University of Canterbury recognised as a Fair Trade University
The University of Canterbury has been recognised by the Fair Trade Association of Australia and Zealand as a Fair Trade University, one of only two in New Zealand, and the first entirely Fair Trade campus.
Chair of the UC Fair Trade Committee Dr John Hopkins says he is delighted that UC is the first campus university in New Zealand to receive the accreditation.
“UC needed to provide Fair Trade options in more than a dozen cafés and eateries across the entire Christchurch campus to gain accreditation, which meant a significant commitment on our part,” he says.
“The fact that the UC Students’ Association had already introduced Fair Trade coffee into all their cafés on campus by 2012 made the transition somewhat easier. Our students had already decided that Fair Trade was a good thing to support. But it was the strong endorsement of the University Council, and their wish to become a Fair Trade University that gave the movement real momentum.”
The Fair Trade criteria for accreditation is that 50 per cent of products should be Fair Trade, where that option is available.
“By the time we applied for accreditation, UC purchases for tea and coffee had reached 80 per cent, and are still rising,” Dr Hopkins says.
Fair Trade coffee and hot chocolate is well established in the cafés across campus, and a range of Fair Trade teas will be rolled out in the second half of this year.
Acting Vice-Chancellor, UC Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Tumu Tuarua Rangahau Professor Ian Wright says that this is yet another example of the University living up to its vision of people prepared to make a difference – tangata tū, tangata ora.
“Our staff and students can be proud that their commitment will have far-reaching impacts, not only in raising awareness in the local community, but in directly benefiting producers, growers and workers in developing countries,” Prof Wright says.
Congratulating UC on achieving Fair Trade accreditation, TradeAid NZ chief executive Geoff White says that the importance of this cannot be underestimated in the communities that are producing the raw commodities purchased by Fair Trade organisations.
“Conditions in a Fair Trade tea or coffee plantation bear no resemblance to one that is not. To become an accredited producer, you must provide basic humanitarian services, good health, clean water, liveable wages and schooling for worker’s children,” Mr White says.
“Fair Trade builds these requirements into their contracts with suppliers while also guaranteeing a minimum price for the commodity, regardless of global market trends. By guaranteeing a fair price for the small producer, you protect the livelihoods of the workers.”
Dr Hopkins says it is really important that people understand that Fair Trade is not a charity.
“This is business ethos in practice. You provide a minimum price for commodities, but you are still purchasing those commodities. Fair Trade is also a good investment option if you are looking for ways to make more of a difference. You will still get interest on your investment, a little less financially, but an enormous ethical return.”
Dr Hopkins hopes the University’s commitment to make a difference globally encourages other organisations and institutions in Christchurch and Canterbury to adopt similar principles, and work towards becoming a Fair Trade city and region.