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German activities

Fair Trade – what the BMZ is doing


Sapna Mandloi, a worker at the Pratibha Fairtrade cotton farm in India

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) supports Fair Trade in Germany as an important element of development-related educational activities. Organisations, most of which are staffed by volunteers, provide information about development policy objectives and international trade relations. They show how each individual’s consumption patterns can influence the living and working conditions of people in developing countries. In 2016, the BMZ is providing 3.3 million euros for assistance in this field.

BMZ also advocates the development of a Fair Trade standard in the textiles industry in particular. So far, the Fair Trade approach in this context has been limited to standards for growing cotton. Now the aim is to extend Fair Trade to the entire textiles value chain so as to ensure fair conditions for production workers.

Alongside educational work, instruments have also been developed to support Fair Trade in the developing countries themselves. For example, in future the BMZ will provide more funds for non-governmental organisations that are active in this regard in developing countries.

The BMZ is also involved in the Fair Trade Access Fund administered by KfW Development Bank. In 2013/2014, the Fund granted loans worth 16.7 million US dollars to support 18 Fair Trade cooperatives in Latin America. There are plans to expand the Fund's activities to Africa.

Fair Trade Action Week

Logo: Faire Woche (Fair Trade action week)

In Germany, BMZ's activities in the area of Fair Trade revolve around the annual Fair Trade action week organised by the German Fair Trade forum. The biggest event of its kind in Germany, it aims to increase consumer awareness of Fair Trade issues and to motivate them to buy fairly traded products more often.

The motto for the 15th Fair Trade action week held in September 2016 was "Fair Trade works". World Shops, advocacy and youth groups, supermarkets, restaurants, schools and local authorities, together with many other actors, invited the public to take part in some 2,000 different events and activities.


The Capital of Fair Trade

Award ceremony for the 2013 “Capital of Fair Trade”

Since 2003, the BMZ-funded Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW) has organised a competition every two years to find the "Capital of Fair Trade". Prizes are awarded to exemplary local activities to promote Fair Trade, including city marketing campaigns, school projects and joint activities by the public and private sectors.

The BMZ sponsors the competition. In 2015, 84 local authorities took part with 818 projects and shared prize money totalling 105,000 euros.


Fair Procurement Network

The Fair Procurement Network, which was established in 2007 and operates throughout Germany, is another initiative supported by SKEW. The network ensures that socially responsible procurement procedures are used to award public contracts. That includes buying fairly traded products and avoiding goods manufactured using child labour or in violation of minimum social standards. Products that local authorities buy and that are often manufactured under exploitative conditions include paving stones, computers, work clothes, footballs and fireworks.


Sustainability Compass

Sustainable procurement? How does that work? What quality labels are there to indicate that products are manufactured in a socially and environmentally responsible manner? And where can I buy them?

The "Kompass Nachhaltigkeit" (Sustainability Compass) answers all of these questions. The online portal provides information on sustainability standards and supports implementation at a practical level. It helps users to identify the appropriate standards and to compare the different labels. It also lists the companies that are certified to carry products that fulfil specific sustainability standards.

The Sustainability Compass was developed on behalf of BMZ and helps buyers in local authorities with responsibility for procurement to take into account criteria such as eco-friendliness and socially responsible manufacturing. From business cards to fire brigade uniforms to paving stones – the product search function delivers best-practice tender invitations and the contact details of relevant experts and retailers.


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