Equity in the Botanical Industry
17 July 2020

UEBT

SHP has recently made a commitment to the J.E.D.I. Collaborative (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) to work on addressing economic and racial inequities in our work and in the botanical industry as a whole. This post is a section from the SHP Sustainability and Regenerative Practices Toolkit and provides resources for companies ready to begin working to establish stronger and more equitable relationships in their supply networks. You can download the complete toolkit for free here.

FAIR TRADE AND SOCIAL EQUITY

Urban migration is considered one of the greatest threats to the future of the botanical industry as younger generations choose not to harvest wild plants or to farm. There are reasons fewer people want to do this work and it is critical that the botanical industry understands those conditions and begins to address them.

Wild harvesting and growing medicinal plants is arduous work and those doing this work typically make the least amount in a long supply network. It is difficult if not impossible to make a living solely harvesting medicinal plants. As a company sourcing raw materials from around the world, it is critical to ask how you can help make doing this work a viable livelihood option for individuals and families.

When companies buy through brokers and contract manufacturers, these social and economic challenges at the end of the supply chain are often invisible. And so for many companies, the first step may be to ask how you can learn more about the conditions in the communities where you source. Next, ask what you can do to begin supporting a living wage. Are there ways that you support the community overall? This work is easier said than done. The resources below can help to both begin and continue the journey.

LEARN

Reflect

What are the social and equity issues in the regions where the raw materials you source are grown, harvested, and processed? Are the basic needs of the farmers, producers, and harvesters met? Do they have access to clean water? Education? Are there human rights violations? How do you know?

Dig Deeper

  • International Guide to Fair Trade Labels — a 2020 reference tool to better understand the guarantees of fair trade labels, their standards, monitoring measures, and how they differ from sustainable development labels. This guide is a good place to begin understanding the issues relating to fair trade and certification.
  • For more information on the two primary fair trade certifications used in the botanical industry see: Fair for Life, a third-party, voluntary certification standard for Fair Trade and responsible supply chains that allow sourcing of fair trade ingredients from any country (South and North). The website includes lists of certified operators and their ratings for specific criteria of the standard. Fair Trade International (FTI), is a third-party, voluntary certification that includes a range of economic, environmental, and social criteria that must be met by producers and traders to acquire or retain fair trade certification. FTI is focused on enabling producers in developing countries to tackle poverty through trade and is limited to products from the Global
  • Reference Guide to Fair Trade and Worker Justice Certifications — Compares and evaluates leading fair trade certifications on key issues, useful as an easy comparison tool.
  • The Responsible Sourcing Tool is a free web platform created to help visualize and understand the risks of human trafficking in supply chains. The tool includes a new section for mapping and addressing trafficking and labor risks in the food and beverage industry.
  • Verité — A global, independent, nonprofit organization that conducts research, advocacy, consulting, trainings, and assessments with a vision that people worldwide work under safe, fair, and legal conditions. Verité helped Patagonia develop and roll out comprehensive Migrant Worker Employment Standards and Implementation Guidance. These standards and Patagonia’s process for developing and implementing them along their supply chain are described here.
  • The Farmer Income Lab — A think-do-tank founded by Mars Incorporated in 2018, works to identify and test the optimal ways to drive meaningful improvements in smallholder farmer incomes. Their website includes briefs and insights, including, “Boosting farmer income: further insights from great cases,” highlighting cases from their research into ways to boost smallholder farmers’ income.
  • The Living Income Community of Practice — Resources for understanding and helping small-holder farmers achieve a living income.
  • California Transparency in Supply Chains Act — Companies operating in California are required to comply with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. Participating in the equitable and fair production and trading systems provides the evidence needed to comply with the California regulation.

ACTION

  • Take the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) self-assessment to see where you stand in meeting the SDGs. The SDGs are 17 social, environmental, and economic goals that frame the global agenda for sustainable development between now and 2030. B Lab has developed this online platform in collaboration with the UN Global Compact to provide companies with concrete tools to benchmark their progress to meeting these goals. This tool is meant to complement the B Impact Assessment by focusing specifically on how a company is and can address the SDGs in its operations. This article summarizes the differences between the two.
  • Pick one content area or one plant and dive in to learn more about the social, cultural and economic issues and challenges in the communities where the plants are grown, harvested, or processed. Use the resources above to guide your search.

Please share other resources you have found helpful in the comments! Thank you.

 

 

The SHP Sustainability and Regenerative Practices Toolkit has been made possible through the generous donations of our donors. We are very grateful for their support!