This week saw the launch of Fairtraded and Fairmined gold in the UK. Twenty companies in the UK will use the gold and even Kate Middleton — recently betrothed to Prince William — may get a Fairtrade wedding band.
But certification within a chain also means ‘formalisation’ of that chain, which will require miners to meets certain standards. A commonly held assumption is that formalisation of the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector is a positive move. But can we be so sure?
Collection and trade of wild products is increasing but concerns surround its current and future sustainability. The FairWild standard for wild collection seeks to address such issues by promoting sustainable practices and rewarding collectors with increased returns through a certification process. Standards and certification are increasingly being applied to new environments; but as discussed before on Due South, their suitability needs to be considered in light of the contexts in which they are applied. Traditionally certification has been applied to privately owned areas with enforceable property rights, but it is relatively untested in wild collection settings, which have their own unique challenges.
Now that Fairtrade has proved its resilience to recession is it time to make it the gold standard for all ethical produce and move beyond its origins in agriculture? Is the certification scheme that circumvents traditional market and pricing dynamics ready for new challenges in new markets? If so, what will those challenges look like?