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Fair Trade Sugar Needs You!

Fairtrade sugar was initially launched in several European markets in the late 1990s, followed by the UK in 2000, in order to improve the position of small-scale sugar cane growers and their dependent communities, which were being undervalued by the global sugar market. Through Fairtrade certification, and by working in partnership with sugar cane processors, sugar cane farmers can get improved access to international markets and develop the necessary business skills and technical capacity to be more competitive in the global market. Currently, 96 farmers’ organisations representing 61,800 smallholder cane farmers are part of Fairtrade certification for sugar. This includes farmers in extremely poor countries such as Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Guyana.

Unlike for many other products, there is no Fairtrade Minimum Price for sugar. A stakeholder review of the sugar standards in 2009 highlighted the complexities of price setting in the sugar sector – a sector that is characterised by structural differences in sugar supply chains, government-set prices and distortions caused by international trade regimes. The conclusion was that it would be more effective for sugar prices to be negotiated between producers and traders rather than through the minimum price mechanism.  The main economic provision of Fairtrade Sugar Standards is the Fairtrade Premium of $60 per tonne of sugar ($80 per tonne for certified organic sugar) in addition to the negotiated price. In 2011-12, sugar farmers received approximately £8 million in premium income of which 47% was invested in direct support to farming families. This included access to agricultural inputs, credit services and in-kind support and cash payments to help with living costs and needs. 

This investment is beginning to make an impact and the UK’s contribution to global Fairtrade sugar sales is significant. Fairtrade sugar sold in the UK comes from countries including Belize, Fiji, Guyana, Jamaica, Malawi, Mauritius, Paraguay and Zambia. In Malawi, farmers have used the premium to build essential community infrastructure such as water boreholes, building primary schools and electrification of villages. In-kind support to farming families through provision of maize, essential household goods has improved food security in the region. Read more about the impact of Fairtrade sugar in Malawi. 

In Belize, which supplies most of the UK’s Fairtrade sugar, the impact has been transformational. Fairtrade Standards have ensured that the farmer’s association functions democratically and represents it 5,400 members. Investments of the premium in a Quality Improvement Programme and integrated pest management have boosted production post 2011 by 30%, resulting in a 42% increase in the cane price received by farmers. Watch this video for a preview of Fairtrade’s impact in Belize. 

Fairtrade’s support goes beyond individual farmer stories. For cane farmers at Manduvira co-operative in Paraguay, April 2014 was a milestone as they became the proud owners of a sugar mill ensuring that they are now able to capture more value from the sugar supply chains. This $15 million project was funded through a combination of national and international loans, contributions from the Fairtrade Premium, and theFairtrade Access Fund.

Is the job done?

Fairtrade sugar has seen remarkable growth in the UK and this impact is being felt by cane farming families. But a formidable challenge remains in the coming years with changes to international trade rules that affect sugar. Changes in EU legislation in 2017 will make life harder still for smallholders in countries that sell to the UK. These smallholders will continue to need support from Fairtrade. 

Also, many of the farmers we work with would like to sell more Fairtrade sugar, and there are still millions more we haven’t reached. Today, less than 1% of the world’s cane sugar is Fairtrade. Meanwhile, more and more companies are making commitments to source their sugar sustainably. They’re looking for ways to use it across their business, in all kinds of sweet treats and beverages. The Fairtrade Sugar Program enables sugar producers to work with these companies and access these great new opportunities.

Taken from Fairtrade Foundation website. 

Wales Must Make the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy (and make it now!)

The Climate Change Commission for Wales' Second Annual Report, launched 18th February 2013 outlines the work of the Commission over the last year and sets priorities for action in 2013/14 and concludes that Wales must make the transition to a low carbon economy (and make it now).

There is increasing evidence that greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise, which potentially could see global warming of between 4oC and 6oC within the next century. This type of temperature increase would present significant disruption to life in Wales and the natural resources we rely on.

Commission member, Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre said “There is a widespread view that a four degree future is incompatible with an organised global community, which is likely to go beyond adaptation and will be devastating to the majority of ecosystems.” 

