The UN conference on trade development has called for more help to be provided to enable small farmers and businesses in developing countries to comply with the sustainability standards required to access growing “green” markets. Markets for sustainably produced goods are booming, with sales up 3.5% between 2014 and 2018, according to Nielsen data. But the cost of certification and auditing is often unaffordable for small producers. “Today’s green markets are monopolised by large-scale farms and multinational corporations,” UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said on 4 July during a meeting on green markets at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
A project implemented by UNCTAD’s BioTrade programme and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs aims to address this issue. In 2006, the two organisations worked together to help the non-profit organisation PhytoTrade Africa comply with the EU’s novel food legislation to be able to sell baobab fruit powder in Europe. The process took two years and cost more than US$250,000.
“Instruments are needed to ensure green markets are also fair markets,” said Sergi Corbalán, executive director of the Brussels-based Fair Trade Advocacy Office. “Green markets should be about value chains that are more equitable, where small producers and workers can bargain and receive better and fairer terms of trade.”
UNCTAD supports smaller producers through programmes such as the BioTrade programme, as well as National Green Export Reviews and the Fostering Green Exports through Voluntary Sustainability Standards project. This work is funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the United Nations Development Account, the European Union, and the Islamic Development Bank.