Committing to ethically-sourced products

Committing to ethically-sourced products

Queen’s has been designated a Fair Trade Campus as it works to support sustainable practices for agricultural workers and the environment.

May 19, 2021


Photograph of coffee beans
When it is safe for more campus operations to resume, Fairtrade certified coffee, tea, and chocolate bars will be available to purchase in all campus food service locations where those products are sold. (Anastasiia Chepinska/Unsplash.)  

In today’s globalized world, the purchases individuals and institutions make can have a significant impact on people and the environment across the planet, for better or worse. Queen’s has worked to heighten the positive impact of purchases made on campus by offering Fairtrade certified products at all food service locations on campus, including those operated by the university and those run by student groups. For this effort, it has officially been designated a Fair Trade Campus.

“By partnering with Fairtrade Canada, we are helping to provide opportunities to maintain the livelihood and stable incomes of farmers and their families,” says Jessica Bertrand, Wellness and Sustainability Manager, Queen’s Hospitality Services. “This promise is made to both those purchasing Fairtrade products on campus and those producing them. By purchasing Fairtrade, we ensure that ingredients were produced by small-scale farmer organizations or plantations that will meet their social, economic, and environmental standards.”

Fairtrade Canada is a non-profit organization that works with small-scale farmers and agricultural workers to set standards for economic, social, and environmental impacts and certifies the products that meet them. The organization promotes social justice and sustainability by advocating for a model of trade that ensures better prices, decent working conditions, no child labour, sound environmental practices, and strong business relationships. They certify a range of popular products, including coffee, tea, and chocolate.

“Fair trade works to build an alternative approach to business and international trade that is based on creating mutually beneficial relationships,” says Sean McHugh, Executive Director, Canadian Fair Trade Network. “Becoming a Fair Trade Campus means supporting this alternative and a more equitable system through the products that the campus purchases, and by engaging students, faculty and staff on the impacts of their purchasing decisions. It is my pleasure to welcome Queen’s University to the growing Fair Trade Campus community in Canada. Collectively, we can change the world around us.”

When it is safe for more campus operations to resume, Fairtrade certified coffee, tea, and chocolate bars will be available to purchase in all food service locations where those products are sold, including dining halls, vending machines, the Donald Gordon Conference Centre, and catering services.

Food service locations operated by students will serve Fairtrade products as well, including Common Ground and the Tea Room.

“We believe that ethical purchasing should be easy and accessible for our students, and we look forward to continuing the impactful work of previous years in making this possible,” says Tiana Wong, VP (Operations), AMS, which runs Common Ground. “The Fairtrade initiatives implemented at Common Ground, and other food service locations on campus, are a positive, welcomed change that has helped us to fulfill environmental and social standards to support small-scale farmer organizations. The AMS will continue to promote efforts towards ensuring the continuation and advancement of Fairtrade engagement at Queen’s.”

Going forward, Queen’s will maintain a steering committee to ensure the continued commitments to fair trade on campus. The committee is composed of volunteers and representatives of university administration. Queen’s Hospitality Services will also provide education and resources related to Fairtrade and its mission.

Learn more about the work Queen’s is doing as a Fair Trade Campus on the Hospitality Services website.

Committing to sustainable development

The commitment to fair trade is one of the many ways in which Queen’s is working to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a set of 17 wide-ranging goals adopted in 2015 by UN member states – including Canada – as central to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They cover an array of objectives including, but not limited to, eradicating poverty and hunger, increasing health and wellbeing, achieving gender equality, advancing climate action and clean energy, stimulating economic growth and innovation, and improving education. 

Recently, Queen’s placed first in Canada and fifth in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which rank universities based on the work they do to advance the SDGs.

Learn more about the SDGs and how they fit into the emerging vision for Queen’s being developed by Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane on the Principal’s website.