Fairtrade International and Fairtrade Africa have teamed up with the non-profit organisation, the Earthworm Foundation, in a partnership that is geared towards monitoring and assessing the environment for deforestation and other potential risks.

The collaboration will launch its first project using the Earthworm Foundation and Airbus’ own satellite monitoring tool, Starling. The technology will allow them to capture important data relating to deforestation in the Fairtrade cooperatives, as well as their smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

The project aims to bring greater access to risk management data for the cooperatives and smallholders working with Fairtrade. This data could prove crucial in maintaining ties to the European markets going forward, as the European Commission is pushing for legislation that will ban the import of commodities linked to deforestation.

We are thrilled to announce this landmark partnership that will explore how powerful data sets can be leveraged by cooperatives and their members for their own risk analysis processes and in alignment with expected government regulation against deforestation not just in the European Union but also in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Jon Walker, Senior Advisor for Cocoa, Fairtrade International

Fairtrade has additionally suggested that the legislation against deforestation include fairness and social justice as core elements.

While the new legislation has been written with the intention to limit access to the European markets for Cocoa sourced from areas of deforestation or unethical farming practices, there is a danger in its current form that the law will exclude those farmers who can’t show that they have complied.

Without access to the technology and data required to satisfy the new obligations, they may be excluded from the key market of the European Union. If this was to happen, it would potentially have the opposite effect of what the legislators wanted by diminishing their livelihoods and pushing them toward unregulated farming.

Therefore, to uphold the good intentions of the legislation, the accessibility of tools for farmers, especially those without access to substantial resources, must be an urgent consideration.

The partnership between Fairtrade and the Earthworm Foundation will ensure that smallholder farmers are provided with some of the necessary tools to enable them to adhere to the legislation’s requirements.

This partnership will finally direct the transfer of deforestation risk data in a meaningful way to cooperatives and their members in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana using the principles of Fair Data. In this manner, we can ensure that those with the least power in the supply chains have access to this critical data and can use it to improve their livelihoods and beneficially impact their communities.

Jon Walker, Senior Advisor for Cocoa, Fairtrade International

Rob McWilliam, Director of Technical Services at Earthworm Foundation, expressed his excitement at working with Fairtrade International and Fairtrade Africa:

We look forward to proving our experience and knowledge of using Starling’s land cover and forest cover change datasets to tackle deforestation and support actions for addressing environmental vulnerabilities.

We are also excited to be working further with farmers and their organisations to develop fit-for-purpose tools to enhance their work on the ground.

Rob McWilliam, Director of Technical Services, Earthworm Foundation

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