Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on Fair Trade

Handbook of Research on Fair Trade

Edited by Laura T. Raynolds and Elizabeth A. Bennett

Fair trade critiques the historical inequalities inherent in international trade and seeks to promote social justice by creating alternative networks linking marginalized producers (typically in the global South) with progressive consumers (typically in the global North). The first of its kind, this volume brings together 43 of the foremost fair trade scholars from around the world and across the social sciences. The Handbook serves as both a comprehensive overview and in-depth guide to dominant perspectives and concerns. Chapters analyze the rapidly growing fair trade movement and market, exploring diverse initiatives and organizations, production and consumption regions, and food and cultural products. Written for those new to fair trade as well as those well versed in this domain, the Handbook is an invaluable resource for scholars and practitioners interested in global regulation, multi-stakeholder initiatives, social and environmental certification, ethical labeling, consumer activism, and international development.

Chapter 22: Fair trade coffee and environmental sustainability in Latin America

Christopher M. Bacon, Robert A. Rice and Hannah Maryanski

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, development economics, development studies, economics and finance, agricultural economics, development economics, international economics, political economy, environment, agricultural economics, politics and public policy, human rights, political economy, regulation and governance


Certified tropical agricultural products promoting ‘environmentally friendly’ farming practices form a growing part of mainstream markets and international sustainable development investments (Beddington et al. 2012; Herrero et al. 2010; Raynolds et al. 2007). Certified sustainable coffee accounts for more than 9 per cent of international coffee sales and is projected to increase to 18 per cent by 2015 (COSA 2013). Although detailed farm, household, community and value chain-based research continues, it generally lags behind these changing markets, eco-labels and farming practices. Researchers often analyze the social impacts of fair trade in producer communities (Bacon 2005) or analyze the environmental performance of organic, Rainforest Alliance and Bird Friendly certifications (Rice 2000). Overall, there is a scarcity of ‘methodical environmental assessment’ of fair trade (Nelson and Pound 2009), although a few studies include environmental impacts in their broader analysis of sustainable livelihoods, fair trade and organic production in Latin America (e.g., Bacon et al. 2008; COSA 2013; Jaffee 2007; Lyon 2013). This leaves a gap in the research focused on fair trade and environmental sustainability. In this chapter we analyze the environmental impacts of fair trade coffee in Latin America and the Caribbean. We focus on coffee, since coffee landscapes account for the largest area in Latin America associated with the certification, and 80 per cent of the world’s fair trade coffee hails from Latin American farms that average 2.6 hectares (Fairtrade International 2012). We identify three environmental impacts: biodiversity conservation, pollution reduction and climate change adaptation.

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