What is THIRST?
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 are protected, within a system that is shaped by 21st century values and systems rather than 19th century ones.
Our mission is to bring together civil society actors and tea workers and farmers, providing a platform for them to challenge the tea industry and governments to reform the system, and support them in doing this.
Goals of THIRST
- DECENT WORK AND LIVING INCOME
- GENDER EQUITY
- CHILD PROTECTION AND DEVELOPMENT
- HEALTH, SAFETY, HOUSING AND BENEFITS
- PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT
- FAIR, EFFECTIVE AND TRANSPARENT SYSTEMS
- PARTNERSHIP AND COLLABORATION
Principles of THIRST
We, the civil society organisations that have come together as THIRST will:
- Strive together and separately to promote the goals of THIRST, collaborating wherever joint action and a strong, unified civil society voice is likely to help achieve those goals
- Share information, knowledge and – where appropriate – resources to facilitate the achievement of the goals of THIRST, ensuring that this is done in such a way that will not compromise the work or reputation of any participating organisation.
- In pursuing our primary goal of improving the lives of tea workers, tea farmers and their families, recognise that each stakeholder in the tea sector is part of a complex, interdependent economic and social ecosystem and act accordingly.
- Both challenge and support companies and governments in delivering their responsibilities as outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to protect, respect and provide remedy to tea workers and communities affected by global supply chains
- Work together to ensure that tea workers’ and farmers’ representatives take their rightful place at the discussion table and that their voice is heard by actors along global supply chains.
- Respect each other’s goals and ways of working and avoid acting in any way that undermines other THIRST members or their work.
How does it work?
THIRST invites civil society organisations – national, local and international, from the global South and North, from tea producing and tea consuming countries – to share their knowledge, expertise and resources on supporting tea workers and farmers to protect their rights and their environment.
We publish a monthly update of tea-related news from around the world, convene discussions and publish briefings on topical issues, and facilitate strategic connections between diverse actors.
THIRST also provides a platform for civil society to 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.
Who we are working with
THIRST is an open and independent platform for any and all civil society actors whose work promotes THIRST’s goals. THIRST does not endorse or promote the organisations it works with, and if necessary will seek changes within those organisations if this will help to further our goals.
THIRST is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers’ rights around the globe. ETI’s vision is a world where all workers are free from exploitation and discrimination, and enjoy conditions of freedom, security and equity. Membership entitles us to participation in ETI’s tripartite initiatives, and enables us to engage in dialogue with key tea marketing and retailing companies.
As a member of the ETI, THIRST facilitates meetings with other ETI NGO members with an interest in tea. These include:
THIRST is a partner of Advocates for International Development
A4ID brokers free legal support for us as a development partner by matching our needs with the capability of its legal partners, who have a wide range of expertise, from microfinance work and dispute resolution to work involving environmental law.
Debbie Coulter Former Head of Programmes, Ethical Trading Initiative, former deputy general-secretary, GMB Trade Union.
Krishanti Dharmaraj Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in New York; former Spokesperson for Amnesty International USA. Co-founder of WILD for Human Rights (Women’s Institute for Leadership Development) and the Sri Lanka Children’s Fund.
Michael Pennant-Jones Former Group Head of Sustainability of James Finlay Ltd, member of the Tea Advisory Group for Utz cert. and Swire Sustainability Committee. Prior to Finlays he worked for Premier Brands Typhoo. Michael is currently Head of Technical & Capability at Impactt Ltd.
Nikhil Subbiah Investment funds lawyer at a leading global law firm, with experience working with impact investments, development finance institutions and in emerging markets. He was previously a Churchill Memorial Trust Fellow and conducted a research trip to tea plantations in India and Sri Lanka.
Stirling Smith Independent ethical trade consultant; former Chief Technical Adviser for the International Labour Organisation in India. He has worked for DFID, British Council, Fair Labour Association, trade unions, NGOs and several companies.
CEO – Sabita Banerji An economic justice advisor with long experience in ethical trade and international development having held strategic posts at two of the UK’s leading rights based organisations, Oxfam and the Ethical Trading Initiative. She is also a former member of Board of Directors of Just Change, UK – a voluntary community tea trading initiative, and was born and raised on tea plantations in Kerala and Assam.