Current portal location

Website content

News archive

Sustainable development | Brussels, 27 June 2018

Ghent wins first EU Fair and Ethical Trade City Award

At a ceremony this afternoon in Brussels, EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), declared the Belgian city of Ghent as the winner of the inaugural Fair and Ethical Trade City award.

Launched in December of last year, the award was created to recognise and support local initiatives currently taking place in European cities to encourage fair and ethical trading practices.

Commissioner Malmström said: "Well done to Ghent, worthy winners of the first edition of this award. From a strong field of candidates, Ghent won because of the city government's clear commitment to putting ideas into concrete practice, a packed programme of events, and its impressive pedigree as Belgium's first Fair Trade Town. Other cities in Europe and beyond can learn from what Ghent has done. Overall, I’m deeply impressed by the candidate cities for this award – it is inspiring to see so many efforts taking place in different parts of Europe."

In her speech at the awards ceremony today, Commissioner Malmström stressed: “There is no magic formula to overcome many of the world's challenges. They are solved by thousands of small changes and everyday actions, often hand-in-hand with volunteering or pioneering ideas. So cities, central to life for so many, are a good place to start the journey towards a more responsible trade.”

The expert jury was particularly impressed by the commitment of the city towards fair and ethical initiatives, coupled with its clear long-term strategy. Over the past few years, the city has put on a broad range of events promoting fair and ethical trade and procurement, such as the Fair Fashion Fest, and the international conference Ecoprocura. In 2005, Ghent became Belgium's first 'Fair Trade Town' and recently committed to buying only fair trade products (or other sustainable alternatives) by 2024. Overall, 92% of Ghent's inhabitants are aware of fair and ethical trade and 43% buy these products regularly.

In addition, four of the candidate applicants were awarded with special mentions for their achievements in specific fields.

  • A special mention for 'Inspiring Procurement Practice' went to Saarbrücken (Germany) for its robust public procurement policy that respects International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and involves extensive training of city staff.
  • A special mention for 'Education and Community Participation' went to Dortmund, (Germany) for its large number of awareness-raising events, and particularly for its kindergarten fair trade certification scheme across more than a hundred local schools.
  • A special mention for 'Global Partnerships' went to Madrid (Spain), for its impressive network of partner cities across Latin America.
  • A special mention for 'Innovation' went to Lyon (France), for its monitoring and evaluation system to measure progress towards sustainability goals. The city also created its own fair and sustainable label, adopted by over 230 businesses and organisations.

More information about the individual initiatives of the short-listed cities is available on the official Trade City Award website.

Six cities were shortlisted alongside today’s winners - Saarbrücken, Dortmund (Germany), Madrid, Victoria-Gasteiz (Spain), Lyon (France), and Malmö (Sweden), They will automatically become members of the new EU Fair and Ethical Trade network, sharing ideas and promoting some of the initiatives that are already happening across Europe. The first network meetings have been arranged for the autumn of this year.

With close technical support from the International Trade Centre and €100,000 in financial support from the European Commission, Ghent now has the opportunity to launch a development project of their choice.


The Award is an initiative of the European Commission. It is one of the commitments undertaken by the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, under the "Trade for All" strategy, published in 2015.

The project is implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint agency of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (IUNCTAD), in cooperation with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade).

For More Information
Dedicated website: