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March 2011Conference+Meetings World www.c-mw.net13Nexus Collections' MD Nick Jonesdrives some key points on the Fairtrade bandwagon.A thirst for FairtradeFairtrade practices have become a norm for many westerncompanies and they are becomingmore important to the event industry inEurope. While EU laws ensure staffwelfare and high standards ofemployment, even European-basedevents organised by European-basedindividuals will often require products or services from further afield. How can anyone hope to claim they are running a socially responsibleevent if they are serving coffee from an inappropriate source? It is vital that we all take time to consider the wholesupply chain when planning our next event.The gradual success of Fairtrade overthe last few years has largely been dueto strict enforcement of employment,welfare and environmental laws. Inrecent years, growing publicconsciousness of using eco-friendlyproducts and services has madecompanies do more to become green but there is more work to be done. Such action should not be taken for legal reasons but from a genuine desireto improve the world around us andbenefit other people. According to the UK Co-operativeBank's annual Ethical ConsumerismReport, the ethical market in the UKgrew by 18 per cent over the last twoyears and the Fairtrade mark hasbecome a common sight on oursupermarket shelves. It is also growing as an element of our events and tradeshows. To maintain a level of Fairtradeawareness and achievement, manycompanies ensure that they meet theFairtrade standards at every stage oftheir production. To do so, they issuestrict guidelines to suppliers or deal withsuppliers that have a sound record ofFairtrade - why should the event industrybe any different?As previously mentioned, supply chaincommunications are not generally aproblem in Europe (although there wasthe unforgettable story recently ofchildren working on a British potatofarm). They do however become a littlemore murky once we step beyond ourown borders. In countries like China,which dominates the world'smanufacturing and supply; Fairtrade laws are not strictly enforced. Mostcompanies do not provide healthyworking conditions for employees, forcingthem to work for long hours at aminimum wage. Unfair treatment ofworkers has lead to labour unrest inChina with workers demanding betterworking conditions, wages and otheremployment benefits.Out of China's 200 biggest exporters,153 are foreign that supply products forthe first world. It is a fact that many ofthe suppliers to these exporters,particularly the local companies, areturning a blind eye to the workers'demands of higher wages and betterworking conditions. Clearly, manyFairtrade and green consumers here inthe EU, including event organisers, couldbe purchasing products unaware of theirbackground. All our work to adhere toBS8901 and other CSR standardsbecomes a mockery when the threemiles of cable needed to light an eventcome from a Far Eastern sweat shop. Complying with Fairtrade is importantto ensure a decent standard of living forthe workers and their families in factoriesall over the world. It is important thatpeople who make the products weconsume are not exploited and haveaccess to proper welfare measures. Environmentally, Fairtrade can be usedas an effective tool to fight climatechange. In many countries, the supply ofperishable commodities is dwindling dueto the exploitation of land and water.The clear message from the Fairtrademovement is that many of the productswhich we enjoy (and by the bucket loadat events) such as coffee, tea, fruit andNexus invested US$200K in a modern factory for its Chineseworkforce that produces conferencebags and other accessories for themeetings industryCSR????'Out of China's 200biggest exporters, 153are foreignthat supply products forthe first world'Nick Jones