Fair Trade for Events: Why it Matters

Jenise Fryatt, Icon Presentations

What is Fair Trade and why does it matter to event planners? Shawna McKinley of MeetGreen and Judy Kucharuk of Footprint Management Systems will join forces  with Rich Patterson of Patterson Brands to answer those questions and more in a session at Event Camp Vancouver. The conference for event professionals interested in innovation and collaboration will take place Nov. 4-6.

On line and off, Shawna McKinley and Judy Kucharuk have worked to raise awareness about event sustainability. The two are both well known in the Canadian event industry, active members of the Green Meetings Industry Council and both blog prolifically on the subject.

As the Director of Sustainability for MeetGreen, Shawna oversees all of the programs the company offers that help event professionals to be more environmentally and socially responsible. Judy is the owner of Footprint Management Systems Inc.(FMS), a company which specializes in planning Green Meetings and Events.

Recently, Judy agreed to answer a few questions about Fair Trade and her upcoming session at Event Camp Vancouver

What is fair trade and what does it have to do with planning events?

Definition from www.fairtrade.net: Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Fair trade offers producers abetter deal and improved terms of trade, allowing them the opportunity toimprove their lives and plan for their future. When a product carries the FAIRTRADE Mark, it means the producers and traders have Fair trade standards. Those standards include: Ensuring that the producers receive prices that cover their average costs of sustainable production; provide an additionalFair trade premium which can be invested in projects that enhance social, economicand environmental development; enable pre-financing for producers who requireit; facilitate long term trading partnerships and enable greater producer control over the trading process; and set clean minimum and progressive criteria to ensure that the conditions of production and trade of all Fairtrade certified products are socially, economically fair and environmentally responsible.

When planning an event, it is important to integrate social responsibility into purchasing and carefully select any goods which have been produced in a Fairtrade partnership. You are asking the questions about how the product was made,and how the producers have benefited. It is important to look for third party accredited certifications which involve an independent observer.

Shawna has a prezi online which has some great information. The link is here: http://greendestinations.blogspot.com/2011/05/fair-trade-for-events-quick-prezi.html

There is an interesting link here as well: http://www.fairtradetowns.org/
Fair Trade link: http://www.fairtrade.net/

Is fair trade sourcing being requested by more clients or is it more often something the planner tries to persuade clients to do?

In my case, it has been me that has tried to persuade the client to source fair trade. It is something that my clients aren’t really thinking about until I bring it to their attention.

What are the advantages of using fair trade sources for the event?

Helps me sleep at night? LOL

By using fair trade sources it not only supports and sustains workers and families in the countries of origin, it also gives the event a lifecycle. Sure,the planners’ choices affected the 300 atttendees over the three day event, but their decisions impacted others long term. Every decision has a consequence and by choosing Fair Trade, you are recognizing that.

What do you hope participants will take away from your session?

A better understanding of Fair Trade and the certifications; knowing what questions to ask and better realizing the impact of those decisions.

This session will take place on Friday afternoon at Event Camp – we hope to see you there!