Shaping Sustainable Markets is a research initiative that explores how the formal and informal rules used to govern markets – called market governance mechanisms (MGMs) – are designed, and how they impact on people, the planet and the economy.
My being at IIED is rather fortuitous. I completely missed the first advertisement to apply for this position when it went round on the college mailing list, but luckily I was saved when the deadline for applications was pushed back a week to accommodate late applicants. I was one of those late applicants. In the space of a few short weeks I was notified that I had been shortlisted and that I was invited to interview for the Richard Sandbrook Scholarship. I was just thrilled to have been offered an interview so you can imagine my joy when I was told hours later that I had been selected for the position.
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.
The first of a series of ‘provocative seminars’ on smallholders and the ‘pro-poor markets’ agenda took place in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 28th September 2010. Local and international participants gathered to discuss a series of questions put forward by ‘provocateurs’ from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
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?