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Harriet Lamb Appointed New CEO Of Fairtrade International 09.07.12

We are delighted to announce that Harriet Lamb has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Fairtrade International. Source: Fairtrade Foundation



Harriet brings an unrivalled track record in driving Fairtrade’s success, having spent more than ten years as Executive Director of the UK Fairtrade Foundation. She and her team have built the world’s most dynamic market for Fairtrade products, building commercial partnerships that have resulted in sales growing from £30 million in 2001 to £1.32bn in 2011. Her inspiring leadership of the Fairtrade Foundation has enabled her to see Fairtrade in action across the world, meeting producer organisations from cotton farmers in India to cocoa growers in Ghana, banana farmers in Ecuador and tea farmers and workers in Kenya.

“Harriet has a wealth of experience of the movement, combining an extraordinary memory of the past with a clear vision for the future,” says Marieke de Peña, vice chair of Fairtrade International’s Board, who also leads a small farmer cooperative growing bananas in the Dominican Republic. “As a representative of the farmers and workers involved in Fairtrade, I am delighted to see her take up the reins of Fairtrade International. As Fairtrade grows globally, she is just what we need to keep our diverse stakeholders powerfully connected to the vision and mission of Fairtrade.”

Harriet’s appointment comes at an exciting time for Fairtrade International, with an increasing focus on smallholders and workers, and supply chain sustainability rising up government and business agendas. Newly emerging Fairtrade markets are opening across the world from South Korea to South Africa, and major commitments to sourcing Fairtrade products are being made by a growing number of businesses, both large and small. Fairtrade’s approach to certification is unique in focussing not just on improving social, environmental and economic outcomes at farm level, but also offering concrete mechanisms to improve returns to producers through minimum price and premium payments, as well as promoting long term trading relationships. Fairtrade is also unique in certification systems in having producer involvement at all levels of governance, with three regional producer networks sharing formal co-ownership of the global Fairtrade system. Beyond certification, Fairtrade has also inspired a grassroots social movement connecting consumers and producers in action for change on trade.

“Fairtrade has already come on a breath-taking journey,” says Harriet Lamb. “We’ve established a proven model for doing business differently, which is already bringing tangible positive impacts for millions of people in farmers’ organisations and their wider communities, who have been able to improve their lives, and start to tackle the poverty and disadvantages they face. But I’m in no doubt of the immense challenges that still remain. There are hundreds of millions of small farmers and workers not able to earn a decent livelihood, to gain fair market access for their goods, or to adapt to the growing threat of climate change. My top priority will be to strengthen Fairtrade’s support for farmers and workers on the ground. I’m excited by the opportunity for our unique producer-partnership model to transform trade and business relationships in the future, and look forward now to working globally across the Fairtrade movement to realise our vision and our potential.”

Harriet’s commitment to working for social justice is rooted in her childhood experience of in India. Later she returned to work in India with farmers in rural villages and landless labourer cooperatives. She campaigned for better wages with the Low Pay Unit in the North East of England, and for an EU arms treaty and the untying of UK aid with the World Development Movement. She joined Fairtrade initially with the intriguing title of Banana Coordinator for Fairtrade International, acting as Director briefly, before moving to take up her role of Executive Director with Fairtrade Foundation in 2001. She is the author of “Fighting the Banana Wars and Other Fairtrade Battles”, published in 2008, and has won numerous awards for her contribution to sustainable development and business.

Harriet’s appointment was a unanimous decision by the Board of Fairtrade International, following a rigorous six-month recruitment and selection process, led by executive search agency Russell Reynolds. She will take up her new role with Fairtrade International by 1 October 2012.

Peter Shield

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