As part of its commitment to a more responsible trade and investment policy, the European Commission has taken important steps to support sustainable trade schemes over the years.

In its Trade for all strategy, the Commission commits to promote “fair and ethical trade” without referring to a particular scheme. It therefore includes a wide range of sustainability standards and schemes designed to promote a variety of issues relating to working conditions, social development, environmental protection and economic sustainability.

As part of the Trade for all strategy, the EU suggests the launch of an award to raise awareness and spread schemes that promote “fair and ethical trade”, thus contributing to social, economic and environmental sustainability.


The Award showcases how EU cities set an example by having a global impact on sustainable, fair and ethical trade through local efforts. 

It recognizes visionary EU cities which show leadership and helps connect cities to exchange knowledge and share good practices in order to scale up cities’ efforts and their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Concept & Implementation

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade) has chosen the International Trade Centre (ITC) to develop the concept for and implement the “EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award”.

ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, which assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets.  

The Trade for Sustainable Development (T4SD) Programme is leading the implementation of the Award. The programme has developed an unrivalled global repository of information on voluntary sustainability standards over the past nine years ( and its work is based on the principles of neutrality, transparency and cooperation.

In order to develop a sound and impactful award concept, ITC convened a Technical Committee of around 40 members from the fields of sustainability, trade or city networks. In collaboration with ITC and DG Trade, this multidisciplinary group created the concept and specifications for the first Award. Based on learnings from the first award cycle and feedback from stakeholders, some adjustments were made for the second Award cycle. 

The EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award is an initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade implemented by the International Trade Centre.