As we prepare to launch the Co-operative Party’s manifesto for the 2012 London elections, Malcolm Clark of Fairtrade London makes his pitch for how the Mayor can help make a difference.

Whichever borough we hail from, we are not alone in wanting to see an ethical London. Since 2003, thousands of Londoners have worked locally and city-wide to make London the world’s largest Fairtrade City, and to build on that achievement. Haringey has recently joined twenty-one other London Boroughs in attaining Fairtrade Borough status. There are fifteen Fairtrade Universities in London and many schools are working towards becoming Fairtrade Schools. Support is growing beyond the traditional supporter base too. There are now twenty Fairtrade Synagogues in the capital and the beginning of August marked the start of the first Fairtrade Ramadan initiative.

Fairtrade London is the organisation which facilitates the local Fairtrade groups and activists in each borough, as well as being responsible for city-wide initiatives to promote Fairtrade. The Greater London Authority is a member of the Fairtrade London steering group, provides administrative support at those meetings,and hosts the annual borough workshops event each November. However, Fairtrade London receives no funding from the GLA; in contrast to the Scottish, Welsh and North-East (Newcastle) Fairtrade campaigns, which receive significant grants from their respective national or local authorities.

There are still plenty of non-financial ways the Mayor and the GLA could support, embed and further develop Fairtrade in the city. In particular:

London as a global Fairtrade ambassador, leveraging its position as the world’s largest Fairtrade city and host of the 2012 Olympic Games for the benefit of the Fairtrade movement and small-scale farmers worldwide.

  • Olympics – in a pioneering move, all tea, coffee, sugar and bananas served at Olympic venues in 2012 will meet Fairtrade standards. The challenge now is to ensure the commitments are fully implemented, including by the sponsors (McDonald’s and Coca-Cola); and to make Fairtrade more visible come Games-time – so that as the world watches London next year the city can show off its support for Fairtrade on the tube, public buildings, Live Sites and other venues.
  • Global Sporting Events – advocate for major sporting and cultural events worldwide to adopt and expand the sustainability benchmarks of the Olympics, so that Fairtrade becomes the default procurement standard. The Rugby World Cup in England in 2015, with Twickenham and other London venues at the heart of the tournament, is one of the first such opportunities.
  • Global Fairtrade Cities – pro-actively support the efforts to share best practice and run joint campaigns between London and other (capital) cities that have, or are working towards, Fairtrade City status.

The GLA and Mayor as ambassadors for Fairtrade in London, using levers at their disposal, best practice and media to lead the way and develop civic, business, educational and community support for (and purchasing of) Fairtrade products.

  • Taking on the Olympic Food Vision – the GLA has recently adopted the Olympic sourcing standards for catering provided to London’s police,transport workers, fire brigade and GLA staff. The GLA should also rollout this sustainable food commitment to events which the Mayor or GLA are directly associated with, and encourage its adoption by London businesses and local government procurement.
  • Borough Mapping – for the GLA to publish a map of London’s boroughs which grades them on a range of sustainable food indicators, including Fairtrade Borough status and procurement policies. The map would serve as a tool for the public to track the progress of their borough and compare with other boroughs.
  • Business Support – better support and greater opportunities for London-based small businesses and social enterprises which are making, selling or promoting Fairtrade products.

London Assembly Members as ambassadors for Fairtrade in their communities – supporting local community groups, workplaces and individuals that want to ensure those who are at the other end of the supply chain are getting a fair deal for what they produce. Every council leader and Assembly Member in London – and the London Mayor – should be able to talk passionately, knowledgably and with civic pride about Fairtrade in their borough and citywide.

Being a Fairtrade City should not be seen as a goal of itself; it is a tool for people and businesses and public bodies to take action … and to continue to take action for years to come. As a European Union-funded impact assessment concluded, “by promoting Fairtrade locally, ordinary people can build connections, skills and civic pride, and make a huge difference to producers in the developing world.” That is what we should be aiming for in London.

Malcolm Clark is the campaign co-ordinator of Fairtrade London