Trade and markets
 

The Working Group operated from 2000 to 2005

No longer operational

What was the Working Group?
The Working Group was formed to facilitate dialogue, collaboration and joint activities among stakeholders working with social and environmental issues in horticultural production and trade. The participants in the Working Group have various backgrounds. These include NGOs involved in standard setting, certification and/or labelling of horticulture produce, auditors and environmental experts, banana producers and FAO.

The Working Group was formed after the First Ad hoc Expert Meeting on Responsible Banana Production and Trade in March 2000 (see meeting information) by the participants of the meeting. Ever since the Working Group had an informal character, with open dialogue being considered more important than formal structures.

Why a Working Group?
During the last decades there has been an increased public concern on food safety, pollution of the environment, child labour, working conditions and the prices paid to small producers. This has resulted in a growing focus on environmental and social issues in agricultural production and trade and has given rise to a number of codes of conduct, standards and certification initiatives, some led by NGOs and others led by business itself.

The participants of the Working Group are each working to promote more socially and environmentally responsible production and trade methods. The participating NGOs have set social and/or environmental standards and some are managing certification programmes. Producers are trying to implement more environmentally friendly production methods and trying to create better working conditions for their labour force. Other participants give practical advice on standard setting and implementation, or are auditors.

The participants of the Working Group share the same goal of increasing sustainability in agricultural production and trade. The participants think their work is complementary and that they will benefit from working together. In the group, they want to learn from each other, share experiences among them and communicate lessons learnt to a wider public. It is their aim to increase understanding of how more environmentally and socially responsible production and trade methods can be implemented. The Working Group also hopes to enhance awareness and transparency of the environmental and social standards and their implementation at the producer, trade and consumer side. In addition, the group tries to identify possibilities for harmonization among the certification initiatives.

Initially the focus of the group was on banana production and trade, but then the scope of attention widened to include other horticultural and tropical crops.

Information on meetings held:

The Fourth Expert Meeting on Voluntary Standards and Certification for Responsible Agricultural Production and Trade was held on 22 April 2004 in Rome, Italy at FAO Headquarters.
The objective of this meeting was to discuss the opportunities and constraints of voluntary certification for farmers, farm workers, market operators, consumers and the society as a whole.
To read the report and presentations, please follow links at right.

A working group Meeting on Socially and Environmentally Responsible Horticulture Production and Trade was held on 23 April 2004 in Rome, Italy at FAO Headquarters.

The Third Expert Meeting on Socially and Environmentally Responsible Horticulture Production and Trade was held on 16 February 2003 in Nuremberg, Germany.

The theme of the meeting was: Building partnerships for responsible trade. Representatives of standard setting bodies as well as producers and traders of fresh produce presented their experiences and views on the theme. Break-out sessions were held on the sub-themes of "building partnerships", "responsible pricing" and "the role of certification".
To read the report and presentations, please follow the links at right

The Second Expert Meeting on Socially and Environmentally Responsible Banana Production and Trade was held on 10-11 December 2001 in San José, Costa Rica
One part of the meeting was dedicated to the Working Group and its activities. Another part was reserved for discussions with a wider group of stakeholders. Various representatives of the Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture, banana producers and the Consumers Union presented their experience with certification initiatives. Discussions were held on both social and environmental standards.
To read the report and presentations, please follow the links at right.

Brochure
The brochure "A golden fruit for all?" is targetting wholesalers and banana buyers of supermarket chains. It presents basic information on the main social and environmental certification initiatives in the banana sector (SAN, FLO, IFOAM and SAI).