This prediction comes at a time when climate change has slipped down the political agenda here in Wales and in the rest of the UK, with the global financial crisis dominating the attention of political and business leaders, along with the public. The Climate Change Commission for Wales has focused significant attention over the last year on accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy, which would deliver both on climate change targets and help create jobs and economic growth.

Even in these toughest of economic times, the low carbon environmental goods and services sector continues to grow. The economic transition in Wales must involve all sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism amongst others to produce goods and deliver services in a sustainable way.

Peter Davies, Chair of the Climate Change Commission for Wales said “The Climate Change Commission members agree unanimously a choice between the economy and the environment is not the way forward.  We are clear that the solution to both the financial and environmental problems is a transition to a low carbon economy. The economic transition needs to be rapid and Wales needs to be ready for the competitive and collaborative nature of these changes.”

The Climate Change Commission for Wales welcomes the recent findings from the UK Committee on Climate Change (UKCCC) Progress Report to Welsh Government, which concludes that, although progress in reducing emissions has been particularly good in the residential and waste sectors, significant challenges remain. Today’s launch event was attended by Lord Deben, the Chair of UKCCC.

Lord Deben said “Wales has set itself challenging targets in fighting Climate Change. There is much that others in the UK will be able to learn from their experience. The Climate Change Committee has just reviewed progress and I wanted to come and see for myself the dimensions of these tough demands that are being so enthusiastically delivered.”

The Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, John Griffiths A.M back in March 2012 noted that it was critical for the Commission to identify and remove obstacles in delivering the climate change agenda in Wales. In direct response, the Commission has identified priority areas* and made a number of recommendations.

One of these priority areas is the need to build resilience in managing the impact of climate change to Wales. The Commission has engaged a number of organisations over the last year, one of which included the Met Office. Their Head of Climate Science, Dr Vicky Pope highlighted some of the future climate extremes of drought and flooding that Wales should be prepared for, both of which were evident in the Welsh climate during 2012.

Peter Davies said “Everybody needs to play a part in adapting Wales to climate change. The Government needs to continue investing in flood defences whilst the public for example need to make lifestyle changes, and organisations need to develop their own management plans based around vulnerabilities.”

Reducing emissions for the built environment is another key challenge facing Wales. It’s a sector that contributes 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Wales and to achieve 2050 targets, 62,500 properties per year must be refurbished to high energy fabric performance standards.  The Wales Low Zero Carbon Hub has produced a position paper along with this Climate Change Commission for Wales report which calls for clarity on the Green Deal in Wales, development of retrofit at scale, and low energy demand buildings.

Peter Davies said “When it comes to the built environment, the Welsh Government needs to raise awareness of energy use amongst the public, and help change behaviours, as its people who use energy and not buildings.”

Transport in Wales continues to be a major emitter of emissions despite some progress being made on de-carbonising the sector. Next generation broadband will help reduce travel demand and there is significant potential for developing new social enterprise business models, including car clubs. Rural communities continue to face significant challenges with transport poverty being a real issue.  

Peter Davies said “There are some excellent examples of sustainable transport practice in Wales but there needs to be more ambitious and wide ranging improvements to travel systems that would put Wales on par with other European nations. Again the need for changing public behaviours is vital to reducing emissions from this sector, along with the business community engaging staff.”

Story courtesy Cynnal Cymru






Size of Wales Hits 2 million Forest Target

1st March 2013, St David’s Day: Environmental charity, Size of Wales, has achieved its ambitious target of raising £2 million to help to protect 2 million hectares of tropical forest as part of its national response to climate change. Wales is the first country in the world to help protect an area of tropical forest equivalent to its size.
Size of Wales is now set to become a model for action around the world as other countries set their own forest protection targets: Denmark is considering launching a tropical forest initiative equivalent to its size (4 million hectares) and Ireland has launched the Size of Phoenix Park project as a first step in improving tropical forest protection. Size of Wales is encouraging all countries to consider setting up similar forest protection projects.

