Edinburgh has held Fairtrade City status since 2004 thanks to the great efforts of all those involved with Edinburgh Fairtrade City’s group.

“One of our last major events was a great success, bringing together Fair Trade supporters, teachers, curious Edinburgh Council staff, and a range of political worthies. 

An approach to Edinburgh Council Procurement Services to engage them in discussion on how to expand the range of Fair Trade products in Council premises had resulted in members of that team joining our Group.  We had also added to our number a staff member of the Children and Families division of the Council, whose remit included Fair Trade in schools.  So when the Fairtrade Foundation asked for our help in organising a flagship event in Edinburgh with visiting Cote d’Ivoire Cocoa Farmer Leocadie Voho, we were well positioned to book space in Edinburgh Council headquarters and invite all Edinburgh teachers. 

We decided the most attractive format would be a Fair Trade Market, with a separate space for Leocadie and other market stall holders to make presentations.  Apart from promoting the event to all teachers and via the Council intranet, we used our own social media and networks and, via Martin at the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, were able to invite the Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development and MSPs from the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Fair Trade.  The Lord Provost is automatically made a member of our Group, and we have found each of them in succession to be very supportive of our aims and to formally participate in our major events.  As can be seen from the photos, the event was well attended and veteran stallholders said there was a real buzz about it that they had rarely experienced.

While Leocadie Voho was in Edinburgh we also arranged for her to speak at Balerno High School – Balerno itself being a Fair Trade Village – and had a good turnout of pupils from that and surrounding schools as well as Balerno Village Fairtrade Village Group.  We also worked with the Fairtrade Foundation to put on a panel discussion with Leocadie, then Scots Makar Jackie Kay, Adjoa Andoh, and others, which attracted a large crowd.

More recently, with restrictions still applying and neither the Scottish Fair Trade Forum nor the Fairtrade Foundation bringing over producers, our Group member responsible for contact with schools had the brainwave of mounting information stalls across our libraries.  Again her Council contacts proved invaluable and we placed materials across 22 libraries as well as having staffed information stalls at a number of the major libraries.

The Edinburgh Fair Trade City Steering Group is a relatively small group, especially considering the size of the city.  We are therefore constantly assessing how we can obtain the largest impact.  Having the Lord Provost and other Councillors as members of our Group has opened doors to Council staff, and having some of those staff members join us has greatly increased our effectiveness in engaging the Council.  Building our network has also been key: we have contact with the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and thus access to its 1000+ business members.  We also have had some success in engaging faith groups and schools directly, and we are building relationships with various pressure groups and environmental groups in order to cooperate in activities and campaigns. 

We are of course also in regular contact with the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, the Fairtrade Foundation, local Fair Trade businesses, the Fairtrade National Campaigner Committee and, to a lesser extent, the World Fair Trade Organisation, and Shared Interest – these contacts giving us access to quality materials and opportunities to discuss ideas and share experiences.   It does not seem to be getting easier, but sometimes we surprise ourselves with our successes.”

Photo credits: Edinburgh Photographic.    

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *