Among the niche initiatives, Fair Trade is the best known with a relatively large market presence (including several sectors) and available for leather.
Fairtrade International is an independent, NGO that promotes sustainable development and poverty alleviation and sets the Fairtrade standards. 20 national organizations, called Fairtrade Labelling Initiatives, market the Fairtrade products in 23 countries in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand. One organization - FLO-CERT - is responsible for auditing and certification of compliance against the Fairtrade standards.
Small-scale producers and producers groups, SMEs, Large-scale enterprises, Vulnerable and minority groups, and Community-based organizations can join.
- Fairtrade Minimum Price: a price floor available to producers that aims to cover average costs of sustainable production (for most products). The Fairtrade Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premium are set at either country specific, regional or global levels (http://www.fairtrade.net).
- Pre-financing: access for producers to credit in advance of sale.
- Fairtrade Premium: additional funds available to producers above the selling price for social and business development projects.
- Contracts: long-term, stable contracts with buyers. The standards are developed through a collaborative and voluntary process by members, farmers, industry, scientists and advisors from the private and public sector.
- Two types of standards: Generic standards and Product specific standards. Generic standards apply regardless of the products to be certified. Additional specifications and requirements are then available in standards which are product specific.
- Fairtrade has two types of requirements:
- Core requirements, which must be met by producer organizations before initial certification;
- Development requirements, against which compliance must be demonstrated over time and by means of continuous improvement.
Criteria Used for the Assessment:
Pass and fail: The pass/ fail approach applies to core requirements which reflect Fairtrade principles which MUST be complied with.
Scoring: While core requirements need to be complied with immediately, development requirements need to be implemented over time, against a scoring system. Those development requirements refer to the continuous improvements which certified organizations must make on average against a scoring system (also defining the minimum average thresholds) defined by the certification body. Compliance with the Generic Fairtrade Standard for Small Producer Organizations is reached if all core requirements are implemented and the minimum score on the development requirements as defined by the certification body is reached.
1st, 2nd, 3rd party certification: Third-party audit is required
Frequency of audits: Annual audits, Surprise audits, Other
Review process: The certification cycle is 3 years.
Validity of audit certificate: 4 years
Steps to Join the Initiative:
1. Review Fairtrade standards application to:
- product at stake,
- type of organization, and
2. Contact FLO-CERT directly to receive an information package at email@example.com
3. Fill in and send back to FLO-CERT the registration form included in the information package.
4. Pay the initial certification fee covering the auditing procedure. The fee differs depending on the organizational structure of the production unit
5. Set a date for the first audit exercise: auditors will check if you adhere to the requirements listed in the standard documents applying to the product and type of organization.
6. Physical Audit takes place.
7. In case of non-conformities, a plan of corrective actions needs to be set-up that addresses the identified nonconformities with the standard.
8. Once the proposed corrective measures have been approved by FLO-CERT, a certificate is delivered.