Sustainable international development

We need to ensure that the UK remains an important and supportive market for food producers in developing countries, who need fair trading conditions that help some of the poorest and most vulnerable people to make a better living.

Farmers and food producers at home and overseas provide the food we all need, as well as being stewards of working conditions, land, animals, the environment and natural resources. We expect a great deal from them, but they are all too often paid too little even to be able to make a decent living. Many are also treated unfairly by powerful food buyers, such as food manufacturers and supermarkets, contributing to business failure, poverty, human rights abuses and food waste.
 
This is especially concerning for food producers in developing countries who lack the support and legal protection to help them win better prices and fair treatment.
 
We need to work towards a system of trade in food that provides a decent living and proper legal protections for all food producers, and shares the risks and rewards of food production more fairly. Such a system must also enable food producers to afford to look after workers, animals, land, wildlife, the environment and natural resources in a sustainable way.
 
As part of the Campaign for a Better Food Britain, the Sustain alliance is supporting the following activities to secure a system of trade in food that is fair and sustainable. Sustain is:
  • Highlighting the need for UK trade negotiators and policy-makers to support better food standards, not a ‘race to the bottom’. Read our 10 Red Lines for Trade in Food
  • Working with the Trade Justice Movement to argue for democratic public and parliamentary involvement in setting the parameters for UK trade in food, with votes and scrutiny required at important stages of the trade deal negotiation process.
  • Working with the Fairtrade Foundation and others to argue for better competition and markets regulation ensuring that developing countries are supported to meet vital Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Continuing to champion the extension of the UK Groceries Code Adjudicator to protect farmers and food producers – at home and overseas – from unfair trading practices by the UK’s manufacturers, wholesalers and supermarkets.
  • Continuing to champion fair trade standards and Fairtrade certified products in UK standards for food bought by the UK’s public sector institutions such as Government, the British armed forces, the NHS, local authorities and schools.
  • Arguing for appropriate standards and compliance mechanisms to ensure that the UK government and industry continue to take a fair and ethical approach to trade in food.
As the UK leaves the European Union, we also need to defend against the ‘bonfire of standards and protections’, and resist being forced to accept lower or unfair standards from other countries in the scramble for new trade deals. The UK’s approach to international trade deals will have big implications for fair and sustainable development, at home and abroad.
 
On a final note, we recognise the importance of UK aid and investment policies supporting businesses in developing countries to export food to the UK. However, Sustain does not work directly on these issues. Some of our specialist members and associates do, for example the Fairtrade Foundation, Global Justice Now and Share Action.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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