Campaigners strengthened Senedd procurement but further work needed
Over the last few months, Fair Trade Wales has partnered with a group of organisations to ensure global responsibility, and social and environmental justice are included within an important law being considered by the Senedd on public procurement.
The Senedd has passed a law on public procurement that would promote Fair Work in Wales. We raised concerns that the first draft of the Bill made no mention of global responsibility in Welsh supply chains. Thanks to your support we have been able to make sure the law was amended. Whilst we would have liked to have seen further changes, we are confident that, this legislation could have a significant impact and push more public bodies to take greater action on procuring Fairtrade goods.
Why is procurement important to Fairtrade?
Fairtrade has been a hugely successful movement, creating conscious consumers since 1992 across the UK – with it now being the most recognised certification label. Globally responsible procurement is at the heart of what Fairtrade stands for. To procure Fairtrade goods means to stand in solidarity with farmers and workers and ensure trade and social justice throughout the supply chain.
Fairtrade is a system of certification that aims to ensure a set of standards are met in the production and supply of a product or ingredient. Fairtrade ensures that a minimum price is paid and that safe and fair working conditions are ensured. It also means greater respect for the environment and through co-operatives or workers’ committees women take an active role. The Fairtrade premium, an additional sum of money on top of the minimum price paid, is used to invest in projects for those communities and is agreed democratically.
Our vision at Fair Trade Wales is to see an equal world trading fairly. For us, it is important that we ensure public procurement legislation in Wales considers its global impacts as well as ensuring local supply chains are fair and equitable. So what exactly is the Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill and what are we doing to ensure global responsibility?
Background of the Act; what we wanted and what we won
The Act came out of the Fair Work Commission to try and promote Fair Work in Wales, and use public procurement as a way to promote Fair Work. With an annual procurement spend of £6.3 billion, the Welsh public sector has a huge role to play in helping to drive sustainable consumption and production – Sustainable Development Goal 12.
Through fair public procurement, public authorities can not only boost the demand of fair products, but they can also bring about cultural, organisational and systemic changes within their organisations and beyond.
The passage of the Act provided an important opportunity to use the power of public procurement to deliver social, environmental, economic and cultural outcomes in support of Wales’ 7 well-being goals. This is particularly true for the achievement of the ‘globally responsible Wales’ goal which aims to make a ‘positive contribution to global well-being’.
But when Welsh Government published the first draft of the Bill, no mention was made of securing Fair Work for those in the supply chains that come into Wales. Fair Trade Wales, alongside partner organisations expressed concern that this was a missed opportunity for global responsibility and environmental justice.
We worked closely with the Senedd’s Social Justice & Equality Committee to find ways to strengthen the Bill, and we were pleased that this cross-party committee supported a number of our ideas to place duties on public bodies to consider global responsibility within their procurement practices. We were particularly pleased to work closely with the committee chair, Jenny Rathbone MS as well committee members Jane Dodds MS, Peredur Owen Griffiths MS and Joel James MS. The Welsh Government remained opposed to adding an explicit commitment on global responsibility in the Bill, arguing that as the seven well-being goals were already included, it would not be appropriate to single out one well-being goal above the others. But our concerns remained.
As the Future Generations Commissioner found, the global responsibility goal is “the least understood and perhaps weakest in terms of delivery of all seven goals”. Following a meeting with the Deputy Minister, and responding to similar concerns raised by the committee, the Welsh Government did put on record its expectation that public bodies should do more on globally responsible procurement. The Welsh Government added that guidance would be issued to public bodies to help them carry out this responsibility. So whilst we are disappointed that a stronger commitment to global responsibility was not included ‘on the face of the Bill’, we are heartened that stronger guidance will be issued.
Now the Bill has officially become an Act, work is now underway to develop the ‘Statutory Guidance’. Given Welsh Government’s promises to ensure this drives progress on Fair Trade procurement, Fair Trade Wales will continue to do what we can to influence and inform the Statutory Guidance.
The organisations we are working with to ensure global responsibility and social & environmental justice are:
We responded to the Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee’s consultation on the Bill. See our input:
- Joint letter on globally responsible procurement (English)
- Joint response to consultation (English)
- Fair Trade Wales response to consultation (English)
- Social Partnership and Procurement Bill stage 1 debate briefing (English)
How can I get involved?
You can get involved by:
- Writing to your MS to explain why Fairtrade is important and to include global responsibility in the Bill.
- Attending your MS’s surgery to raise the Bill and ensure the inclusion of Fairtrade and global responsibility.
- Tweeting your MS or post on other social media channels about the Bill and tag your local politicians.