THIRST is the International Roundtable for Sustainable Tea

Our vision is of a fair and sustainable tea industry where workers and farmers are empowered and their rights and environment are protected. It’s time to come together to find solutions and bring about systemic change.

Why THIRST exists

Problems in the tea industry are well known

Civil society, trade unions and activists have been reporting and working on the problems of the tea industry for almost as long as it has existed. Some companies are also making efforts to improve things. Yet very little has changed in the lives of workers and farmers in nearly two centuries. THIRST believes this is because change in individual companies or countries, or of one particular issue does not address the system that is at the root of all the problems.

Systemic change is needed

Tea workers are trapped in poverty despite working hard to provide a globally valued commodity. We believe that the system – which was set up in the19th century – prevents workers’ and farmers’ human rights from being respected. All actors in the tea value chain are operating within this ancient system. That is why we need all actors to work together to bring about systemic change.

THIRST’s role

THIRST acts as a connector, a facilitator of shared learning, a collator of knowledge and news, helping all actors to  learn from one another and collaborate. THIRST brings together a broad range of civil society actors, tea workers and farmers, providing a platform for them to challenge both the tea industry and governments to reform the system; and then support them in finding the most effective ways of doing so.

Knowledge hub

There is a steadily growing wealth of resources scattered around the internet on the human rights and environmental problems in the tea industry, and potential solutions to these problems. But it is only by pooling our knowledge and resources and by learning, speaking and acting together that we can bring about systemic change. In the first initiative of its kind, THIRST has brought an important selection of these valuable resources together into one easily-accessible knowledge hub.