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									Why Promote Fair Trade?
Dec 2008

This document describes the reasons why EWB has decided to promote Fair Trade. The final
recommendation to promote Fair Trade came out of a process led by a committee of members
tasked with analyzing how EWB could create widespread attitude and behaviour change among
Canadians. The committee’s process can be looked back at in these myEWB posts:
A Core Question: Your Contribution Requested! - http://my.ewb.ca/home/ShowPost/44677
A Core Question Part 2 - Meet the Committee – http://my.ewb.ca/home/ShowPost/45819
A Core Question Part 3 - Our Recommendation - http://my.ewb.ca/home/ShowPost/47909
A Core Question Part 4 - To Action - http://my.ewb.ca/home/ShowPost/49350

What Promoting Fair Trade Could Accomplish
This is presented in terms of three effects:

1. Attitude and Behaviour Change Effect
Our ultimate vision is for Canada to be the most pro-development country in the world. This will
require there to be a foundation of aware and engaged Canadians. This will require significant
attitude change on the part of Canadians, for development to become a major issue for us.
In the past, we’ve viewed the primary path to caring (attitude change) as awareness. (ie. if we
inform Canadians about the issues, they will care more. Then they will starting taking action).
We’ve realized that both of these links are not nearly as strong as we assumed. Being informed
doesn’t necessarily lead to a deep level of caring, and caring (having the attitude that
development is important) doesn’t necessarily lead to taking action (behavior change) to create
the three pillars that will make Canada a model global citizen.
There is research that provides very interesting insights into how to better create both that
attitude and that behavior change. An important conclusion is that taking an action can be as or
more powerful in making a person care as becoming informed. We internally need our attitudes
and actions to be consistent, and so start to identify with the attitudes that correspond to actions
that we take. This is why making a commitment is so influential personally – when we publically
commit that we will do something (expressing an attitude of something we feel is important), we
feel a strong urge to follow through (bring our actions in line with that commitment or
“expressed attitude”). But it also works the other way – we want our attitudes to agree with the
things we do (our behaviours).
This makes sense. Probably each of us can identify with caring more about development, after
having taking certain actions (behavior changes), such as doing an outreach event, or giving a
presentation upon return from a JF placement. When we give a person a brochure on Fair
Trade, talk to a group about our experience in Ghana, or buy Fair Trade coffee with a friend, it
increases our identification with the cause behinds that. We have an internal urge to have our

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attitudes to be consistent with the actions that we’re taking. Action can also result in greater
awareness - we become more informed through taking the action and/or the action might spur
us to want to find out more about the impact of that action we took. This greater awareness
could boost caring.
Another impact is that the greater caring (attitude) created as a result of taking that action will
increase the likelihood of taking slightly higher effort actions. Therefore, small actions can ripple
into greater actions. Again, we can probably draw this back to our personal life by looking at our
increased involvement in EWB over time.
This is similar to the power that recycling had in creating a broader green movement of people
that care about the environment, consider it an important election issue, and take many more
actions than just recycling.
Purchasing Fair Trade is far-and-away the best personal action for making all of the above
happen – it has a direct connection to improving the livelihoods of people in poverty (so people
are motivated to do it and easily connect it to the attitude that we would like them to have) and
can be taken easily and on a regular basis (meaning that people will do it, and that they’ll be
reminded of this attitude that they have quite often. Think about the difference between this and
other actions that we promote – volunteer with an organization, or write a letter to your MP –
it’s extraordinarily different. These other actions can be great ripple actions, but they won’t
catalyze widespread attitude and behavior change.
It’s also therefore, comparatively very easy for us to make Fair Trade widespread, and to go viral
between people without our further input.
In summary, if Canada is going to have a significant, positive effect in the world, we need a base
of Canadians that care and act, and Fair Trade is the best available tool we have to do that.

2. Trade Effect - Direct
Fair Trade Certified gives farmers a better deal . It makes a direct impact in farmers’ lives right
now. It incorporates increased and predictable incomes, community investment, and greater
control over the value chain (because organized). We recognize that there are limitations to Fair
Trade, but we don’t want “great” to get in the way of “good”. To read more about some of the
debates about Fair Trade, see the document “Debates about Fair Trade”.

