A Role of Fair Trade Certification for Environmental Sustainability
By Rie Makita
Although most studies on the Fair Trade initiative are, to some extent, cognizant of its contribution to environmental sustainability, what the environmental aspect means to Fair Trade has not yet been explored fully. A review of environmental issues in the Fair Trade literature suggests that Fair Trade might influence participant producers’ farming practices even if it does not directly impact natural resources. This paper attempts to interpret Fair Trade certification as an intermediary institution that links two significant objectives of rural development in the global South—environmental conservation and poverty reduction. This theoretical concept is examined in different real settings by observing four cases of Southern small farmer groups involved in the Fair Trade initiative. Findings from these case studies imply that if Fair Trade certification ensures tangible benefits for small farmers, it can not only help such disadvantaged farmers but also work as an approach for natural resource management.