Procurement, Fairtrade Schools, Fairtrade Fortnight and lots more
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Procurement Bill Update 2014

The Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee has today published its report on the Scottish Government’s proposed Procurement Reform Bill. 
The Forum welcomes the Committee’s recognition of the importance of high level commitment within public sector organisations to Fair Trade procurement. The Committee’s report quotes evidence given to them by our Director, Martin Rhodes: “Our experience of talking to and working with local authorities, universities, schools and colleges suggests that if the people who are at a high level in, for example, a local authority or a university administration and who have the political leadership to tell people what they want them to do, produce a clear and public policy statement, procurement officers will sit down and look at the guidance and gain the confidence to do what they need to do.“

The Forum wants the Scottish Government to lead the way on this high level commitment to Fair Trade procurement by explicitly acknowledging in the bill that Scotland as a Fair Trade Nation will use public procurement to support Fair Trade.
The Committee acknowledges that simply requiring public bodies to "consider" the issues raised in the sustainable procurement duty may result in it being taken lightly, and has sought assurances from the Scottish Government on this question.  The Forum believes that an explicit recognition of Scotland’s Fair Trade Nation responsibilities in the Bill would make clear Fair Trade’s importance to public procurement decisions.

The Committee’s report notes that the recognition of Fair Trade was called for by a wide range of stakeholders including the University of Edinburgh, Nourish Scotland, the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, the STUC and a coalition of civil society organisations in Scotland. The latter considered that the Bill should empower procurers to prioritise fairly-traded products wherever these are available, especially when no locally-sourced alternatives exist.

The Forum welcomes the opportunity offered by the Scottish Government to work with them on producing guidance to support public bodies procuring Fair Trade goods and the Committee’s report notes the statement by Cabinet Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon that “The sustainable procurement duty should help encourage authorities to buy fairly traded goods where they are available. A range of further work needs to be undertaken to progress the uptake of fair and ethical trade. The Scottish Government has agreed to work with the Scottish Fair Trade Forum to achieve this.”

The Forum’s Director, Martin Rhodes, commented “This is a real opportunity to significantly increase public sector procurement of Fair Trade goods and the Forum looks forward to supporting the Scottish Government in drafting robust guidance. However, the Forum also believes the Bill needs to explicitly include the recognition of the responsibility of public procurement to reflect Scotland’s Fair Trade Nation status.”

There has been significant developments recently  in procurement policy reform across Europe with the European Parliament approving a new EU directive on the 15 January, that has made it significantly easier for public sector bodies with the EU to purchase Fair Trade products. The directive allows tender documents to refer to certification schemes as proof of the Fair Trade credentials of a product. The law is expected to come into effect in March of this year, and member states will have two years in which to incorporate the changes into their national law. The EU Trade Advocacy Office stated that the new law “…confirms the direction set by the Court of Justice of the European Union in the “North Holland” case ruling (Commission vs Netherlands C 368/10), which for the first time clarified that public contracts can award additional points to products ‘of fair trade origin’. The law was supported by the large majority of Members of the European Parliament

The Forum’s Director Martin Rhodes commented, “This new Directive should give confidence to public sector bodies who wish to make procurement choices that have a beneficial effect on producers in developing countries.  As one of the world’s only two Fair Trade Nations, Scotland can lead the way internationally in this area and the new law will help to increase our commitment to Fair Trade even further”.

New Fairtrade Schools Award for 2014

2014 has started with some changes to the Fairtrade Schools Award organised by the Fairtrade Foundation. The launch of this updated award is designed to ‘give schools better support, more flexibility, a focus on learning – and, crucially, to do more to celebrate young people’s achievements’, while retaining the entertaining learning experience provided to children who participate in the scheme. The scheme so far has been a huge success with over 1,000 schools receiving the award across the UK, but feedback from classrooms has highlighted the frustrations that accompany the scheme, and changes have been made to account for these factors.

With the aim to retain the fun of the Fairtrade classroom experience while tackling the challenges presented by the award, the following changes will include school audits designed to replace the bulk of the paperwork involved in the award scheme lasting only 15 minutes.

Optional Challenges will give more choice in how a school interacts with the award – from choosing to host a Fairtrade producer, to stocking the canteen with only Fairtrade products.

Furthermore, the Foundation will provide increased support for the Compulsory Challenges for the award such as Stepping Stones to help schools achieve the award without compromising standards, involving taking on different challenges at different stages in the school’s award progress.

How these new levels work can be found here.

