Houston, Texas Commits to Anti-Trafficking and Fair Trade
Houston, TX (November 28, 2017) – Fair Trade Campaigns is proud to announce Houston’s designation as the first Fair Trade Town in the state of Texas, and the second largest Fair Trade Town in the United States. Houston is also the first major city to announce a zero tolerance human trafficking policy in city service contracts.
Houston joins over 45 other municipalities across the United States already recognized as Fair Trade Towns, including Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia. The movement, which started in England in 2000, today encompasses over 2,000 Fair Trade Towns in 29 countries around the world.
To become an official Fair Trade Town, applicants must establish an active steering committee, showcase retail availability of Fair Trade products, collaborate with community institutions, attract media coverage, and gain formal support from local government. These criteria are designed to empower citizens to develop a permanent platform in their communities for continued outreach and advocacy.
“We commend the city of Houston for making this commitment to Fair Trade and human rights,” said Suzi Hiza, National Organizer with Fair Trade Campaigns. “There is significant effort that goes into obtaining designation for such a large city, and we applaud their success in embedding Fair Trade throughout the Houston community.”
The campaign to make Houston a Fair Trade Town has been underway since 2011, in an effort let by Kendra Penry, lead organizer for Fair Trade Houston. “The work that went into this took years, quite literally years,” said Penry, going on to say that it was “completely worth it because we know it is creating positive change in the world.”
The Fair Trade Town committee tapped into a strong sense of justice in the Houston community, and a local commitment to fight human trafficking, presenting Fair Trade as a actionable way that everyday people can fight slavery and trafficking in the world.
Penry and the rest of the Fair Trade Houston committee worked with the Mayor’s office to complete the final step in the declaration process – the passage of a resolution in support of Fair Trade. The committee recently celebrated success with the signing of an Executive Order on ‘Zero Tolerance for Human Trafficking in City Service Contracts and Purchasing.’
In the Executive Order, signed on October 19, 2017, the City of Houston recognizes that its purchasing decisions can benefit and protect workers around the world. The city will use its best efforts to conduct business with entities that that take steps to safeguard against human trafficking, and will urge all contractors to follow labor practices that do not violate human trafficking laws, especially when it comes to engaging recruiters. The city has incorporated the purchase of Fair Trade products into its strategy for delivering on this commitment.
“This new procurement policy means that Houston is taking a concrete step in the fight for social justice,” said Penry. “Far too often we use the right words, but fail to follow up with the action, but in this case, Houston is taking real action.”
Looking ahead, the city will begin organizing trainings for city employees, to educate them about Fair Trade and the new policy. The Fair Trade committee is eager to see this policy implemented in Houston, and they hope that other cities will follow suit, using Houston’s policy as an example to further Fair Trade and social justice in their own communities.
About Fair Trade:
Fair Trade is a multi-stakeholder effort to empower consumers to vote with their dollars for sustainable livelihoods, better working conditions, environmental stewardship, and brighter futures for the people who make the high-quality products that we buy every day.
About Human Trafficking:
Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Human trafficking affects individuals across the world, including here in the United States, and is commonly regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. Human trafficking affects every community in the United States across age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds. [Source: National Human Trafficking Hotline]
About Fair Trade Houston:
Fair Trade Houston is a coalition of citizens, community groups, and businesses that work to widely increase the availability and use of Fair Trade products, and awareness of Fair Trade principles, throughout the city of Houston. It is part of a nation-wide, grassroots effort called Fair Trade Campaigns, which mobilizes thousands of Fair Trade advocates on campuses and in communities across the United States.
About Fair Trade Campaigns:
Fair Trade Campaigns recognize towns, colleges, universities, schools, and congregations in the U.S. for embedding Fair Trade purchasing practices and principles into policy, as well as in the social foundations of their communities. Project collaborators include Fair Trade USA, Fairtrade America, and Fair for Life, third-party certifiers of Fair Trade products in the United States, and the Fair Trade Federation, a North American trade association of organizations fully committed to Fair Trade. Visit FairTradeCampaigns.org for more information.