In this blog post for Fairtrade Fortnight, Change Co-ordinator Abi Aldridge explores what Fairtrade means for young people around the world.

At Global Action Plan (GAP) we believe that young people are the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and we focus a lot of our work on empowering young people to think global and be more sustainable.

Our Water Explorer and H2O Heroes programmes encourage students around the world to lead the change and inspire others to take action. I was interested to know what Fairtrade means for young people; not just for those children in Fairtrade communities but for those children we empower in countries like the UK.

Like GAP, the Fairtrade Foundation recognises that young people are key to the future of sustainable and fair farming, and since it was established in 1992 it has helped to improve the lives of millions of children around the world.

Protecting and giving hope to those in Fairtrade communities

There are so many shocking statistics around trade and children. 129 million children work in agriculture around the world – 60% of all child labour. In Malawi’s tea growing regions, only 1 in 2 children complete primary school.

The Fairtrade Foundation focuses a lot on preventing child labour and providing children with the education they deserve. Fairtrade certification allows poorer households to earn more money so they don’t have to send their children to work. This guarantees that at least some goods are produced without exploiting children.

In many communities, Fairtrade premiums are used to build schools, hospitals and fund education for children to give them the best starts in life. The Iriani Tea Factory in Kenya invested their premium in improving facilities in their local secondary school giving any children brighter prospects for the future.


Creating conscious global citizens around the world

The influence Fairtrade can have on young people and their lives extends far beyond those living in Fairtrade communities. Awareness of Fairtrade products, what Fairtrade is and what it means for people is helping to make young people into conscious global citizens.

I asked my younger sisters what they knew about Fairtrade. They explained that they like Fairtrade “because some of the money that we pay for the product goes to the people who grow it and it gives them extra money to look after their children and families… other people in other countries should be paid more fairly”. Already through one conversation about Fairtrade, they’re thinking of others and wanting to make a difference.

Recognising the importance of Fairtrade, we developed a new Fairtrade challenge for our Water Explorer programme. The challenge teaches children about Fairtrade and encourages them to think before they buy. So far, 36 schools around the world have got involved, including Danville Park Girl’s High School in South Africa who took part last year. As a result of the challenge, they agreed ‘that fair trade products should be supported as much as possible as workers and the environment benefit’.

In our changing world we need young people to lead the change and make a difference.

In order to do this, we need to ensure that young people have the best starts in life with access to education, healthcare and a life free of exploitation - conscious global citizens with opportunities to lead the change.