Collapsing sewing factories in Bangladesh, the sickening use of agrochemicals in agroindustry, or mercury contaminated mining in Africa – there are many examples where social and ecological aspects are being ignored in global value chains. Economic relations, including the relocation of production processes, become increasingly complex and responsibility is externalized. Most companies still put maximizing profits first, despite the consequences for humans and the environment. Standards and certification mechanisms that go beyond the level of national legislation have been developed to secure environmental and labour protection in transnational trade relations. We raise the argument that standards, defining minimum criteria for products or companies, are drawn up in the region of consumption – usually in the Global North. Therefore, we look behind the power and governance structures of global value chains in order to analyse the underlying mechanisms of the creation of standards and the definition of minimum criteria. In particular, we highlight the fact that these chains are embedded in the social environment of the consumer region. The process can also be influenced by group actors such as social movements or value-based consumer groups, among others. This opens up pathways for a redesigning of global value chains towards increased resource fairness and politics. While the ‘Fairtrade’1 system (FLO) is a well known and widely accepted ‘fair’ standard for mainly agricultural products, our aim is to determine whether this form of certification mechanism is also applicable to the mineral sector. Experiences with fair trade certifications in the mining sector are few and, due to the complexity of the value chain, even considered impossible in the early 1990s (Brown, 1993). Using the Global Value Chain (GVC) and Global Production Network (GPN) frameworks, we analyse similarities and differences along the structure of the value chains in agriculture and mining in order to show different starting points towards ‘fairer’ trading.