The Flower Valley team travelled to a chilly London in December – to bring partners in ethical trade and sustainable production together.
The workshop, held on 1 December at the Royal Geographical Society, was co-hosted with the Universities of Newcastle and Durham. The aim was to share best practice in sustainable production, looking at the supply chains that provide products to retailers.
Flower Valley Conservation Trust represented those suppliers and packsheds who are picking fynbos as members of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme. Other industries represented included the cocoa industry and the garment sector.
More than compliance
According to speakers at the event, it’s vital to look beyond compliance, but to rather understand how acting ethically is benefiting workers and the environment. Dionne Harrison of Impactt Ltd said, “Compliance is important, but more important is the impact. Has it made a difference to anybody?” It’s therefore important to measure the impact on the ground.
Professor Stephanie Barrientos of the University of Manchester said that acting ethically is more than ticking off a checklist. “It’s not just about compliance and better conditions, but also about smallholders and people making a decent living out of what they do.”
She said workers and suppliers earning a decent living will be encouraged to remain in a sector, and not leave for better opportunities. This in turn will ensure key skills are not lost.
Business depends on biodiversity
The keynote address was delivered by the CEO of Fauna & Flora International (Flower Valley’s founding partner), Mark Rose, who said business is underpinned by biodiversity.
“All business depends in some way on ecosystem services, such as clean air and water and healthy soils. As biodiversity declines, so does the health of an ecosystem and its ability to provide businesses with the goods and services they depend on.”
Lesley Richardson and Kathy O’Grady of Flower Valley spoke of the successes and challenges in the fynbos industry. Fynbos landscapes are threatened in some cases by poor land management, including invasive vegetation. Through the Sustainable Harvesting Programme, Flower Valley works with partners across the fynbos supply chain, to encourage ethical actions. The Programme is supported by the European Union and the WWF Nedbank Green Trust.