Environmental sustainability through fairtTrade: An overview of the compliance of WFTO–Asia with fair trade principle 10–respect for the environmenf

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Science and Ecosystem Management

Subject Categories

Environmental Sciences | Sustainability


College of Science



Thesis Advisor

Jerome L. Montemayor


One of the successes of the fair trade brand is promoting environmental sustainability. This is how fair trade lends itself to the fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the United Nations. The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) even has its own environmental standards to adhere to, specifically Principle 10–Respect for the Environment. Many studies commented on the environmental benefits in practicing fair trade. However, not enough studies have been done to directly analyze fair trade in an environmental context. This is because environmental conservation is not central to fair trade.

To be able to address environmental sustainability in its fullest sense, fair trade businesses may need to adopt strategies similar to green businesses, which may be defined as those who balance commitment to profitability, sustainability, and humanity. Thus, a study was done to establish a baseline for the environmental performance of WFTO–Asia using common green business practices to determine compliance with Principle 10. This will help in determining possible courses of action should the organization decide to make environmental sustainability a higher priority.

Unfortunately, there were not enough respondents who answered the survey to accurately make a generalization on the environmental performance of WTFO–Asia as a whole. However, the respondents were different enough from each other to provide a baseline of how fair trade businesses comply with Principle 10.

Based on the five criteria of Principle 10, the respondents had a high average compliance rate in meeting the legal requirements. This is expected as these are instances where a permit is required to operate the business in the first place. This is good since this criterion is mandatory for all members. The next four criteria require continuous improvement for all members: minimizing impacts, producers minimizing impacts, training and support in environmental issues, and packaging and transport. Using the data as a baseline, the results show possible areas of focus to further conform with environmental sustainability. These include: renewable energy, analyzing greenhouse gas emissions, electronic business processes, volunteering or donating for environmental causes, and allocating budget for environmental research.

The respondents were also asked what kind of support they needed for continuous development regarding Principle 10. They requested further environmental training and support, particularly in using renewable energy. Some respondents also highlighted the lack of cheap biodegradable material for packaging with a small minimum order quantity. One respondent also requested support in promoting their product and in establishing a link to their customers.

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Physical Description

[39 leaves]


Sustainability; Adaptation (Biology); Sustainable development; Environmental policy; Fair trade associations; World Fair Trade Organization

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