For the last few years, High Wycombe Fairtrade has been forging links with the Fairtrade town of Grecia and neighbouring Fairtrade coffee and sugar producer, Coope Victoria, in Costa Rica.
The linking stemmed from a conversation which took place at the International Fairtrade Town Conference in Madrid in 2018. Three members of Wycombe for Fairtrade attended the conference and whilst there, happened to meet Maria, the Sustainability Manager from CoopeVictoria. From this initial dialogue, a very productive and active link has been established.
In 2019 Maria visited High Wycombe on route to the International Fairtrade Towns Conference in Cardiff. Whilst with us, she visited a number of shops and cafes in the town selling Fairtrade products including Hills Community Cafe in Micklefield, Ruby Moon, Oxfam and the Air Raid Shelter Cafe to name just some. She had a meeting with Maz, the Mayor, and also visited Bewley’s (a large wholesaler of Fairtrade products) on the Cressex Industrial Estate. At the International Fairtrade Towns Conference she, along with Matt (our deputy mayor), Mike (chairman of our group) and Jhon (also a member of our group with Spanish as his first language) led a workshop entitled “Town Linking: A story of friendship ” at which they shared their experiences of forging links with each other.
The Costa Rican ambassador kindly agreed to present High Wycombe’s Fairtrade Town renewal certificate to the Mayor of High Wycombe in a meeting which took place in January 2020 and a document establishing the Fairtrade High Wycombe/Grecia agreement (including the CoopeVictoria cooperative) has now been signed by the Mayors of both towns, the Director of CoopeVictoria and Wycombe for Fairtrade Chairman, Mike King (a copy of the document is also on display at the Costa Rican embassy in London). Plans are currently underway to establish dialogues between schools in the two towns, so that students can derive benefit from communicating with each other. This joint venture will provide opportunities for students to develop Spanish/English language skills, to develop and compare the economics of Fairtrade and the links with environmental projects being carried out in both countries.
It is also hoped that coffee from CoopeVictoria can be marketed by a company in the UK, particularly as this producer has recently been awarded First Place in the annual prestigious Costa Rica Fairtrade Gold Cup competition for the quality of their coffee, for the third consecutive year!
It is very worthwhile to have developed this direct link between consumers and producers in the Fairtrade system and many further fruitful discussions and developments are expected to spring from this in the future.