“I am very passionate about what I do and I do see how vital it is to see very different areas in terms of sustainability, resilience and environmental protection”, Jenny Foster.
What is your job about?
I am a Fairtrade Coordinator for Bristol in the South West. Fairttrade is about fair prices, protecting the environment and protecting and supporting small older farmers around the world because they produce 70% of the world’s food.
What issues do you address?
The key issue addressed by Fairtrade is poverty in terms of helping many small older farmers that are underpaid and cannot even pay the costs of production and in terms of helping them adapting to climate change. Fairtrade works to help farmers to adapt to increasing floods and droughts, new diseases that are coming on their crops that they cannot get off except by using some pesticides, new diseases that are coming along with all the changes in climate.
What moved you to take action?
The fact that the things that Fairtrade is doing around climate change and environmental standards are not talked about and we really wanted to get those messages across so that people who are concerned about the environment or are interested in green issues would realize that Fairtrade is a fundamental part of the green lifestyle, that Fairtrade fits into that. We want to tell green stories from around the world and therefore be able to get the message out that climate change is here and now and vital and needs to be addressed.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
One of the major obstacles was that there is a lot of people who thinks you should only buy local and grow your own food locally and that the whole idea that bringing things in from other countries is sort of evil because of the carbon footprint. Fairtrade has successfully educated people around this making them understand that the distance that something has travelled does not necessarily equal the carbon footprint. If it is grown in a very sustainable way and then shipped across it might actually have a lower footprint of something that is grown in a hot house and then driven around the country.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
I think that a tricker point for me becoming interested in environmental issues was the first time that we had Reports from Malawi about the most incredible flooding that devastated the area and completely removed people’s livelihoods. That was when I was first woken up to the realization that this was happing more and more and that was when I started looking into these issues. I have always been interested in the sort of poverty alleviation side and had not really put it together with the environmental thing but I realized that International Development got to include the environmental side to be effective.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?
I would say an 8. I love my work. I love my job. I feel incredibly lucky to work for something I feel can make a difference, have an impact.