SURREY has been presented with Fairtrade County status following several years of campaigning and activism.
Chuffed campaigners, including Surrey Fairtrade’s Becca Rowland, have expressed their delight at reaching the milestone – but the equality mission does not end here.
“Just as farmers here need to be treated fairly, so do the farmers who produce much of our food overseas: one day, I hope, Fairtrade will be the norm, not the exception.” The county’s recognition has been a long time in the making.
In November 2009 Fairtrade groups from around Surrey came together to form a campaign to try to do for the county what each had done in their own towns and boroughs.
A launch event was held in September 2010 which culminated in a gathering at Surrey University.
The primary purpose has been to provide new opportunities to promote Fairtrade to the public and business community, and to encourage a wider audience to consider Fairtrade when making purchasing and procurement decisions.
By the start of 2014 there were only two criteria to be addressed; the passing of a resolution by Surrey County Council in support of Fairtrade and the backing of a flagship employer.
A motion proposed by Labour Councillor Robert Evans to commit the county council to support Fair-trade was passed in May 2014.
“We see so many pictures from around the world of people in desperate conditions and we know we can’t do much to help,” said Cllr Evans.
“But by supporting Fairtrade we’re making a positive commitment that we know will help improve the lives of the poorest people on the planet.”
The other requirement was met when WWF-UK moved to Woking in late 2013 and, after partnering successfully with the Woking Fairtrade group for several events, chiefs agreed to be the Flagship Employer.
Tess Manser, a spokesman from WWF-UK, said: “When people are treated and paid fairly for their work and produce, they are more likely to value their environment and help it to thrive. This aligns with our global mission: to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.”