Following on from the success of the first three Fair Trade International Symposiums held in Montreal in 2002 and 2006, and in Montpellier in 2008, a further symposium will be held at Liverpool Hope Business School from 2 to 4 April 2012. For this fourth edition, the symposium gathering academics and practitioners will host the final conference of the EU-funded “GeoFairTrade” project.
How can Fair Trade concretely connect producers and consumers, as well as other stakeholders, along fair and sustainable supply chains? This question will be explored at the symposium. Fair Trade has seen an unprecedented growth over the last decade, translating into large increases in sales and public awareness. However, many questions remain about the potential of Fair Trade to continue growing, whilst at the same time, achieving its aims of transforming globalisation. A specific question in this debate concerns the ability of Fair Trade to grow and institutionalise without increasing the distance between the different stakeholders involved, especially between producers and consumers.
The increased participation of producers in the governance of international Fair Trade institutions, the emergence of national and continental networks in both the South and the North, the development of producer-led certification schemes, and the connection of Fair Traders with local (North or South) trading systems are a few of the many initiatives designed to intensify global connections. The development of ethical tourism has also enabled producers and consumers to meet, thereby creating concrete North-South links, FTIS reports. One of the most recent and innovative devices enabling direct North-South connections has been the implementation of specific traceability systems. A recent and promising example of such systems is the GeoFairTrade project, which will be presented as a core element of the symposium. Based on geo-localisation, GeoFairTrade aims to trace products from the market place to their origin to bring producers and consumers closer and to reinforce the latter’s motivation for purchasing.