Swansea University staff are celebrating after earning the Fairtrade University Award for the first time in five years.
The award recognises institutions which have embedded ethical and sustainable practices throughout their curriculum, procurement, research and campaigns.
Judges look at everything from a university’s procurement and retail systems through to catering, campaigning and influencing. The award also rewards wider ethical sourcing and trade justice efforts beyond Fairtrade certified products, such as Rainforest Alliance.
Delivered by the Fairtrade Foundation, the National Union of Students, and Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK), the award aims to encourage collaboration between students, academic and non-teaching staff with the students’ union.
The need for embedding Fairtrade practices at Swansea University is driven not only by its own Sustainability and Climate Emergency Strategy targets and commitments, but also by its environmentally aware students.
A Fairtrade survey has revealed 78 per cent of students said they care that farmers in developing countries get a fair deal for the products they grow. Child labour was a concern for 70 per cent of students, while 77 per cent want to buy products produced without child labour.
Swansea University Fairtrade project lead Katie Horsburgh said: “It’s been great to work towards the Fairtrade University Award and being successful is testament to the collaboration of many colleagues. We’ve worked with catering staff, the Students’ Union, students, and local charities and organisations to increase our product range, and importantly increase awareness of Fairtrade’s aims with students and staff. Following this success, we’re excited to keep progressing on our Fairtrade journey and working towards the next level of the award!”
As part of the award process, students were also given the opportunity to be trained by SOS-UK & Fairtrade staff to complete the audit for the award, contributing to their transferrable skills and experience in conducting audits.
Fairtrade action at Swansea this year included:
- Stocking an improved range of Fairtrade products in catering outlets;
- Students being trained by Fairtrade and SOS-UK as auditors;
- Identifying curricular and extra-curricular fairtrade opportunities; and,
- Hosting Fairtrade Fortnight events to increase understanding.
Fairtrade student auditor Shyama Vazhappully Saravanan said: “Swansea has made a good effort at completing all the mandatory requirements of the Award. Evidence was clear and well done. Swansea has a good core working group which was really helpful in completing the award successfully.”
Elena Fernandez Lee, Education Campaigning Manager from the Fairtrade Foundation added: “The project team is delighted to see how hard Swansea University has worked, with passion and creativity to embed the principles of Fairtrade into its ethos and policy. The issues of sustainability and consumption are high on the agenda and have become integrated into the life of the institutions.
“The University’s positive commitment to progressing its work on Fairtrade is clear.”