On the Climate Change Frontlines

The United States Agency for International Development recently published a post highlighting a number of concerns as it relates to climate change, poverty and agriculture. Particularly notable for Fair Traders is the index of country vulnerability. Many of the countries ranked as “extremely” vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change are also countries with a significant Fair Trade craft or commodities market.

Beyond the seemingly annual news reports of droughts and unseasonably high temperatures, the emerging science leads us to believe that these seemingly random weather patterns are the new “normal.” Numerous studies and news articles have documented the emerging climate chaos induced challenges for producers. Pests, drought, floods, and rising temperatures are just a few issues facing producers. How the Fair Trade movement will respond to the climate change challenge remains to be seen.

One initial step forward includes Fair Trade USA’s recent partnership with Global Coffee Quality Research on Climate Change, which appears to focus primarily on mitigating the negative impacts of climate change on the coffee industry. Other educational efforts include WhyHunger’s online film, ?The Food and Climate Connection: From Heating the Planet to Healing It.? To be clear, confronting the current and emerging climate change challenges will require serious consideration by Fair Trade certifiers? and standard bearers, as well as coops, companies and consumers. What the road forward looks like remains to be seen.

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