Congratulating the charity on its success, and the people of Wales for their generosity, Wales’ Environment Minister, John Griffiths said “I am very proud of Wales. We are the first country in the world to help to protect an area of tropical forests equivalent to its own size and I am calling on other countries to follow our lead - for the benefit of our climate, our forests and the wildlife and people that depend upon them.”

Inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales’ work to protect tropical forests, Size of Wales was launched at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales in September 2010 in association with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. Today (1st March 3013) HRH The Prince of Wales will visit the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, a Size of Wales partner, where he will be presented with an FSC-certified clarinet made from wood derived from the The Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative( - a Size of Wales community forest project in Tanzania.

HRH The Prince of Wales: “Size of Wales is an impressive example of Wales’ commitment to positive ‘hands on’ action to help protect the world’s forests and our climate. Helping to sustain an area of tropical forest equivalent in size to 2 million rugby pitches is a significant achievement and, importantly, shows great leadership to other nations around the world.”

Twenty projects in Africa and Latin America have now benefitted from the £2 million raised, including the One Million Trees project in Mbale, Uganda – the first fully funded Size of Wales project run in partnership with the Welsh government as part of its Wales for Africa programme.  “The Mbale One Million Trees Project has really made a difference for us. Uganda has suffered from devastating landslides as a result of deforestation and this tree planting project is helping to stabilise the soil to prevent further disasters and provide shade for better food crops. None of this would have been possible without the support of the Welsh government and the people of Wales.” Rogers Wasibi, Manager, One Million Trees Project, Mbale, Uganda. HRH The Prince of Wales will meet Rogers Wasibi at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama to put the final piece in the Size of Wales jigsaw and to celebrate the success of this project.

Forests play a vital role in stabilising the world’s climate and international experts will meet at The World Forests Summit in Stockholm next week (5-6 March) to look at ways in which forests can help to combat climate change. Tropical rainforests, including both intact forests and regrowth, absorb about one third of the world’s man-made carbon emissions but this is cancelled out by the carbon emissions caused by tropical forest destruction. Tropical forests are also crucial for storing water, regulating rainfall and preventing floods, droughts and erosion, as well as producing much of the oxygen we need to survive. But the destruction of the world’s rainforests continues at an alarming rate: 12 million hectares are being destroyed each year – 4 million hectares each year in Africa alone.

“There is a clear link between forest protection and stabilising the world’s climate. Whilst other countries are talking about what can be done, the Welsh nation has responded to the challenge and met the Size of Wales target   - helping to protect forests in some of the world’s poorest countries and helping to protect our climate by reducing carbon emissions.”  Hannah Scrase, Director, Size of Wales.

Protecting forests can be dramatically more cost effective than some other ways of reducing carbon emissions. For example, figures from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) recently showed that, between 2008 and 2010, preventing deforestation was 875 times cheaper than efforts to reduce emissions under the European Union Trading Scheme. The UK government, together with Australia, Germany, Norway and the US, issued a joint statement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha (December 2012) highlighting the urgency of tackling deforestation in a bid to mitigate climate change. The challenge now is to turn this into action on the ground.

 “Reducing rampant deforestation is important but not just for carbon reduction. It is a global imperative in a move towards a more responsible and equitable use of Natural Capital. This underpins wealth creation in the world economy and the security of water, energy, food and health for millions of people. Size of Wales has offered a solution which other developed countries could adopt. We need to act now, before it is too late - protecting tropical forests will help to tackle climate change and will make a real difference to the people and wildlife which depend upon forests for their survival.” Andrew Mitchell, Founder and Executive Director, Global Canopy Programme.

With the support of The Waterloo Foundation based in Cardiff and the Welsh government, Size of Wales will continue to raise money for tropical forests in Africa and South America, focusing on key projects in Congo Brazzaville, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Guyana. Size of Wales is now calling on the Welsh nation to renew its commitment to tackling deforestation and to continue to raise money to help to keep these forests safe for the benefit of local communities and the world’s climate.

Story courtesy of Cynnal Cumru 

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