3. Trade Effect – A Long Term Stepping Stone
There are very major changes that need to happen to our trade systems in order for developing
countries to benefit from them in the same way that developed countries do. The benefits are
currently stacked in the favour of developed countries, with tools such as tariffs and subsidies.
For this to change we need trade to be more of an issue, to have more and better ideas on what
systems could look like, and have more public support for change.
World Trade Organization (WTO) talks have been stalled for years. Oxfam, an advocacy giant,
focused its attention on trade for five years. Major change appears to be out of reach just now.
While major change is what we usually remember, it’s build on stepping stones that get us
closer. There usually isn’t a silver bullet.
Fair Trade doesn’t transform the global trade system, but it’s a change that we know of that is
possible right now. Fair Trade is a step towards our vision of a trading system that is equitable
and works for both the developed and developing world. The long term vision is equitable trade,
not Fair Trade Certified for all.
When looking at stepping stones, Fair Trade with development can be compared to hybrid cars
with the environment. Hybrid cars have their advantages and disadvantages, but they’re

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highlighting the environment as an issue, and providing opportunities for action, creating public
support for environmental action. They’re getting multinational companies focused on the
environment, and they’re resulting in money being pumped into environmentally-friendly
technology. Investment of money and energy into hybrid car technology will likely open up ideas
and opportunities for better environmentally friendly technology that couldn’t have been
conceived before. In 10 years, there will be better technology than hybrid cars, but it wouldn’t
have been possible to jump directly to that technology without working on hybrid cars. This is
incremental change, it’s messy and difficult to predict, and movement toward a better system.
Recycling could be another parallel example.

The Effects Together
In summary, Fair Trade has three links to poverty reduction:

   Impact                                        Poverty Reduction
   Outcomes       Canadians are taking positive         Farmers directly    Moves us closer to a
                     impactful action. Sets a          benefit from Fair    better trade system
                  foundation for Canada (gov’t,             Trade
                   corporations) to take more
                    positive impactful action
                      People buy Fair Trade
                  consistently. This ripples into
                greater attitude/behavior change
   Output                     People care more about farmers. People buy Fair Trade
   Activity                                   We promote Fair Trade

                     1. Attitude and                   2. Trade Effect -       3. Trade Effect –
                     Behaviour Change                  Direct                  A Long Term
                     Effect                                                    Stepping Stone

Some other Benefits
Below are some other benefits of promoting Fair Trade.
      an advantage to promoting Fair Trade as an action is that the behavior can be creating in
       many people through system changes (ie. Fair Trading a university). Some people will
       think about this new action they’re taking, some won’t. One of our jobs will be to ensure
       that as many people as possible are thinking about this new action they’re taking and
       adopting pro-development attitudes as a result
      People already do in their daily lives (e.g. eating chocolate, drinking coffee) and involves
       a small change to an already existing behavior
      is a small change that is habitual
      can be taught to children
      can be done at home, at school, or at the office
      can be easily monitored – you can set benchmarks and targets for achieving outcomes
       and goals related to Fair Trade and these can be easily understood

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      takes advantage of existing product marketing systems and supply chains, plus a number
       of volunteer networks that can be used to provide feedback to consumers on their actions
      has is a simple message, “Buy Fair Trade”, that urges consumers to think about their
       choices and the effect that these decisions have on people around the world.
      is very empowering, allowing people to take a simple daily action that makes a difference
      is a great step toward being a more global citizen; engaging people initially with an easy
       action such as buying Fair Trade is the first step towards deeper engagement
      it’s great for getting unengaged people on the first step towards engagement
      Gets people thinking about how to incorporate social factors into their business

There are a number of important assumptions that we’re making that influenced our decision to
promote Fair Trade. A couple are described below:
     Taking small actions ripples into greater attitude change in a person, through a desire
        for consistency between actions and attitudes, and the actions a person takes
        influencing identity.
     A concern is sometimes raised that people will stop at buying Fair Trade and say, “good,
        now I’m making my contribution” and not be interested in anything more. While there
        may be some people that act this way, our assumption is that for most people, buying
        Fair Trade will make them open to new opportunities to contribute when they’re
        presented, and some people will actually be engaged to the extent that they’ll actively
        seek out new opportunities to contribute. We have to also keep in mind that people that
        “shut off” after buying Fair Trade are still making a greater contribution than before,
        and there probably isn’t a whole lot of opportunity for change with them anyhow.
     Fair Trade will be a stepping stone to greater change in trade and aid policy because of
        the way that it slightly moves public consciousness toward development.
     A common question is “if Fair Trade is a great entry-level action, then what are we
        providing people with to do next?” Our assumption here is that it doesn’t actually make
        sense to view our interaction with people as a path that we have to lead them on. The
        reality is that social change is messy and we can’t control what people will do next. We
        also don’t generally interact with the same person twice through most of our programs
        (except workplace outreach). People will always be presented with contributions to
        make, from ethically investing, to volunteering, and these are also inputs to the system
        beyond us. However, we should avoid giving the impression that purchasing Fair Trade
        is the only action that a person can take, and therefore we’ll always promote a variety of
        actions (check out ewb.ca/action) to make these options known.
     Providing an environment in which a person’s only option is Fair Trade (either at
        universities or workplaces) will still influence some peoples’ attitudes towards Fair
        Trade and development in a positive way. The assumption here is that a person doesn’t
        have to make a clear choice in order for it to be influential on them. There are many
        examples that are similar. No young people in Canada chose universal health care but
        it’s all something that we value. Our parents all made decisions for us, that we’ve come
        to value today.

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