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.

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

  • 13th May 2019: Application for registration as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation submitted to UK’s Charity Commission
  • January 2019: CEO Sabita Banerji conducted networking and fact-finding trip to Darjeeling and Kerala (see blog)
  • 7th November 2018: First meeting of THIRST Trustees
  • 19th June 2018: Inaugural THIRST meeting held in London (prior to 2018 Team Up conference) attended by representatives of nine leading campaigning and development organisations from India, Malawi and the UK.

Next steps

  • 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.