During a workshop in Darjeeling (India) the key economic, social and environmental issues that need attention in the global tea trade were discussed by more than 50 civil society organizations, academics, trade unions, industry representatives (plantations and small-growers).

The aim of the workshop was to identify and discuss key economic, social and environmental issues that need attention in the global tea trade from the perspective of sustainable development and to provide input into the terms of reference for an international research programme that SOMO is developing in cooperation with partners in different tea producing countries. An initial study by SOMO and Profound for the Dutch CSOs working together in the Dutch Tea Initiative (1) found that numerous social, environmental and economic problems exist in the international tea production and trade such as poor working conditions, downward pressure on prices and productions costs and environmental degradation. However, more substantive and comparable research in different tea producing countries needs to be done in order to provide a global perspective on the issues in the tea production and trade and develop recommendations towards the improvement of conditions worldwide.

The participants, all professional experts in the tea industry provided valuable input into the research questions and methodological aspects of such an international research programme, and shared their own experiences as trade union leader, academic, NGO, planter or small holder. On the basis of the workshop, SOMO will further develop the terms of reference for the research programme with partners in India, Indonesia, Malawi and Kenya, and subject to funding in South Asia, China and Vietnam.
(1) SustainabiliTea; The Dutch Tea Market and Corporate Social Responsibility, March 2006, https://www.somo.nl/html/paginas/pdf/Sustainabilitea_2006_NL.pdf)

The ‘Dutch Tea Initiative’ is an alliance of Dutch social organisations, including development organisations and trade unions, working for the improvement of labour, social, ecological and economic conditions in the tea sector in tea-producing countries.