Background

Dr Christopher Garry Stange

Dr Christopher Garry Stange

Immersed as a child to a variety of exotic foods and cultures from the Caribbean, Africa, India and the Pacific, ignited the passion for tropical agriculture and exploring how these products were grown. 

Visiting developing countries and seeing first-hand the dedication of farmers working under the most appalling conditions, without the luxury of any government subsidies, subject to exploitation, and learning what they earn, changed me forever.  Instantly, I became a campaigner on behalf of those being oppressed at the source and the plight of the poor.

The initiative for Northern Ireland to become a Fairtrade devolved region is the culmination of over 20 years of voluntary action, uniting all sections of society.  It was the vision to make this campaign a reality for the developing world and a legacy for Northern Ireland.  

Two OBJECTIVES

  1. Dedication to the most marginalised developing world farmers who grow much of the food that cannot be produced locally, but consume daily and often take for granted. Fairtrade certified products are grown under the strictest environmental controls and social standards, tackling trade injustice, poverty, human trafficking, child labour, and poor environmental practices;

  2. International acclaim for the creation of global impact, and change through the empowerment for vulnerable developing world farmers. Through the purchase and procurement of Fairtrade certified products we promote model practice, fairer terms of trade, sustainability, market access and a future for those less fortunate.

Please explore the site and get involved. All sections of the population from government, businesses, individuals, charities, schools and places of worship can play their part.

The JOURNEY...

Starting in 1997, monitoring the supply routes of supermarkets and importers of tropical agricultural commodities to the UK and Ireland, both the volume and range of Fairtrade certified products have expanded exponentially; the highlight being bananas from the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa, the single largest commodity sold by retailers. 

Active campaigning, correspondence and meetings with Ministers; Members of Parliament (MPs); Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs); Members of the European Parliament (MEPs); Members of the House of Lords; Councillors; Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs); Chief Executives; Chief Executive Officers (CEOs); chairpersons; directors; diplomats; businesses; charities; retailers; supermarkets; schools; places of worship and individuals, led to Fairtrade policy, Fairtrade procurement and tendering guidelines, investment to further expand Fairtrade product lines, Fairtrade producer certification, and the integration of Fairtrade into the national educational curriculum.

Working with all stakeholders, including the UK Fairtrade Foundation and Fairtrade Ireland, the initial focus of attention was directed to the capital city of Belfast, resulting in the first Fairtrade accreditation (City status) in Northern Ireland (2005).  

Further Fairtrade accreditation resulted over time but without a regional approach, consistency and momentum suffered throughout Northern Ireland.  Several challenges occurred through the Review of Public Administration (RPA) both centrally and locally.

The goal was to systematically replicate best practice through a joined up government approach across Northern Ireland to advance Fairtrade accreditation, escalate policy, leading to better awareness and understanding of Fairtrade, ultimately encouraging the purchase and procurement of Fairtrade products.

Through the formation of the All Party Group (APG) on Fairtrade, a mechanism was created by its Secretariat and political representation with a mandate to deliver a regional initiative.

Northern Ireland now hosts annual Fairtrade Fortnight events and frequent visits with presentations from Fairtrade certified producers.

To implement the agreed criteria and plan, I was honoured to be appointed as Secretariat to provide the necessary support and co-ordinate the programme.

All party group (APG) on fairtrade

APG on Fairtrade Members and Secretariat with Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMdFM) Jnr Ministers.

APG on Fairtrade Members and Secretariat with Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMdFM) Jnr Ministers.

The All Party Group on Fairtrade primary objective is to achieve Fairtrade accreditation for Northern Ireland, as a devolved region. The measurable criteria were agreed in 2012 and implemented in 2013. The criteria are:

  • All cities and at least 55% of local authorities to have Fairtrade status;

  • All local authority areas and at least 55% of towns with a population of 6,000 or more to have active Fairtrade groups working towards Fairtrade status;

  • At least 60% of higher education institutions to have active Fairtrade groups working towards Fairtrade status;

  • Parliament/Assembly and Government to use, promote and make available Fairtrade products internally, and to actively promote Fairtrade Fortnight each year;

  • Fairtrade to be promoted in schools through the curriculum, procurement and other possible means;

  • Schools, Further Education Institutions, Faith Groups, Trade Unions, business networks, voluntary and youth organisations to pledge to use and promote Fairtrade.

Dr Christopher Stange, Consul General - St. Vincent & the Grenadines to Northern Ireland; Secretariat - All Party Group on Fairtrade; Chair - Fairtrade Befast

Officers of the Group                                                                                                        Chairperson: Pat Ramsey MLA - SDLP
Vice-Chairperson: Steven Agnew MLA - Green
Secretary: Meagan Fearon MLA - Sinn Féin
Treasurer: Jim Wells MLA - DUP

Group Members                                                                                         
Chris Lyttle MLA - Alliance
Anna Lo MLA - Alliance
Clare Sugden MLA - Independent
John Dallat MLA - SDLP
Phil Flanagan MLA - Sinn Féin
David McNarry MLA - UKIP                                                                                     
Robin Swann MLA - UUP

Following Northern Ireland Assembly elections (May 2016) and a new mandate the All Party Group on Fairtrade needed to be re-constituted.  Below are the elected members (June 2016) with Dr Christopher Stange continuing to serve as the Secretariat and regional co-ordinator:  

Officers of the Group
Chairperson: Steven Agnew MLA - Green
Vice-Chairperson: Claire Hanna MLA - SDLP                                                                     Secretary: David Ford MLA - Alliance
Treasurer: Jim Wells MLA - DUP

Group Members
Chris Lyttle MLA – Alliance
Stewart Dickson MLA – Alliance
Naomi Long MLA – Alliance
Sammy Douglas MLA – DUP
Jennifer McCann MLA - Sinn Féin
Robin Swann MLA – UUP
Mike Nesbitt MLA -  UUP
Philip Smith MLA – UUP

Following Northern Ireland Assembly elections (March 2017) and a new mandate the All Party Group on Fairtrade needed to be re-constituted.  Below are the elected members (May 2017) with Dr Christopher Stange continuing to serve as the Secretariat and regional co-ordinator:  

Officers of the Group
Chairperson: Steven Agnew MLA - Green
Vice-Chairperson: Claire Hanna MLA - SDLP                                                                     Secretary: David Ford MLA - Alliance
Treasurer: Jim Wells MLA - DUP

Group Members
Chris Lyttle MLA – Alliance
Stewart Dickson MLA – Alliance
Naomi Long MLA – Alliance
John Dallat MLA – SDLP
Conor Murphy MLA - Sinn Féin
Robin Swann MLA – UUP
Mike Nesbitt MLA -  UUP

Following the Annual General Meeting (AGM) below are the elected members (June 2018) with Dr Christopher Stange continuing to serve as the Secretariat and regional co-ordinator:  

Officers of the Group
Chairperson: Steven Agnew MLA - Green
Vice-Chairperson: Claire Hanna MLA - SDLP                                                                     Secretary: Stewart Dickson MLA - Alliance
Treasurer: Jim Wells MLA - DUP

Group Members
Chris Lyttle MLA – Alliance
David Ford MLA – Alliance (Retired); Replaced by John Blair MLA -Alliance (02/07/18)
Naomi Long MLA – Alliance
John Dallat MLA – SDLP
Conor Murphy MLA - Sinn Féin
Emma Rogan MLA - Sinn Féin
Robin Swann MLA – UUP
Mike Nesbitt MLA -  UUP