The WFTO conference has grown in size. Over 300 participants from 60 countries came to debate and network at the largest biennial Fair Trade gathering in New Delhi, India, from 9 to 13 November 2017. It is a milestone because this is the goal – that of bringing more people to discuss issues and exchange ideas. The conference was attended by representatives from the Fair Trade supply chain, policy makers, and other professionals.

Over 25 topics under the theme ‘Fair Trade – a path to sustainable development’ were discussed and presented, including the improved WFTO Guarantee System, which is not only a Fair Trade compliance tool but also a development tool for sustainable development.

Conference participants rated the conference with a 4 out of 5 score, 5 being extremely useful to their work or business. Participants were happy and satisfied in areas, according to the overall result of the conference experience survey. The feedback we received will help us organise the next conference even better.

We are thankful to our co-organiser Fair Trade Forum India. Your help and support allowed us to run the whole event from start to finish with ease and efficiency.

The opening ceremony is always a notable part in every conference. The Delhi conference is no exception.

WFTO President Rudi Dalvai welcomed the participants and introduced the conference title ‘Fair Trade, a Path to Sustainable Development.’ In his welcome message, Rudi said that the WFTO Conference has become one of the most important international Fair Trade meetings where issues are debated and ideas exchanged. He said the title was chosen to reflect the current aims of Fair Trade, which are congruent with the
sustainable development goals (SDGs). He cited the daily themes as reflecting the important topics and conversation that fair traders should address, such as ‘Fair Trade Responses to a changing market environment’ and ‘Trading you way to sustainable development’ (Fair Trade as a tool for development).

Representing the conference host and co-organiser, Mallikarjuna Iytha welcomed guests and participants. The opportunity to host has allowed them to showcase Fair Trade in India and their contribution to the global growth of the movement.

This year’s edition is the 14th in the biennial series. Looking back at the humble beginnings, Kuppusamy Panchaksharam a.ka. Panchu of SIPA Fair Deal Trust showed a photo presentation of the previous WFTO conferences. He was proud to have never failed to attend all of them. For each slide, Panchu shared his personal recollections, which became warm and sentimental reflections highlighting the evolution of the WFTO biennial conferences.

The traditional opening ritual is the centrepiece of the whole programme. Representatives of WFTO and host organisation Fair Trade Forum India, together with keynote speakers took part in lighting an oil lamp, an Indian customary rite held before an important activity. It symbolises wisdom, knowledge and prosperity.

The keynote speeches followed after the ceremony.

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