University receives Fairtrade Award for eighteenth year

Activities to support workers around the world have been recognised through the prestigious Fairtrade University and College Award once more.

The Fairtrade University and College Award gives recognition to institutions that have embedded ethical and sustainable practices through their curriculum, procurement, research and campaigns.

The University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh University Students' Association have participated in the Fairtrade University scheme since 2004, making commitments to procure fair trade, awareness-raising and research. This year, we maintained our two-star ranking, with a maximum of three possible stars.

Collaborative success

Fairtrade University Awards photoshoot Levels Cafe summer 2022. Inflatable bananas read: "appeeling for change"
Representatives from the Students' Association; Accommodation, Catering and Events; and Social Responsibility and Sustainability.

Key successes highlighted in the student audit were leadership & strategy (45/55 points) and procurement retail & catering (70/95 points).

Partners from across the University and the Students' Association came together to champion fair trade. These included:

  • Accommodation, Catering and Events (ACE)
  • University and Students' Association cafes
  • University and Students' Association shops
  • The Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability
  • Visitor Centre
  • Procurement
  • as well as wider staff and student communities

Student volunteers completed training and carried out audits to make the Fairtrade University Awards possible.

Fair trade action from 2019 to 2022

A range of achievements were completed over the last two academic years, including policy and statement renewals, our continued commitment to purchasing fair trade products, and student projects.

Fair Trade Policy renewal (2020)

Students' Associations' public statement showing (renewed) commitment to Fairtrade and ethical consumption

Fairtrade products: Continuing to only supply Fairtrade tea, coffee, and sugar across ACE services, throughout the pandemic through considerable challenges with supply chains and suppliers.

Planetary menus: Student-led project highlighting Fairtrade and ethical purchasing (among other sustainability themes)

Students as Change Agents: addressing the question: How can Scotland move beyond awareness raising and have the Fair Trade concept instilled in public consciousness and buying practices?

The Fairtrade Award highlights the University and Students’ Association's commitment to ethical purchasing and reflects the hard work partners have put in. We are also acutely aware that we need to do more as an institution, and we support efforts from colleagues across the University to align their purchasing to the Fair Trade Policy. It is fantastic to see this commitment in products from our clothing to our catering.

Our commitment is not focused on a particular scheme, but is about supporting approaches that uphold the principles and values of fair trade.

Siôn PickeringSustainable Business & Fair Trade Programme Manager

What is the Fairtrade University Award?

Fairtrade University Award - two stars, SOS logo, Fairtrade logo, NUS logo

The award recognises the work completed over the last two academic years towards developing an understanding of trade justice and globalisation within the university. This includes the academic year 2021/22, during which time many campuses were closed for months at a time due to covid restrictions, making this year’s awards even more of an achievement.

Award criteria cover a wide range of areas including research and curriculum; campaigning and influencing; and procurement, retail and catering. Institutions can also receive points for trying out innovative ways to engage staff and students on global issues.

The award is delivered by the Fairtrade Foundation, the National Union of Students, and Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK). The award structure encourages partnership between students, academic and non-teaching staff in the institution with the students’ union.

A bumper crop of universities supporting Fairtrade farmers [external]

The effects of the pandemic show how we are one globally interconnected community. Our decisions have far-reaching consequences, and only together can we tackle the biggest challenges facing our planet and its inhabitants.

Students are forming their values and shaping their future careers. It is crucial that they experience a wide range of narratives and opportunities to think differently about the world. As they prepare to take their places as decision makers of the future, we must ensure they have the knowledge and skills needed to respond to the multiple crises we face.’

Joanna MilisEducation Campaigns Manager from the Fairtrade Foundation

Take action

  • Choose to buy fair trade products, and encourage others to do so
  • Get involved with community groups such as the Edinburgh Fair Trade City Group
  • Make fair trade part of your research, dissertation or coursework
  • Participate in Fairtrade Fortnight

Find out more about fair trade at the University of Edinburgh