Aishna is a third-year International Development student at the University of Sussex. She has an active involvement in racial and gender issues and is currently working as a Race Equity Advocate for the Students’ Union. In this interview, I explore why Aishna believes engagement with Fair Trade, particularly student involvement, is essential.
In what ways have you heard about Fair Trade?
I grew up having quite a robust understanding of Fair Trade, given my father works to develop Fair Trade initiatives in lower economically developed countries. These initiatives allow individuals to properly create a market for their products and enable them to sell them fairly on the international market. Through his work, I came to understand how to empower vulnerable communities in less economically developed settings and how to create a sustainable income for them and defend labour rights.
Why do you think student engagement with Fair Trade is important?
Youth is an incredibly important asset to society because they are the future. In particular, university students play a crucial role during this pivotal and turbulent point in time. Students are at the forefront of change because they are the next people who will shape the structure of the world. That’s why I think that students need to understand what Fair Trade means so that they can implement those structures and principles in the coming years.
As university students, how can we actively promote or engage with Fair Trade?
At Sussex, there is a niche for sustainability. Environmental issues and human rights are often spoken about at Sussex. As a university, we are a step forward in understanding the need to engage with Fair Trade. In terms of promoting Fairtrade, having more of an array of Fairtrade products on campus and creating more awareness about where you can get the products is crucial. We have a Co-op on campus; maybe we can have a section with flyers next to it, so people understand the meaning of Fair Trade. Maybe even trying to find a way to implement the ideas of Fairtrade into the university courses and learning it directly from your lecturers.
As an International Development student, how do you observe the links between Fair Trade and the Sustainable Development Goals?
The Sustainable Development Goals are interesting because they are a very solidified framework that addresses many different pillars such as environmental, social and economic. Fairtrade also addresses all three. They care about environmental sustainability, about the protection of farmers and workers and about promoting a fair economy by giving workers the right income that they deserve and selling on the international market. The SDGs have a very specific focus also on sustainable community building and a world that is not so destructive. I think Fairtrade and the SDGs really go hand-in-hand.
Any final thoughts?
Student involvement is very important at university. In particular, we need to promote Fairtrade more on campus and give people opportunities to be involved with Fairtrade projects, so that they know what ethical consumerism is.
Written by Loyse Queau