Shaping Sustainability
The University of Bonn is a Fairtrade-University

A new status: "Fair Trade University Bonn”

November 23, 2020 saw the award to the University of Bonn of “Fair Trade University” status. The University of Bonn worked towards the award over a two-year period, in which time the University fulfilled all the requirements set out by TransFair e.V. (Fair Trade Germany). We are especially proud of the fact that the decision to apply for this status was made at the suggestion of a student group, which also worked with the University management during the application procedure.

Three students of the student “Fair Trade University” initiative sit on a step.
© Laura Partl

Student Fair Trade Initiative at the University of Bonn

We are six bachelor’s and master’s students from agricultural economics, geography and political science who are committed to fair and sustainable trade at the University of Bonn.

We meet every two weeks, exchange ideas on fair trade topics, discuss how we can integrate fair trade better in University structures and plan events. Our focus is on satisfying the five criteria that must be met to be awarded “Fair Trade University” status. Among other things, we exchange information with relevant stakeholders, such as the Studierendenwerk and administration, and network both within the University and with other Fair Trade Universities across Germany.

We look forward to meeting motivated people who would like to join us. Information is available via email, Instagram and Facebook.

A range of flyers and bars of chocolate sporting the Fair Trade logo on a table.
© Universität Bonn/Barbara Frommann

What is a Fair Trade University?

The “Fair Trade University” certificate is awarded to universities that prove their commitment to fair and sustainable trade and consumption practices. The awarding body performs an audit to ensure that fair trade practices are integrated in both the teaching and administrative life of the university. Universities demonstrate their commitment to fair trade by satisfying five criteria. The first is a university resolution that forms the basis for all the other criteria, such as formation of a steering group. The other criteria include public relations work and offering fair trade products. Details concerning the criteria and additional information on the Fair Trade University campaign is available on the Fair Trade Germany website.

What does this mean in detail for the University of Bonn?

Fairly-traded coffee, tea and chocolate have been available in all Studierendenwerk premises for a number of years. The University catering services also incorporates fairly-traded products in its range of provision, whilst university courses on globalization deal with aspects of fair trade.

Status as a Fair Trade University means that the University of Bonn has committed itself to undertaking further steps in this area. The steering group brings together all relevant stakeholders—the Rectorate, administration, Studierendenwerk and student representatives—who work with great dedication to organize events and steadily advance the procurement of fair trade products.


Award ceremony in November 2020

The considerable efforts undertaken by the University towards the cause of fair trade were recognized by the ceremonial award of a certificate in the Grand Hall. This represented the end of a two-year process marked by a high level of student involvement. For Professor Dr. Karin Holm-Müller, responsible within the Rectorate for the issue of sustainability, the award represents an important step in the University sustainability strategy: “We place considerable importance on the issue of sustainability, which includes fair trade. The university management has agreed to place increased importance on this issue and achieve greater progress in it. The commitment of the student group has shown that everyone has a part to play in making our world a little more just.”

Wir sind Fairtrade-University
Mayor Katja Dörner with Constantin Uhlig standing in front of the certificate.
Mayor Katja Dörner with Constantin Uhlig standing in front of the certificate. © Universität Bonn/ Barbara Frommann

Katja Dörner, Mayor of Bonn:

“The prioritization of fair trade is a positive step, for which I would like to extend my thanks. A certificate like this should always be understood as the start of something greater and not the final destination. It should act as an incentive to do even more."

Constantin Uhlig, member of the student initiative Fair Trade University:

"We are very pleased that our initiative was able to achieve so much. It was a matter of utmost priority amongst the student body that the issues of fair trade and sustainability were addressed in all the operations of our University, and we found it very important that the University supported us in our endeavors.”

Dieter Overath, Chairperson of TransFair (Fair Trade Germany):

“With 38,000 students and over 6,000 members of staff, the University consumes a considerable amount of resources, similar to that of a small town. In view of this, it is very important that the University of Bonn integrate considerations of fair trade in its procurement procedures. Bringing about change in such areas always needs people, with a great degree of persistence. We are very impressed of what the University of Bonn has achieved in this respect."

Professor Dr. Karin Holm-Müller, member of the Rectorate with responsibility for Sustainability:

“We place considerable importance on the issue of sustainability, which includes fair trade. The University management has agreed to place increased importance on this issue and achieve greater progress in it. The commitment of the student group has shown that everyone has a part to play in making our world a little more just.”

Dieter Overath (Fair Trade Germany), Constantin Uhlig and Rector Michael Hoch standing either side of the certificate.
Dieter Overath (Fair Trade Germany), Constantin Uhlig (representative of the student initiative "Fair Trade at the University of Bonn") and Rector Michael Hoch at the award ceremony. © Universität Bonn/ Barbara Frommann
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