All schools that currently have the award will retain their status and have up to three years to renew it to the new standards. For questions and queries, contact and the best questions will be rewarded with some Fairtrade goodies!

Fairtrade Fortnight 2014

This year, Fairtrade Fortnight will run from 24 February to 9 March. We will be welcoming Fair Trade representatives from Nicaragua, Nepal and Colombia to Scotland. Our February newsletter will have details of the visits - also keep a check on our website for event information.

Fair Trade speaker training

We're training volunteers to deliver an introductory talk about Fair Trade. You could use this to offer talks to groups as part of your local campaign, or you could help us to meet requests for speakers in new areas that come into us here at the Forum. The first training session will take place on Saturday 8th February, 10.30am - 1pm, in central Glasgow. Please email if you'd like to attend.

Member organisation profile:
Fair Trade Scotland

Fair Trade Scotland began importing Fair Trade sugar, from Malawi into Scotland, in 2009.  Set up as a social business, Fair Trade Scotland strongly believes that sustainability is intrinsically linked to profitability. Foregoing the traditional route of obtaining charitable status or acquiring shareholders, honest and transparent remuneration and returning profits to growing fair trade markets is core to their business practice.

They are a member of WFTO and a Licensee of FLO (see Charter of Fair Trade). Together these are the main guarantee systems, “which place at the heart of their social mission, advocacy and civic education activities as instruments of transformation of trade and modes of production and consumption”.  Fair Trade Scotland believes this is the best way to support small marginalised producers.

Fair Trade Scotland believes that telling the producer story is key to transparency in the supply chain, boosting consumer confidence. The organisation has traded three containers of sugar from Illovo, the premium going direct to Kasinthula Cane Growers. As Scotland has strong links with Malawi, Fair Trade Scotland hopes to encourage more companies to use them for their supply of Fair Trade sugar.

The organisation recently partnered with Fair Business Alliance Ltd, a Scottish Social Enterprise, to import the first Fairtrade certified plantain crisps from Ecuador to the UK. This product recently received a Great Taste Award and is now exported to Sweden and Malta.

Fair Trade Scotland practice a business model that demonstrates, through its business, campaigning and advocacy activities, that Fair Trade is not about charity but is a partnership for change and development, through trade.
Fair Trade Scotland will be going 'the extra mile' in 2014 to promote themselves as a social business that combines the strengths of both the private and third sector and say ‘we believe we are well-positioned within the market to really make a difference!’

News from member organisations

With Fairtrade Fortnight starting next month, many different groups are already planning what goal they hope to achieve in order to promote the use of Fair Trade. Just Trading Scotland are undertaking the challenge to sell enough rice to reach from Paisley to Karonga Township in Northern Malawi. Considering that the average grain of rice is just over 5mm long, this challenge would require selling… 150 tonnes of rice! Show your support this Fairtrade Fortnight and help Just Trading Scotland meet their goal!

News from Fair Trade Groups

Congratulations to Inverclyde on achieving Fairtrade status on their first application after meeting the five required goals. The Foundation praised Inverclyde for their ‘strong and comprehensive’ case, and commended the rare achievement of first time success. Provost Robert Moran, chairman of the Fairtrade development group, praised council staff, pupils, teachers and businesses involved, saying "The schools and community have come together to show such tremendous support for the principles behind Fairtrade. Making sure that producers across the world get a fair return for goods and services is at the heart of it. By coming together to promote, use or sell Fairtrade products in Inverclyde, we can show our support and provide practical help for communities in developing countries.”

Congratulations also to Angus who have retained their Fair Trade status for two more years! The Foundation renewed the status stating “It has been a huge pleasure to learn of all that has happened since you were awarded Fairtrade status and please pass on our congratulations and thanks to everyone who has put so much time, energy and creativity into making Fairtrade a part of the area”. The Foundation in particular was impressed by the Angus Fairtrade Guide, advising on Fairtrade purchasing within the area. Angus Provost, Helen Oswald, showed her support saying "The success of Fairtrade across Angus is largely thanks to the commitment of those communities who have worked tirelessly towards ensuring that farmers and producers in developing countries receive a fair deal.”

2014 Changemakers Weekend

Take One Action are hosting a weekend from the 14-16 March at the beautiful Comrie Croft in Perthshire. Do you have the desire to enact practical change in your own life and inspire others around you? The Changemakers Weekend 2014 is exploring ‘How to Change the World and Stay Human’ though a series of workshops, outdoor activities, good food, films and talks with ‘well-spirited peers, social experts and creative campaigners’.

For more information, visit
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