City is one of only 12 British universities to be awarded Fairtrade status thanks to its stocking of Fairtrade products on campus, engagement events and research.

By Eve Lacroix (Communications Officer), Published

City, University of London is one of only 12 British universities to achieve Fairtrade status in the national ‘Fairtrade University and College Award’ earlier in August.

The institution has a longstanding commitment to being Fairtrade; the award marked City’s twelfth consecutive year as a Fairtrade university.

The award recognises City’s commitment to promoting ethical consumerism and pursuing trade justice for farmers and workers in low-income countries.

Woman holds up Fairtrade flyer
Woman holds up Fairtrade flyer

The status is awarded annually by the Fairtrade Foundation. To receive the award, City students audited, assessed and graded the University’s overall progress against criteria that include campaigning and influencing, procurement, retail and catering, research and the curriculum.

Students and SOS-UK, who run the Fairtrade award, reviewed whether City stocked Fairtrade products on campus shops, how it incorporated the history of trade into its curriculums and the ways in which it engaged in social outreach.

At EatC1ty café and throughout campus, students can find Fairtrade products such as teas, chocolate and face masks.

Students at a cafe on campus
Students at a cafe on campus

The Fairtrade Foundation aims to foster a spirit of collaboration, encouraging a partnership between students, academics and professional staff through its award.

At City, the Fairtrade Working Group was made up of colleagues from the Sustainability team, the Student Union, the catering service and academics from the Centre for Food Policy, which is one of City’s most active research centres.

Working together, the team put on the annual Fairtrade Fortnight Festival between February and March. The festival saw a series of events hosted by our academics to educate the City community on the necessity of Fairtrade. One such event -- the Fairtrade London History Walk – followed the trading history of everyday committees like sugar and coffee and how their history is intertwined with London and the transatlantic slave trade.

Arthur Shearlaw, Sustainability Officer said:

“We are delighted that City, University of London has been awarded the Fairtrade University Award status for another year.

“This demonstrates the importance of our role within the wider world and that we are committed to supporting, using, and promoting Fairtrade products and to promoting the benefits that Fairtrade brings to producers in developing countries.

“Supporting and promoting Fairtrade at City has both an important educational and ethical justification and aligns with the University’s Sustainability Policy.

At City, we advocate a global perspective and sustainability within our curriculum and it is therefore important to also support these goals through the way we conduct business.

“Thanks to everyone at City who ensured this was possible, in particular our catering service providers, the Student’s Union and the Centre for Food Policy.”

Stefan Donnelly, Senior Campaigns Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation said:

Becoming a Fairtrade University is an excellent way of ensuring that students build a thorough understanding of how our choices and actions have significant consequences all around the world.

“Thanks to these commitments, thousands of young people, university staff and people in their surrounding communities have the opportunity to act, learn and shop in a way that supports farmers and workers overseas.

“Young people and educational leaders are more concerned than ever about these issues, and we expect more universities and colleges to join our Fairtrade movement in the near future.”

The Fairtrade award is just one of City’s commitments to embedding sustainability at the heart of everything the University does. Earlier in 2023, City was ranked 44th in the UK in the People and Planet University League and the University has committed to reaching net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2040.

Coming up later in the year, the team is preparing for Global Goals Week which will take place between Monday 20 – Friday 24 November. The week will see a series of events for students and staff to learn more about sustainability and how to get involved at City.

A global goals conference hosted at City
A global goals conference hosted at City

The team is also collaborating with 10 other universities to organise a debate about the upcoming COP28, which is the 2023 United Nations Cilmate Change Conference due to be hosted in the United Arab Emirates in November.