What is THIRST?
THIRST is The International Roundtable for Sustainable Tea.
Our vision is of a fairer and more sustainable system for growing, harvesting, processing, packaging and trading tea. A system that is shaped by 21st century values and systems rather than 19th century ones.
Our mission is to empower tea workers and farmers to protect and respect their rights and ensure that they have access to grievance when their rights are breached, creating a fairer and more sustainable system.
How will it work?
THIRST will convene a broad range of civil society actors; national, local and international, from the global South and North, from tea producing and tea consuming countries. Each organisation involved with THIRST has its own identity, strategy and supporters, but we all share one overarching commitment: a commitment to improve the lives of tea workers and farmers, their families and communities.
We will bring together our unique perspectives and speak out when necessary with a strong, unified voice, challenging and supporting companies and governments to deliver on their responsibilities in the tea sector, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and contributing towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
How THIRST started
Economic justice campaigner, Sabita Banerji, was born and raised on tea estates in Kerala and Assam, India. In 2015, after years of independent research into labour rights in the tea industry, she witnessed at first-hand the Pembilla Orumai uprising of women tea workers in Munnar. This motivated and inspired her to seek ways to support them and tea workers like them around the world. She consulted with key tea industry stakeholders who identified the need for THIRST and are supporting its development.
Progress so far
The inaugural THIRST meeting was held in London on 19th June 2018, the day of the 2018 Team Up conference. It was attended by representatives of nine leading campaigning and development organisations from India, Malawi and the UK. The Principles and Goals of THIRST have been drafted with input from civil society. Five Trustees have been recruited and held their first meeting on November 7th 2018. We have begun to develop a library of resources.
- Develop a formal governance model
- Develop a formal membership or association model
- Register as a charity and begin to raise funds
- Explore first regional roundtable meeting in India
- Explore first joint advocacy action
Please contact us for more information.