receive the full price for their gold – sometimes as little as 70% of the internationally agreed price. Most mining communities lack basic sanitation and access to clean and safe drinking water. They often have poor housing, little or no access to education and healthcare, and are financially unstable. Lack of transparency in supply chains makes it virtually impossible for consumers to know where and under what conditions the gold in their jewellery was mined. Mining laws are usually geared towards large-scale industrial mining and governments tend to give the large-scale industry preferential mining rights. This leaves small-scale miners, who find it hard to access legal mining rights, more vulnerable and pushes them into informal or illegal operations where working conditions are hazardous and health and safety measures are non-existent. The unskilled handling of toxic chemicals such as mercury and cyanide poses severe risks to miners’ health and the natural environment around the mine.

Wouldn’t it be better to recycle unwanted gold instead of extracting more to limit the environmental impact of mining?

The jewellery industry has always recycled gold and precious metals, and around 30 percent of the global demand for gold is met from re-used gold. The remaining 70% is newly mined however, and on humanitarian grounds alone, it is an industry crying out for greater protection and justice for miners, which is where Fairtrade comes in. Using recycled gold could be considered to have neutral impact on livelihoods and the environment, whereas choosing Fairtrade Gold represents a positive choice – providing direct positive impacts for a more for miners, their communities and the planet. 

Where can I buy Fairtrade Gold

Over 70 jewellers are signed up to use Fairtrade Gold, with a further 200 goldsmiths also registered to work with Fairtrade Gold. The vast majority are small, independent jewellers, with the exception of Argos. Find out who is selling Fairtrade Gold near you.  And as with any product – if you don’t see Fairtrade Gold on offer, ask for it!

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